SIM-Only Mobile Phone Plans

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If you’ve been locked into the two-year, new phone-on-a-plan cycle, you may not be familiar with SIM-only phone plans. An alternative to signing a standard 12, 24 or 36-month phone contract, a SIM-only plan allows you to bring your own device to the provider and select a plan of your choice. There are plenty of telcos that offer SIM-only phone plans, which is great because providers fight it out to offer the best value for money to entice you over. This page is all about helping you find the best SIM-only plan for your needs, starting with a quick comparison of standout deals on our database.

SIM-Only Plan Comparison

There are different types of SIM-only plans – which we’ll come to – but if you’re in a hurry, check out this table for a selection of SIM-only postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum 10GB data, listed in order of advertised standard monthly cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool above to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products with links to referral partners.

What is a SIM-Only plan?

A SIM-only plan provides call, text and data services, all through a small plastic SIM card that’s inserted into your device. SIM-only plans do not come with a phone, but are great for those who already have a phone they want to keep, or choose to buy a new one outright instead of on contract. If you want a new phone bundled with a plan, you’ll need to choose a phone on a plan, which are only available from a limited number of telcos.

How do SIM-Only plans work?

Instead of receiving a new handset, you’ll simply receive a SIM card that’s connected to your telco’s network. Simply insert the SIM card into your unlocked phone, activate and set up your plan, and you’re good to go – without the long-term contracts and hassle of signing up for a new device.

Generally, a SIM-only plan will feature all or most of the inclusions and extras provided on your telco’s standard postpaid plans. But because you’re not adding in the cost of buying a brand-new smartphone, you’ll pay less each month. Plus, you won’t be required to sign a lock-in contract unless, of course, you opt for a SIM-only plan on a contract over 12-months for example.

You’ll also get to pick your own device, whether it’s brand new, pre-owned, a budget-friendly smartphone or a device handed down in the family, you’re not limited to the range of new phones stocked by providers, which are usually the premium and more expensive devices. Telcos use the promise of a new, shiny smartphone as a means of chaining customers to a network long-term, but if you skip the phone upgrade, you can enjoy more flexibility, choice and savings.

If you’re interested in signing up to a SIM-only plan and want to compare what’s on offer, hit one of the links below to jump to the latest deals, or just keep scrolling.

Prepaid SIM-Only Plans

If you like to pay in advance, and don’t want the worry of paying for excess data use, prepaid plans are your best bet. You’ll pay for a set amount of inclusions or ‘credit’ each billing period (usually 28, 30, or 35 days) and once this is exceeded, you’ll need to recharge before you can call, text, or use data again. Some telcos allow you to set up auto recharging for prepaid plans.

The main disadvantage to prepaid plans is the billing period, also known as the expiry period. Because you’re pre-paying for a set amount of time, rather than being billed each month, you may have to recharge your plan more than 12 times in a year. Telcos offer plans on different expiry periods, which can be short (7 or 10 days), ‘monthly’ (28 or 30 days) or a long-expiry (90 days, 180 days/6 months, 365 days/12 months or longer). Play close attention to recharge periods to make sure you’re getting what you expect.

Prepaid mobile phone plans can be every bit as competitive as postpaid options, and brands such as Boost Mobile, Amaysim, Catch Connect and Yomojo can offer great deals. You’ll also find great value in supermarket mobile brands, such as Woolworths Mobile or ALDI Mobile. The below table includes links to referral partners.

12-Month SIM-Only Plans

Although many people opt for SIM-only plans to avoid contracts, the biggest deals are usually reserved for customers on 12-month BYO postpaid phone plans. Telcos want you to stick around, so it makes sense that year-long plans come with the best value. If you’re not afraid to commit, it’s a great way to lock down a good price and score some great plan inclusions.

If you’re happy to sign on for a year, smaller brands such as Southern Phone and Moose Mobile are worth checking out, although more providers have switched to month-to-month plans in recent years, with 12-month plans not as common as they once were. Below are several 12-month SIM-only plans, all of which include unlimited talk and text, and plenty of data each month. The below table includes links to referral partners.

Month-to-Month SIM-Only Plans

Not ready to be locked into a single plan or provider? You can always sign up for a month-to-month SIM plan. Most telcos will offer no-contract plans, on either a prepaid or postpaid basis, for customers bringing their own devices, although they may come with slightly less data or inclusions than equivalent plans on a 12-month contract.

Plenty of MVNOs sell affordable, data-packed SIM-only plans with no lock-in contract (for example, Boost Mobile and Exetel), but you may also enjoy the extras offered by Telstra. The below table includes links to referral partners.

Cheap SIM-Only Plans

One incentive you might have for switching to a SIM-only plan is to find a cheap plan. You’ll find many of the smaller telcos will offer really basic plans for $10 or less. Many of these plans are specifically aimed at kids or other light phone users, such as seniors, therefore they won’t include much data and calls might be capped. Below is a selection of plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or under. These tables include links to referral partners.

Postpaid Plans Under $20

Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Prepaid Plans Under $20

Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited data plans

If you think going SIM-only means limits on your data, think again. Both Telstra and Vodafone now include unlimited data on postpaid plans, and the good news is they’re all BYO-phone compatible.

Vodafone now includes unlimited speed-capped data on all is SIM-Only Infinite postpaid plans, in addition to unlimited standard national talk and text and a monthly full-speed gigabyte allowance. Once you’ve used up your included fast data each month, you’ll have unlimited access to data restricted to speeds of either 2Mbps, 10Mbps, or 25Mbps depending on your plan. 2Mbps is fast enough for general browsing, music streaming, and standard definition video, while 10Mbps and 25Mbps should be suitable for HD streaming.

Telstra also offers unlimited 1.5Mbps data on its SIM-only postpaid plans, meaning you’ll never pay excess data charges in Australia. Telstra customers who exceed their plan’s full-speed date allowance can continue to use data at speeds of 1.5Mbps until their billing cycle resets. Telstra’s postpaid plans also offer a range of extra perks including data-free streaming of Apple Music, data-free sports streaming (including the NRL and AFL), three months of BINGE access and free access to the Telstra Air WiFi data network.

The following table contains a selection of Vodafone and Telstra postpaid SIM-only plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Why choose a SIM-Only phone plan?

SIM Only Plans

The obvious reason to jump to a SIM-only plan – also known as a bring-your-own (BYO) phone plan –  is the potential to save some money, even just short-term. Reasons you might be better off include:

  • You love your current phone and don’t need to replace it
  • You’re looking to cut down on your monthly mobile costs
  • You’re waiting for an upcoming phone release and don’t want to upgrade or sign a new contract just yet
  • You like to swap between phones
  • You’re looking for a phone plan for your kid, and already have a handset for them
  • Your mobile usage can vary month-to-month
  • You want more flexibility from your mobile plan

Essentially, if you’re happy with your current phone and want to save some cash, SIM-only plans are worth looking into. As we’ve mentioned, there are various types to choose from.

There are more telcos to choose from when going with a SIM-only plan. While Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all have their own SIM-only plans, dozens of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) also use their networks to deliver their own services, be it on the Telstra network, Vodafone network or Optus network.

Unlocking your phone

Before you get a SIM-only plan, you’ll need to make sure it’s unlocked from its original network. If you bought your device on a postpaid plan, it’s probably already unlocked, but there are exceptions. Fortunately, unlocking a device from a specific telco’s network is easier than ever – you can usually do it yourself online, provided you have your phone’s IMEI number.

To find this number, dial *#06# from your phone. Once you’ve got this number ready, head to the website of the telco you bought the phone from originally, or call its customer service centre. Be aware that while it’s normally free to unlock your phone, you may be asked to pay a fee for prepaid phones if you service is still relatively new.

If you have a phone from a postpaid plan with Vodafone, Telstra or Optus, you’ll generally have an unlocked phone, but it’s best to double check with the telco before you go switching SIM cards. If you bought your device at full price directly from the manufacturer, or from a retailer such as JB Hi-Fi, great news: your phone is unlocked out-of-the-box, and free to take to your choice of provider and plan.

Which plan is best for me?

So you’ve compared plans in a variety of price brackets, and now you’re ready to make a change. Before you switch, there’s still a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself to make sure you’re choosing the best deal for your needs.

  • Which phone network do I prefer? There are three phone networks in Australia – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Smaller service providers use one or more of these networks to deliver their services. If you’re in a regional area, you might only have one or two choices of networks with coverage.
  • What inclusions do I need? There is little point paying for unlimited calls and texts if you’re not going to make the most of them. Likewise, give serious thought to how much data you actually need as data inclusions is usually what brings the price up.
  • What is my budget? If you’re bound by a budget like most of us, compare plans in a particular price segment, and search for the best value you can get for your money.

At the end of the day, a SIM-only plan is a great choice if you want the freedom to choose your phone, or you’re after more variety in plan offerings – the choice of which plan, however, is completely up to you!

Canstar Blue’s Customer Ratings

SIM-Only Plans Summary

Telco Mobile Plan Included Data Monthly Cost Contract Term
Moose Mobile Moose 23 SIM Only (12M) 18GB $23 12 months
Woolworths Mobile $25 Plan 18GB $25 No contract
Belong Regular 10GB SIM Only 10GB $25 No contract
TeleChoice TC 30 (M2M) 26GB $30 No contract
Southern Phone Medium (12m) 18GB $30 12 months
Amaysim UNLIMITED 30GB Prepaid 30GB $30 No contract
Woolworths Mobile Pre-paid Mobile $30 Starter Pack 30GB $30 No contract
Boost Mobile $30 Prepaid 20GB $30 No contract
Numobile Medium 30GB $30 No contract
iiNet $39.99 Mobile Voice SIM Only 30GB $39.99 No contract
Telstra $40 Prepaid Max 18GB $40 No contract
Kogan Mobile EXTRA LARGE 30 Days Plan 40GB $49.90 No contract
Telstra Small 40GB $55 No contract

Last updated November 2020.

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