Best SIM-only plans in Australia (May 2021)

When it comes to mobile plans, we tend to think of those that come bundled with a handset. But if you’ve already got a phone you’re happy with, SIM-only plans are an excellent opportunity to save some money.

A SIM-only plan is any plan that doesn’t bundle in a phone, often on a no lock-in contract, where you simply pay month-to-month. There’s often a great deal of value to be found in these plans.

To make it easier for you, we’ve gone through each of the SIM-only providers available to Aussies right now and have hand-picked the best deals we’ve come across, whether they’re big on data, low on cost, or a perfect middle-ground overall.

Current SIM-only deals

We’ll get to our best SIM-only recommendations below, but first, we’re highlighting a number of ace deals on post-paid and pre-paid SIMs. Here are the current offers worth considering before choosing your provider:

Compare SIM-only plans

Best SIM-only plan under AU$25

Circles.Life | 50GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$20p/m (first 12 months, then AU$28p/m)

Circles.Life continues to be the telco to beat, with this deal that will get you 50GB of data for only AU$20 a month. That means you can get a year’s worth of mobile service for just AU$240, which is incredibly good. The discounted plan is available for your first 12 months with Circles.Life, before it bumps up slightly to AU$28 each billing. Your monthly data will be boosted from 20GB to 50GB for the first 12 months as well. This offer is available to anyone, all you need is the code 50GBWOEXCL to redeem.

Total minimum cost is AU$20

Best SIM-only plan under AU$40

Circles.Life | 100GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$30p/m (first 12 months, then AU$38p/m)

Circles.Life is often our best overall pick for a plan under AU$40, and that’s because you’ll score a huge 100GB of data for just AU$38. The telco is now reducing your plans fees for the first 12 months, so you’ll instead pay AU$30 each billing for the first year – just enter the code 100NEWYEAR to redeem. You can cancel the service any time without a fee, and it uses the Optus 4G Plus network.

Total minimum cost is AU$30

Best premium SIM-only plan

Telstra | 180GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$65p/m (first 12 months, then AU$115)

It was a tough category to call, but we’ve ultimately chosen Telstra for this premium SIM-only deal. Telstra is usually the most expensive of the big three telcos, but it's slashed the price of its Extra Large plan down to AU$65 a month for your first year. The plan comes with 180GB of data to burn through each month, plus access to Telstra’s expansive 5G network. The cost of the plan will bump up an extra AU$50 a month after your first year, totalling AU$115p/m – and you’ll likely want to look for a new plan to swap to once the 12 months are up. If you’re not fussed about 5G and would rather an extra 20GB of data, Optus is a close second.

Total minimum cost is AU$65

More SIM-only deals: plans under AU$40

More SIM-only deals: plans over AU$40

Should I go SIM-only?

If you a) want to save some money; b) don’t want to be tied into a lengthy contract; c) already own a perfectly fine phone; or d) all of the above, then going SIM-only is well worth considering. In fact, you’re probably in one of two situations if your thoughts are turning to a SIM-only mobile plan:

1. You’re coming to the end of your contract and your phone is still fighting fit (if not, then head to our best mobile phones deals page to see what plan you can grab alongside a phone). On a SIM-only plan, you’ll wind up paying much less than you are under contract, and you can often stick to a rolling month-to-month arrangement so that if your circumstances change, you can change with them.

2. It’s time for a shiny new smartphone and you want to get the best value humanly possible. You’ll have to find a few hundred bucks (or thousand at this stage) upfront for the handset, but you’ll end up better off at the end of it all. Plus, if you’re a commitment-phobe, most SIM-only plans don’t require you to sign up for two years like you would with a normal contract.

What SIM card size do I need?

There are three sizes of SIM card that you can get for your phone, and the one you need will depend on your handset. It’s been a while since the traditional, so-called standard SIM (15 x 25mm) has genuinely been the staple in new phones.

Instead, any phone you’ve bought within the last five or so years is much more likely to require a micro (12 x 15mm) or nano (8.8 x 12.3mm) SIM – the iPhone 5 was Apple’s first mobile with a nano SIM, while Samsung began using the smallest size in its Galaxy S6.

Before you purchase your new SIM, double-check the manufacturer’s website to see what size you require. And if you’re simply not sure, most networks now send out a triple SIM, so you'll get one of each size.

What contract length should I get?

Unlike with a contract, there’s a lot more flexibility available when it comes to how long your SIM-only plan will last. Two-year commitments are virtually unheard of, with the norm now being rolling one-month contracts for ultimate flexibility.

You can sometimes get better prices if you tie yourself in for 12 months, especially on larger data tariffs. But sticking to one month at a time means that you could effectively hand-pick a new plan to suit you every 30 days or so.

How much data do I need?

Because you can change your plan up more regularly than on a normal, lengthier contract, it’s less crucial to get this nailed from the start. But if you’re considering a 12-month contract, or just put a personal pride on getting things right first time, then we’ll help you find the data sweet spot.

Firstly, check your phone to see how much data you’ve been using to date, and whether you have the tendency to use more than your current allowance every month. Then, if you’re still unsure, check out our guidance:

0-5GB Tiny amounts of data on SIM-only plans could be a blessing or a curse. If you’re putting it in a rarely used phone that will scarcely be away from Wi-Fi then it makes total sense. But if you end up with one because your head’s turned by the incredible price, then you could end up paying more if you continually go over your allowance.

5-10GB For anybody who needs data for little more than the occasional Google Maps route planning, 10GB plans come cheap and give you much more freedom to scroll away online away from the Wi-Fi.

10-20GB If you can’t leave the house without having a music streaming service like Spotify pouring into your ears, then it might be worth paying for some extra GBs of data.

20-40GB This is a significant amount of data and many networks now offer something in this range for a reasonably appetising price. Whether streaming music, downloading podcasts and watching social media videos or the occasional movie or TV show is your thing, you should be covered.

40GB+ Only smartphone junkies that need regular (and hefty) data fixes need bother with this avalanche of GBs. You’ll be able to rinse Netflix, Spotify and online games without too much fear of topping out.

The SIM-only plans on this page are checked regularly, so make sure you visit often if you want to get the most up-to-date information on the plans that are currently available!

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