Best SIM-only plans in Australia (December 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.

If you’re looking for a SIM-only plan with 5G access though, you’ll find that only Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and more recently Spintel offer this capability. For the time being, you won’t get 5G from the huge number of smaller telcos on the market.

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.

Noteworthy 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

Belong | 40GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$25p/m

Belong is offering double the data on all of its SIM-only plans, which means you can pay just AU$25 a month for 40GB of data. Your monthly data will drop down to 20GB after your first year on the plan, but because Belong offers unlimited data banking, you can stock up on any unused gigabytes. Belong uses the Telstra 4G network, and it’s 100% carbon neutral.

Total minimum cost is AU$25

Best SIM-only plan under AU$40

Circles.Life | 100GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$30p/m (first 6 months, then AU$45p/m)

Circles.Life is often our pick for the best overall plan under AU$40 because it gets you 100GB of data for just AU$30 a month. That cost is only available for your first six months though, after which it’ll bump up to AU$45 a month. Circles.Life is on the Optus 4G Plus network, and you can enter the code BONUS100 to snag the welcome discount. If you’re looking for a cheaper plan over 12 months, we’d recommend Belong’s 80GB for AU$35 a month.

Total minimum cost is AU$30

Best high data plan

Vodafone Ultra+ plan | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$85p/m

Vodafone has recently launched this unlimited data SIM-only plan, and it’ll give you the top available speeds no matter how much you’ve already downloaded. It comes at a cost of AU$85 a month, which is a little pricey to be sure, but there’s no data cap on this plan, and no slowing speeds. You’ll also get unlimited calls and text in Australia and unlimited calls and text to countries in Zone 1. It includes 5G coverage (if it’s available in your area).

Total minimum cost is AU$85

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 is an MVNO?

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a telco that does not own the network which it uses to provide mobile services to its customers. Many SIM-only providers are MVNOs, meaning they resell access to Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – usually at lower prices than the big three will offer themselves.

For this reason, you’ll find that we often recommend MVNOs for some of the best SIM-only plans in Australia. Some of the main MVNO brands are Amaysim (Optus), Belong (Telstra), Circles.Life (Optus) and Woolworths Mobile (Optus).

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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