SIM Only Deals: The UK’s Best Value SIM Cards For Your Smartphone

December 26th, 2016

You can often save more than £200/year by getting a low-cost SIM card and placing it into your smartphone. We compare the UK’s best value smartphone SIM-only deals.

SIM card for SIM Only tariffA great way to save money on your phone bill is to switch your tariff to a SIM-only deal. Compared to a normal mobile contract, you can typically save about £200/year whilst keeping the same phone number as before. You’ll also get lots of flexibility with the choice of either a 12-month or 1-month contract.

In this article, we’ll review and compare the UK’s best value smartphone SIM-only deals. We’ll compare SIM-only deals from 14 different mobile networks, from the big names like EE and O2, to lower-cost virtual network operators like ASDA Mobile and giffgaff.

SIM Only Deals: How Do They Work?

A SIM-only deal is a low-cost airtime-only tariff for your mobile phone. With one, you’ll get a new low-cost SIM card that slots inside your unlocked smartphone, saving you about £200 per year whilst allowing you to keep your existing phone number.

Here are three key things you should know when choosing a SIM-only deal:

1. You’ll always get coverage from either EE, O2, Three or Vodafone

  • EE
  • O2
  • Three
  • Vodafone

The UK has only four coverage providers: all other mobile networks will piggyback on one of the four.

With SIM-only deals, you’re currently able to choose from 14 different mobile networks. While this sounds complicated at first glance, it’s worth being aware there are only four underlying network coverage providers: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. All other mobile networks piggyback on coverage from the big four:

To compare the coverage in your area, please see our list of UK mobile phone coverage checker tools.

2. You can keep your current mobile number

iPhone 6It’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number when moving to a SIM-only deal. If you’re changing mobile networks, you can do this by obtaining a PAC Code from your old mobile network. The PAC Code should then be given to your new mobile network. The process of transferring your phone number will take about one working day and our PAC Code Finder can take you through the process one step at a time.

3. You might need to unlock your smartphone

If your smartphone was originally provided by another mobile network, either on a Pay Monthly contract or on Pay As You Go, it might be necessary to unlock it before you’re able to use the handset on another network. For more information, see our guides on unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Recommended SIM Only Deals

For a full overview of all of the available options, please jump to the relevant section of this article according to your desired price range:

Less than £10/month

5 Pound Note

In the UK, you can get a SIM-only deal for less than £5/month.

If you’re looking for a super-cheap SIM-only deal, there are a variety of options starting from about £5/month.

The UK’s cheapest SIM-only deal currently comes from Tello. For just £3.50/month, you’ll get 100 minutes, 100 texts and 100MB of internet. Tello provides 97% coverage using the Three network.

For most people, the best all-round value SIM card in this price range probably comes from Plusnet Mobile. They have a SIM card costing £7.50/month with 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet. With Plusnet Mobile, you’ll get 3G and 4G coverage from the EE network.

The following table show a full list of SIM-only tariffs available for less than £10/month:

12 month contracts

Tesco Mobile1005,000100MB£6.00
Tesco Mobile2505,000500MB£7.50
Tesco Mobile5005,000250MB£7.50
Tesco Mobile2505,0001GB£9.00
Tesco Mobile5005,000500MB£9.00

1 month contracts

iD Mobile2505,000250MB£4.00
iD Mobile2505,000250MB£4.00
iD Mobile2505,0001.5GB£5.00
iD Mobile2505,0001.5GB£5.00
iD Mobile2505,0001GB£5.00
iD Mobile2505,0001GB£5.00
Plusnet Mobile250500500MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile1002,000100MB£5.00
Virgin Mobile300Unlimited300MB£6.00
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited500MB£7.00
iD Mobile5005,0002GB£7.50
iD Mobile5005,0002GB£7.50
Plusnet Mobile1,000Unlimited1GB£7.50
Tesco Mobile2505,000100MB£7.50
Virgin Mobile1,500Unlimited1GB£9.00
Tesco Mobile2505,000500MB£9.00

From £10/month

The vast majority of SIM only deals start from £10/month.

At the £10/month price point, there’s a huge variety of SIM-only deals.

The most eye-catching offers come from Talkmobile (a low-cost sub-brand of the Vodafone network). For instance, you can get 12GB of data, 5000 minutes and 5000 texts for £12/month on a 12-month contract. You’ll get 98% coverage from Vodafone (see our in-depth review of Talkmobile for more information).

We think it’s also worth having a look at the £10/month deals from iD Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, Talkmobile and Three (with our preference being the deal from Plusnet Mobile as it comes with 4G coverage from EE, full support for tethering and just a 30-day contract).

12 month contracts

Tesco Mobile5005,0001GB£10.00
Sky Mobile001GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile1,0005,000500MB£10.00
BT Mobile400Unlimited500MB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£11.00
Tesco Mobile1,0005,0003GB£12.50
iD Mobile2505,000500MB£12.50
BT Mobile500Unlimited3GB£13.00
Tesco Mobile3,0005,0006GB£13.50

1 month contracts

iD Mobile5005,0005GB£10.00
iD Mobile5005,0005GB£10.00
Plusnet Mobile1,500Unlimited4GB£10.00
iD Mobile5005,0004GB£10.00
iD Mobile5005,0004GB£10.00
Plusnet Mobile1,500Unlimited2GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited1.5GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile2505,0001GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0001GB£11.00
Virgin Mobile2,500Unlimited2GB£12.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£12.50

From £15/month

15 Pound NotesThere are a wide variety of SIM-only deals to choose from at the £15/month price point.

Namely, Tesco Mobile (uses coverage from O2) and iD Mobile (uses coverage from Three) are both offering 6GB of data for £15/month. On Tesco Mobile, you’ll get also 3000 minutes on a 12-month contract and on iD Mobile, you’ll get 2000 minutes on a 30-day rolling contract.

The following SIM-only deals are currently available from £15/month:

12 month contracts

Tesco Mobile1,5005,0004GB£15.00
Sky Mobile003GB£15.00
iD Mobile5005,0001GB£15.00
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£17.00
iD Mobile5005,0002GB£17.50

1 month contracts

iD Mobile2,0005,0006GB£15.00
iD Mobile2,0005,0006GB£15.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£15.00
Virgin Mobile2,500Unlimited4GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited3GB£15.00
Tesco Mobile1,0005,0003GB£15.00
Tesco Mobile1,5005,0004GB£18.00

From £20/month

20 Pound NoteAt the £20/month price point, most mobile networks are offering unlimited calls and unlimited texts. You can also get huge amounts of data at this price point (e.g. 30GB of high-speed 4G internet on the £22/month Advanced SIM card from Three).

For unlimited downloads and ultimate flexibility, we recommend choosing giffgaff’s £20 goodybag. For £20/month, you’ll get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and ‘Always On’ data (unlimited downloads with tethering and 4G speeds on the first 6GB per month).

The following deals are also available from £20/month:


12 month contracts

Tesco Mobile5,0005,00020GB£20.00
Sky Mobile005GB£20.00
iD Mobile2,0005,0003GB£20.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00012GB£23.00

1 month contracts

ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£20.00
Tesco Mobile3,0005,0006GB£23.00

From £25/month

The following SIM-only deals are available for £25/month or more:

12 month contracts

BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£25.00
iD Mobile2,0005,00010GB£25.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00020GB£28.00

1 month contracts

Virgin Mobile5,000Unlimited20GB£25.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00012GB£28.00

£30/month and more

The following SIM-only deals are available for £30/month or more:

12 month contracts

Tesco Mobile5,0005,00025GB£32.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00030GB£35.00

1 month contracts


More Information

For more information about the mobile networks listed in this article, please see our in-depth mobile network reviews. You may also find it helpful to read our guides on comparing mobile coverage, transferring your phone number and unlocking your smartphone.

For more information about a specific SIM-only deal, please refer to the mobile network’s website. You can click through to their website as follows: ASDA Mobile, BT Mobile, EE, giffgaff, iD Mobile, O2, Plusnet Mobile, Sky Mobile, Talkmobile, Tello, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone. Prices change on an occasional basis. For this reason, you should double-check the details on the mobile network’s website before signing up to any deal.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 98 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Oliver Scott said:

    Ken missed out on a deal that EE is currently running that I switched to personally, 20 GB, unlimited calls and texts for £20 a month + 3 months BT sport app and apple music use.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Oliver,
      Thanks for the heads up about this! I am actually listing this in the table above, though it’s possibly a little bit confusing (the tariff is actually £19.99/month, so is listed the “From £15/month” section rather than “From £20/month” section). Definitely a great deal, especially if you get it with the voucher code offer!

      1. Oliver Scott replied:

        I’d have listed it up to the “£20/month” but this isn’t haha!
        Also you have another EE offer for £19.99 for only 2GB which would only add to the confusion of whether that’s a typo. Anyhow, glad to be of assistance. I think this offer will only be valid for this month though, atleast that’s what I was told at the shop. This bundle’s regular price is £34.99.
        Keep doing what you do and have a good one.

  2. Wulfrunian said:

    Hi Ken!
    I’m coming to the UK for a 2 week holiday and need a PAYG Sim card for calls only – text and internet not necessary – but the number of options are many and most offer what I don’t need or want to pay for, so what do you suggest?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Wulfrunian,
      Thanks for your comment. I’d recommend having a look at my article on free Pay As You Go SIM cards and on Pay As You Go bundles. With regards to the best value SIM card for phone calls, you’re probably best off getting a SIM card from Three. They charge 3p/minute so your £10 of credit should give you about 333 minutes of calling (slightly less if you also text or use mobile data). You can also get a Pay As You Go bundle from any other mobile network (typically, they all start from £10 for 30 days usage).
      Hope this helps,

  3. bobby kennedy said:

    Soon i will be returning to uk, at the moment i am an ex-pat,,
    lots changed in the mobile network since i left uk ,, My wife wile be following me to the uk a few months after,,

    i planed to get a prepaid bundle like on giffgaff or so , then did a search on international texting , and realized that things not going to be easy or cheap, some wanting extra cash on balance, for that reason ,, and the so called unlimited texts and minutes hardly ever used,, but on the data i could be classed as a heavy user

    hmm wondering what your thoughts will be on this,, i would be in uk , but main contacts abroad, no i do not think i would be roaming on the real sense on roaming ..i also expect my data usage to be 6 gb,or more, seen 3 do a 12 gb not too big on the txts or minutes

    anyways thats my story ,, your thoughts welcomed,,i also looked at lycamobile, great for getting the distance calls,, not best as what can see on international txts,, think tat can also be set up for Philippines contact from uk..
    don’t think ill be the only 1 with a situation like this,, might thia be an add on for your page, with your own composition of course.
    thank you

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Bobby,
      Thanks for your comment. You might find it helpful to read my article on international calling (it compares the cost of making international phone calls from the UK). With regards to international texting, giffgaff and Tello are probably the cheapest (or even better, you can side-step these charges by using an instant messaging app such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger).
      With regards to the best all-round option, you’ll probably need to cross-reference the information on that page with the list of available bundles here. Alternatively, if you’re happy to make internet-based phone calls through Skype or WhatsApp, you can simply look at the best Pay As You Go deals and you can then consider international calling as a totally separate matter.

    2. Stefan Westen replied:

      I use the Tesco International Calling app for calling and texting abroad. The rates are quite competitive and you get 2000 free international texts a month as long as you have a positive balance. You get £1 free when you first install the app. Calls can be made using a local number or WiFi. Calls to the local number from Tesco mobile are free. You can find the terms and conditions for the free texts here:
      When you’re abroad you can also call UK landlines and mobiles for 1p/min using WiFi and text UK mobiles for free.

  4. Sarah Harris said:

    MTV and EE have a Pay as you Go sim in the market, called MTV Trax Sim – this has been in market since February and is available online ( and is also in the retail space such as Carphone Warehouse (currently listed as CPW’s best PAYG deal), Sainsbury’s, Argos, WHSmith, Poundland, Primark and QVC.

    It’s one of the most competitive PAYG propositions currently in the market:

    MTV Trax PAYG SIM (EE)
    Top-up £15 per month for 7GB of data, unlimited texts and 500 minutes
    You will also get MTV Trax Premium Mobile Music app for FREE (

    Please can you advise why it is not featured in teh price comparison table for £15/month?


  5. Tim said:

    Hi Ken,

    My extended family are all on T-Mobile. Now we want an emergency phone for our daughter when she starts travelling to school alone, so it makes sense to be on the same network.

    However all I can now find are EE pay-as-you-go SIMs which all expire in either 30 or 7 days. This means we’d end up paying minimum £52 per year for a phone that may only be used once a month and waste lots of credit.

    Have you got any suggestions on best way to get a PAYG SIM on EE/T-Mobile that doesn’t expire its credit so quickly?

    Many Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Tim,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to get a new SIM card from T-Mobile as EE are trying to gradually move everyone over to their 4G network. If you want a good low-cost Pay As You Go SIM card offering the exact same coverage as what you’d get on T-Mobile, I’d recommend ordering a free SIM card from ASDA Mobile. They charge 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB. Also, your credit doesn’t expire providing you use the SIM card at least once every 270 days.
      Hope this helps,

      1. Tim replied:

        Thanks Ken for your swift reply. I’ll have a look into the Asda option. Best Regards. Tim

  6. Stephen said:

    Hi Ken

    I am looking for a sim for work I am traveling to Portugal for 1 month. I am looking for a sim with unlimited data that will work with my Huawei Mifi any suggestions and price guide?

    Thanks Stephen

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Stephen,
      You’ll probably be best served by one of the local Portuguese mobile networks. However, take a look at my guide to using your smartphone in Europe: it will summarise the options you have with regards to roaming on a UK SIM card.
      Hope this helps,

  7. N Malik said:

    Hi Ken,

    Many thanks for helping the (ever growing, occasionally thirsty too) community with all sorts of questions and valuable advice with varied queries, issues puzzling the individuals concerned thus enabling them save time and expense.

    kindly advise me if my brother, who owns a sim free cell phone, probably locked into VIRGIN USA net work and who is visiting us in London, from the states – will or can somehow, be able to make use of this one of his phone, as just described above, here. Not sure if there is any help/facility available on line or else, to get it unlocked, I mean, this SIMFREE but limited to work with VIRGIN USA net work . Local Virgin store employee expressed his ignorance to offer any help, saying VIRGIN USA has nothing to do with us with virgin in UK. My brother has got 2 such phones and told me he can leave one here with me, for my usage as this seems to be quite a smart phone is another temptation for me to be writing to you.

    Anxiously looking forward to hear from you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. First of all, it’s worth double-checking whether the handset actually works with the network technology in the UK. As Virgin Mobile USA is a CDMA network, many of their handsets lack GSM/WCDMA support and there might not even be a SIM card slot for you to insert your own SIM card. Secondly, as previously mentioned, Virgin Mobile in the UK is a totally separate network to Virgin Mobile in the US. If the handset will work on UK-based networks, you’ll need to ask Virgin in the US to unlock the handset before you’re able to use it here.
      Hope this helps,

  8. June said:

    I have got a standard sim in my old phone and I’m thinking of getting a new one xperia E4 dual sim will my standard sim fit in it or will I need a different one can you help as I know nothing about sims. Thanks.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi June,
      Thanks for your comment. For more information on SIM card sizes, I recommend reading the guide I’ve written here. In short: the Xperia E4 requires micro-sized SIM cards. Hence, before you’re able to use your SIM card in it, you’ll need to get it replaced for a smaller-size micro-SIM (normally free).
      Hope this helps,

  9. Peter said:

    Hi Ken,
    I am having excellent service using a 4g 6gb EE sim, on sale from many eBay sellers for £14.99. This gives 6gb of data, valid for 3 months from registering, though you have to top up to use voice or texts. Since I use it in a Tablet, it’s ideal for me, much cheaper than any monthly contract – I just have to get another sim at the end of the 3 month period, though of course this means a different number (not worth keeping the same number).
    I also use this in Europe, charge is £3.00 per day, (longer period deals available), so you need to top up before travelling.
    Hope that this is of interest.

  10. Kasper said:

    Hi. My current T-Mobile contract has just ended. I’m happy to keep my phone from that contract. I’m interested in a 12 month sim only contract with EE.

    Mobiles Phone Direct are offering a potential £108 cashback on the EE Unlimited minutes tariff. Can I sign up with them and they ‘ugrade’ my number to the sim only? Or do I need to transfer my number away to a temp provider and then back to EE once I’ve signed up through Mobile Phone Direct?

    There doesn’t seem to be a clear notice anywhere about taking a third party sim only deal on the same network the number is currently on.

    Thanks for your help and advice.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kasper,
      Thanks for your comment. I recommend having a look at the comments on my blog post about moving a phone number from T-Mobile to EE. In short, I believe it should be possible to transfer your phone number from a T-Mobile SIM card onto an EE SIM card. Sometimes, EE isn’t so happy when customers do this (it means they need to pay another new customer commission to a third-party company such as Mobile Phones Direct) but there’s nothing which actually stops them from being able to do it.

  11. Dinesh Shah said:

    Dear Ken,

    We are visiting UK and Ireland for 18 days. Basically we need sim for local calls covering UK and Ireland, text messages and internet purposes. I have a handset of Samsung S3 mini with regular/standard sim card. Please advice us on the best package/network operator for our requirement.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Dinesh,
      Thanks for your comment. As a visitor to the UK, you’ll need to choose a Pay As You Go tariff (the Pay Monthly deals listed on this page require a credit check and are only suitable for long-term residents in the UK).
      As you’re planning to visit both the UK and Ireland, I recommend choosing a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three. With Feel At Home, you can use your allowances when travelling in Ireland as well as when you’re in the UK. You’ll need to buy an All-in-One bundle to take advantage of the offer. Also, please be aware that it doesn’t include calls to an Irish phone number (you’ll pay an extra 16.6p/minute for these when travelling in Ireland). For this reason, it will probably be worth adding a bit of extra credit to your SIM card to cover the extra calls.
      Hope this helps,

  12. James K said:

    Hi- I am a Brit who has lived abroad for quite some time now, but looks like I will be back in UK for 8 months pa for next few years. I am keen to get a SIM only contract in UK that will offer me the cheapest all in fees for calling both UK and France. Been looking in to this for a while, but find that UK mobile operators offer great terms on Brits calling home from abroad but not calling Europe from UK. Do you know of any good tariffs available from the main players?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. If you’re likely to call abroad fairly often, you’re probably best off getting a specialist SIM card for international calls. The best deal for calling France would probably be giffgaff (you can order a free SIM card here): they charge 5p/minute to mobiles in France and 2p/minute to landlines in France.
      On the major networks, there are a couple of deals for regular international calling. They do, however, tend to be fairly expensive.
      One deal worth looking at is O2’s International Favourites. For an extra £10/month above the cost of your normal plan, you get 3000 minutes to landlines in France and 100 minutes to mobiles in France. Crucially, you’re only allowed to nominate 3 numbers to use with the service. One benefit is you can get a ‘Call Me’ number in France. Your friends in France could call this number and the phone call will be routed to your UK mobile at no extra charge.
      For greater flexibility, Three offers 3000 international minutes for an £15.32/month. For France, it can only be used for calling a landline and there isn’t a ‘Call Me’ included.
      Hope this helps,

  13. chris miller said:

    Hi Ken,
    At the moment i am using tesco PAYG,where everybody and next doors dog know my number, this is my only phone contact i do not have a landline number.
    I also have an EE/Orange PAYG number which some people know
    and a laptop using a dongle and a sim card which is on 3.
    The coverage on 3 in North West Wales,is not that good,but i am continually advised that it is going to improve….. i am still waiting.
    I am looking for either a one month rolling or 12 or 24 month contract,i would be looking at bringing my Tesco number with me.
    Is it possible to have a sim card in a phone and the same number and operator for the sim card in my dongle ? At the moment i am spending £15 for 30days internet,regardless of whether i use it or not.
    Thanks for a great site,what would we do without you.
    All the best.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to have the same phone number on more than one SIM card. One way of using the same contract in your smartphone and for mobile broadband is to use a feature known as tethering. That way, you only need to pay for one contract (and you’ll only have one phone number). For more information, take a look at my article here for a review of the best tariffs with tethering included.

  14. Christine said:

    Hi , I want to go on a 30 day rolling contract, can u tell me when I do which
    Networks have hotspots so I can use my iPad from it thank you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Christine,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe you should be able to use tethering/portable wi-fi hotspot on EE, giffgaff, O2, Tesco, Three and Vodafone. You can also use tethering on TalkTalk Mobile (excludes the All-in SIM card) and ASDA Mobile/Co-op Mobile Pay As You Go.
      Hope this helps,

  15. craig said:

    Hi Ken,
    I am coming to an end with my monthly Vodafone contract. I want to switch to a free sim deal with Vodafone but can’t see one that suits my needs. I need a lot of data somewhere round the 2gb but don’t need a lot of texts and minutes and I would like to stay with Vodafone as my wife and daughter are with them. Any help?

    Also is giff gaff sims any good in the Wirral area?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Craig,
      giffgaff would indeed be a good choice for you – it’ll be £12/month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of internet. You can order a free SIM card here. Unfortunately, there aren’t any deals for unlimited calling to Vodafone so you’ll need to use the inclusive minutes.
      With regards to your second question, giffgaff uses O2 as their network coverage provider. Hence, if you’d like to check the coverage in your area, you should use O2’s online coverage checker.
      Hope this helps,

  16. Fiona said:

    Hi Ken
    I have been given an iphone5 by my sister. I would like to know can I get sim that is reasonably priced to cover uk and international calls especially to Ireland and uae?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Fiona,
      Thanks for your comment. For a low-cost SIM-only deal with competitive rates for calling abroad, I would probably recommend choosing a SIM card from giffgaff. They have some pretty competitive rates for calling in the UK (£10/month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet) and they’re also competitive for calling another country. You can see a full comparison of international calling rates here: giffgaff is cheapest for both Ireland and the UAE (8p/minute and 13p/minute when calling a mobile phone in the respective countries – 2p/minute and 12p/minute when calling a landline).
      As you’re going to use an iPhone 5, you’ll need to order a nano-sized SIM card.
      Hope this helps!

  17. avia said:

    I’m curious why you don’t include “monthly sim only” bundles from other PAYG providers apart from the MVNO giffgaff ? In essence GTMobile, Vectone and Three amongst others offer monthly PAYG bundles that are not really any different to giffgaff which a PAYG only provider that offers bundles.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Avia,
      Thanks for your comment. I actually have a complete page detailing and comparing the UK’s Pay As You Go bundles. They generally aren’t included on the page here as it would end up being incredibly long and confusing (there are also some fundamental differences between Pay Monthly SIM cards and Pay As You Go bundles). As you say, strictly speaking, giffgaff shouldn’t actually be listed on this page (they’re a Pay As You Go provider rather than Pay Monthly). The reason we’ve listed them is simply an editorial decision: most people compare them side-by-side with a Pay Monthly SIM card so it makes sense to also list them on this page.

      1. avia replied:

        Editorial decision Interesting.

        I read on forums that giffgaff is often promoted more because it pays at least £5 for a successful activation from a referral link and potentially more for continued spend following activation. Hence it’s pushed more by certain websites.

        Does your site receive payment in this way from all the providers you refer or just some? If just some which ones for transparency ?

        The pricing info shown above is also incorrect in that giffgaff’s open to all £18 goodybag increased in price to £20 recently.

        Also any thoughts on what will happen to giffgaff when Hutchison (Three) buy its parent Telefonica UK (O2 UK) ?

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Avia,
          Many websites do indeed push giffgaff more due to their referral scheme. For full disclosure, we’re a member of the giffgaff affiliate scheme (the website you’re reading is funded by advertising). To the best of our ability, we do try to ensure that advertising doesn’t affect the conclusions of our content. To that extent, we don’t limit inclusion only to companies who advertise on our website. We also use automated software which adds the advertising links only once articles are completed. You can find our full disclosure policy at this page.
          With regards to the £20 goodybag, thanks for the heads up – I’ve updated it in the table. With regards to the takeover from Hutchison, it will definitely be interesting to see what happens next (my guess is as good as yours!)

          1. Amir replied:

            I think you find ken and i keep seeing it again and again that giffgaff is owned by Telefonica!

            This is the same parent company as o2! So when o2 is sold you’ll find giffgaff will not be sold with it! That’s if o2 do get sold! It’s not looking good for three as it drops the operators down from 4 to 3. BT’s buying of EE does not reduce the amount of oprators down from four to three as BT does not own a mobile network.

            Hope this clarifies a few things! Check giffgaffs page deffo telefonica and not o2 directly!

          2. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Amir,
            According to this, giffgaff is 100% owned by Telefonica UK, which is itself a part of O2 Holdings Ltd. So giffgaff is actually considered a part of O2 (though nothing precludes them from spinning out giffgaff as a separate independent company before the Hutchinson takeover).

          3. Amir replied:

            Interesting ken but looking at your link the ultimate parent company of giffgaff is telefonica uk ltd which is owned by telefonica of spain no mention of o2 holdings! When i click 02 holdings this is owned by telefonica uk ltd so it looks like telephonica uk ltd own giffgaff and 02 but deffo different companies so giffgaff is not part of 02 holdings but part of telefonica uk ltd! So as you say easy to sell o2 but keep giffgaff but deffo not o2 that own giffgaff! As per your link


            P.s any chance of a review of life mobile no mention on your website of it! its the old phones 4 u network now owned by EE

          4. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Amir,
            Thanks for this! I’ve actually been asked several times about the LIFE Mobile network… it’s on the to-do list to review some time in the future!

  18. Kate Peace said:

    I have enjoyed finding out more about my mobile phone and will change to a Sim only deal now.
    I have an IPhone and spend 3/4 months each year in Thailand . At the moment ( on a fixed contract ) I dare not use my phone in Thailand.
    If I use Sim only and continue with EE will I be able to use it there without incurring huge costs ?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there are still hefty charges if you want to use your UK SIM card abroad when travelling in Thailand. This is the case even with a SIM only contract. According to EE’s website, it’s £1.50/minute to make or receive a phone call in Thailand. It’s also 50p to send a text message and it’s £7.50/day for 10MB of internet.
      To save money, I strongly recommend you unlock your iPhone and you use a local SIM card from a network in Thailand.
      Hope this helps,

  19. Alan said:

    Hi Ken

    Great article simple and precise, any advice / tips on best value for money on Pay As You Go data plans under £10 per month, where the data will not expire after 30 days ? thanks Alan

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your comment. The 30-day Pay As You Go data plans you refer to in your comment as known as Pay As You Go monthly bundles. If you want the internet without a monthly bundle, there are several options you’re able to choose from. The cheapest is probably Three’s 321 tariff (1p/MB when you access the internet, no expiry unless your SIM card is inactive for more than six months). You could also consider giffgaff Pay As You Go (20p/day for 20MB of internet, you only pay on the days where you actually use it).

      1. Alan replied:

        Hi Ken
        thanks really appreciate the smart advice , its a mind field of info out there but you make it all a lot more understandable

  20. Stephen said:

    Thanks Ken for making it easy to evaluate what is best to suit individual needs. We plan to be in UK and Switzerland for 1 month and you made it so easy for us to decide that Three is the most suitable for us without having to trawl through the different sites to get the information. Keep it up. It is very much appreciated.

  21. Vakeros said:

    Though this is SIM only deals – Tesco Mobile provide the Moto E and a couple of other handsets for the same price as SIM only deals – £7.50 a month. Admittedly it is a 24 month contract, but the price is almost the best possible, especially as you get a decent phone in the Moto E.

  22. David said:

    Very useful guide 🙂

    It would be even more useful if you could indicate which plans allow you to tether.

    I am sure I am not the only one who has a smart phone plus a tablet that does not have a SIM card slot.
    As I rely on the phone to provide Internet to the tablet when away from home tethering (or hot spot) is a “must have”.

    1. Mark Richardson replied:

      Hi David, the only plans which allow tethering up to the data limit you decide to purchase is EE. The other plans either prohibit tethering, only allow tethering up to a pre-defined data limit or, charge extra for tethering. Some of Three`s plans for example allow unlimited data to be used on a smartphone but they prohibit tethering in excess of 2GB data and you would probably need to enter into a contract with Three in order to tether. EE plans allow tethering at any time and this also applies to their pay as you go add ons. Whilst EE charge higher prices, I find them much more convenient for unrestricted tethering but it depends on how often you tether and your data use whilst tetherin. I would advise reading the terms and conditions of EE, Three and Vodafone.

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Hi Mark,
        Thanks for this! You’re right: EE allows you to tether up to your monthly download limit. In addition, however, this is also possible on O2, Three and Vodafone SIM only contracts. For all-you-can-eat data plans on Three, there’s a 2GB limit on Pay Monthly plans with a new smartphone included and a 4GB limit on SIM only contracts. giffgaff also allows you to tether free of charge but only on the goodybags without unlimited data.

  23. Leanne said:

    Hi there,

    Have you seen The People’s Operator Unlimited 30 day-SIM?

    Unlimited talk, text and data for just 14.99. Even though fair usage applies, still looks very good!

    Hope its useful, Leanne

  24. Hugo said:

    Hi Ken,

    Do you know if the one plan 12 month simonly contract on three will include 4g?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Hugo,

      Yep – the 12 month One Plan will include access to 4G (as will all of Three’s other plans). At £15/month for unlimited internet and 4G access, I think it’s a great deal!


      1. Hugo replied:

        Sorry Ken, forgot to ask, what happens at the end of a 12 month sim only contract? Does it automatically renew for another 12months? Or, does it go onto rolling monthly basis?


        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Hugo,

          Thanks for your comment! The 12 month period refers to your minimum commitment. After the 12 months, your contract will continue as before though you’ll be able to leave at any time (essentially it becomes a rolling monthly contract).

          Hope this helps!


  25. Jonathan said:

    Doesnt EE also offer Deezer on its 4G plans? I know with Orange thr code also offers 2-1 main course at Pizza express is that carried over to EE? Also what about EE’s back up app thing and international plans? Tbh I find EE’s explainations confusing.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment! EE gives customers a free add-on but this is restricted to Pay Monthly plans of £41/month or more. As such, customers picking up an EE SIM Only deal won’t get free Deezer.

      With regards to 2 for 1 at Pizza Express, I’m not sure! The EE website makes no mention of it (however the Orange website advertises 2 for 1 pizza as part of the Orange Wednesday deal). It’s possible that pizza isn’t included with EE Film. I’ll see if I can get an official response from the guys at EE.

      Finally, EE Clone Phone is supposed to protect your phone and the data on it. All customers on 4GEE get 500MB of free cloud storage (fairly useless as you can get more from Google, Microsoft, etc). Everything else is a paid addition: phone insurance, phone tracking, etc.

      Hope this helps,


    2. Jonathan replied:

      Thanks for the response. I can see EE riding the wave a bit longer and then adjusting their offerings again. Surely they have to unless they hope coverage wins hearts and minds alone? I dont want to sound too bold in asking but the reason Im with orange is due to the handsets they offer (exclusive atrix before tmobile got it) and as such would it be possible to compare handset offers? I think for example the lumia 625 is exclusive to O2 and Vodafone which if it hits the £200 P&G mark will be a killer 4G handset! I think EE have the ascent P2 exclusive atm and three seem to have the most “niche” products. Also got my BB curve on orange cause a similar contract on O2 cost me £10 a month more. Ultimately on 2 occasions my network was chosen by the handset.

  26. Nigel Smith said:

    Your report today on SIM only deals says all four networks in UK use 800mhz but only Three and EE ALSO use 1800Mhz so check that your phone works.

    But when I look up the Samsing Galaxy S4 Mini spec it only says 4G LTE. Howe do I find the networks it is designed for?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nigel,

      Thanks for getting in touch! You make a really good point – readers should refer to this page to see what frequencies each network is using. Your 4G phone will need to work on at least one of their 4G frequencies.

      With regards to the Galaxy S4 Mini, the selection of bands varies depending on your country. In the UK, the S4 Mini GT-I9195 supports the following bands:
      800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600MHz (Source: Samsung UK)
      Hence, it should work on any of the UK’s 4G networks.


  27. John Ward said:

    Your smartphone tips are as always, very informative, thank you. However, you haven’t mentioned the Virgin Media 30 Day SIM Only deal. 1200 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB data for only £12 per month. I have recently signed up for this service which uses Orange and T-Mobile communications when it needs to. I will now save more than half of what I was paying on my last contract and get twice as much for my money.

  28. Leo said:

    Great info and tips and thanks for highlighting the best deals. I personally like the essential Internet tarriff from Three, which I bought @ just £6.90/month. Thanks again.

    1. Paul replied:

      Hi Leo,
      Do you know if this can be used in an iPhone (so long as I get the micro sim)?

  29. guest said:

    Ken you should mention that at the lower tariffs, H3G and Orange are charging for retrieving your voicemail. So on the H3G £6.90 tariff; you pay 10p for every voicemail you retrieve. This could be very expensive in the long run. Retrieve 5 voicemails a day and you add £15 to your monthly bill.

  30. Radioray29 said:

    Why has no-one mentioned GiffGaff Goody Bag @ £10 per month with 250 mins, Unlimited txts, internet & FREE Giffgaff to Giffgaff calls ? No contract and automatic monthly renewal if you choose. Brilliant value for UK based users

  31. Janis said:

    Hi Ken – First class site! My only comment would be which packages offer per second billing?

  32. Darren said:

    Hey Ken.

    I spotted a fantastic sim only deal when I was looking for a new sim for myself. 3 Mobile have just bought out some new tariffs and thier cheapest is now only £6.90 a month for 200 minutes, 5000 texts and 500mb of internet.

  33. mike said:

    hi ken, why don't you include giffgaff in your comparison chart as you recommend it on your other pages?

  34. Bravo said:

    Tesco Mobile have some fantastic deals at the moment, if you visit the following link and select "30 Day SIM"

  35. Stephen Aldhouse said:

    I'm coming to the end of the initial free usage of my iPhone 3GS and iPad1. You may call me a skinflint; I say I just want best value. Given my usage pattern, I like the '3' £5/month deal. Can I milk it any further by using Skype, which appears to be available on my phone, thus turning my calls into data? Also, would 3 let me turn the 3GS iPhone into a personal hotspot and could it then allow my iPad1 internet access by Bluetooth?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Stephen,

      I believe Skype is allowed on Three – yes. They used to advertise this as a feature of their network – though they haven't recently. Tethering is only allowed on The One Plan (£25/mo) AFAIK.


  36. ann said:

    i have just received a new htc wild fire i am currently on 02 simplicity 15 pounds monthly 02 02 unlimted 500 texts would like to add internet any sugestions

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ann,

      I've prepared a guide which reviews each of the internet packages (The Basics, The All Rounder & The Works).

      Hope this helps!


  37. Nick said:

    What are these rolling contracts. I am thinking of buying a Samsung Galaxy S2 unlocked from say Amazon or Play and want a PAYG SIM for reasonable Internet access. Three sounds interesting but what exactly do you buy? Do you buy a SIM that has to be topped up every month or do you pay for a year's worth. Honestly, I don't understand these 30 day rolling contracts

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nick,

      Essentially you get a "Pay Monthly" mobile contract but one which doesn't come with a phone. It'll be a 1-month rolling contact or a 12 month contract. Because there is no phone included with the tariff, these tariffs are about £15/month to £20/month cheaper.


  38. Matan said:

    Hi Ken,

    Are you planning to update this analysis for the latest position? And include details for the very attractive virtual networks (such as giffgaff, Vectone, Tesco Mobile, etc.)?

    Specifically very interested in getting something with unlimited (or 1GB) internet, a large amounts of minutes (say 500 ish), free land lines with a PAYG or 30-day rolling contract, but most attractive package seen to date is giffgaff's.

    I also heard rumours that Tesco used to do £10 p/m unlimited internet, 5000 texts and 500 minutes – is this true?



  39. Hands0n said:

    You need to update the information on Three's The One Plan – their Internet is completely unlimited in the pure dictionary definition. There are no catches or clauses, no FUPs or anything else. If your intention is to download the entire Internet then Three will not charge you a penny more for doing so! There is no speed throttling. It is, plain and simple, unlimited. A recent "challenge" was run by another blogger who managed 46GB in two weeks and with zero £ charge for Internet usage on his bill – validation that Internet with them is really unlimited in the package.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Hands0n,

      Thanks for getting in touch 🙂 Sorry for the oversight on this page… we had reviewed "all-you-can-eat data" back in January. The details on this page have been updated now.



  40. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    You can use any tariff on a smartphone but you are strongly recommended to use one with an inclusive internet allowance. Otherwise, you'll have huge data bills. All of the tariffs listed on this page come with an inclusive internet allowance.


  41. Sarah Page said:

    is it true that there are only certain tariffs you can use for smartphones?

  42. sam said:

    hi can any one help i have an unlocked blackberry curve 8900 i live 6 months in the UK and 6 months in Spain i want to know what is the best option for me i dont want to be tied to a contract when im not in the uk.

  43. Alex said:

    Great post, thank you. I persuaded Three to double my allowance from 1GB to 2GB on their £15/month SIM only deal. Giffgaff may be cheaper but three's coverage in rural Scotland is unsurpassed.

  44. jay said:

    Tesco have £5 off sim only contracts until 6th or 10th October. £10 = 500 min, 500 txt, 500MB. all on a 30 day contract. In-store only afaik.

  45. Adrian said:

    If one is considering the iPhone 4, a microSIM is required: so is there a good deal for a microSIM?

  46. Gareth said:

    Good article
    I have an unlocked 3G iPhone and am looking at doing a sim only monthly contract with tesco, I need the data 500 mb would be enough and the calls and texts. But whenever I speak to tesco they say they haven't yet released a sim only for a iPhone? But you look on the website and they have sims on with data?
    I am also considering giff gaff, any thoughts?

  47. Rick said:

    Does anyone know if Vodafone’s SIM-only for iPhone will work in an HTC Desire? Their online chatters say the SIM is incompatible, but is that technically bull?

  48. andrew said:
    offering free data till may 25 2010 with a minimum £10 top up

  49. Andy Burns said:

    O2 simplicity for smartphones, on a 12 month or 1 month contract, e.g. £15/month for 300 minutes + unlimited text + unlimited data

  50. Ray cannon said:

    I have an unlocked HTC TyTNII with a t-mobile sim card on PAYG (mates rate).
    Walk-n-Web is capped at £1 a day, BUT you can buy 5 days in advance for £2.50
    (EG 6am on Monday till midnight on Saturday just £2.50, so you can effectively get
    unlimited for less than £15/month.)

    It was working fine until I upgraded TyTNN from Windows Mobile 6.0 to 6.5.
    Since then, although GRPS/3G are working, I can no longer connect to TomTom’s traffic downloads.

  51. Aaron said:

    I’m currently on the 3 network now- And I am extremely pleased with them. I get a signal virually everywhere, and 3 is the only network operator to provide 3g internet speeds where i go to school, and I live in rural dorset!!

    I’m actually planning on buying the Nexus one within the next few months, and am interested by rumors that 3 is trying to offer it from the google website. However, i digress. What I came here to ask was, with the 3 pay monthly-sim only, what exactly do they define as ‘unlimited’ ?
    Because I am aware 3 defines unlimited as 150mb on a PAYG sim card. I hope this won’t be the case for my data-hungry nexus? 🙁

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Aaron,

      According to the Three T&C:

      The fair usage limit for Three is 1GB/mo. I’ve updated the article for clarification.



  52. Matt said:

    Hey man, very good article. I’m thinking of changing now my 18 month O2 contract has run out but I’m worried about internet speed and GPS. I have an iphone 3G and was wondering if the GPS would still work on another network. I also heard that the internet on 3 might not be very good. What do you think?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Matt,

      Make sure you unlock your iPhone ( first before trying a 3 SIM card. Firstly, you can use the coverage checker on their website. With the SIM only deal, you can cancel after one month if speeds are slopw. Alternatively, you could test the internet speed on 3 in your area using a 3Pay (3 Pay As You Go) SIM card (

    2. Steve replied:

      I'm in pretty much the same position. I'm moving to Giffgaff. They use the o2 network and for a £10 a month rolling contract they give 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited 3g web. A no brainer!

  53. dan said:

    well done and very interesting. however, there is one thing that I do not understand: Lets take the three contract for instance. There is unlimited internet – so, what does costs outside allowance for internet mean? thanks for clarifying!!! cheers, dan

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Thanks Dan 🙂 For an unlimited tariff, the data costs outside of your allowance doesn’t really have much meaning (unless you exceed the fair usage allowance). Hope this helps, Ken

      1. @AshtonBRSC replied:

        There's no such thing as unlimited if you get charged if you use too much. Costs outside allowance are very important.

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