SIM-only plans offer a simple way to make the most of the smartphone you already own. Here's everything you need to know.
Which mobile SIM-only plans are available?
Our comparison table above can help you sort through the available SIM plans. We have preselected month-to-month SIM-only plans, but if you want to see your 12 or 24 month SIM only options, click on "Contract" above. We've left the usage figures entirely open, but you can adjust any figure you like by clicking on "Modify Results" to generate the right plan for your needs and compare against every SIM only plan in the market today.
What is a SIM-only mobile plan?
As the name suggests, a SIM-only mobile phone plan concentrates on providing only a mobile phone SIM card, through which mobile call, text and data services are delivered. It doesn't include a bundled phone, so if you need a new handset consider a contract plan instead.
SIM only mobile phone plans operate on a postpaid basis with a set level of supplied calls, texts and data usage. You are then billed at the end of each billing cycle, typically monthly, for your service. If you use more than your allowance, you may end up paying more.
What’s the difference between SIM-only and prepaid mobile plans?
On one level, there’s not much difference between a postpaid SIM only plan and a prepaid one, because all the telco will provide you is a tiny sliver of plastic to fit into your phone. Depending on your device, you will need a regular, micro or nano SIM card.
With a prepaid plan you pay for your usage upfront and that’s all you’ll get unless you buy add-on packs to cover additional usage. Postpaid SIM only packs won’t "run out" of value, but instead charge you on a predetermined basis for additional usage. These days this is most pertinent in relation to data usage, as many SIM only plans offer unlimited calls and texts within Australia as standard.
The other big difference between SIM plans and prepaid plans is in the level of value you’re offered at the same price tier. In return for the prospect of additional cash for month-to-month SIM plans, or a minimum overall spend in the case of 12 or 24 month SIM only contracts, you can often get more data, or better call and text packages than on some prepaid plans. As always, it pays to do your research.
Why would I choose a SIM only plan?
If you’re fundamentally happy with the performance of your existing mobile phone but you want the freedom of a postpaid plan in terms of never running out of credit, a postpaid SIM only plan can make a lot of sense. It’s tempting to think of the phone as "free" on a contract, but this is never the case. The cost of the phone may be reduced a little on a contract basis versus buying it outright, depending on your phone and carrier choices, but you’re still paying for it.
It can also be a good choice if you travel internationally. Many prepaid plans, especially those from MVNOs, do not offer global roaming deals, whereas most carriers treat their SIM only customers in the same way as they do their full contract customers, so you can use the phone overseas if you want to.
Because most SIM only plans can be purchased on a month to month basis, you do pick up the essential flexibility of a prepaid plan. If you’re not happy with your plan, or your carrier coverage, you’re free to shift to another carrier at will if you’re only obliged for a single month.
What are the downsides of SIM only plans?
Postpaid SIM only plans sit in a middle ground between postpaid contract and prepaid plans, and as such they often pick up the disadvantages of both.
Obviously, as a postpaid plan there’s no "limit" to the amount you can spend in a given month, especially if you are travelling internationally. Keeping a firm eye on your actual usage is vital to avoid bill shock on a SIM only plan.
While they’re cheaper than contract mobile plans, SIM only plans don't include a new handset. Not only that, but you also often miss out on the generous inclusions found in postpaid plans, especially if you opt for a month to month SIM only contract.
How should I compare SIM only plans?
Monthly minimum cost: The monthly minimum is the least you’ll pay each month for a SIM only plan. You do need to remember that any additional usage (such as roaming, overseas calls or excess data) will incur additional costs, but you’ll never spend less than the minimum, because the contract is structured that way.
Data charging: Different SIM only plans come with different levels of data, and with the rise of "unlimited" call/texts packages, this is a key differentiator. If you spend a lot of time on Facebook or watching YouTube videos, go for a plan with plenty of data, but also make sure you can easily buy data top-ups. It's also important to check whether your provider counts data charges per KB block, rather than a larger amount as this will eat up your data quickly. We have a guide to how different providers count data if you want to know more.
Network coverage:SIM only plans can be procured from a large number of providers, but they will only ever be using one of three different networks. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone provide the infrastructure for every mobile provider, so it’s worth checking both coverage and expected speeds for the SIM only carrier of your choice, as not every MVNO has access to the full 4G network of its parent provider.
While network coverage maps are largely indicative rather than entirely accurate, they're a good gauge of overall coverage that can help you decide which provider to choose. Our guide to the difference between 3G and 4G covers this in more detail.
One of the key benefits of a contract plan is that pretty much any supported global roaming country will be open to you to use – for a fee. If you travel regularly, it’s well worth looking at the relative costs for global roaming usage in your most common destinations, as that could make a given provider much better value than a competitor.
The flip side of this is that if you don’t travel but do make a lot of calls to international destinations, it’s well worth checking if your destination of choice is on a reduced or even free call list with a given provider. As the value equation has shifted away from national fixed line and mobile calls to data, we’re seeing more providers offer packages that include international calling provisions as an added extra.
|SIM only 4G plans with 3GB of data|
|Vaya Unlimited L Month to Month||3GB||$26 per month|
|Amaysim Unlimited 3GB||3GB||$29.90 per month|
|Telstra M Casual SIM plan||5GB||$50 per month|
|TPG T4G III||5GB||$39.99 per month|
Latest mobile news
Fans of Huawei's triple-camera flagship won't have long to wait. Read more…
Don't pay premium prices for Apple, Samsung or LG's flagship smartphones. Read more…
Spice up your mobile life with the freedom to browse, download and stream on the go. Read more…
Enjoy 90 days of cheap prepaid calls, texts and data on Optus's 4G network. Read more…
The first FTTC sites go live, while Aussie Broadband adds unlimited packages in our round-up of all the week's NBN news. Read more…
LG has confirmed that it will launch its next flagship smartphone, the LG G7 ThinQ at dual events in New York and Seoul early next month. Read more…