4G SIM only deals can help you get online, make calls and send texts at affordable prices without the cost of financing a handset. If you already have a handset that you’re happy with, 4G SIM only deals can be a more affordable alternative to hopping on the upgrade bandwagon. You can get a SIM only deal on a contract or Pay As You Go. 4G is capable of speeds of up to 100 Mbps, with real world speeds of around 20-30Mbps in most areas. This should prove more than fast enough for most mobile users.
Last update: October 2021
What suppliers offer 4G SIM only deals?
All of the major networks (EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone) offer SIM only deals, as do the virtual mobile networks that piggyback off them such as Giff Gaff (O2), Voxi (Vodafone), Lyca Mobile (O2), Lebara (Vodafone) etc. This is good for consumers as it means that they have a wealth of choice, and can pick a plan that’s tailored to their needs. Most SIM only deals offer unlimited calls and texts, or at least more than you’ll ever need, combined with generous data allowances.
How much data will I need on a SIM only deal?
That depends on how you’re likely to be using your data. Some activities are more data-intensive than others. While some deals allow you to roll your data over from one month to the next, exceeding your monthly data allocation usually results in a surcharge.
In the table below, you’ll see some common activities that we often carry out with our smartphones and how much data they require:
|Online Activity||Typical data usage|
|Browsing 60 web pages||140-240 Mb|
|Streaming 1 hour of music||35-135 Mb|
|1 hour of video streaming in SD||300-700 Mb|
|1 hour of video streaming in HD||3 Gb|
|1 hour of video streaming in 4K UHD||7 Gb|
|1 hour online gaming||40 Mb-300 Mb|
|1 hour of video chat||350 Mb|
|Download 100 emails||10 Mb|
|Download 100 documents||200-500 Mb|
Are there SIM only deals with unlimited data?
Yes, absolutely. SIM only deals with unlimited data plans typically require a contract of at least 12 months in length, although there are some deals that are more flexible. In the table below, you can see some of the best value SIM only deals that place no restrictions on your data use.
|Smarty (via Three)||Unlimited||Unlimited||No contract||£16|
|ID Mobile (via Three)||Unlimited||Unlimited||12 months (first 3 months half price)||£10|
|Virgin Mobile (via EE)||Unlimited||Unlimited||12 months||£28|
SIM only deals on Pay As You Go
There are lots of 4G SIM only deals that offer flexible 30 day rolling contracts. These enable you to take advantage of generous allocations of minutes, texts and data without being tied into a lengthy contract.
However, there are some that baulk at the idea of being tied to any sort of contract. Fortunately, there are also a number of providers that offer Pay As You Go SIM cards. We’ll look at some of the best very shortly.
How do I switch to a SIM only tariff?
When your contract has expired and you’ve paid off your handset, switching to a SIM only tariff is simple. Especially when you have the Broadband Plans team behind you to help manage your switch. You don’t even need to travel to your local store. Your new provider will send your new SIM card to you. All you need to do is put your new SIM into your handset and you’re ready to start using your call, text and data allocation.
Want to keep your existing mobile number? No problem. Whether you switch to a new network or stay with your current provider, you can keep your number so that you don’t have to memorise a new one. Simply ask your old provider for your Porting Authorisation Code (or PAC). You can call your network operator to ask them for this code, or simply text “PAC” to 65075.
Under Ofcom guidelines, your network has to provide you with your PAC immediately over the phone, or within two hours if you request it via text message. You’ll usually receive your code within a minute.
Simply give this to your new network and they’ll apply it to your account for a seamless transition.
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What are the best 4G SIM only deals?
The best 4G SIM only deal for you will depend on your needs. Are you just looking for a deal that will save you money? Or are you looking for something with a generous or unlimited data allowance? Or maybe you’re looking for a deal that gives you as much freedom as possible. Let’s take a look at the best 4G SIM only deals for a range of different criteria.
The best priced SIM only deals
If you’re on a limited budget, these SIM only deals are a good fit for you. They combine manageably low prices with a flexible monthly rolling contract. However, you may have to spend a little more if you want more data:
|Network||Data allowance||Minutes and texts||Contract length||Monthly cost|
|Lebara||1GB||Unlimited texts & 250 mins||1 month||£3.99|
|Talk Mobile||2GB||Unlimited||1 month||£4.95|
|ID Mobile||1GB||Unlimited||1 month||£5|
|Virgin Mobile||5GB||Unlimited||1 month||£6|
The best SIM only deals for data
The cheapest SIM only deals can be restrictive in their data limitations, and going over your allowance can result in surcharges. We’ve already looked at some unlimited data plans. But in the table below, you’ll see some 4G SIM only deals that combine unlimited minutes and texts with generous data allowances:
|Network||Data allowance||Minutes and texts||Contract length||Monthly cost|
The best 4G Pay As You Go SIM only deals
Don’t want to be tied to a contract? A 4G Pay As You Go SIM only deal can help you to take control of your mobile spending. You can see some of the best deals on the market in the table below.
|Network||Data Cost||Minutes Cost||Texts Cost||Important Info|
|1p Mobile via EE||1p/MB||1p/min||1p||You'll need to top up at least £10 every four months or risk getting disconnected.|
|Asda Mobile via Vodafone||4p/MB||4p/min||4p||It costs 4p/min to access voicemail|
|Three||5p/MB||10p/min||10p||Won't work on pre-3G handsets|
The best 4G Pay As You Go bundles
Pay As You Go bundles offer a nice middle ground between PAYG and a contract SIM. The deals below do not tie you down to a contract. But they provide bundles of data, minutes and text for your monthly top-up.
|Asda Mobile (via Vodafone)||10GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||£10|
|Voxi (via Vodafone)||6GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||£10|
|Giffgaff (via O2)||6GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||£10|
Who has the best 4G coverage?
EE and Three are locked in a battle to ascertain which offers the best 4G coverage, with both making the claim. However, when we look at the raw data, BT-owned EE has the slight edge, both in terms of network area and average speeds.
In the last half of 2020 (the most recent records available), EE beat out the competition in terms of:
- Overall Performance
- Network Reliability
- Network Speed
- Data Performance
- Call Performance
- Text Performance
Why choose a SIM only deal?
A SIM only deal is a great way to save money on your monthly mobile phone bill, especially if your data needs are fairly limited. If, for instance, you use fixed-line broadband at home and only use a small amount of mobile data when on the go, you can find multiple 4G SIM only deals for less than £10 a month. Much cheaper than choosing to hop back on the upgrade bandwagon.
The sheer wealth of choice on the market means that it’s easy to get a 4G SIM only deal that gives you more of what you want, whether it’s affordability, calls, texts or data.
Should I go for a long term or short term 4G SIM only deal?
That depends on what means the most to you, low monthly costs or flexibility. While longer contracts usually result in lower monthly costs, there are lots of rolling 30 day contracts and Pay As You Go deals on the market that will afford you more freedom at a slightly higher monthly cost.
If you feel that you might want to upgrade your handset in the near future, you may find that a short term 4G SIM only deal is your best bet. However, if you want to get more texts, calls and data for less, you may find that a 12 month contract gives you more of what you want.
Is 4G getting phased out?
No, not at all. Since the advent of 5G, many of us have wondered whether to keep hold of our 4G handsets or upgrade to 5G. However, most 5G SIM only deals are significantly more expensive than their 4G counterparts, as are the handsets themselves. While you can use a 4G SIM card in a 5G phone, it does not work the other way around. 5G requires more memory, processing power, and a larger battery.
However, while 5G is an useful supplement for 4G, it is nowhere near supplanting it at the time of writing. Your 4G handset will be fully functional for many years to come.
Will a SIM only deal improve my credit score?
This is a tricky one. The honest answer is… sort of. SIM-only contracts are not technically a form of credit because you're not borrowing any money in advance. You pay a fee each month, and your new minutes, data, and texts are added to your account afterwards, making it a purchase rather than a form of credit.
So, in this regard, it does not affect your credit score.
That said, if you pay off our contract via Direct Debit each month, this can add to your credit history and show prospective lenders that you are a reliable debtor.
Let Broadband Plans help you find the perfect 4G SIM only deal
Still not sure whether a 4G SIM only deal is the best option for you? Want to know which deal is bets suited to your needs? The Broadband Plans team are here to help. We can match you with the perfect deal to give you more of what you want at a price that suits you.
Want to know more?
Give us a call today on 0330 054 0020.
Available Monday to Friday from 8.30 am until 5.30 pm
Can I keep my mobile number of I switch to SIM only?
Yes, absolutely. All you need to do is get your current provider to issue you with your PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) before you switch. You can get this from them over the phone or simply text “PAC” to 65075. Submit this code to your new network and away you go!
Are 4G SIM only deals cheaper?
Many 4G SIM only deals are significantly cheaper than signing up to a new contract with a new handset. As tempting as it may be to clamber back onto the upgrade bandwagon, you’ll often find that you can get 4G SIM only deals with unlimited calls and texts as well as generous data allowances for around 50% of the cost of upgrading.
Do I need a credit check for a SIM only deal?
A SIM only contract is technically a credit agreement. But while some providers may require a credit check, this is certainly not true of all of them.
For instance, EE, VOXI, Lebara, Giffgaff, SMARTY, Asda Mobile and FreedomPop all offer SIM Only deals that feature no credit check and a flexible 30-day rolling contract.
Can I use a 4G SIM card with a 5G handset?
Yes, you can. Although you won’t be able to access the 5G network, as it’s the SIM card that grants you access to the network itself. However, you’ll still be able to enjoy all the same apps and features at 4G speeds.
Updated on 9 Aug, 2021
Junior Copywriting Specialist in Broadband
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