Best SIM Only phone plans

Hanging to your phone and choosing a SIM only phone plan is the best way to save money on your phone bill. Here are the best BYO phone plans in town.
  • Best SIM Only Plan for Everyone
    4 out of 5 overall
    Telstra 4G Network
    Great international call inclusions
    See PlanHow we rate providers
  • Best SIM Only Plans: Big Data
    4.5 out of 5 overall
    Huge data inclusions
    Fast Optus 4G Plus network
    See PlanHow we rate providers

Overview

Do you own a phone and want to save some money on your plan? If you bought your phone on a plan sometime in the last few years there’s a good chance that you’re paying $80 per month or more. You really should only pay half that much, or less.

BYO mobile phone plans have come along way recently and are now some of the best value phone plans you can buy. You may not get a shiny new phone when you sign up, but you will get oodles of mobile internet data, plus extras like international calls and SMS, all for a great price and without any contracts to lock you in.

Best SIM Only Plan: Belong Mobile

With the way that most people use their smartphones these days, there’s no reason that your phone bill needs to be higher than $25 or $30 per month.

Belong is a phone and internet company that, while it is priced like one of the tiny telcos, is actually owned by Telstra. This means that Belong customers get access to the Telstra network, and the comfort of knowing that your phone provider won’t disappear into the night.

This Belong Mobile plan has everything that most people need in a phone plan these days. You get unlimited calls and SMS to Australian numbers, plus 10GB of data to use each month. And, if you don’t use all of your data the remaining bit and bytes go into your personal data bank, which accumulates each month and is ready to use whenever you need the extra data.

Also, if you have family and friends overseas, you can opt in to pay an extra $5 per month and get unlimited calls and SMS to numbers in 33 countries, including the US, UK, New Zealand, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. You can see the full list of countries here.

Best SIM Only Plan with Big Data: Optus

Statistically, 10GB per month should cover most smartphone loving Aussies, according to the latest figures from Bureau of Statistics. But there are some of us who need even more data. Like, a lot more.

This Optus plan requires a 12-month commitment, but in return you get a huge 80GB of data for just $50 per month. That’s just 62-cents per gigabyte, which is one of the best deals available right now. Plus, you get all of the extra goodies we expect with an Optus plan: data-free music streaming, free Optus Sports subscription, access to the National Geographic channel and calls to 35 different countries.

The icing on the cake is 4GB of international roaming data to use when you travel overseas. If you’ve holidayed abroad recently and struggled to get online for simple things like Google Maps, you’ll know what a lifesaver this generous bonus data is.

The 80GB data inclusion may seem like too much to use, but it will come in handy if you know how to put it to use. For instance, Optus offers data pooling for multiple devices on the same. So, you could put a SIM card in your iPad or laptop and share the data that way. Or, get the other members of your family a super-cheap SIM plan and have everyone dip into this pool of data together.

Some people might even find that it is enough data to replace the fixed-line internet connection in their home. You just put your phone into Personal Hotspot mode when you get home in the evening and let all of your devices connect to your phone over its WiFi network.

A few only options to consider:

How we choose the best SIM Only phone plans

There’s a surprising amount to consider before buying a tiny bit of plastic to put in your phone. As the mobile market becomes more competitive, the phone plans become more complex, with carriers adding in bits and pieces to catch your attention.

We consider all of the providers currently listed in the database of our phone plan search engine. The number of providers in our database does sometimes change, but we typically monitor over 20 providers at a time, including the biggest telcos like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

We start by comparing the cost of the essential components of the phone plans. How much will you pay for unlimited calls and SMS, and how much mobile data do you get each month? Do you need to sign a contract? Contracts are not a dealbreaker for us but you’d better get a pretty good deal in return.

Beyond the basics, we look for high-value bonus features. International phone calls and messages are a great example, and happily we’re seeing more plans include calls overseas.

Phone plans may also include access to exclusive video or music services, and while some of these are quite cool, we know that these services aren’t for everyone, so we don’t tend to consider these features too highly in our comparisons.

What are SIM Only phone plans?

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As the name implies, a SIM Only plan is a phone plan that only comes with the SIM card you need to put into your phone. Every mobile phone needs a SIM card that identifies your account on your carrier’s network, and every time you switch providers you need a new SIM card.

In the phone industry, ‘SIM Only’ has become shorthand for a plan that doesn’t include a new phone on a multi-year contract. Most SIM Only plans are ‘monthly plans’ or ‘no-contract plans’, meaning that you don’t sign a contract and you can move your service to a different provider at any time without paying any termination fees.
That said, there are now a number of SIM Only phone plans that do have a contract, usually a 12 month contract. These plans tend to be among the best value plans available and are worth considering, even if it means locking yourself into a contract for a year.

What’s the difference between postpaid and prepaid?

It can be hard to tell the difference between postpaid and prepaid plans when you’re comparing the terms and inclusions. In most ways postpaid and prepaid plans are identical these days.

The main difference is when you pay for the service, and as you’ve probably guessed, the key is the name. With a prepaid phone plan, you pay upfront by recharging your account. If you don’t have any credit on the account, you won’t be able to use the account until you’ve topped up. With a postpaid service, your carrier will send you a bill at the end of the month.

This becomes important when looking at excess data charges. If you have a postpaid plan and you reach your data limit, you will be charged extra for the data you use after this point. With a prepaid plan, the data is cut off and you are safe from the shock if a giant bill in the mail.

Also, a postpaid plan is sort of like a line of credit, which means that the phone carriers will run a credit check before you sign up. If you have had trouble with credit in the past, then a prepaid plan is a better option.

What is the best unlimited plan? Is unlimited really unlimited?

The word unlimited is thrown around a lot when talking about phone plans, so it is important to be clear about what part of the plan is unlimited, or not. Today, most phone plans include unlimited calls and messages in Australia, and a number of plans include unlimited calls and messages to overseas phone numbers too.

But what most people want is a phone plan with unlimited data, and this sadly, doesn’t exist. There are no phone plans in Australia that have no data limits at all. Telstra and Vodafone both have plans that slow your connection when you reach your data limit, down from full speed to 1.5Mbps, or fast enough to do a bit of web browsing and stream some music.

If you were hoping to find an unlimited data plan, it is important to figure out what you’re really looking for. On average most Australians download about 8GB of data per month, so an unlimited phone plan would be overkill for most of us. If you’re looking for a protection from excess data charges, the plans from Vodafone and Telstra will give you this peace of mind, or you could choose a prepaid phone plan and remain completely in control of your monthly spend.

If you’re looking to use mobile data for the internet at home, then you should take a look at Home Wireless Broadband plans. These plans use the mobile phone network, and come with a modem that is robust enough to connect a household’s worth of laptops, tablets and smart devices.