The best data SIM plans for your tablet

Stay connected on the road with the best data SIM plans.

Best for most
Optus
$45 Optus Choice Plus Data Plan
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • pro
    $45/mth
  • pro
    60GB/mth
Next best for most
Telstra
Upfront Data Plan Small
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • pro
    $25/mth
  • pro
    30GB/mth
Best for big data
Spintel
Mobile Broadband 200GB
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
  • pro
    $54.95/mth
  • pro
    200GB/mth
Next best big data
Optus
$60 Data Optus Choice Data Plan
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • pro
    $60/mth
  • pro
    100GB/mth
Best Telstra data deal
Telstra
Upfront Data Plan Large
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • pro
    $85/mth
  • pro
    400GB/mth
Joe Hanlon
Managing Editor
Read More
February 21, 2022
7 min read

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An iPad without an internet connection is like a car without fuel. Even if you think you’ll use your iPad in a place where you get WiFi, having a SIM card means you can access the internet anywhere at any time.

Most people these days have an unlimited NBN plan at home, but data SIM plans are great for those who rely on their iPad (or other tablet) on their daily commute. Commuters and tablet users have two options for going mobile: a) find a great deal on a data SIM plan or b) tether your smartphone, maybe even on an endless data plan.

With these high data-usage plans, you’ll be able to connect your tablet whenever you need to, and if you invest in a portable WiFi dongle, you can share that data around, becoming the most popular person in your study group.

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the most popular data SIM plans on the market. This list is updated daily, so you can be sure the latest deals appear in the table below. The rest of our editorial recommendations are updated periodically.

Best data SIM plan for most people

$45 Optus Choice Plus Data Plan

According to the latest numbers from the ACCC, Aussies aren’t using a whole lot of data these days: just over 6GB for Prepaid users and just under 12GB for SIM Only people. The median data allowance, though, is 30GB for Prepaid and 35GB for SIM Only. Basically, you’re looking at around 30GB per month to keep you happy, which is where we start to search for value in this category.

The $45 Optus Choice Plus Data Plan is contract-free and costs $45 a month for 60GB of data. If you go over, forget about bill shock because speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps for the rest of the month. This plan also lets you share data with eligible Optus plans under the same account, plus it has Optus 5G access and an optional no-cost Optus Sport + OS Fitness subscription.

Below is a daily updating list of popular data SIM plans with at least 60GB of data:

Next best data SIM for most

Telstra Upfront Data Plan Small

If you want the best dollar-for-data value around this price point, opt for the Moose 50GB 12M data SIM. Moose Mobile is an Optus Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that offers 50GB for $36 a month, albeit on a 12-month contract. While that plan is great value, we prefer the Telstra Upfront Data Plan Small. It cost $25 per month for 30GB of data, with no excess data charges; instead, speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps after 30GB. This Telstra plan also lets you share data with eligible Telstra plans and has unmetered streaming for Apple Music as well as selected sports.

For comparison, check out the daily updating list of popular data SIM plans below with at least 30GB of data:

Best data SIM plan for high usage

Spintel Mobile Broadband 200GB

Moving on to plans for high data usage, we’ve got yet another Optus MVNO in the mix, this time it’s the NBN deal darling Spintel. Perhaps more commonly known for regular discounts on NBN plans, Spintel also offers mobile services on the Optus 4G network. This particular deal gets you 200GB of mobile broadband data for $54.95 per month but you’ll pay $290 upfront (plus $20 shipping) for the included Netgear AC800S portable modem. The one downside to Spintel’s mobile broadband plan is it doesn’t include access to Optus 5G. That will only matter if you frequent areas with Optus 5G coverage, but if that is you, it could be a deal-breaker.

Below is a daily updating list of popular data SIM plans with at least 200GB of monthly data:

Next best data SIM for high usage

$60 Optus Choice Plus Data Plan

It doesn’t offer quite as much value as Spintel’s mobile broadband deal above, but Optus is also offering a decent chunk of data on its $60 data SIM plan. Despite not having 50GB of bonus data in the mix like last year, Optus still offers a reasonable amount of data (100GB) for a decent monthly price ($60). This Optus plan has no excess data fees, speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps after 100GB, plus it has access to the Optus 5G network and an optional Optus Sport + OS Fitness subscription.

If that's still not enough data for your appetite, you could always consider opting for an endless data plan with Optus or Felix Mobile, which you can use to tether to your laptop or tablet.

For comparison, below is a daily updating list of popular data SIM plans from our database with at least 100GB of data:

Best Telstra data SIM deal

Telstra Upfront Large Data Plan

Most of the SIM plans on this list so far have used the Optus network, and while that’s perfectly sufficient for most Australians, there are still parts of the country where only the best will do. That’s why Telstra’s market-leading mobile coverage can come at an eye-watering price. However, if you do need the Telstra network for your mobile data needs, the Big Blue is offering some decent deals on data these days. Notably, its Large Upfront Data plan offers 4G and 5G network access, a very healthy 400GB of data and no excess data charges for $85 per month (plus extra if you need a modem). The only catch is that Telstra mobile services are paid in advance, rather than at the end of the month, with its Upfront billing system.

Best prepaid data only SIM plan

Amaysim 50GB Data Plan

The good news about most of the plans on this page is they’re no-contract offerings, which means you’re on a month-to-month agreement and can cancel at any time. But if you’d rather pay for some once-off data to get you out of a bind, prepaid data SIM is the way to go. Amaysim’s 50GB Data Plan costs $40 per 28 days for 50GB of data, plus unlimited data banking. If you do stick around beyond the first 28 days, you can pay forward whatever’s left of that 50GB. Ultimately, it’s a decent price to pay for a 50GB prepaid data SIM on the Optus 4G network.

Below is a daily updating list of popular prepaid data SIM plans:

Most popular data SIM plans

The picks above are our editorial recommendations. We think they offer the best balance of data, value and network coverage. But if you're not done perusing, take a look at the list below to see some of the most popular Data SIM plans and deals available today.

Can I get a data-only SIM with unlimited mobile data?

The short answer is no. Only two providers offer unlimited data mobile plans: Felix, which is speed-capped at a maximum of 20Mbps, and the unlimited Vodafone 5G max-speed data of the $85 SIM Only Ultra+ Plan (albeit capped at 30GB of hotspot data). Even though Telstra, Optus and Vodafone now offer phone plans that slow down your connection when you reach your data limits (rather than charging you extra), only Telstra and Optus have passed the speed-capped ‘unlimited’ data to its mobile broadband plans. Even then, the best you can expect is a measly 1.5Mbps (which won’t get you far).

The most data you can get on a data-only SIM is with the Spintel Mobile Broadband 500GB plan, which has a very respectable 500GB of monthly data. The catch is there’s a $310 upfront fee for the modem; outside of that, it’s $59.95 a month normally.

Alternatively, have a look at the list of data SIM plans below with the most data from our comparison engine:

How we chose the best data SIM plans

There are dozens of providers offering data-only SIM plans these days, which can make it difficult to compare plans and find a bargain. The providers tend to make their plans slightly different to gain a competitive advantage, but this means we usually need to crack out the calculator to find the best data SIM plans.

We start by assessing a few different use cases and then setting criteria around how much data you will need and which standard plan terms, like contract length, are the most meaningful. We then dig into the nitty-gritty of the offer. Data-saving features like data-free media streaming score well because of how these will extend the time you can spend online each month.

For prepaid plans, we keep an eye on the number of days before your credit expires. The difference between 28-day expiry and a monthly plan works out as being a whole extra month you need to pay for each year: from 12 recharges to 13 recharges. Again, our calculators are useful here to figure out the total cost you’ll pay over a year, rather than simply comparing the monthly fee.

Which modems and devices are best for data-only SIM plans?

Generally, the best data SIM modems are the ones sold separately or recommended by your chosen data SIM provider. As the name suggests, a data-only SIM plan is most commonly sold without a device (unless it's a pocket WiFi or WiFi dongle). When you buy it, you’re given a SIM card in a small cardboard package, which can be slotted into a compatible tablet or laptop, or paired with a compatible modem. You’ll need to bring your own device to put this SIM card to work.

iPads, other tablets and laptops

An Apple iPad with a SIM card slot is a common example of the sort of device you might use. But you need to make sure you have the right iPad, as Apple sells a cheaper model without the SIM card slot you need. The same goes for Samsung tablets and Microsoft Surface Pro laptops. There are 4G versions available, but you need to double-check that you are buying the model with this feature as it can be easy to miss.

An old smartphone

This option is often overlooked, but if you have an old smartphone gathering dust in a drawer you can use it as a modem by switching on the Personal Hotspot mode in the phone’s settings. All iPhones and Android phones of up to five years old or so will have this feature available. However, some providers (*cough* Telstra) block the use of data-only SIMs in smartphones. It will work for a majority of provider SIMs, but it is a question worth asking before you sign on.

Portable WiFi hotspot or dongle

Lastly, there's the trusty portable WiFi hotspot. The student and commuter's best friend, a portable WiFi modem allows you to connect multiple devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) without the need to hotspot.

Tethering is a good solution to share your data with the gear you've got, but a personal WiFi dongle is a much more convenient solution.

Here are a few providers that bundle portable WiFi dongles with their mobile broadband plans.

What is the cheapest mobile broadband plan?

We currently have over 30 internet providers in our database, plus we compare just over 60 different data-only SIM plans. Below are the top five cheapest options in our comparison engine.

Some of these plans are exceptionally cheap, but make sure you get an eye out for one-month promotions and credit expiry of a week or less.

Joe Hanlon
Written by
Joe Hanlon
Joe has been reviewing tech and gadgets for over a decade having worked at CNET, TechRadar and telco comparison site WhistleOut.

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