Best Data only SIM plans from the top providers in Australia

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

Best data only SIM plan
20GB Optus Choice Plus Data Plan
Starts at
Monthly data
Optus 5G
Cheapest data SIM plan
Belong 20GB Data SIM Only
Starts at
Monthly data
Telstra 4G + 5G
Best big data SIM plan
Tangerine Telcom
Tangerine 400GB Mobile Broadband Data Plan
Starts at $64.90
Monthly data
Telstra 5G
🔥 Deal
$5 off for the first 6 months
Best long expiry data only SIM
Telstra $160 Prepaid Mobile Broadband Go plan
Starts at
Monthly data
Telstra 4G
Best prepaid data only SIM deal
Lebra Mobile
Lebara Data Plan Small
Starts at
Monthly data
Vodafone 4G
🔥 Deal
10GB bonus data on first recharge
Joe Hanlon
Dec 12, 2023
Icon Time To Read7 min read

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 another 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 cheapest 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

20GB Optus Choice Plus Data Plan

How we picked this plan: 

  • We ranked data SIM plans by price and selected the one under $20 with the most data.

The 20GB Optus Choice Plus Data Plan is contract-free and costs $20 a month and it includes access to both the Optus 4G and the Optus 5G network. 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 and includes the same perks that Optus mobile plans offer, including a discounted rate on Optus Sport and an OS Fitness subscription.

While there's no shortage of data SIM plans that are cheaper than this one, most of them have less than half the amount of data here.

For a sense of how this plan compares to the competition, check out the widget below for a round-up of data sim plans in our database with at least 40GB of monthly data.

Photo of a man using mobile broadband to surf the internet at the beach

The best mobile broadband plans for data on the go

Need internet for your laptop, tablet or iPad on the go? Consider mobile broadband.

Cheapest data SIM plan

Belong 20GB Data SIM only plan

How we picked this plan: 

  • We ranked data SIM plans by price and selected the cheapest one with the most data.

If you want a data-only SIM and you want it cheap, it's hard to beat this Belong Data SIM only plan. It costs $15 per month and includes 20GB of monthly data. It's powered by the Telstra 4G and 5G networks and while there are no perks or promotions to speak of, you do get a lot more data here than from comparable providers.

There are plenty of other data SIM plans out there with more data, but none are this cheap. Check out the widget below for a sense of how this plan compares to other cheap data SIM plans in our database.

Best big data SIM plan

Tangerine 400GB Mobile Broadband Data Plan

🔥 Deal: Save $5 for the first 6 months.

How we picked this plan: 

  • We ranked data SIM plans with at least 400GB of data by price and selected the cheapest one.

If you're looking for a data-only SIM that comes with more gigabytes than you know what to do with, the Tangerine 400GB Mobile Broadband plan is the obvious choice. The name gives away the game here, with a 400GB data allowance that easily eclipses what most other providers offer at the same price.

The other big selling point here is that this plan is powered by Telstra's 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks. While your download speeds are capped at 250Mpbs, that's still a lot faster than what you'll get on most 4G data-only plans.

If you're a new Tangerine customer, the provider will also knock $5 per month off the cost of your first six months.

For comparison, check out the widget below for a round-up of data sim plans with at least 400GB of monthly data.

Best long expiry data SIM plan

Telstra $160 Prepaid Mobile Broadband Go plan

How we picked this plan: 

  • We ranked long expiry prepaid data SIM plans with at least 50GB of data by price and selected the one with most data and the lowest cost over a 12 month period.

Need some one-off data to get you out of a bind? This Telstra long-expiry data-only SIM is the way to go. This plan includes 70GB of data as standard, but Telstra will throw in an extra 30GB on your first recharge if you activate before 29 April 2024.

Although this data SIM plan doesn't include access to Telstra's 5G network, it does come with some handy perks that'll help that data allowance stretch a little further. For instance, sports streaming when it comes to AFL, AFLW, NRL, Netball and the Hyundai A-League won't count towards your data allowance and nor will sports streaming

For comparison, below is a daily updating list of long-expiry data-only SIM plans from our database with at least 50GB of data:

Best prepaid data only SIM deal

Lebara Data Plan Small

How we picked this plan: 

  • We ranked prepaid data SIM plans by price and selected the cheapest one.

If you need data in a pinch but don't need quite so much as the plan above this one provides, then this Lebara data-only plan might be just the thing. This prepaid plan comes with 30GB of data as standard and 30-day expiry.

This plan is powered by the Vodafone 4G network and also comes with a 200GB data bank, which is always nifty to have. All told, this is a low-commitment plan with a cheap price tag and a decent amount of gigabytes to it.

Be sure to check out the widget below for a round-up of popular prepaid data SIM plans.

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

The short answer is no.

At the time of writing, only one provider offers unlimited data mobile plans: Felix, which is speed-capped at a maximum of 20Mbps

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).

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.

How much data do I need?

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.

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.

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.

Most cheap 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.

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.

Related Articles

Kmart Anko Bluetooth Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones
Kmart Anko Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones review
$50 for over 50 hours of playback? I'm listening.
T30 Pro Omni
Ecovacs: AI is important but not everything
"There is intelligence outside of AI."
Mac Studio M2
Ports over portability: Two years with the Mac Studio
The Mac Studio isn't pragmatic, but it's been my daily driver for the last two...
woman using AirPods Pro Max
Refurbished Apple AirPods and where to find them
Who doesn't like the sound of paying less for a set of AirPods?