The best data SIM plans for your tablet
Best for mostRead review$25/mth50GB/mth (1st 12 mths)
Next best for mostRead review$36/mth50GB/mth
Best for big dataRead review$54.95/mth200GB/mth
Next best big dataRead review$50/mth150GB/mth (1st 12 mths)
Best Telstra data dealRead review$75/mth200GB/mth
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 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 on an endless data plan.
With these high data-usage plans, you’ll be able to connect your iPad or tablet whenever you need to and if you invest in a portable WiFi dongle, you’ll be able to 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 this table below. The rest of our editorial recommendations are updated periodically.
1. Optus $25 Data SIM Plan
Best Data SIM plan for most people
If you’ve got unlimited fixed-line broadband at home but still need a decent amount of data when you’re out and about, Optus is currently offering 50GB per month (for the first 12 months) on its $25 Data SIM plan. That’s more data than most people use on their mobile phone plans every month and all on the Optus 4G network. If you’re a football fan, you can also add-on an Optus Sport subscription at no extra cost, and score discounted Hoyts movie tickets with Optus Perks. The limited-time deal is a month-to-month arrangement, meaning you can cancel at any time, but it’s only available until 30 June 2021.
2. Moose Mobile 50GB Data SIM
Next best Data SIM for most
Next up is Optus MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) Moose Mobile with its 50GB Data SIM Plan. This data SIM plan isn’t quite as cheap as the Optus deal above, but it’s permanently priced at $36 per month, so you won’t be in for a rude shock when the first 12 months is up. The only catch is, unlike the Optus pick, Moose Mobile’s Data SIM deal is only available on a 12-month contract. The plan also still charges a fee for excess data usage (1.5c per MB) whereas Optus has moved to a speed-capped endless data model.
3. Spintel 200GB Mobile Broadband
Best Data SIM plan for high usage
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 $310 upfront for the included Netgear AC800s portable modem. The one downside to Spintel’s mobile broadband plan is that it’s the only mobile data offer that doesn’t include access to Optus 5G. That will only matter to you if you frequent areas with Optus 5G coverage, but if that is you, it could be a deal breaker.
4. Optus $50 Data SIM
Next best Data SIM for high usage
It doesn’t offer quite as much value as Spintel’s mobile broadband deal, but Optus is also offering more data than usual on its $50 Data SIM plan. For a limited time, you can get 150GB of data per month for $50 per month with Optus. As with the deal above, it’s only available until the 30th of June 2021 and only lasts for the first 12 months after signing up.
If that’s still no enough data for your appetite, you could always consider opting for an endless data plan with Optus or Felix Mobile that you can use to tether to your laptop or tablet.
5. Telstra Upfront Large Data Plan
Best Telstra data deal
Every Data SIM plan on this list so far has used the Optus network and while that’s perfectly sufficient for most Australians, there’s 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/5G network access, a healthy 200GB of data and no excess data charged for $75 per month. There aren’t any other catches other than the fact that you now pay for Telstra mobile services from the very first day of use, rather than at the end of the month, with its Upfront billing system.
Here are a few more popular Data SIM plans from Telstra’s various MVNOs.
6. Lebara Data Plan Small
Best prepaid data only SIM plan
People who need a lot of data on the go aren’t always looking for a long-term solution. Some people simply want something to get them out of a bind. Most of the plans on this page are no-contract, month-to-month arrangements, so you can cancel at any time. Still, if you want the added piece of mind that only prepaid can offer, there’s a small handful of data deals for you. The most appealing by far is Lebara’s Data Plan Small, which offers 15GB per $20 30-day recharge on the Vodafone 4G network. It also allows you to rollover unused data and bank up to 200GB for a rainy day. Lebara also offers good deals on international calls and 365-day long-expiry 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 this month.
Can I get a data-only SIM with unlimited mobile data?
The short answer is: no. To date, only one service provider (Felix) has offered unlimited data mobile plans, and even that’s 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, and 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 ALDI Mobile, whose Large Data SIM plan offers up a staggering 365GB. However, it is a long-expiry plan designed to last a full year, and at $365, it isn’t exactly the best value for heavy users.
If Telstra or Aldi isn’t your provider of choice, take a look at the plans below. These are the data SIM plans with the most data in our engine.
How we chose the best data SIM plans
There are dozens of service 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-only 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?
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. You’ll need to bring your own device to put this SIM card to work.
iPads and other tablets
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 right now, and compare just under 30 different data-only SIM plans. Below are the top 5 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.