The best SIM only plans available in November 2019

New Optus MVNO runs circles around the competition.
Recent Updates: 1 month ago
In November, there's a new Optus MVNO on the Australian market and it's kicking this off with some seriously competitive SIM only plans. Circles.Life's 20GB and 40GB will have you singing Hakuna Matata all the way to the bank.
2 months ago
In October, Jeenee Mobile has weaved its magic again, keeping the top pick for everyday use and taken the top spot for big data too.
3 months ago
In September, Belong has moved from the Best Overall SIM-Only provider to Best Big Data, replacing Optus. Taking the top spot for Best Overall SIM-Only provider is the Optus-powered Jeenee Mobile and its Pennywise plan.

Don’t need a new phone? Save money on your monthly bill with the best SIM only plans available.

The live-action version of The Lion King hits home release this month, and maybe the arrival of new telco Circles.Life is part of some odd promotional stunt.

Jokes aside, this Singapore-based telco has hit the ground running, trumping incumbent winner Jeenee Mobile with a double upset across everyday-use and high-usage SIM Only categories.

For those craving an affordable SIM Only option for everyday use, you’ll likely be as impressed as we are by the value of Circles.Life’s 20GB Monthly Plan. If that 20GB is insufficient for your SIM Only needs, that same Cicles.Life plan can be upgraded to double the monthly data without having to pay double the price: instead, expect to pay $10 more.

Best SIM Only plan for everyday use November 2019

Given Jeenee Mobile’s SIM Only dominance in recent months, it was always going to take something special to topple the telco’s standings. Cue the entry of Circles.Life and its versatile, value-packed 20GB Monthly Plan.

The plan name tells you how much monthly data you get for everyday use, but what it doesn’t tell you is that the $28 monthly cost has been slashed by $10 per month for the first year. This means you’re looking at spending $216 in the first 12 months. The only proviso is this promotion isn’t long for this world, meaning you have to sign up before the end of November and activate your sim by the end of 2019 to score those savings.

Still, even for those who miss that window, the prospect of paying $336 per year for 20GB of monthly data isn’t a steep ask. Circles.Life offers its services on the Optus 4G Plus network, with all of the speed and coverage that implies, and you can take advantage of live chat for any of your service needs.

There are some fantastic data-centric inclusions, too. Like, if you bust your cap, Circles.Life will throw you a 3GB lifeline at no extra cost. Break past that, and it’ll cost you $6 per 3GB block. If you rope in a buddy to sign up to a Circles.Life plan, you won’t have to worry about data for a while, as your referral reward is unlimited data for a month.

If your network allegiance leans more towards Telstra, Belong and Pennytel offer competitive Telstra-network alternatives with Belong’s $25-per-month Regular 10GB Plan and Pennytel’s Large Plus – 10GB plan for one cent cheaper.

Best SIM Only plan with Big Data November 2019

Those who love data will likely have scoffed at 20GB being sufficient for their SIM Only needs. That’s okay, because you should actually start with the same SIM Only winner of our everyday-use category, Circles.Life’s 20GB Monthly Plan, but take full advantage of the 20GB of extra data you score with the $10 bolt-on.

This converts it to a 40GB Monthly Plan, which means you get all of the perks of that 20GB Monthly Plan, but double the data. If you don’t want to scroll up, those perks include a neat 3GB of bonus data if you bust your cap, the option to purchase 3GB increments for $6 a pop beyond that, and an unlimited-data referral bonus (one month per referral).

The best bit is those first-year savings applies here, too: what usually costs $38 a month is $28 per month for the first 12 months, for a cost of $336. Given that’s equal to the price you’d be paying for the 20GB plan outside of the promotional period, colour us suitably impressed.

There’s also live-chat customer service for any queries you may have, plus the telco’s teasing some “surprise perks”, which we’re eager to hear more about, especially if they’re in line with the already impressive array of on offer.

Our monthly alternatives are both on the Telstra network, with Belong’s Large 30GB Plan ($40 per month) and Woolworths’ $40 SIM Only, which offers 40GB of monthly data. Despite the extra cost, both of these plans include data banking, which is a great option for SIM Only users whose usage fluctuates above and below their quota between months.

A few SIM 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?

BYO SIM CARDS

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.