The best SIM-only plans available in September 2020

Circles.Life continues to offer plans with the best picks for SIM-only lovers of great value, big data, and the telco is still the most popular on the Optus mobile network.
Best for Most

Our Rating

PlanCategoryDataMonthly cost
Circles.Life 100GBBest value100GB$28
Woolworths Mobile $40 SIM Best perks40GB$40
Pennytel Extra Small – 1GBBest on a budget1GB$10.99
Circles.Life 100GB Monthly PlanBest for big data100GB$28
CategoryDataMonthly cost
Best value100GB$28
Best perks40GB$40
Best on a budget1GB$10.99
Best for big data100GB$28
Recent Updates: 3 weeks ago
In September, there are mix-ups across four of our seven categories: a perkier offer from Woolworths Mobile, a budget pick from SpinTel, and popularity changes for Optus (Circles.Life) and Vodafone plans.
2 months ago
Circles.Life continues to flex its dominance and popularity for SIM Only plans in August.
3 months ago
This July, we've revamped our best SIM-only picks to include more categories and providers. Somehow, Circles.Life manages to take the top spot again with its revived 100GB deal. The only difference with the new DATAMANIA deal is that it's limited to the first 6 months of use.
Less than 6 months
Circles.Life is back with two baller deals for both everyday and high-usage customers.
Less than 6 months
This May, it's gotta be Moose. Unless you're after buckets of data, in which case, circle back around for another 100GB deal from Circles.Life.
Less than 6 months
In April, Moose Mobile and Circles.Life are still in the top spots.

It may be a new month but what’s not new is Circles.Life continued dominance of this SIM-only page. The SIM-only telco takes out the top spot for best value, best for big data, and most popular plan for Optus users across its 100GB and 20GB Monthly Plans. On the cheaper end of town, the end of a Pennytel promo paves the way for SpinTel to be the undisputed king of best budget SIM-only plan with its $9.95 Mobile Plan.

Woolworths Mobile continues to dominate the best perks category, but this month we’re recommending the telco’s more expensive $50 SIM Only plan because it comes with the most bonus data. The other change for September is Vodafone’s most popular plan with SIM-only purchasers, which is now its $60 SIM Only Plus Plan.

Best value SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 100GB Plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $38 per month
  • 100GB data
  • 3GB “bill shock” protection
  • Optus network
  • No contract

There’s no getting past the value offered by Circles.Life’s 100GB Monthly Plan. The plan name is somewhat deceiving because you’re really paying for 103GB of data, care of Circles.Life’s “bill shock” protection, which means the telco will gift you 3GB of data if you manage to burn through that mountain of mobile data.

Outside of this, there’s not a lot of the way in perks, but from a pure dollars-to-data evaluation, it ticks the right boxes for data fiends. Circles.Life sporadically runs six-month promotional pricing, but even at $38 a month, the value is difficult to ignore.

Check out this plan next to other best-value SIM-only plans below.

Best perks SIM Only plan

Woolworths Mobile $50 SIM Only

Woolworths Mobile $50 SIM Only at a glance:

  • $50 per month
  • 35GB data
  • 25GB bonus data
  • 10GB bonus data every quarter
  • 100GB data bank
  • Free 12-month Family Zone subscription
  • 10% off monthly shop
  • Telstra network
  • 12-month contract

The truth is you can pick any Woolworths Mobile SIM Only plan across monthly budgets and it’d take out this category. They all come with bonus data – both monthly and a quarterly bonus (if you sign up before 31 October) – an included 12-month Family Zone subscription, and you can score 10 percent off your Woolies shop every second weekend of the month. There’s also a 100GB data bank to store your bonus gigabytes.

But the more you’re willing to spend, the more data you get. While the $20 SIM Only plan comes with 5GB of data, our September winner – the $50 SIM Only plan – is packing 60GB of data (35GB + 25GB bonus). That doesn’t take into account the 10GB of bonus data four times a year, either. A year is relevant here, too, given these perks come at the cost of a 12-month contract ($600 first-year cost).

Best budget SIM Only plan

SpinTel $9.95 Mobile Plan

SpinTel $9.95 Mobile Plan at a glance:

  • $9.95 per month
  • 1GB data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • No activation fee
  • Optus network
  • No contract

Full disclosure: the actual cheapest SIM-only plan that comes with unlimited text and talk, and at least 1GB of data, is actually Southern Phone’s 12-month Green 9 SIM Plan at $9 a month. The problem is it also comes with a 12-month contract.

That’s why SpinTel’s $9.95 Mobile Phone is our budget winner this month because it has no contract, and we reckon paying the extra $11.40 for a year is worth it for the freedom to leave at any time ($119.40 first-year cost). SpinTel is also still waiving the $10 SIM activation fee, plus you can opt to have your data capped if you use the 1GB of monthly data.

Best for big data SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $38 per month
  • 100GB data
  • 3GB “bill shock” protection
  • Optus network
  • No contract

Strictly speaking, there are plans out there with more data, like the 500GB that’s part of the $119 Optus One Plan, the 180GB that’s part of Telstra’s $115 Extra Large SIM Plan, or even the 150GB that’s included in Vodafone’s $80 SIM Only Plus Plan plan.

But even at $80, the cheapest of those three big-data SIM-only plans can’t possibly compete with the 103GB you get for $38 as part of Circles.Life’s 100GB Monthly Plan. That extra 3GB is part of Circles.Life’s “bill shock” protection if you burn through that 100GB cap. Even without the benefit of six-month promotional pricing, this plan is still worth $38 a month for all of that data.

For more big-data SIM-only plans, check out the list below.

Most popular SIM Only plan (Telstra)

Belong Regular 10GB Plan

Belong Regular 10GB Plan at a glance:

  • $25 per month
  • 10GB data
  • No extra data charges
  • Telstra network
  • No contract

It may have “Regular” in the title, but there’s one major abnormal feature about this SIM Only plan. Belong’s Regular 10GB Plan shuns the all-too-common trend of charging extra for mobile data – as if data is a scarce natural resource that has to be, ahem, “data mined” – and, instead, opts for shaped speeds. Granted, those speeds aren’t anything to write home about at 64Kbps, but it’s still a great way to avoid bill shock. If you really crave the extra data, you can always nab 2GB more for $10.

And here’s that plan alongside some other popular Telstra SIM Only plans.

Most popular SIM Only plan (Optus)

Circles.Life 20GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 20GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $28 per month
  • 20GB data
  • 3GB “bill shock” protection
  • Discounted first month
  • Optus network
  • No contract

It’s not surprising to see Circles.Life here again, but what is surprising is that it’s not the big-data plan. The Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan gives you triple-digits data for $38 a month. It’s why that particular plan constantly takes out our best value and best big-data wins on this page, even without a discount. Mind you, those discounts come along quite frequently from Circles.Life.

Circles.Life’s only other offering, the 20GB Monthly Plan, is still a great pick for $28 a month, which nets you 23GB of data (that 3GB extra data is yours to use if you bust the 20GB cap). Better still, with no contract and by punching in ‘WELCOME’ promo discount ($18 off your first month), you can test the waters for just $10.

Most popular SIM Only plan (Vodafone)

Vodafone $60 SIM Only Plus Plan

Vodafone $60 SIM Only Plus Plan at a glance:

  • $60 per month
  • 100GB data
  • Capped 1.5Mbps speed after data cap
  • 12-month Amazon Prime subscription
  • International calls
  • $180 credit over 12 months
  • Bundle discounts
  • Vodafone network
  • No contract

Vodafone customers have clearly been craving more data since the last time we checked in with the telco’s most popular SIM-only plans. Last month, Vodafone’s $50 SIM Only Plus Plan was the top pick for purchasers. This month that’s shifted up to the $60 SIM Only Plus Plan, which has 100GB of data (compared to the 60GB of last month’s plan), international talk and text, as well as $15 of credit per month if you stay for a full year ($540 first-year cost).

There’s no contract, though, so you’re free to come and go as you please. If you like it enough to have other Vodafone plans, you can bundle them for further discounts, ranging from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. Sign up before 22 September to score 12 months of Amazon Prime, too, which would otherwise cost you $6.99 a month.

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 is a SIM Only phone plan?

A SIM Only plan is a phone plan that covers your talk, text and data usage, but doesn’t come with a mobile phone included. For this reason, SIM Only plans are often referred to as ‘BYO phone’ plans.

As the same implies, a SIM Only plan comes with a SIM card that 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.

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.

A SIM Only plan is usually a postpaid plan, meaning you pay for your usage at the end of the month. Your monthly payment may include additional charges if you use excess data, or make international calls that aren’t included in your plan.

Most prepaid phone plans are also SIM Only, in that they don’t come with a phone included. However, we often look at prepaid plans separately to postpaid SIM Only plans. As well as paying for your usage at the start of the month, prepaid plans are always no-contract and don’t include excess usage fees.

Best SIM Only Plans

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 of 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 a Home Wireless Broadband plan. 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.