The best SIM only plans available in January 2020

New Optus MVNO continues to run circles around the competition.
Recent Updates: 3 weeks ago
In January, Circles.Life continues its three-month reign as our top pick for both everyday use and big data. Hurry though, Circles.Life's promo ends on 10 January 2020.
1 month ago
In December, Circles.Life continues its reign in the top two spots with the return of its 20GB Monthly Plan promotion.
3 months 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.
Less than 6 months
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.
Less than 6 months
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.

January is a time of hopeful New Year’s resolutions targeted at self-improvement and all-important dollar saving. Tap into a SIM Only New Year’s resolution that’ll be a cinch to stay committed to thanks to some fantastic ongoing savings.

Circles.Life spins in once again to claim double accolades with its 20GB Monthly Plan. Leave it as is, and you’re looking at a great everyday-use option; add on a $10 bolt-on to double the data from 20GB per month to 40GB for high-usage SIM Only freedom.

This month, there’s a worthy Optus 4G Plus network alternative with Vaya’s Unlimited M plan, but if the Telstra network is more your speed, there’s a choice of MATE’s better mates and Belong’s Large 40GB Plan SIM Only plans below.

Best SIM Only plan for everyday use January 2020

Circles.Life is on a hot streak in January, with its third consecutive dominance across everyday-use and high-usage categories. One of the great things is how simple it is to shift between everyday-use and high-usage scenarios.

Start with the 20GB Monthly Plan, which costs $18 per month for 20GB of data. You’ve got to be quick, though: this promo expires at the very specific time of 3pm AEDT on 10 January. Miss that promo sign-up window and you’re looking at $28 per month. Either way, the first-year cost with the promotion is either a tidy $216 with the promo price or you’re looking at $336 with the regular cost.

There’s extra value to be found in this Optus 4G Plus network plan, too, like 3GB of bonus data if you bust your monthly cap. Churn through that gifted 3GB and you’re looking at $6 per 3GB data block (unlimited times). Alternatively, refer someone to Circles.Life to score a month of 20GB bonus data (up to six times). Your referral will be rewarded with three months of 20GB of bonus data, plus a $10 discount for 12 months.

In terms of competitors, it’s worth flagging that most telcos chuck in at least 10GB of monthly SIM Only data at the $25 price point. For a specific Optus 4G Plus network alternative, Vaya’s Unlimited M plan bundles 18GB of data with $15-per-friend referral bonuses at $24 a month ($288 first-year cost). If you fancy a Telstra network alternative, MATE’s $25-per-month ($300 first-year cost) better mates plan may only have 15GB of data, but it also includes data banking between months and unlimited calls to 15 countries.

Best SIM Only plan with Big Data January 2020

You can scroll back up to read the essential basics about Circles.Life’s SIM Only plan we’re recommending for everyday use. If you’ve scrolled this far, you’re clearly craving more data, but you’ll still start with that same 20GB Monthly Plan.

Spend another $10 to upgrade this particular Circles.Life plan to its double-data version in the 40GB Monthly Plan. Jump on that initial plan with the ‘10for12’ promo code before 3pm AEDT 10 January and it’ll cost you $28 per month total for a first-year cost of $336, which is the outside-promo cost of the 20GB plan. Miss the promo, and you’re looking at $38 per month for a still-tidy first-year cost of $456.

While this promo is set to expire, it’s worth keeping a regular close eye on Circles.Life because it’s a telco that’s now renown for fantastic flash sales. Just last month the newish telco offered six months of 100GB of data for those speedy enough to snap up the deal.

Even when this 10 January promo ends, it’s still worth considering because it’s $2 cheaper than the nearest competitor for our monthly accolades. That silver medal belongs to Belong’s Large 40GB Plan, which still has some perks well worth considering, particularly for those who miss out on Circles.Life’s reduced price. That first perk is the fact that Belong operates on the Telstra network. On top of this, data lovers will surely appreciate the inclusion of both data banking and data gifting (between eligible plans), as well as unlimited calls to 33 countries.

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.