The best SIM Only plans in Australia (January 2022)

The best SIM Only picks every month across value, perks, cheap, cheapest and big-data categories.

Best value
Circles Life
Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Check
    100GB/mth
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    $30/mth (first 6 mths)
Best cheap SIM Only
Dodo
Dodo 20GB Mobile Plan
3 out of 5 stars
3
  • Check
    20GB/mth
  • Check
    $17/mth (first 6 mths)
Best for big data
Vodaphone
Vodafone $85 SIM Only Ultra+ Plan
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Check
    Unlimited 5G data
  • Check
    $65/mth
Most popular Vodafone
Iinet
iiNet Mobile 40GB Plan
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
  • Check
    40GB/mth
  • Check
    $15/mth (first 6mths)
Most popular Telstra
Belong
Belong 20GB Monthly Plan
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • Check
    20GB/mth
  • Check
    $25/mth
Published on January 16, 2022
12 min read


So you’ve got a new iPhone 13 or Samsung Galaxy S21 and want the right SIM Only plan to pair it with. We’ve got you covered. SIM Only plans are a great way to get a lot of data for not a lot of money with some great perks.

These days, SIM Only plans tend to not have contracts, so it’s even easier to shift between plans and/or providers when a better deal comes along. To offer a meaningful snapshot of the landscape of the SIM Only plans in our comparison engine, we break things down into focused categories. Circles.Life has grabbed the top spot again for best value and best cheapest categories, but it’s also lost out on the best-cheap win category with a great offering from Dodo. The other big mix-up this month is Vodafone taking out the big-data crown with a plan that boasts unlimited 5G data at a great price.

Scroll on for the full breakdown.

Best value SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $30 initial monthly fee (first 6 months)
  • $45 per month (normally)
  • $450 first-year cost
  • 100GB data
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month plan

Not so long ago, we were tempted by the Circles.Life 160GB Monthly Plan, which boasts even better value than the typical incumbent winner. But while that particular Circles.Life plan is better value, it’s also more expensive than its cheaper sibling, which still boasts plenty of data. You can opt for its data-heftier, more expensive sibling if you prefer, but we reckon 100GB of data is enough to get you through the month.

For those who agree, the winning Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan normally costs $45 a month. Circles.Life, though, loves a limited-time deal, though, and its latest offer has been extended so you can drop the monthly price to $30 for the first six months. Just use the ‘BONUS100’ promo code by 1:00pm AEDT on 1 February 2022 to nab the promo pricing.

For comparison, below is a daily updating list of popular big-data SIM Only plans with at least 70GB of data.

Best perks SIM Only plan

Woolworths Mobile $35 SIM Only

Woolworths Mobile $35 SIM Only at a glance:

  • $35 per month
  • $420 first-year cost
  • 40GB data
  • 300GB data bank
  • International talk and text
  • 10% off groceries
  • Telstra network
  • Month-to-month plan

The perk-packed king returns and maintains its dominance for yet another monthly reign. Woolworths Mobile is back with its $35 SIM Only plan, which includes a few tempting perks. That $35 monthly fee nets you 40GB of data (up from 35GB), which is a great starting point. Any data you don’t use can be stored in a 300GB data bank.

The first main perk is Woolworths Mobile operates on the Telstra wholesale network, which has the next best coverage behind being a Telstra customer, ahead of both Optus and Vodafone’s networks. There’s also unlimited talk and text to 22 selected countries, plus you can take 10% off your Woolies shop once a month (up to $50).

For comparison, below is a daily updating list of popular SIM Only plans with at least 35GB of data.

Best cheap SIM Only plan

Dodo $20 Mobile Plan

Dodo $20 Mobile Plan at a glance:

  • $17 initial monthly fee (6 months)
  • $20 per month (normally)
  • $222 first-year cost
  • 20GB data
  • International calls
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month plan

We try to keep this category to $20 max per month, which means we came close to including the Circles.Life 30GB Mobile Plan here albeit on a technicality. While that plan does work out to $20 a month for the first year, it’s kind of cheating because the discounted price is $15 a month for the first six months before it reverts to a $25 typical monthly fee.

Because of this, another Optus 4G network contender rises to the top this month. The Dodo $20 Mobile Plan usually costs $20 a month but that monthly fee is discounted to $17 for the first six months. That price nets you 20GB of data as well as 100 minutes of international calls to 35 selected dialling destinations.

For comparison, below is a daily updating list of popular SIM Only plans that don’t cost more than $20 per month.

Best cheapest SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 5GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 5GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $10 monthly fee
  • $120 first-year cost
  • 5GB data
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month plan

Here’s another category that Moose Mobile used to dominate, but now that its prices have gone up by a few bucks, other plans now look a lot more competitive. For our pick of the best cheapest SIM Only plan, we set the max price at $15 per month but we also look very favourably on plans that are even cheaper, especially if they offer a reasonable amount of data.

And that’s exactly the case with this month’s returning winner. The Circles.Life 5GB Monthly Plan costs $10 a month for 5GB of data. If you’re lucky, you may nab a spot promo that adds extra data (Circles.Life was recently offering double the data for three months). But even without any add-ons, this is a great choice for those who don’t need a lot of data each month.

Below is a daily updating list of popular SIM Only plans with at least 1GB of data that don’t cost more than $15 per month (at least initially).

Best big-data SIM Only plan

Vodafone $85 SIM Only Ultra+ Plan

Vodafone $85 SIM Only Ultra+ Plan at a glance:

  • $65 per month
  • $780 first-year cost
  • Unlimited data
  • 30GB max-speed hotspot
  • 5G access
  • International calls
  • 3 months of Amazon Music
  • Vodafone network
  • Month-to-month plan

Not so long ago, Vodafone shook up the big-data SIM Only category by introducing a full-fledged unlimited-data plan. The thing is, we try to keep this big-data category under $70 per month, which is what initially ruled out the Vodafone $85 SIM Only Ultra+ Plan from selection. But that’s not the case this month.

For the time being, Vodafone is dropping that $85 monthly fee to $65 a month, which is a great price to pay for unlimited data up to 5G speeds. The main catch is the Vodafone 5G network isn’t as widespread as the Telstra 5G or Optus 5G networks, but if you live, work and/or play in an area with Vodafone 5G coverage, this plan is absolutely worth considering. It also comes with 30GB of max-speed hotspot data (throttled thereafter to 2Mbps), unlimited calls to 36 countries and 300 minutes of calls to a further 54 dialling destinations.

For comparison, below is a daily updating list of popular SIM Only plans with at least 100GB of data.

Most popular Telstra network SIM Only plan

Belong 20GB Mobile Plan

Belong 20GB Mobile Plan at a glance:

  • $25 per month
  • $300 first-year cost
  • 20GB data
  • Unlimited data rollover
  • Data gifting (1GB units)
  • Telstra network
  • Month-to-month plan

It’s time for the return of an old favourite SIM Only plan on the Telstra network, most likely due to a recent double-data promotion. That promotion has seen the Belong 20GB Mobile Plan and Belong 40GB Mobile Plan leap to the top in terms of popularity at the start of the month, even if the year-long double-data promo was due to expire before the middle of January, so they may dip in popularity (unless Belong extends the deal).

Even without double the data, it’s easy to see why the Belong 20GB Mobile Plan is popular with those after a Telstra network SIM Only plan. In terms of the basics, it’s affordable at $25 a month and comes with 20GB of data. Plus, if you don’t use up all your data, you can either roll it over to the next month or gift it to other Belong customers (in 1GB blocks).

The top spot for most popular SIM Only Telstra plan may change throughout the month based on demand, but this pick is accurate as of 11 January 2022.

Check out a daily changing list of popular Telstra SIM Only plans below.

Most popular Optus network SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 5GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 5GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $10 per month
  • $120 first-year cost
  • 5GB data
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month plan

Circles.Life plans tend to dominate the popular pick of SIM Only plans on the Optus network, and the start of this month is no different. In the past, the telco’s plans with bigger data counts have been the popular picks, but the Circles.Life 5GB Monthly Plan has been a consistently popular choice in recent times.

As the name suggests, this plan comes with 5GB of data, but Circles.Life likes to offer bonus data with its plans, so keep an eye out for a promo code if you do sign up. Even without bonus data, $10 a month for 5GB of data is still a good price to pay.

The top spot for most popular SIM Only Optus plan may change throughout the month based on demand, but this pick is accurate as of 11 January 2022.

You can see the popular Optus network SIM Only picks below.

Most popular Vodafone network SIM Only plan

iiNet Mobile 40GB Plan

iiNet Mobile 40GB Plan at a glance:

  • $15 initial monthly fee (6 months)
  • $29.99 per month (normally)
  • $269.94 first-year cost
  • 40GB data
  • 80GB bonus bundle data
  • Vodafone network
  • Month-to-month plan

For the last few months, iiNet has been the popular telco when it comes to finding SIM Only plans on the Vodafone network. Initially, it was the iiNet Mobile 8GB Plan. Then it was the iiNet Mobile 40GB Plan. While both these iiNet plans are still first and second in terms of popularity, the iiNet Mobile 40GB Plan maintains a comfortable lead at the start of the month.

As the plan name says, this iiNet SIM Only plan comes with 40GB of data. The price isn’t in the plan name, though, and while you’ll normally pay $29.99 a month, new sign-ups pay a $15 monthly fee for the first six months. Bundle this plan with an iiNet internet plan to also score 80GB of bonus mobile data each month.

The top spot for most popular SIM Only Vodafone plan may change throughout the month based on demand, but this pick is accurate as of 11 January 2022.

Below is a daily updating snapshot of the popular SIM Only plans on the Vodafone network.

Choosing the best SIM Only plans for coverage

While there are three main mobile networks in Australia, there are two parts to the largest one. In terms of coverage, Telstra’s network is the biggest, followed by Optus and then Vodafone behind those. For Telstra, though, Telstra users get access to the full Telstra network, whereas MVNO telcos that operate on the Telstra network have access to the slightly smaller Telstra wholesale network.

This is how coverage looks in terms of the respective networks:

  • Telstra: 99.2% of the Australian population
  • Telstra wholesale: 98.8% of the Australian population
  • Optus: 98.5% of the Australian population
  • Vodafone: 96% of the Australian population

It’s worth adding that these percentages are for 4G connectivity and don’t cover the currently rolling-out respective 5G networks, though you should expect the same ranking once all 5G networks are complete. While coverage is important, the cheapest SIM Only plans tend to operate in reverse order: the Vodafone network, then Optus, followed by Telstra.

If you want the best chance at having the best coverage, below is a daily updating list of the most popular SIM Only plans that operate on the Telstra network.

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, ranging from the cheapest SIM Only plans to more expensive but data and/or perk-packed alternatives.

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.

Coverage is essential
Light Bulb

As we consider the best plans we treat mobile coverage evenly, but we'd recommend that you put coverage at the top of your list as you weigh up your options. For most people living in cities across Australia, there is little difference in the day-to-day performance of the networks. People living in regional areas need to research the network coverage in their areas.

To get you started we have coverage maps and a guide to coverage available to check out.

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 ‘month-to-month’ 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.

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 may be charged extra for the data you use after this point. Some providers like Telstra, Vodafone and Optus cap speeds once you exceed your max-speed monthly data quota. 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 several plans include unlimited calls and messages to overseas phone numbers, too.

Telstra, Vodafone and Optus offer plans that slow your internet connection once you reach your monthly data limit. Telstra and Optus plans drop to 1.5Mbps, which is fast enough for a bit of web browsing and streaming some music, but Vodafone has upped its cap speed and separated it into tiers based on how much you pay. Cheaper SIM Only plans are capped at 2Mbps, mid-range plans slow to 10Mbps, and the most expensive plan slows speeds to a very manageable 25Mbps. TPG recently started a new brand called Felix Mobile, which isn’t just pitched as a carbon-neutral service, its current single-plan offering has unlimited data, albeit capped at “up to” 20Mbps.

If you were hoping to find an unlimited data phone plan, that finally exists in Australia care of the Vodafone $85 Ultra+ Plan. This Vodafone SIM Only plan offers unlimited max-speed data, with the only caveat being that hotspot max-speed data is restricted to 30GB (capped at 2Mbps thereafter).

That monthly fee is quite steep for unlimited data, so it is important to figure out what you’re really looking for from your plan data. On average, the Australian monthly mobile data usage was 9GB in June 2018 (according to the last release of the June 2018 ABS Internet Activity Survey), which suggested a trend of roughly 20% additional mobile data usage every six months. Extrapolating that maths, this would mean the average Aussie is using around 27GB of data per month nowadays, so unlimited data isn’t particularly essential based on current usage patterns.

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, plus they come with a modem that is robust enough to connect a household’s worth of laptops, tablets and smart devices.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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