The best SIM Only plans available in January 2021

Just one big change this month, with Circles.Life returning to take out the ‘best value’ top spot with its 100GB Monthly Plan.
  • Best value

    100GB Monthly Plan

    Read review
    4 out of 5 overall
    100GB p/mth
    $30 p/mth
  • Best on a budget

    8GB Monthly Plan

    Read review
    4 out of 5 overall
    8GB p/mth
    $14 p/mth
  • Best for big data

    $65 SIM Only Super+ Plan

    Read review
    4 out of 5 overall
    200GB p/mth
    $55 p/mth
  • Most popular Telstra

    $65 Medium SIM Plan

    Read review
    4.5 out of 5 overall
    80GB p/mth
    $65 p/mth
  • Most popular Optus

    8GB Monthly Plan

    Read review
    4 out of 5 overall
    8GB p/mth
    $14 p/mth
Recent Updates: 2 weeks ago
At the start of January, all categories remain the same except that Circles.Life’s 100GB Monthly Plan snatches the top spot for best-value SIM Only plan.
2 months ago
The Circles.Life 8GB Monthly Plan takes out the top spot for those who get in quick, while the 500GB of data in the $119 Optus One Plan has proven to be a popular pick for SIM Only users.
2 months ago
Vodafone is offering great value across its SIM Only plans this month, and we’ve seen changes to six of our seven categories, including two of the three popular picks on the Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone networks.
Less than 6 months
In October, we’ve tweaked the best perks pick to be more budget friendly. Tangerine has a great option for those SIM Only-ing on a budget. And there have also been changes in the most popular picks for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone SIM Only plans.
Less than 6 months
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.
Less than 6 months
Circles.Life continues to flex its dominance and popularity for SIM Only plans in August.
More than 6 months
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.
More than 6 months
Circles.Life is back with two baller deals for both everyday and high-usage customers.
More 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.
More than 6 months
In April, Moose Mobile and Circles.Life are still in the top spots.

Honestly, we figured the start of the new year would bring with it a bevvy of changes for our best SIM Only picks, if not for our four core categories – value, perks, budget and big data – then at least for the most popular picks from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone. But that’s absolutely not the case at the start of the month.

The one big change is the return of Circles.Life to nab the best-value SIM Only prize, which is a category that the telco dominated throughout 2020. As for the other main categories, Vodafone hangs onto perks and big data, care of extended promotional offering, while Circles.Life’s still newish 8GB Monthly Plan retains the crown for best budget SIM Only plan.

Best value SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $38 per month
  • First 12 months $30 apiece
  • 100GB data
  • 3GB monthly bonus data
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month

While you shouldn’t look to Circles.Life for much in the way of bells and whistles, you should absolutely consider the telco’s plans if you’re looking for plenty of data at a great price. And while the 500GB that’s part of the $119 Optus One Plan represents the best dollars-to-data SIM Only value, you can nab 100GB of data on the same network for basically a quarter of the cost with the Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan.

Normally priced at $38 per month, get in by 9.00pm AEDT on 18 January 2021 to pay $30 a month for the Circles.Life 100GB Monthly Plan. That price is fixed for 12 months; just use the ‘100NEWYEAR’ promo code at sign-up. If you do burn through that 100GB, Circles.Life chucks in 3GB of extra data for no additional cost, too.

Best perks SIM Only plan

Vodafone $40 SIM Only Lite Plan

Vodafone $40 SIM Only Lite Plan at a glance:

  • $40 per month
  • $60 credit over 12 months
  • 10GB data
  • 40GB bonus data
  • Capped 2Mbps speed after data cap
  • Three months of Amazon Prime
  • 5G access
  • Vodafone network
  • Month-to-month plan

Woolworths Mobile tends to dominate this category thanks to some long-running inclusions, but the Vodafone $40 SIM Only Lite Plan takes out the top spot for January. The perks start with the price: what’s normally $40 a month costs $35-per-month for the first year thanks to $60 of credit spread evenly across the first 12 months ($420 first-year cost).

Knock off more by bundling with other eligible Vodafone plans (up to 20 percent), but even without the bundle, you still score 40GB of bonus data if you get in by 31 January 2021. You can use some of that 40GB of data on an included three-month Amazon Prime subscription. Additionally, if you have a 5G phone or plan on upgrading to one, this Vodafone SIM only plan includes 5G network access.

You can see other popular big-data SIM Only plans below.

Best budget SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 8GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 8GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $18 per month
  • First 12 months $14 apiece
  • 8GB data
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month

This Circles.Life discount has popped up a couple of times recently, so be sure to jump on it by 9pm AEDT on 18 January 2021. The Circles.Life 8GB Monthly Plan normally costs $18 per month, but if you uuse the ‘8NEWYEAR’ code during sign-up, you can drop that to just $14 per month for the first year ($168 first-year cost).

While this particular Circles.Life SIM Only plan doesn’t come with the 3GB of bill shock that its more expensive siblings do, 8GB of data for $10 a month is fantastic value. If you do sign up in time to nab the special pricing, this is a month-to-month plan, so you can revisit this page in a year’s time to see what other SIM Only deal takes out the top spot.

There are other budget-friendly SIM Only plans to peruse below.

Best big-data SIM Only plan

Vodafone $65 SIM Only Super+ Plan

Vodafone $65 SIM Only Super+ Plan at a glance:

  • $65 per month
  • $120 credit over 12 months
  • 100GB bonus data
  • 100GB + 300GB bonus data
  • Capped 10Mbps speed after data cap
  • International calls
  • Three months of Amazon Prime
  • 5G access
  • Vodafone network
  • Month-to-month plan

The Vodafone $65 SIM Only Super+ Plan has a tonne of data. Starting out, you get 100GB for $55 per month care of $10 of monthly credit for the first year ($660 first-year cost). Sign up by 28 January 2021, though, and you’ll score 200GB of data for the life of the plan.

Whatever way you cut it, 200GB is a lot of data to work with each month. If you somehow burn through all of that data, this plan is slowed to 10Mbps for the rest of the month, which is still great download speeds for most online activities. On top of this, there’s also international calls, three months of Amazon Prime, and 5G network access.

Check out this popular pick next to other big-data SIM Only plans below.

Most popular Telstra SIM Only plan

Telstra $65 Medium SIM Plan

Telstra $65 Medium SIM Plan at a glance:

  • $65 per month
  • 80GB data
  • 5G access
  • Telstra network
  • Month-to-month

It wasn’t so long ago that Numobile had the most popular plan for $30 a month for 30GB. Now it seems fans of the Telstra network are willing to pay more for a healthy amount of data. The Telstra $65 Medium SIM Plan normally costs $65 a month, for a first-year cost of $780.

That first-year pricing is great value for 80GB of max-speed data. If you do burn through your monthly data cap, speeds are slowed to 1.5Mbps for the remainder of the billing period. The other big perk is if you have a 5G-compatible handset, this particular plan includes access to the Telstra 5G network.

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 8 January 2021.

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

Most popular Optus SIM Only plan

Circles.Life 20GB Monthly Plan

Circles.Life 20GB Monthly Plan at a glance:

  • $28 per month
  • First 12 months $22 apiece
  • 20GB data
  • 40GB bonus data (12 months)
  • 3GB monthly bonus data
  • Optus network
  • Month-to-month

It’s not a rarity to see a Circles.Life plan takes out the pole position. But now that the telco has three plans instead of its usual two, they tend to chop and change a bit. This month the Circles.Life 20GB Monthly Plan takes out the top spot, but while the telco is renowned for offering six months of discounted pricing, it’s 12 months of bonus data that is clearly the most appealing right now.

Normally, this plan comes with 20GB of data plus Circles.Life’s offer of 3GB of “bill-shock protection”, which effectively makes it a 23GB plan. Sign up by 9pm AEDT on 18 January 2021 using the ‘20NEWYEAR’ promotional code to score an extra 40GB of data every month for the first year as well as $22-per-month pricing ($264 first-year cost).

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 8 January 2021.

You can see this Circles.Life plan with a few other popular Optus SIM Only picks below.

Most popular Vodafone SIM Only plan

Vodafone $40 SIM Only Lite Plan

Vodafone $40 SIM Only Lite Plan at a glance:

  • $40 per month
  • $60 credit over 12 months
  • 10GB data
  • 40GB bonus data
  • Capped 2Mbps speed after data cap
  • Three months of Amazon Prime
  • 5G access
  • Vodafone network
  • Month-to-month plan

You get a lot for not spending a lot with the Vodafone $40 SIM Only Lite Plan. That $40 a month is effectively $35 a month for the first 12 months care of $60 evenly split monthly credit ($420 first-year cost). Get in by 28 January 2021 to nab the credit and, if you do, you’ll also net 40GB of bonus data for the life of the plan atop the usual 10GB allocation.

Even if you go over the 50GB allowance, your speeds are slowed to 2Mbps for the duration of the billing cycle, which means no excess data charges and still-useable mobile internet for browsing and some music streaming. Save extra bucks by bundling this with one or more eligible Vodafone plans, 5G access is included if your handset supports it, and there’s also three months of included Amazon Prime (just get in by the end of January).

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 8 January 2021.

Have a look below to see this Vodafone plan compared to other popular SIM Only picks.

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 ‘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.

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 month-to-month and don’t include excess usage fees.

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.

Telstra and Vodafone both offer plans that slow your internet connection once you reach your monthly data limit. Telstra plans drop to 1.5Mbps, which is fast enough for a bit of web browsing and streaming some music, but Vodafone recently upped the cap speed and separated it into tiers. 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, which isn’t just pitched as a carbon-neutral service, its current single-plan offering has unlimited data, albeit capped at “up to” 5Mbps.

If you were hoping to find an unlimited data plan, it is important to figure out what you’re really looking for. 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 percent additional mobile data usage every six months. Today, this would mean the average Aussie is using around 20GB of data per month, 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, and come with a modem that is robust enough to connect a household’s worth of laptops, tablets and smart devices.