Guide to SIM-only tariffs
Find out more about SIM-only tariffs including what they offer, what the drawbacks are and whether they could save you money.
- A SIM-only deal will only provide you with the microchip containing your call plan
- If you want to port your phone number, you'll need your PAC code
- You'll need to pass a credit check before you're approved for a SIM-only contract, even if it's a rolling one month
When you decide to take the plunge and shake up your mobile phone game, there are three options to consider - contract, SIM-only deal or pay as you go.
A SIM-only deal provides you with the SIM (basically a microchip) containing your phone number and call plan to be inserted in a phone of your choice.
SIM-only deals can be a great choice if you're satisfied with your current phone and don't want to upgrade, plus they're cheaper than contract options.
Be wary that if you have a contract phone and pay off the handset, your provider will still continue to charge you for it , so it's important to take control and stop overpaying.
Your SIM-only call plan will detail the monthly allowance of minutes, data and texts that are available to you as determined by the deal you signed up for.
These can be 12 month contracts or if you're the non-committal kind, a rolling one month contract.
The notice period for a rolling monthly contract tends to be 30 days.
Credit checks for mobile phone contracts
Whether you have a contract phone or a SIM-only deal, you'll need to pass a credit check - only pay as you go doesn't require one.
If you're rejected for a 12 month contract, it may be worth trying for a month rolling option, the checks don't tend to be as rigorous.
If you can't get a rolling monthly SIM-only deal, opt for a pay as you go option.
Types of SIM
Unlike Lord of the Rings , it's not one SIM to rule them all (that was it, right?).
They actually come in three alluring sizes - standard, micro and nano . You can't just go shoving a standard SIM in an iPhone 6, don't be so silly.
Each type of phone will use a corresponding sized SIM - if you opt for a SIM-only contract you can choose to filter your results by the type of SIM your selected handset needs. So make sure you get the right one for you.
Switching to a SIM-only deal
If you're switching to a SIM-only deal on your existing network provider, it should only take a phone call to get your new SIM up and running.
As long as you've filled your contractual requirements, i.e. paid off your handset, it should be a smooth transition over to the SIM-only way of life.
If you're switching to a SIM-only deal on a different network, you'll need to check whether you're able to switch, you can do this by contacting your provider.
Be aware that they may try and schmooze you into staying with them by transferring you to their customer retentions department. This could result in a better deal but if you're still not sold, stick to your guns and demand that your contract is ended.
Switching SIMs and keeping your phone number
Keeping your phone number is a requirement for most people, luckily it's possible to port your phone number easily to your new SIM, as long as you've fulfilled your contractual agreements.
For this you require your current network provider to give you your PAC code (Port Authorisation Code) - this will contain three letters and six numbers.
You can get your PAC code by phoning, emailing or requesting it via your provider's website.
You'll then need to send it to the network supplier you want to switch to, within 30 days of being issued with the PAC code. The number transfer should take around one working day to complete, after which you'll be back up and running.
During this time of flux, it can be a good idea to keep your old SIM in the handset, so you'll still be able to receive phone calls and texts, although you won't be able to make any.
You'll be able to tell when the switch over is complete, as when you insert your new SIM, your new network provider should appear on the screen.
When this happens, you can cut up your old SIM, making sure the gold microchip is destroyed.
Using smaller mobile phone networks
When it comes to mobile phone networks, the phrase the bigger the better doesn't always ring true.
Smaller providers are available and there should be little difference, if any, between them and the network behemoths that are Three, 02, Vodafone and EE.
Coverage and call quality should be similar, however, the customer support may not be on par with the larger competitors, and you probably won't have similar perks either, like O2 Priority which gives customers offers and discounts on a range of different treats.
SIM-only deals for tablets
It's possible to get a SIM-only deal for your tablet, which enables you to access the internet wherever you are, without using wi-fi.
Just like with a mobile SIM, you'll have a monthly allowance, if you go over this you'll be charged extra and if you intend to use your tablet abroad, you'll want to check whether this is included in your data plan.
By Abbie Laughton-Coles