Most people get their mobile phone on a contract, which can last 18 months or 2 years. During that time they are effectively paying off the cost of the handset. Once that contract finishes a lot of people opt for an ‘upgrade’ but some don’t.
The thing is that phone networks don’t reduce the price of the monthly payments if you choose not to upgrade your phone. They just pocket the extra money.
A SIM deal is one where you keep your current phone, and your current phone number, but you only pay for the service. It can be considerably cheaper than a standard mobile phone contract. This is helped by the fact there is so much competition. If you are already happy with the phone that you use, you can switch networks whenever you want without having to change your phone number.
Although these deals do not include a new phone, you are still signing up to a contract with the phone network. This can be as short as 30-days, or as long as 18-months. The best deals are available with the longer contracts but there’s still great savings to be made on the 30-day contracts.
Things you should know
It’s easy to keep your number
With new Text-to-Switch rules you can notify your old network that you’re leaving with just a text message. When you receive your new SIM card there will be information about how to move your existing number to the new card, if that is what you want to do.
You might need to unlock your phone
If you want to change networks then you will most likely need to unlock your phone. This is a once only cost, and will allow you to choose from any of the deals. But even staying on the same network with a SIM deal will save you money.
Check signal strength before you switch.
There are four main phone networks in the UK. These are O2, Three, Vodafone and EE. The other networks that you might have heard of, e.g. GiffGaff piggyback on one of these 4 networks.
You will always be on one of the 4 main networks though.
Compare SIM Deals
This tool allows you to see the best value SIM deals available to you. You can fine tune the details to make sure that you’re only seeing the deals with the right amount of data, contract length and network. It's never been easier to swap networks with Text-to-Switch. These deals are provided by other websites, and you will have to leave the SimplyFixit site in order to progress.
Pro tip: Remember that the smaller companies use one of the big 4 networks, so if your phone is currently on Vodafone, you will also see deals for companies like Voxi and Lebara. You won’t need to unlock your phone to use these networks, and you could save a considerable amount per year.
Best SIM Deal for Value
You can save quite a bit of money if you pick a SIM Deal that correctly matches how much data you use. People tend to over estimate how much they use. By checking your recent bills you can see how much data you actually use on a monthly basis. Reducing the amount of data on your contract is a great way to save money.
|Data Allowance||Cheapest Price||Network|
Remember that you can also use the SIM Deal Finder above to choose a data allowance and see the full range of deals available to you.
Best Network Coverage
The 4 main networks all claim to cover 99% of the population, so in theory you should have coverage from any network. But we all know of areas where one person has 4 bars, while others only have 1 bar. It’s wise to check the network signal for the place where you’ll spend the most time.
View Network Coverage
You can also get this information at Ofcom, or on the network's websites by clicking on their logo.
Remember that these are the 4 companies that run the main networks – the mobile towers etc. Lots of other companies run on their network, so once you have found the network that has the best service in your area, you should still have a lot of choice.
- Networks using EE coverage include: ASDA, Plusnet Mobile, BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile.
- Networks using O2 coverage include: giffgaff, Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile.
- Networks using Three coverage include: iD Mobile and SMARTY.
- Networks using Vodafone coverage include: Lebara Mobile and VOXI.
Use the SIM Deal Finder and choose the core mobile network that covers your area, and you'll see all the deals open to you.
No Credit Checks
It is normal that when you take out a new contract the network will do a credit check on you. If you are taking out a 12 or 24 month contract then it the checks can be quite stringent, but some networks do a credit check even on a 30-day “contract”. A lot of checks on your credit file is not good, and can affect your credit rating.
Some networks don’t do credit checks for SIM only deals. This is great news for people who might not pass a credit check, maybe because they have a poor credit score, or because they have recently moved into the country. People under 18 can struggle too. They’re punished because they haven’t got into debt yet.