The best SIM only deals in December 2023: slash your phone bill

best SIM only deals in the UK
(Image credit: Getty Images)

More and more people are taking back control of their mobile phone bills - by shopping for the best SIM only deals. With many of us now working at home, or stuck in self-isolation, it is a good to to reassess how much you are paying, and how much you are now using your phone.

With a SIM only deal, rather than paying for a contract, where you are tied to a provider for a year or two, you are not paying extra for the cost of the phone. You pay for the handset (or make do with a phone from a previous contract) - and then negotiate the airtime separately - by taking a SIM only deal (or SIMO, as it is known in the trade).

The advantages of going SIM only are that you can make huge savings on your monthly running costs.... and/or get much more data, texts and calls than you have previously got. 

Plus you can even shop around to find a deal that allows you to just pay month-by-month, without being tied in to a long-term agreement. 

There are lots of great SIM-only deals around now... and our comprehensive table of offers will allow you to see exactly what is available. The table allows you to order the available offers by the monthly cost, the network used, or the amount of data that you get included as standard - making it the perfect tool for finding the deal that is perfect for you.

Choosing a SIM only deal

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As ever, with mobile phones, you should work out what you need before you start – so as not to get a nasty shock later on. Seven key things to consider are:

1: Network:
Make sure the network you choose has the coverage that need. There are coverage maps available, but it is usually more reliable to ask neighbors, colleagues and visiting friends to ask about their experiences with their phones in the areas where you spend the majority of your time.

2: Virtual mobile networks:
There are a number of providers available now that don't have their own network – but just resell coverage from other networks. In the UK, for instance, there are dozens of these... and this Wikipedia list is a great place to find out who uses what network. Smarty, Superdrug and iD mobile for instance use Three.  Tesco and Talk Talk, meanwhile, use the O2 network. 

3: How much data?
Data is the key differentiator between different mobile phone tariffs, and this is still true with SIM only. Take a look at how much data you are using at the moment to surf the internet, stream video, use satnav and more with your current provider... and then factor in that most of us will use more data next year than we have used this!

4: Text and talk
You should also, of course, check that you get enough SMS text messages and calls in your plan.

5: Roaming and more
Watch out for the cost of extras. Don't assume the cost of roaming (using your phone in another country), as it may be much cheaper or much more expensive than you expect! 

6: SIM size
Phones uses one of three different SIM sizes nowadays - Standard, Micro, and Nano. You need to make sure you get the right size for your handset (although many are supplied in a peel-away form, so that they can be adapted to fit all three card slot sizes)

7: Take your number with you
Transferring (or porting) your number from your existing to a new one is a piece of cake in the UK nowadays. You simply get what is known as a PAC code (Porting Authorisation Code) from your network, and pass this to your new provider.

Best SIM only deals

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.