Complete guide to Sim Only contracts – are they right for you?

Almost everyone today has a mobile phone because they are an important part of everyday life. If you love gadgets then you’re most likely always looking for the latest mobile phone when your phone contract is close to renewal.

The issue with phone contracts is that you’re having to pay a lot of money on a monthly basis to own a phone. If you’ve got to the stage where you would prefer to spend a lot less on a mobile phone, then a Sim Only deal is a great option.


A Sim Only contract is much cheaper than a contract that comes with a new mobile phone. This is because you’re only paying for access to the phone network and the monthly cost does not need to factor in the cost of a phone.

Mobile phones can cost anything from £100.00 right up to £1,000.00. If you choose the latest phone your monthly contract can easily reach £50.00.

A Sim Only contract does not include the cost of a phone, so the deals you can get can be as cheap as £10.00 per month. That is a huge saving you can make on a monthly basis.


When Sim Only contracts were first offered a good few years back there were not that many to choose from. Also, not all network providers offered these contracts, so you were limited in the choice on offer.

However, since then network providers have realised that not everyone is interested in having the latest mobile phone. This means you now have a huge range of Sim Only contracts to choose from.


At the moment there are typically three different types of Sim Only contracts. The most common one is a 12-month contract. This contract offers good value for money but it also means you will be tied to the contract for 12 months.

Another popular Sim Only deal is a 30-day contract. This contract means you’re only tied into the network for 30 days. This is the most flexible option because, in theory, it means you can choose a new contract every month.

We are now seeing network providers offer 18-month contracts. This is the least flexible because you’ll be stuck in the contract for that period of time. However, it also means you should get the best offer from this type of contract.

The Complete guide to sim only contracts in the UK


If you’re considering choosing a Sim Only contract you need to ensure you choose the right one. For some people that will be a thirty-day contract and for others a 12 month.

A thirty-day contract is a good idea if you’re waiting for a new phone to be released. If your contract has ended and you’re eager to get your hands on the latest phone, but it’s not yet available. Choosing a 30-day contract lets you continue to use your current phone at a much cheaper price.

When the phone is eventually released you’ll only need to wait for 30-days before signing up to a new phone contract.

Another great reason for choosing a 30-day contract is if you’re unsure whether you’ll get a good reception from a certain network provider. We’ve all been there, where we’ve been advised in the shop their network offers the best overall coverage. Only to realise reception at your home is non-existent.

Choosing a 30-day contract gives you the chance to test the network in your own conditions. After 30 days you’ll have a good idea of whether the reception you receive is going to be suitable for your needs.

By choosing a 30-day Sim Only contract you’ll be able to test all of the networks. This is the best way to ensure you eventually choose the network that offers you the best coverage. Once you’ve found the network that works best for you, you can then choose a longer contract to get a better deal.


I would only recommend choosing a 12-month contract if you’ve already used the network before. Choosing a 12-month contract with a network provider you’ve never used before is a risk.

If you realise the network coverage is not what you had expected, you may find it difficult to get out of the contract.

If you’re confident that the network you’ve chosen offers a good reception then a 12-month contract offers much better value than the 30-day contract. You’ll be tied to the network for 12-months, so they will offer you more for a lower price than a 30-day contract can offer.

This type of contract is perfect for someone who is not interested in getting their hands on the latest phone. It means you can keep your current phone with a reduced monthly cost compared to your original phone contract.


This is the latest Sim Only contract that we’ve seen network providers offering. You need to think carefully before choosing a Sim Only contract of this length. An 18-month contract is similar in length to what you’d sign up for if you were also getting a new phone as part of the contract.

An 18-month contract should offer you the best price out of all the Sim Only contracts available. However, it also means you’ll be tied to that particular network for a long period.


Sim Only contracts are great because they offer excellent value for money. You will, however, need to already own a mobile phone because it does not come as part of the package.

Most people who choose Sim Only contracts have just come out of a contract that included the phone in the monthly price. Before choosing a Sim Only contract you should consider whether the phone you currently have will last the length of the contract.

Sim only contracts come with a new Sim card
Your old Sim will no longer be needed

This all depends on the original contract you signed. If you got your phone as part of a 24-month contract, your phone will be two years old by the time the original contract ends.

Before choosing a Sim Only contract you should consider whether your phone will make it through the length of the contract. The most common reason for phones to become worthless is the battery.

If after two years you’re still managing to use your battery without the battery running out after an hour, then choosing a longer Sim Only contract should not cause too many problems. However, if your phone is already showing signs of battery issues, then think carefully before signing up to a contract of 12 or 18 months.


As I’ve previously mentioned most people sign up to Sim Only contracts once there original phone contract has ended. This is perfectly fine but this does depend on the condition of your phone.

You can, of course, move away from costly monthly contracts that include a mobile phone for good. Your original phone will not last forever, but there is nothing stopping you from buying a new phone outside of a contract.

As long as you’re not looking at getting your hands on the latest phone. Then you can still save money by buying a new phone outright and then choosing a Sim Only contract.

You can get brand new phones at a much cheaper price if you are prepared to downgrade to a phone with fewer frills.

If you’re considering buying the latest phone that costs over £600, then you’ll need to do some maths to see whether buying a phone outright and choosing a Sim Only is cheaper than choosing a contract where the phone is included in the monthly cost.


Before you choose a Sim Only contract you’ll need to check to see if your phone is currently locked to the original network.

You’ll most likely find that your phone is locked to the network that you originally signed a contract with. This is because the network wants to ensure you do not try to leave the contract early.

Once your original phone contract has expired, you would have paid for the phone and it then belongs to you. At this stage, you should be able to ask your current network provider for a Network Unlock Code (NUC).

If you do request an NUC from your network provider you should check to see if a charge is involved. Most reputable networks will not charge to unlock your phone but it’s best to check before you make a request.

You can check whether your phone is locked by putting a Sim from another network into your phone. If the phone works and you can make calls, then your phone is already unlocked to use on any network.


Before you decide to buy a Sim Only contract you’ll need to check the size of Sim your phone uses. This is important because if you choose the wrong size Sim you’ll not be able to use it with your phone.

Choosing the right size Sim when choosing a sim only contract
Check your phone Sim size before buying a Sim Only Contract

There are three types of Sim Card. Older phones use the standard Sim Size but these are getting less common than they once were.

Most phones now use either a Micro or Nano Sim card. When you buy a Sim Only contract you’ll be asked, which type of Sim you need for your phone.


There is a misunderstanding that Sim Only contracts are not the same as any other contract. However, this is simply not the case. When you sign up to a Sim Only contract you’re still tied into that contract for the contract length.

This means that the network provider will still carry out a credit check to see if you have an adequate credit score. If you have bad credit you may be declined for a Sim Only contract.

Whether network providers use the same strict credit scoring as a regular contract is uncertain. This will most likely depend on the length of contract you are signing up for.

If you do have bad credit and cannot get a Sim Only contract then you’ll find it easier to get a PAYG Sim.


A Sim Only contract can offer great value compared to a contract that includes a phone on the monthly cost.

It’s always a good idea to shop around before buying a Sim Only contract because it’s the best way to get the best deal available. You may find that the offers available differ throughout the year, so waiting for a deal that is worth it makes sense.

You can easily do this by choosing 30-day contracts at first. Once you see a deal become available that offers everything you need; act quickly because they tend to change on a regular basis.