Move over pay-monthly phone contracts! There’s a new deal in town, and it’s stealing the limelight. SIM-only deals are becoming increasingly popular, with both major and piggyback networks offering better, cheaper mobile deals for less commitment. But what are they, and are they worth the hype?
Instead of being tied down to a contract for what usually lasts 18-24 months, a SIM-only deal gives you flexibility. It is a short-term contract that offers you an allowance of texts, calls and data, but without the inclusion of the handset that you get with a pay-monthly contract. If you’re looking for a cheap mobile phone deal, then consider a SIM-only contract, but not before you’ve got clued up on both the perks and the downsides.
SIM-only deals are flexible, and wouldn’t we all like a little more flexibility? You can chop and change plans to suit your situation as frequently as once a month. Say you’re embarking on a trip in a few weeks – you may need more or less data than usual. Avoid paying upfront for an allowance you’ll never max out or, conversely, finding yourself being charged for exceeding your contract. With a SIM-only deal you can plan and purchase to meet your needs.
Simply put, with a SIM-only deal you get more bang for your buck. Most people reap better tariffs on these deals because they’re just paying for the package, not the phone as well. For example, you can get multiple gigabytes of data per month for a fraction of the cost of a pay-monthly contract.
If you don’t need to have the latest gadgets, then a SIM-only deal is much more affordable and convenient. Plus, you’re at liberty to switch network providers as you please, which is great if you’re moving locations and will get better coverage with another network. No more riding out poor service until the end of your contract!
Of course, there are some downsides. You do have to already own the handset, and the latest releases are – to most of us – extortionate to buy outright. It’s simply far more financially manageable to pay in monthly instalments.
You could continue using your current handset if you’ve fulfilled your previous contract. However, bear in mind that phones are intentionally built to deteriorate over time (don’t get us started), and you will see poorer computing performance after a couple of years – not to mention the spider’s web of screen cracks! You also must ensure your phone is unlocked if you plan to switch networks, which some providers can be a bit, shall we say, precious about facilitating.
It’s also important to be aware that you may need to take out separate insurance for your handset. With pay-monthly contracts, many of us decide to include insurance in the cost, but you don’t necessarily have that security here. Check what you’re covered for under your home insurance and really think about the risk – the handset is unequivocally yours and it’s your responsibility.
It’s worth spending some time actually doing some quick sums. Work out what it would cost you to buy a handset outright, and then add on the cost of your chosen SIM-only deal for a similar length of time to a contract. Compare this with mobile phone contracts on the handset you want, working out the total payment after the duration of the contract.
Bear in mind that, depending on your needs, you could be frequently purchasing different SIM-only deals at different rates, so some months you may spend more than others.
Perhaps you don’t necessarily need the latest model, or are still quite content with your current, beloved handset and feel like giving it an extended lease of life on a SIM-only deal.
Okay, perhaps this one’s slightly more existential but consider where you might be in 18-24 months. Do you really want, or need, to commit to a single contract for that long? SIM-only deals are great for those of us that err on the side of non-committal.