Everything you need to know about SIM only deals

Looking to upgrade your phone? Here's why a SIM only deal could be perfect for you.

Woman holding phone

by Sarah Pennells |

If you want to upgrade your phone, grab yourself a SIM only deal, have the freedom to change contracts every month and – more importantly – save money, what’s the best way to go about it?

Find out how to get the phone deal you want and for less…

When should I upgrade my phone

If you have a pay monthly contract, the best time to upgrade your phone is shortly before your contract comes to an end. If you try to upgrade it earlier, you may have to pay an exit fee.

Which is the best deal – SIM only or with a handset

Think about whether you want the convenience of an all-in-one contract, where you pay one charge for the handset and a separate charge for the calls, texts and data you use but with the same phone company, or whether you’d rather pay for your handset separately and take out a SIM-only deal with whoever you choose.

The real disadvantage of the all-in-one deals is that you’ve probably paid for the handset before your contract runs out (contracts are usually 24 or 36 months). Last year, Citizens Advice found that a third of people who buy their phone handset this way paid too much for it. On average, they overpaid by £264, compared to those who paid for the handset separately so it may be worth shopping around.

Couple with mobile phones

SIM-only deals

The big network providers offer SIM-only deals, but so do some smaller companies that you may not have heard of such as Giffgaff, PlusNet and ID Mobile. SIM-only deals are particularly good if you don’t use your phone much. You can buy a cheap handset – new – from £20 and SIM-only monthly costs start at £4. Best of all, most providers have a rolling one-month contract, which means it’s really easy to switch or upgrade your tariff.

Should I stick with my provider

If you don’t want to switch provider at the end of your contract, it’s worth at least haggling with them. The best option is to see how much you’d save if you switched, then ask your existing mobile phone provider to match it.

Compare prices and deals on price comparison websites, or use a site called Billmonitor.com, which is accredited by the communication regulator, Ofcom and endorsed by MoneySavingExpert.

Once you’ve found a deal that will save you money, call your network provider and ask for the disconnections or customer retention team. If you don’t want the effort of looking online for a better deal, just say you’re thinking of moving and ask for a better deal. It works more often than you’d think.

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