If you don’t need a new phone, a SIM-only deal could save you money. Here’s all you need to know about SIM-only plans, how to find the best deal and make the switch.
It’s a mobile phone contract that includes minutes, texts and data, but with a SIM-only deal, you don’t get a new phone.
SIM-only plans are usually cheaper than bill pay deals because you’re not paying for the cost of a new handset.
It’s a hybrid of both because plans are usually offered as a 30-day rolling contract, with no contract tie in but you have to provide your contact and bank details. The monthly price is fixed but you can choose between bill pay or prepay type deals.
There are 9 mobile networks that offer SIM-only deals in Ireland.
Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, 48.ie, Clear Mobile, GoMo and Lycamobile are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) which means they’re powered by either Vodafone, eir or Three’s network.
This depends on the network and offer you choose. Unlimited SIM-only plans range between €14.99 and €35 per month while capped plans usually cost around €15 per month.
Some mobile networks offer a discount for 12 months, after which the monthly cost increases, but because it’s a 30-day rolling contract you will be free to leave and take your number with you.
If you’re not ready to part with your beloved phone and your phone contract has finished, then there are many advantages to switching to a SIM-only deal.
If you’re happy with your mobile phone and don’t want to upgrade for at least 12 months, switching to a SIM-only deal will save you money.
This type of plan is also cheaper if you buy a discounted or refurbished mobile phone.
Here’s a couple of things to consider before making the change.
The best SIM-only deal for you will depend on how much you use your phone, what you use it for and where you live. When you’re comparing networks and plans, think about:
Yes, this is called ‘porting’ your number and makes changing network a much smoother process.
Keeping your number means you won’t have to tell all your friends and family your new number or risk losing contact with anyone.
Your new network will guide you through the steps you need to take to port your mobile number
No, if you move to a new network, you will need to get a new SIM card. Your new mobile phone operator will provide this when you sign up with them.
However, if you switch to a SIM-only deal with your existing provider, you can keep your current SIM.
If you got a phone as part of your current mobile phone contract it’s likely that your contract was for 24 months. If you’re not sure when you signed up, check your online account, app or contact customer services.
Early exit fees for mobile phone contracts can be high, requiring you to pay for the months remaining on your plan, so wait for your contract to end before switching.
You can find out how to unlock your phone in our guide. You may have to pay a fee if you are still in contract.
All that will happen when you change network, is you’ll see a new mobile provider name on your phone and on your bills. You may also experience minor differences in mobile phone coverage.
Switching your mobile phone network is straightforward and your new provider will guide you through any changes you need to make.
You can find out more about buying a recycled phone in our helpful guide Should you buy a refurbished phone? which tells you all you need to know about refurbished phones and where to buy one.
In Ireland, the three main networks are eir, Three and Vodafone. All of the other operators, including Lycamobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, 48 and Clear Mobile use one of these main networks to provide their customers with phone service.
So, if you have decent coverage with Three, for example, you will get very similar coverage from Virgin Mobile, which is powered by the same network.
You can read more about this in our dedicated guide to mobile phone coverage in Ireland.
You may experience some downtime between changing networks - you’ll notice your coverage will disappear on your old SIM, at which point you should start to use your new SIM.
At most, it will be about an hour but is usually less.
It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving.