What is a SIM-only plan?
It’s a mobile phone contract that includes minutes, texts and data only. You don’t get a new phone with a SIM-only deal, so you’re only paying for airtime.
There are two ways to pay for a SIM-only deal.
- Bill pay: This is a 30-day, no-strings-attached, rolling contract.
- Prepay: Means you can pay upfront. This is also known as pay as you go.
SIM-only plans are cheaper than plans that include a mobile phone because you’re not paying to spread the cost of the new phone.
Bear in mind that discount prices can increase after the introductory period, but you are free to move on to a cheaper deal and keep your number.
What are the advantages of a SIM-only deal?
If you don’t want a new phone and aren’t already locked into a mobile contract, there are many advantages to switching to a SIM-only, bill pay deal.
The downside is you don’t get a new phone and you may need to unlock your phone or buy a SIM-free phone.
SIM-only bill pay
If you’re looking for a plan with lots of data but don’t want to commit to a monthly bill, a SIM-only, prepay plan can be a flexible option.
Just choose a prepay plan with all the minutes, texts and data you need, and top up by the plan amount each month.
What about SIM-free, refurbished phones?
You could also consider getting a pre-owned phone if you’re on a budget. A refurbished phone is ideal if you want to buy a phone outright and keep monthly costs down.
Our guide Should you buy a refurbished phone? can help you decide if it’s right for you.
SIM-only deals for international calls
There are some SIM-only deals that offer EU, UK or international calls as part of your monthly plan. This type of plan is ideal if you regularly make overseas calls.
Most of Ireland’s top network providers offer international calls or roaming data plans, although expect to pay more if you need lots of international minutes.
200 international minutes & texts for €19.99
Plus get 50GB of your data to use across the EU
Can I keep my mobile number?
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
How do I compare SIM-only packages?
When you compare SIM-only deals, consider what’s most important to you. For example:
- Do you need an unlimited data plan or do you mainly use your phone for calls and texts?
- Do you want to be tied in for 12 months or would you prefer a 30-day rolling contract?
- Do you want bill pay or would prepay suit you better?
Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, Switcher.ie’s SIM-only comparison can help you compare deals.
We’ll show you all the best mobile bill pay or SIM-only offers on the market, with key features highlighted, so you can simply choose the best plan for your needs.
How do I switch mobile phone provider?
Switching your mobile phone network is very straightforward and your new provider will handle the technical bits of the switch.
Before you make any change, check you’re out of contract before signing up to a new plan. This will ensure you avoid early exit fees, which can be high.
If you have a bill-pay deal, you’ll also need to contact your current provider to cancel your plan, and once you’ve paid your final bill - cancel any direct debits.
The only difference you’ll notice when you change providers is the cost and a new provider’s name on your phone and bills.
You may also experience slight differences in signal, but check network coverage before you make the switch.
How much data do I need?
The amount of data you need will depend on what you use the internet for on your mobile phone.
If you mainly use the data on your phone to browse the internet and send messages via Whatsapp or other messaging services, you’d be considered a light user. Streaming a lot of video content or online gaming would make you a heavy user.
Data packages are normally measured in GBs, which is 1,024MBs. Here are some examples of data usage:
- visiting a website uses up around 1MB
- watching TV shows or movies on Netflix uses about 1GB for every hour of SD video
- streaming TV and movies in HD uses about 3GB per hour
Is a 30-day or 12-month SIM-only contract best for me?
The kind of contract you go for will totally depend on your circumstances.
If you’d like to try a new provider and want to test out the service and coverage, you could opt for a shorter-term contract to try it out.
Longer contracts tend to be cheaper, however, so if you’re happy to lock in for longer, you could save money in the long run.
What is a data-only SIM?
A data-only SIM is a SIM card that is generally used with a tablet. It doesn’t include an allowance for calls and texts, instead, you’ll just get a data allowance, so you can get online on your tablet outside of WiFi areas.
Which mobile networks provide SIM-only plans?
In Ireland, SIM only deals are provided by operators such as:
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