Want to browse, stream and call without a contract? We’ve picked out the best pay as you go SIM deals for you, based on our tests
The best pay as you go SIM deals are ideal for people who don’t want to get tied into a long-term phone or SIM-only contract, particularly if their usage tends to wax and wane through certain months or they’re worried about ongoing costs and potential price rises.
To help you find the best pay as you go SIM deal for your needs, I’ve rounded up the best into a range of categories below, including the best overall, the best with unlimited data and the best cheap option. There’s something for everyone here.
It isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather offers that I, as an experienced SIM deal-watcher, have given the thumbs-up after comparing them against the competition and against the results of our annual Expert Reviews Mobile Network Awards, where we ask thousands of UK customers about their service.
The best pay as you go SIM deals you can buy in 2024
1. Voxi: The best pay as you go SIM deal overall
Price: £15/mth | Data: 90GB, plus unlimited social, video and music app usage | Plan: 1 month
Our top pay as you go SIM deal this month comes courtesy of Vodafone-powered Voxi, which was the very worthy recipient of five stars out of five and an Expert Reviews Best Buy award.
For just £15/mth on a rolling, one-month plan, you’ll be treated to 90GB of 5G-enabled data (up from the usual allowance of 30GB) and unlimited usage of selected social media, video and music apps.
That means you’ll be able to use TikTok, Instagram, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Snapchat, YouTube, Apple Music and Twitter, among others, and it won’t come out of your 90GB allocation. Not bad, eh?
In our original Voxi review, we sang the praises of its dazzling deals, commitment-free plans, rock-solid reliability and top-tier performance. But don’t just take our word for it: Voxi was the overall winner of our annual, customer-voted Mobile Network Awards.
Read our full Voxi review
2. Smarty: The best pay as you go deal with unlimited data
Price: £16/mth | Data: Unlimited | Plan: 1 month
Smarty may no longer be the champion of our Mobile Network Awards, but the mobile network still gained four stars out of five and an Expert Reviews Recommended award in our most recent review. In particular, we highlighted its cheap data deals such as the one we’re shining a light on here, excellent 5G performance, free EU roaming up to 12GB and impressive customer service scores.
And it has a bargain 30-day, rolling plan for you: unlimited 5G data for just £16/mth, down from the usual £20/mth, plus the usual unlimited UK texts and minutes. That’s by far the best unlimited pay as you go SIM deal around at the moment.
Read our full Smarty review
3. iD Mobile: The best cheap pay as you go SIM deal
Price: £10/mth | Data: 50GB | Plan: 1 month
If you’re looking to get as much bang for your buck as possible at the moment, iD Mobile is here to help: the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which runs on Three’s expansive network, is serving up 50GB of 5G-compatible data for just £10/mth on a rolling, one-month plan. That’s excellent value for money if you don’t need masses of data for, say, streaming while out and about.
In our in-depth, four-star iD Mobile review, we praised the company’s outstanding offers such as the one above, excellent 5G performance and free EU roaming up to 30GB. Its customer service requires some improvement, however.
Read our full iD Mobile review
4. Lebara: The best pay as you go SIM deal for calling abroad
Price: £15/mth | Data: 30GB | Plan: 1 month
If you regularly call friends and family overseas, this is the pay as you go SIM deal for you: for £15/mth on a rolling, 30-day plan, you’ll get 30GB of 5G-enabled data and 500 international minutes to 42 countries around the world, including the EU, India, the US, Australia and China. What’s more, you’ll be able to use your data allocation when travelling in the EU or India, making Lebara one of the most generous mobile networks in this regard.
In our most recent Lebara review, we awarded it four stars out of five and an Expert Reviews Recommended award for its value for money and international minutes. In the words of our reviewer, “as a cheap and cheerful mobile network, Lebara has a lot to give”.
Read our full Lebara review
5. Talkmobile: The best alternative pay as you go SIM deal on a budget
Price: £13/mth | Data: 100GB | Plan: 1 month
Talkmobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses Vodafone’s network to deliver bags of data for bank balance-pleasing sums. For instance, you can currently pick up 100GB of 5G compatible data, as well as the usual unlimited minutes and texts, for just £13/mth on a rolling, 30-day plan. That’s excellent value for money and you’ll also be able to roam for free up to 5GB when in the EU.
You won’t have to sacrifice performance, either: we awarded the network four stars out of five in our latest Talkmobile review, where we praised its dazzling deals, good customer satisfaction scores and rock-solid reliability.
Read our full Talkmobile review
How to pick the best pay as you go SIM deal for you
If you’ve perused our list of the best pay as you go SIM deals, but aren’t sure where to begin, fret not: we’ve put together a short buying guide below to help you tackle the main hurdles with ease.
How much data do you need?
Nowadays, there’s a huge range of pay as you go plans designed for different types of users. There are a few rules of thumb, though. If you mainly use your phone when connected to Wi-Fi and only do a bit of browsing or streaming on mobile data, we’d say that 20GB to 50GB should be enough.
Conversely, if you spend a lot of time on social media, scrolling through TikTok, watching Netflix and listening to Spotify, we’d recommend stepping up to a 100GB or unlimited deal. These tend to be more cost-effective than the lower-data plans too.
Speaking of which, a data allowance under 10GB is unlikely to be enough for all but the most frugal users. It’s best to be generous with your allocation as you don’t want to pay through the nose if you exceed it.
How long should the contract be?
All of the deals above last for 30 days, which means you can be a lot more flexible about jumping ship to a better offer. That said, our list of the best SIM only deals includes longer-term contracts that are much cheaper per month, although you should watch out for mid-contract price hikes as these are now far more common.
What speeds can I get?
The 5G rollout across the UK has continued apace and a large part of the country is now covered, although many of us still have to make do with 4G. To check what you can get in your neck of the woods, head over to Ofcom’s handy tool and type in your postcode.
Note that virtual mobile network operators (MVNOs) such as Voxi and Smarty run on one of the main four networks – in this case, Vodafone and Three respectively – so make sure to double-check the host network before signing up.
Will you be able to roam for free?
Free EU roaming is something of a luxury these days, with only a few mobile networks offering it – and even then only under a daily cap. Other networks will charge you a daily fee to access your allowance while on the continent and charges will increase steeply if you’re heading further afield.
It’s worth keeping an eye on our dedicated roundup of the best roaming SIM only deals to get the most for your money.