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What’s the best unlimited data SIM deal in September 2017?

Wednesday, August 9th 2017

The best reason to opt for a SIM-only deal is that, by using your current handset, you can save a decent amount of money. This saving can be used on beefing up your data, minutes and text allowance so you can get better use out of your ageing handset.

Although only two providers offer unlimited data, there are other mobile providers that offer a decent amount of data. We show you some of the best deals out there, taking a look at price, package and contract lengths.

1
Three Mobile

Three

The hugely popular 'Advanced Plan'

  • DataUnlimited
  • MinutesUnlimited
  • TextsUnlimited
  • Monthly cost£28 per month
  • Contract length12 months

Why this is the best deal

If it’s unlimited data you’re after, the Advanced Plan from Three is the only truly unlimited mobile SIM deal. It offers good value for money for those who plan on using their phones both for the internet as well as for texts and minutes, as everything is unlimited.

You can also use up to 30GB of your data as a personal hotspot (tethering) and take advantage of the Feel At Home facility whereby you can use your data allowance abroad at no extra cost.

Any downsides?

Three does not operate a fair usage limit on its unlimited products, but does have a traffic management policy (TrafficSense) that may slow some customers down during the evenings. Other than that, this is by far the best unlimited data deal available on the market and our number 1 choice.

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2
O2

O2

25GB plan

  • Data25GB
  • MinutesUnlimited
  • TextsUnlimited
  • Monthly cost£26
  • Contract length12 months

Why this is a good deal

This excellent 12-month plan comes with unlimited minutes, texts and 25GB of data. If you sign up to O2 Priority, you can get great discounts and freebies in high street shops and exclusive tickets, offers and experiences. Plus, you can use free O2 Wifi when you're out and about.

Any downsides?

Although O2 doesn't have the widest 4G network, it does offer great 3G coverage, with the bonus of using wifi for sending texts and making calls if mobile coverage is patchy, meaning you should never have a problem.

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3
Virgin Mobile

Virgin Media Mobile

20GB plan

  • Data20GB
  • MinutesUnlimited
  • Texts5000
  • Monthly cost£25
  • Contract length12 months

Why this is a decent deal

This 4G deal from Virgin deserves to be high the list: 20GB of 4G data for just £25 per month is a pretty appealing prospect, even though it doesn't quite beat the top deal from Three, above. This 12-month bundle from Virgin also comes with 5000 texts and unlimited minutes – and you can change your plan up or down each month if you want to. You also get free WhatsApp and Facebook messaging.

Any downsides?

Although not an unlimited deal, 20GB should be more than enough for almost everyone – and at this price it's worth serious consideration.

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4
EE

EE

20GB plan

  • Data20GB
  • MinutesUnlimited
  • TextsUnlimited
  • Monthly cost£21
  • Contract length12 months

Why this is a decent deal

This 12-month plan comes with unlimited minutes, texts and 20GB of data. Customers also get six months of Apple Music for free and three months' access to the BT Sport App.

Any downsides?

EE offers the widest 4G network in the UK, with speeds sometimes reaching up to 60Mb. However, in those areas not yet covered, speed can be considerably reduced, so be prepared to expect 3G or less if you lack coverage. It's always worth checking a provider's coverage checker before you buy.

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5
Giffgaff

Giffgaff

Always On £20 goodybag

  • DataUnlimited (traffic managed)
  • MinutesUnlimited
  • TextsUnlimited
  • Monthly cost£20
  • Contract length30 days

Why this is an OK deal

This SIM offers unlimited minutes and texts. Plus, as with all giffgaff’s SIMs, calling other giffgaff numbers is free. You also have access to unlimited data, although there is a major caveat.

Any downsides?

Although this plan technically comes with unlimited data, in fact you only have 6GB of data allowance at full 4G speed to use per month. Thereafter you will only have 4G speed from midnight to 8am; during the day your speed will be reduced right down to 256Kbps, which is almost unuseably slow.

Also, Giffgaff has a rather unusual approach to customer service, and is more community-focused, relying on its members to answer questions rather than an official team of experts.

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How much should I pay?

Prices vary depending on what is unlimited

The price of unlimited SIMs does vary based on a number of factors; principally, on what you get and how long your contract lasts.

What is interesting to note is the price of giffgaff’s SIM-only goodybags, which seem like tremendously good value. This is because of the unique infrastructure of the company, which uses customer forums instead of customer service helplines. This isn’t for everyone, but it does mean cheaper overheads and subsequently cheaper bills for its customers.

What do I need?

Be happy to keep your old handset

As these are SIM-only plans, you’ll need a handset to take advantage of the low prices on offer. Although the idea of retaining your old phone past the end of your contract might come as a bit of an alien concept (especially as these contracts can last up to two years), if you’re happy with what you’ve got, you could save a bit of money by not upgrading.

Unlocking your phone for a new SIM

If you bought your phone and contract from a provider, and are planning on getting a SIM card from a different provider, you will need to get the phone unlocked so it can be used on a different network. Some providers will do this for you for a small fee although it will invalidate the phone’s warranty. 

Conclusion

The deals we’ve looked at here are representative of what’s available on the market at the moment, but it’s certainly worth shopping around to find one that suits your needs perfectly.

Compare SIM-only tariffs →

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