Let's determine whether or not a PAYG data-only SIM is right for you. Here are two examples where we feel that it may be the right choice. Bear in mind there are no doubt more, and ultimately only you are going to know what you will be using it for.
Here's how we're defining it: A PAYG data-only SIM deal is a SIM from a provider which you can use in a tablet or a laptop that has a SIM slot, and where no formal contract exists that lasts longer than 30 days. Take a look at the different types available and it will make a lot more sense.
This is where you buy a SIM outright. None of the money you will pay goes on the SIM itself (which is essentially free) but on the amount of data that comes pre-loaded onto the SIM. You can, rather wastefully, buy a SIM with preloaded data, use up the data and throw it away, or more sensibly you can top up the amount of data as required.
Only EE and Vodafone provide preloaded data SIMs. Perhaps the best thing about them is that they don't require any credit checks. Just be somewhat cautious with these, however. It's important to understand that if you buy a preloaded 30-day SIM or 90-day SIM your data expires at the end of the stated period. Gone forever.
A free PAYG data SIM is exactly the same as a preloaded PAYG data SIM except for one important difference: There's no data on the SIM when you get it. Popping one of these into your tablet will allow you access to the provider's online top-up page where you will be able to add data as required.
Just like a preloaded PAYG data SIM, there are no credit checks and your data will expire at the end of the stated period. Again, only Vodafone and EE offer a free data SIM ready for you to top up yourself.
This is how everyone else does it. Rather than offering you a SIM preloaded with data, you buy a SIM on a 30-day contract with a specific data limit. This differs from the above in a couple of important ways. For one thing you will need to enter a contract which will renew your data limit every 30 days unless you state otherwise. For another, because it's a contract there will be credit checks.
This type of SIM deal barely scrapes in as a PAYG data SIM, but since you're free to change your data limit every 30 days and you're free to walk away whenever you feel like it, it does belong in the same category.
Here we'll take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of both PAYG data-only SIMs versus those of the regular data-only SIMs that are available on 12-month contracts. Maybe you're not yet 100% certain which type is right for you? If not, you will be after reading this.