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Various logos of UK mobile networks

UK networks with unlimited data plans: we rank the best ones

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The retailers featured on this page may compensate us when our readers follow links to their websites and make a purchase. More

With more and more UK mobile networks offering unlimited data plans, we compare restrictions and prices to see which are best. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 25th October 2019

In our unlimited data guide

A record number of networks now offer unlimited data

Cropped logos of mobile networks

We compare the differences

We keep track of all the UK mobile networks that offer unlimited data plans on SIM only, phone contracts, dongles and pay as you go. And there's now more options than ever.

Our guide below compares each network's deal for prices and looks for any restrictions on usage, fair usage policies The networks with the fewest catches and lowest cost deals will appear nearest the top our rankings.

As deals and terms and conditions change, we keep this page up to date to bring you the latest picture.

Choose which type of product you’re looking for below to get started.

SIM only plans with unlimited data

1st: Vodafone's Unlimited Max plans have the least limits

Vodafone unlimited plan banner

Be wary of speed-capped dealsSee all plans

at vodafone.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign 5G speeds where available
Green plus sign Decent pricing for Vodafone
Green plus sign Good roaming

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Severely speed-capped options
Red minus sign More expensive than competition

We're writing off two of Vodafone's new Unlimited Plans as not being properly 'unlimited', because they have speed caps of 2 Mbps (3G style) and 10 Mbps (mediocre 4G). Speed limits cap how much data you can use.

But their Unlimited Max plan on SIM only is a proper unlimited data plan. You can use as much data as you like in the UK, at Vodafone's best 4G and 5G speeds (if you have a 5G phone and coverage).

Here are the two options:

Both deals are priced historically very well for Vodafone, who have previously been at the expensive end of mobile networks. Although other providers can still beat this pricing on unlimited data.

The only real restrictions are if you take your SIM abroad within the plan's roam-free countries, where you can use 25GB a month before paying extra (a very large amount for a temporary trip).

Useful link: All unlimited plan terms and conditions

2nd: Three’s Unlimited Data SIMs are a cheaper alternative

Three's unlimited data SIM only planThree's unlimited data SIM only plan

Commit for longer for a lower priceGet this deal

at three.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Full speeds in the UK
Green plus sign 5G-ready at no extra cost
Green plus sign Nice additional benefits

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Not unlimited when roaming

Three have three unlimited data SIM only plans - with no caps on the data you can use, as long as you're not using your SIM for commercial purposes (Three may check if usage exceeds 1000GB as a way to identify this).

You can choose between a 1-month deal for flexibility or to try the service out. Or take a 12-month or 24-month contract to secure their lowest price on an unlimited everything SIM:

The only usage restrictions on Three’s unlimited data SIMs are when you go abroad. You can use up to 19GB a month depending on where you roam (read Three’s guide here) and tethering isn’t allowed outside the EU.

Overall they’re an excellent choice, particularly when you consider the extra benefits you get on Three like free roaming, upgrades on easyJet and 99% UK 4G population coverage (check signal here).

Useful link: Three’s Traffic Management policy

Our ranking:
2nd

Actually unlimited?:
Yes - restrictions on roaming

Use for tethering?:
Yes - unlimited in the UK

Throttling / traffic management?:
No - apart from abroad

3rd: EE offer unlimited data for the very first time

EE unlimited data banner

EE's first ever unlimited data plansLearn more

at EE.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign The UK's fastest network
Green plus sign Share data with people on account

What we don't like:
Red minus sign More expensive
Red minus sign More-limited roaming
Red minus sign 5G costs extra

You can now get unlimited data directly on the EE network for the first time ever - with a choice of three 4G and 5G SIM only plans with no data usage limits or speed caps:

Or with two of EE's Swappable Benefits included:

Or with 5G data where available and three Swappable Benefits:

EE still have the largest 4G network and the fastest, so the overall experience with data will probably be the best of the options on these page. But that does come as a premium vs cheaper plans elsewhere.

One other nice touch is being able to share up to 120GB of data with other numbers on your same EE account via EE's data gifting service.

Like the networks above, EE's only real limitations are on roaming. While you're abroad you'll only be able to use up to 15GB data a month (on Vodafone it's 25GB and Three it's 19GB).

Useful link: EE's guide to unlimited data

Our ranking:
3rd

Actually unlimited?:
Yes - restrictions on roaming

Use for tethering?:
Yes - for personal use

Throttling / traffic management?:
No

4th: SMARTY's unlimited data is the most flexible

SMARTY Unlimited data offer banner

1-month contract See full deal

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign As much data as you like
Green plus sign No speed restrictions
Green plus sign Use SIM in other devices

What we don't like:
Red minus sign 19GB limit on EU roaming

SMARTY are a recent provider to enter the unlimited data game with a 1‑month contract. At the time of writing, their deal is the second-cheapest 1-month truly unlimited data plan in the UK:

If you've not heard of SMARTY before, they're a low-cost operator owned and run by Three, so they use Three's network. You can check SMARTY's coverage in your area using their map here.

The strength of their unlimited data plan is the flexibility of a one month plan and that there's no data or speed limits on using the SIM directly in a phone or tablet. There's also no credit check to pass.

The only limitations apply if you're taking the SIM abroad to an inclusive EU roaming destination, where you'll only be able to use up to 19GB a month there without paying extra.

Useful link: Full details on their unlimited plan at SMARTY.co.uk

Our ranking:
4th

Actually unlimited?:
Yes - when using in UK

Use for tethering:
Yes

Throttling / traffic management:
None

5th: O2 now also have Limitless plans on phones and SIMs

O2 Limitless Data banner

There is a fair usage policy thoughSee full details

at o2.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign No upper data limits
Green plus sign No throttling/traffic management
Green plus sign Works on the superfast EE network

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Higher pricing than others
Red minus sign Slowest typical download speeds

With EE and Vodafone having launched unlimited data plans in the last months, O2 have joined the party with their Limitless plans, available on SIM only and selected phone contracts.

Compared historically to O2's other capped-data plans, their two new unlimited data SIM only deals aren't priced expensively but still cost more than many on this page:

O2 are up front about what limits there are on their Limitless(!) plans. You get 20GB for EU roaming each month. And there's a fair usage policy of 650GB before they'll investigate whether you're genuinely only using your SIM for personal use.

It's also worth noting that independent speed testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla both put O2 as having the slowest 4G on average among any of the mobile networks (almost half as fast as EE).

Useful link: More about O2's unlimited data SIMs

Our ranking:
5th

Actually unlimited?:
Yes - but capped data abroad

Use for tethering?:
Yes

Throttling / traffic management:
None

6th: Virgin Mobile Truly Unlimited plan is good but exclusive

You must have Virgin Media at homeSee the full deal

at virginmedia.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign No upper data limits
Green plus sign No throttling/traffic management
Green plus sign Works on the superfast EE network

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Only for their broadband/TV customers
Red minus sign Fair usage policy abroad

The cheapest way to get an unlimited data SIM that works on EE's superfast 4G network is by joining Virgin Mobile on their Truly Unlimited plan. But it's only for people with Virgin Media broadband/TV at home:

Virgin's deal really does fit the bill of unlimited. There aren't limits on tethering, the speeds aren't throttled and you can use as much data as you like.

The only real downside is taking it abroad, where a Fair Usage Policy does apply, capping the amount of data you can use there (use Virgin's calculator here to see how much you can use).

Useful link: Virgin Mobile's roaming fair usage policy

Our ranking:
6th

Actually unlimited?:
Yes - but capped data abroad

Use for tethering?:
Yes - in the UK

Throttling / traffic management:
None

7th: giffgaff's Always On SIM doesn't count as unlimited data

giffgaff banner for Always On

Always On isn't truly unlimitedRead giffgaff's guide

at giffgaff.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign You can’t be charged for extra data
Green plus sign Decent enough pricing
Green plus sign Short plan with no long commitments

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Speed limits after 40GB usage
Red minus sign Capped usage abroad

Another option is giffgaff's "Always On SIM", which offers uncapped data with no limits on how much you can use the internet whilst in the UK. There are a couple of downsides to the deal though:

Each month you get 40GB data to use at giffgaff's full 4G speeds. But after that you'll be slowed down to 2G speeds (384 kbps) during the day from 8AM until midnight.

If you're used to flicking around web pages quickly and watching videos on your phone, this speed restriction basically makes it unusable, so it's not a suitable plan if your data consumption is definitely above 40GB.

On top of that, there are restrictions on free EU roaming too. You'll only be able to use 20GB there each month before you'll then be charged per MB for the rest of the month.

There are positives. The O2 network giffgaff uses offers excellent UK coverage, it's only a 1-month deal, and you can join without having to pass a credit check.

Useful link: giffgaff's guide to Always On

Our ranking:
7th

Actually unlimited?:
No - speeds limited

Use for tethering?:
Yes

Throttling / traffic management:
Yes - after 40GB usage

No other networks offer unlimited data on SIM only

Logos of mobile network without unlimited data

Most networks don't offer it

The above are the only options if you're looking for a SIM only plan with unlimited data. You can't get it on Sky, BT, VOXI, Tesco or any of the other smaller providers.

There are a number of reasons most networks don't offer it. Providers that use a network they don't own have to pay for the data their customers use, so can't give away unlimited plans.

Over the last years, we have noticed that the maximum data allowances are getting a lot larger though, so even if you can't get unlimited data, there are options for 30GB, 50GB or even 100GB.

Use our SIM only plan comparison tool below to compare big data deals, as well as unlimited ones, as you'll find there are more choices of network, and you may get a lower price.

Useful link: Compare all SIM only plans

Compare all SIM only plans

Find SIMs with large and unlimited data allowances

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Choose what you want in your deal:

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Phone contracts with unlimited data

It's the same networks that offer unlimited data with phones

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Our price comparison tool helps find dealsCompare prices now

here at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

We've set out the mobile networks with unlimited data in the section above for SIM only, and the various restrictions and quirks with each plan. It's the same networks that offer it on phone contracts.

If you have Virgin Media broadband at home, you'll get access to their Truly Unlimited plan on each phone. Virgin are typically the cheapest provider for phone deals out of ones that do unlimited data.

Three also have an unlimited data plan on each phone. Price-wise they're generally a little more costly than Virgin although they frequently appear in promotions with discounts.

giffgaff's Always On is also available in conjunction with their phone contracts but has the same usage and speed restrictions that stop it from being a real unlimited data plan.

Use our phone price comparison tool to find out the costs on each network for the particular model you're looking for.

Compare phone contract prices

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Unlimited data for tablets, iPads and mobile WiFi

SMARTY offer an unlimited data SIM you can use in tablets, iPads and mobile WiFi dongles

SMARTY Unlimited data offer banner

You're allowed to use it in mobile broadband devicesSee full deal

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

For a long time, there's been no data SIMs for tablets/iPads that come with an unlimited data allowance (presumably because these devices can rip through so much data). But that's now changed:

SMARTY are a low-cost provider owned and ran by Three, using their mobile network for 3G and 4G. You can read our full SMARTY review here.

Don't be concerned that it also comes with minutes and texts. The plan isn't just for use in phones. You're also 100% allowed to use the SIMs in tablets, dongles, pocket MiFi and WiFi routers (here's where SMARTY confirm this themselves on their website).

As we point out further down, no other networks offer a tablet-only SIM without having a cap on the monthly data you can use.

Useful link: Full details on SMARTY's data SIMs

Three offer unlimited data on pocket mobile WiFi devices and home WiFi routers

Three's unlimited data SIM only planTwo mobile broadband routers

Choose a pocket or home Wifi routerSee mobile WiFi plans

at three.co.uk
(opens in new window)

There aren't any SIM card options on Three that you can put into the device of your choice and get unlimited data (see SMARTY above for that).

But if you need an actual device too, they have got two options that come with no upper data limits. Choose from either their pocket Huawei mobile WiFi device you can take anywhere, or a larger more-powerful WiFi router to use at home.

To get unlimited data with either device, you will need to commit to a 24-month contract, which is actually a fairly long period for this type of product. But the reward is having no data caps.

At our most recent check, both were priced at £22 a month with £0 up front (see Three's latest prices here). That compares to 100GB capped products on EE for example at £40 a month on an 18-month contract.

Useful link: Full device specifications on Three

No other network sells plans with unlimited data

A mobile broadband device

Other mobile broadband plans have caps

If you're after a tablet SIM or a mobile broadband dongle, you can only get other deals with capped amounts of data on them. There are no other unlimited plans from any network.

We'd say the main reason behind this is that you're capable of ripping through a lot more data on something like a tablet or iPad than you are with a phone, simply because of the types of activity you use them for.

You're much more likely to use a tablet for data-hungry activities like watching videos or filesharing. You might even be thinking about replacing your home broadband connection with it entirely.

We think most networks would find it uneconomical to provide this much data so it's just not worth them offering it. So what are your alternatives?

You could take a phone SIM and use it mostly for tethering

A phone connected to a tablet and laptop

Use a phone to tether tablets / laptops

Both Three and Virgin Mobile let you use their unlimited data phone SIMs for unlimited tethering in the UK, even if you're not allowed to put the SIM specifically into a tablet or mobile WiFi device to use directly.

Tethering is where you use the data connection on your mobile phone to create a personal WiFi hotspot around you. You can then connect other WiFi-enabled devices to this to get them internet access.

The idea would then be that you either switch your main phone SIM only deal to one of their unlimited data plans, or get a separate deal to use in a spare phone that you either have lying around or buy separately.

As long as you're not using data in such large quantities that you're hogging the network from other users or for professional / business purposes, there's nothing in Three or Virgin's terms that stop you doing this.

Useful link: Our rankings for unlimited data phone SIMs

Unlimited data on Pay As You Go

There are fewer unlimited data options on Pay As You Go

vSMARTY Unlimited data offer banner

No credit checks, pay up frontGet this deal

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

If you don't like the idea of getting stuck on a contract, or you don't want to have to pass a credit check, taking a pay as you go deal will be a decent option, even if there are fewer choices with no caps on data.

Virgin Mobile no longer have any pay as you go options, so the only providers with truly unlimited deals are Three and their sub-brand SMARTY. At the moment, it's SMARTY who have the cheapest price:

Otherwise, the next best truly unlimited pay as you go deal is Three's:

The plan has the advantage of having no credit check (because you pay for it up front each month). You also don't have to give any notice to leave either - you just stop buying the add-on.

To save £15 over 3 months, you can also buy a 90-day version of the unlimited add-on too, which comes in at £90 (£30 a month):

Again, giffgaff's Always On SIM is technically pay as you go too because it's paid for up front. But the cap of 40GB before you're slowed down to 2G speeds makes it a much less competitive option, even if it's cheaper:

Useful link: Compare all SIMs with no credit check

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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