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Black Friday SIM only offers 2020: what to expect this year

Black Friday SIM only offers

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

The Black Friday period is almost universally the best time to pick up a SIM only deal, so we predict what each mobile network will offer this year. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 17th April 2020

In our Black Friday SIM only deal guide

We've looked at previous years to predict 2020

Montage of previous Black Friday banners

All but one network had offers

In 2020, Black Friday happens on 27th November. Although frankly, the actual day is becoming less important now, as mobile networks are stretching their offers for a couple of weeks either side of the precise date.

As a rule of thumb, it's still the best time of year to get the most for your money from a SIM only deal - and worth holding out for, if you're coming towards the end of your current contract.

Every year, we track all the offers on SIM only that UK mobile networks publish and compare them with previous years, and with other promotions that they've had live throughout the year too.

Black Friday's still a long way off but here are our best guesses for the types of offer we'll see in 2020 and predictions per mobile network, based on our experience tracking them. We hope you find our guide useful.

Types of offer on SIM only

Free or discounted months

Montage of offers with free months

Networks have been testing these offers

Although no network did anything like this last Black Friday, we're seeing a few experiment in 2020 with giving you a number of months half price. We could see similar offers in November, perhaps even with free months.

You have to know the game the mobile networks are playing with this type of deal. They use the discounted intro period as a way of tempting you into a longer contract (e.g. 6 months half price on a 24-month deal).

They're also relying on you sticking around at the end of your contract, paying the higher rate. So even if the average monthly cost over the original contract is cheaper vs other deals, it'll creep up if you don't re-compare.

It also makes it tricky to compare the cost of your deal against other plans. It goes without saying, you shouldn't just plump for an offer because the first period is cheap. Look at what it costs over the full term.

Most likely networks:Three logoO2 Mobile logoTalkmobile logoVirgin Mobile logo

Hidden offers

Three hidden unlimited data banner

An extremely popular hidden deal

It always pays to use comparison websites (like this one!) for SIM only deals at the best of times - to get a view of the entire market. And with so many offers flying around at Black Friday, that's especially true.

But another reason is that some mobile networks provide us with links to improved offers that give you more value for money than is advertised directly on their website. We expect a lot this Black Friday.

Why do they do this? As a business, their aim is to sell people contracts at the highest price they'll pay. If people turn up at their website, ready to buy, there's no point in dropping prices. They'll make less money.

But they also know there's many "deal hunters" who will compare and overlook full-priced plans that don't compare well. Networks publish hidden deals to lure those customers without giving them away to everyone.

Most likely networks:Three logoBT Mobile logoiD Mobile logoSky Mobile logoTalkmobile logoVirgin Mobile logo

One-off high value-for-money deals

Montage of previous offers

Examples of last year's Black Friday deals

These are probably the most frequent type of offer over the Black Friday period. Throughout the year, mobile networks save up marketing budget to throw at their deals when they know loads of people are in the market.

It means you get all kinds of one-off deals. Extra data on this, lowest-ever price on that. The most important thing really is to look at the deals on its actual merits, rather than how the deal's packaged.

When we pick out the best SIM only offers on this page while the Black Friday is going, we let you know which ones we think are genuinely good deals, not just ones that have the most impressive marketing claims.

Look out for one method networks use, which is to tempt you to spend more than you were planning, on a plan you'll never get full benefit from (like choosing 1000GB data for £20 vs the 10GB you actually need for less).

Most likely networks:Three logoBT Mobile logoEE logoiD Mobile logoO2 logoSky Mobile logoSMARTY logoTalkmobile logoTesco Mobile logoVirgin Mobile logoVodafone logoVOXI logo

Free gifts, rewards and cashback

BT Mobile free speaker offer

BT gave away a soundbar last year

The final type of offer we'll most likely see for Black Friday 2020 is when mobile networks include some kind of extra with your deal, to add more overall value.

Last year, the only mobile network to do this was BT Mobile, who had a soundbar worth £149.99 on their bigger SIM only plans. Other than that, it was these least frequent type of offer we saw.

We have a couple problems with this type of deal. Sometimes the mobile networks make you go through a claims process to get the reward, they're relying on a certain number of people never bothering.

Also it makes it hard to compare the value of plans. Does getting something "worth" £149.99 really make it like your SIM only deal has cost £149.99 less? Not really.

The best gift offers are when they give you automatic money back. But even then, you should remember to compare again once your contract's up, else you could pay a higher monthly ongoing rate than necessary.

Most likely networks:BT Mobile logoEE logoVodafone logo

Black Friday predictions by network

Choose a mobile network

Here's what we'd predict each network will launch:

Three logo
BT Mobile logo
EE logo
giffgaff logo
ID logo
O2 logo
Virgin Mobile logo
Vodafone logo
VOXI logo

Three: hidden offers and something on unlimited data

Expired stampThree 8GB for £8 offer

8GB for £8 and great benefitsSee hidden deals

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 20th November 2020
Expected end date: Multiple weeks later

Every year, Three always have some kind of unlimited data SIM only plan on sale during the Black Friday period. Last year, they had a 6 months half price 24-month deal or a cheaper hidden 12-month plan.

We'd also be surprised if they didn't have some other hidden offers for small data amounts too. It's a tried and tested formula for Three and it's been very successful and popular in previous years.

Timings-wise, Three tend to run their offers for quite a long while after that actual Black Friday day. In some previous years, they have published on extra offer on the day itself, so if you can wait, it can be worth it.

Useful links: Three's Black Friday page | Our Three review

BT Mobile: most likely network to offer free gifts

Expired stampBT Mobile Black Friday SIM only plan

Free soundbar worth £149.99See current deals

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 26th November 2020
End date: Two weeks later

Last year, BT Mobile were the only network to do a proper free gift offer, where they were including a TV soundbar with particular SIM only deals.

Although the soundbar was in theory worth £149.99, it's not like everyone needs or wants one, so it wasn't that popular an offer. We'd predict something closer to getting money back this year from BT instead.

That might mean a return to their pre-paid Mastercard offers or something like an Amazon gift card. Or BT could surprise us and do something totally different.

We'd expect to know what BT's Black Friday offers are by the Thursday before it (26th November) and they've previously run the deals for two weeks afterwards.

Useful links: BT's Black Friday page | Our BT Mobile review

EE: probably a couple of well-priced big data plans

Expired stampEE Black Friday banner

Good pricing on longer dealsSee current offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 26th November 2020
Expected end date: Two or three weeks later

You never see EE getting down and dirty with highly discounted offers on SIM only at any time of year. And they're normally pretty reserved over Black Friday too.

All you're likely to see from them direct is one or two big data plans at competitive prices - most likely ones on a longer-than-usual contract too (think 18 or even 24 months).

We'd expect a triple data offer on their short 1-month Flex SIMs too. This is a staple promotion that EE tend to roll out about four times a year, so we'd be surprised if it doesn't come back round for Black Friday 2020.

It'll also be worth comparing some of the re-sellers who sell EE SIMs themselves, instead of going direct. Retailers like Carphone Warehouse and may have better deals with free gifts and rewards.

Useful links: EE's Black Friday page | Our EE review | Our guide to Flex Plans

giffgaff: they never do anything for Black Friday on SIMs!

giffgaff's £5 free credit offer

There's always their free joining creditGet £5 free credit

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: Never
Expected end date: N/A

Every year we write that this year might be the time giffgaff surprise us and launch an offer on their SIM only plans for Black Friday - and it never happens.

So this year we're flat-out predicting there will be no additional offers on giffgaff SIMs (there will be discounting on their phone contract range though as usual).

Why don't giffgaff ever do SIM only offers for Black Friday? It's probably to do with having quite tight profit margins on their plans in the first place. The fact they only have 1-month deals doesn't help either.

It means their entire current customer base (members) could move to a promotional plan, which would make them less money. Or they'd risk annoying their members if they said they couldn't take up the offer.

Useful links: giffgaff's Black Friday page | Our giffgaff review

iD Mobile: lots of low-price deals with small data

Expired stampiD Mobile Black Friday SIM

iD Mobile's SIM offers available nowSee their offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 6th November 2020
Expected end date: One month later

iD Mobile are always hyper competitive on the low end of data plans (ones with less than 4GB). The prices start off already-low, so it's always hard for them to discount further for Black Friday.

We expect to see a group of plans in the £4 - £7 range, with 500MB to 2GB data. And then some slightly bigger ones (7GB - 10GB) at promotional prices under £10 but with very few minutes included, as the trade-off.

That's what they've done in previous years. And it's what they've been doing so far in 2020 too. There's no reason to expect anything different.

iD Mobile are definitely ones for a hidden deal too (one they don't advertise on the main part of their website), so it will be worth checking comparison sites like us when Black Friday comes round.

Useful links: iD Mobile Black Friday SIMs | Our iD Mobile review

O2: 2020 could be their most interesting Black Friday

Expired stampO2 Black Hole Friday Offer

O2 Black Friday offers are liveSee current SIM offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 19th November 2020
End date: 18th December 2020

Normally, O2 are quite predictable when it comes to their Black Friday SIM only offers. They'll have a couple of big data plans on longer contracts at headline-grabbing prices (but still not actually be that cheap).

But this year is slightly different. O2 have pulled out of selling via Carphone Warehouse and, so they won't be able to rely on pushing offers via them. So we could see something different this year.

Last year, O2 ran the same SIM only offers for a month into December. So this year we're expecting them to start on the Thursday a week before Black Friday.

Useful links: O2's Black Friday page | Our O2 review

Plusnet Mobile: expect deals for broadband customers

Expired stampPlusnet Mobile 10GB for £10 offer

Plusnet's best-priced dealSee current deals

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: Weekly deals from 9th November
End date: Week after each launch

We expect Plusnet to compete mainly on small to medium data plans for Black Friday, and they'll be particularly competitive if you have their broadband at home because you'll qualify for an extra 2GB free.

In previous years, they've released new plans weekly throughout November, which can make it difficult to decide if you should order now or wait and see if something else better will come next week.

The offers tend to be not much stronger than the usual ones Plusnet publish throughout the year, which are always near the top of price comparisons, so don't expect anything much cheaper.

In 2019, Plusnet did toy with giving away pre-paid Mastercards on 12-monoth versions of their SIM only plans. There's a chance they could bring something like this back for Black Friday 2020.

Useful links: Plusnet's SIM only deals | Our Plusnet Mobile review

Sky Mobile: expect a couple of very decent SIM deals

Expired stampSky Mobile Black Friday SIM offer

£15 £10 a month for 12 monthsSee current offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 13th November 2020
Expected end date: Unknown

Last year was the first year we'd seen some really strong offers on SIM only from Sky on Black Friday. In previous years they'd been very underwhelming.

They had a 3GB for £6 hidden offer, which was extremely popular. Probably because it also came with their unlimited Sky TV streaming data benefit too. It was in our top 3 favourite deals. A repeat would be excellent.

They also had an 8GB for £10 deal, which is no better than the kind of offers they've had throughout 2020. We'd expect another medium-to-large data deal like that again this year.

Dates-wise, Sky launched ahead of the actual Black Friday day last year and the offer lasted for a good month after too, so you didn't need to be in a rush to decide.

Useful links: Sky's Black Friday page | Our Sky Mobile review

SMARTY: do they have any room to discount?

Expired stampSMARTY SIM card and Supercharge Your Large text

Bonus data for 12 months (1-month deal)Get this offer

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: Start of November
End date: Depends per offer

Last year SMARTY launched a pre-Black Friday offer way before the day itself and an additional one just before. We could see something similar this year: a 100GB one-off plan at a decent price.

Since their new pricing in January 2020, it's very hard to see how much further SMARTY can go with discounts. Their standard 30GB for £10 deal is already at a price that'd stand out during any Black Friday.

They've previously toyed with giving away a number of free months. But we don't expect to see that come back. SMARTY may have found people were taking the free months then jumping ship once they were up!

SMARTY will definitely be ones to watch though, as they've been hitting their deals pretty hard throughout 2020, so could up the ante for Black Friday too.

Useful links: SMARTY's other SIM only plans | Our SMARTY review

Talkmobile: hidden offers and discounted lead-in prices

3 months half price offer

Your first 3 months half priceSee latest offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: Unknown
End date: A month later

For Black Friday, Talkmobile are a bit of an unknown, because they weren't really trading last year, so we've not got much to go on. Apart from what they've been offering this year.

We'd guess that they would have some competition-matching hidden deals, which wouldn't be advertised directly on their website but only via comparison sites like this.

They've also been trialling 12-month plans with a discounted first 3 months this spring. If these turn out to be successful, they could be added to Talkmobile's Black Friday SIM only deals too.

We wouldn't be surprised to see them take it further to 3 months free or 6 months half price. We'll have to see. We have no insider information but Talkmobile are a dark horse for 2020's Black Friday.

Useful link: Our Talkmobile review

Tesco Mobile: always pretty strong offers over Black Friday

Expired stampTesco Mobile pre Black Friday SIM only offers

Tesco's current main dealsSee new offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 16th November 2020
End date: 30th November 2020

Throughout the rest of the year, Tesco Mobile tend to just quietly get on with some half-decent value SIM only plans that beat the big networks for price but don't hit rock bottom either.

But at Black Friday, they normally come out of their shell a bit with one or two really high-value plans. And not just big data SIMs like other networks but a spread, from about 1GB to 8GB to 50GB/100GB.

If you've been considering joining Tesco Mobile for a while, Black Friday is without doubt the best time to do it. They seem to save up their budget for that time of year.

We think you'll need to be quick though. In previous years, Tesco's Black Friday SIMs have only lasted about a week from when they're first published.

Useful links: Tesco Mobile's Black Friday page | Our Tesco Mobile review

Virgin Mobile: they'll throw the kitchen sink at Black Friday

Expired stampVirgin Mobile 5GB SIM only offer

The deals will be replacedSee new SIM offers

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: Different points in November
End date: Different per plan

Virgin Mobile always seem to go as big as possible on Black Friday. We expect a group of high-value plans to be on sale throughout November and then one blockbusting deal closer to Black Friday.

They're another network that's experimenting currently with 24-month SIM only contracts, which would give them lots of scope for introductory offers like getting a few months half price or free.

We'd expect Virgin to have a range of plans in their offers, from small £6 ones with a bit of data, through mid-range £10 for 10GB type offers and massive headline-grabbing ones with silly amounts of data or unlimited.

Useful links: Virgin's Black Friday offers page | Our Virgin Mobile review

Vodafone: don't expect mindblowing offers from them direct

Expired stampVodafone Black Friday unlimited data deal

Starting price for 2 Mbps speed cap planSee new deals

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: November 27th 2020
End date: 30th November 2020 (Cyber Monday)

Like the other big networks EE and O2, Vodafone don't ever really get down and dirty with huge discounts off their SIM only plans, even over the Black Friday period. So what can we expect?

We'd predict some very minor discounts off Vodafone's unlimited data SIM only plans and maybe off one of their 20GB plans - probably on longer contracts to make the lower price worth their while.

Vodafone are one of the networks where you could get a better deal in the Black Friday period with re-sellers like Carphone Warehouse and, who'll probably have some big cashback offers available.

If previous years are anything to go by, Vodafone will have a set of offers live from November into December but then some additional short-term ones over the weekend of Black Friday.

Useful links: Vodafone's Black Friday offers page | Our Vodafone review

VOXI: data boosts on two plans over Black Friday

Expired stampVOXI data boost offer banner

6GB 8GB and 15GB 20GB data plansSee all plans

(opens in new window)

Expected launch date: 7th November
End date: 30th November

VOXI have settled into a predictable pattern of offers for Black Friday and throughout the year. We predict they'll have a data boost on two or more of their plans.

It's not a discount directly. But getting more data in each plan lets you choose a cheaper one than you might of, so it is effectively money-off.

VOXI don't tend to do short-term offers. Whatever they launch will most likely start in early November and last about a month. They haven't ever published an extra offer on actual Black Friday.

It means if you like what they've got at the beginning of November, you'll most likely not miss out on anything by ordering there and then.

Useful links: VOXI's other plans | Our VOXI review

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