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No contract SIMs: compare prices, how they work, pros and cons

SIM card and a crossed out contract

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Want a SIM only plan but don't want a contract? We explain how no contract SIMs work with each network and compare pricing. Last updated: 24th November 2022.

No contract SIMs explained

SIM only plans where you don't have a contract

Screenshot of VOXI my account

Stop, cancel or change wheneverSkip to prices

The vast majority of SIM only deals in the UK are offered on contracts, typically with a length of between 1, 12 or 24 months. But there is another category of SIM that have no contract, so how do they work?

Instead of having a direct debit and a contract, you'll register a credit or debit card with a network and buy a plan of minutes, texts and data up front, lasting a month at a time. There's no direct debits and nothing to sign.

Here's each network's cheapest deal without a contract:

All bar a few mobile networks at least offer some ways of doing a SIM only deal without needing a contract, though some do it a lot better than others. That's where this guide can help.

Useful link: Which networks we rate best for this

Benefits and disadvantages of no contract SIMs

1pMobile logoASDA logogiffgaff logoSMARTY logo

Many specialise in no contractsSkip to best networks

The main benefit of deals like this is pretty obvious. Having no contract means that you don't have to worry about being tied in. You're not on the hook for paying for something for a long period.

It also means you can change plans up or down month-to-month, if your budget or needs alter. You can take short breaks from having a plan. And leaving the network is dead easy. Just don't renew and you're gone.

The main disadvantage can be price. Because you're only ever committing to a month at a time, networks often price their no contract SIMs higher than ones with a contract, to entice you into staying longer.

There are a few mobile networks where you can avoid this trade-off (see our list of the best ones here below). These were all especially set up to be low-cost operators and sell exclusively SIM only deals with no contract. The best of both worlds.

Useful link: Networks with the best no contract SIMs

Compare no contract SIMs



1p Mobile logo
Three logo
ASDA logo
Boshhh Mobile logo
Coop Mobile logo
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Genius logo
giffgaff logo
Honest logo
ID logo
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Lebara logo
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The best networks for no contract SIMs

Best choice: SMARTY

SMARTY no contract SIM banner

Made to be cheap without a contractHow payment works

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

SMARTY were set up by Three specifically to offer low cost SIM only plans without a contract. They're not just cheap for no contract SIMs, they're cheap for any type of SIM. So they get our top place here.

They use the full Three 5G network (check your coverage here) and have extra features like WiFi calling. You can roam in the EU still too. It's a great overall package that we prefer to many contract-based providers.

Here's our favourite current SMARTY deal at the moment:

It's easy to manage your plan too. You register a credit or debit card and the plan's cost is charged to that. You can set your plan to auto-renew every month, or manually buy it each month for more control. Or even pause it.

Useful link: Read our full SMARTY review

2nd best choice: 1pMobile

1p Mobile no contract banner

Best no contract SIM on EESee plans

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

Our next choice is 1pMobile, who use EE's full 5G network (check your coverage here). While 1pMobile don't have SMARTY's lower prices, using the EE network is a strong advantage for 1p over them and others below.

1pMobile were originally set up as a traditional pay as you go provider (top up and pay for what you use). But they've now branched out into monthly SIMs with no contract. Here's our current favourite:

The plan does constantly automatically auto-renew, so you do have to keep an eye on it if you want to make any changes. But you're free to leave whenever and there's nothing to sign.

Overall, we'd say 1pMobile offer the best no contract SIM on the EE network, much better than EE's own options, which work out far more expensive.

Useful link: Our full 1pMobile review

3rd best choice: ASDA Mobile, Lebara and VOXI

Unlimited Flexibility banner

VOXI was created to be contract-freeSee their benefits

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

Next, we're going to club 3x providers on Vodafone's network together, as they're very similar. These are VOXI, Lebara and ASDA Mobile.

With all of them, you pay for a monthly bundle up front by registering a UK credit or debit card. Although Lebara do offer some longer-term 12-month plans in addition to 1-month no contract ones.

For which one to choose, a lot comes down to price and benefits. ASDA and Lebara are better for smaller data plans, while VOXI get better the more data you need and offer a nice unlimited social media / video data benefit too.

On these providers, you get the flexibility to turn on and off auto-renew, meaning you stay in control and have a break at any point or change plans easily. Their prices and networks aren't quite as convincing as SMARTY and 1p though.

Useful links: Our full ASDA review | Our full VOXI review | Our full Lebara review

4th best choice: giffgaff and Tesco Mobile

Tesco no contract SIM banner

Extra data or discounts with a ClubcardOrder free SIM

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Then we come to the O2-based providers giffgaff and Tesco. giffgaff we entirely set up around SIMs with no contract, while Tesco have a separate batch of them (while most their other SIMs do have contracts).

They're a little lower down our list because they don't compete so well on price and neither have the handy extra of WiFi calling. There's plenty of flexibility to stop, pause and change in their deals though:

There's nothing wrong with these, they're still better than the networks below and ones not listed, it's just they're beatable on a number of things. But if you want an O2-based network, these are the best choice.

Useful link: Our full Tesco Mobile review | Our full giffgaff review

The main four networks even have options too

Three SIM card and no contract wording

Three's work out the best valueOrder a free SIM

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

It should be no secret that really and truly, the big networks want you to sign a contract. It's where the money is for them and they like having people's commitment. But they do all offer some form of no contract SIM still.

Three are the least guilty of building making their no contract SIMs way more expensive than their contracts, so we'd rate them best. You can see their bundles and order a free SIM here.

Otherwise, EE, O2 and Vodafone do all price-in pretty high penalties for taking a SIM without a contract. You get a lot less data for you money. Compare their deals here:

If it was us, we'd avoid any of these. There's no particular benefit for joining on the expensive main network deals vs the cheap providers that use them that we've listed above.

Useful link: Get a free Three SIM

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