SIM only deals offer customers great flexibility to change networks as and when they want, however they come with some downsides. The biggest one being a credit check. Networks require customers to pass credit checks to ensure customers can pay for any high cost bills they run up over the course of a month.
As a student, you’re unlikely to have much credit history, making it difficult to get a hold of a SIM only contract. Networks have now created prepaid SIM only plans, these work by customers paying up front for their month of usage and can be set to be manual renew or auto renew plans. These give customers the great rates offered by standard SIM only deals with no credit check required. These are also all 1-month plans, giving customers the flexibility to leave whenever they like. Some of these deals even offer unlimited data, a sought-after perk for a student.
What do we look for in a good student offer?
So, what should the best SIM only deal for students look like?
- Given that the purchasing power of an average student is relatively low, the best plans for them should be fairly cheap.
- Students typically use a lot of data. Thus, SIM only deals with unlimited plans rank higher
- Most students are unlikely to pass credit checks. Therefore, SIM only deals that don’t require credit checks are most suitable.
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Cheapest SIM only deals for students
SIM only networks like SMARTY, giffgaff, and Tesco Mobile offer deals that don’t require a credit check. Bigger networks like Three also have a PAYG package that works virtually the same way.
SMARTY sits on top of the list of the best SIM only deals that don’t require a credit history. This is because they do not need to debit your account at the end of the month. For you to get a SIM from SMARTY all you need to do is pay upfront from your card and you’re all set. And you can keep the plan for as long as you want by manually renewing it. With SMARTY, SIM only plans start from as low as £6.25. The plan comes with unlimited texts and calls to local numbers. SMARTY piggybacks on the Three network which is one of the best in the UK.
Three’s PAYG package works like a SIM only plan and it offers great value to customers looking to beat a credit check. All you need to do is top up to call, text, and browse at 3p per minute, 2p per text, and 1p per MB. Three offer awesome bundles with unlimited calls and texts starting from 2GB. A lot of goodies also come with Three PAYG including 71 roaming destinations and the freebies on the Wuntu App.
With giffgaff running on the O2 network, it is undoubtedly one of the best SIM only networks in the UK. O2 is a very reliable network and their performance recently earned them the uSwitch award for coverage. Using giffgaff requires no credit checks. Getting on their network requires you to pay for your plan upfront. For customers always looking for cheap deals but who use data a lot, giffgaff is one of the to-go networks. They have a lot of perks that offer much more than the value you pay for.
Just like SMARTY, iD Mobile runs on the Three network. This means that you have maximum coverage and also enjoy great network speeds, all in a SIM only plan which starts from £3.99 if you scale through a credit check. But for customers who have no chance of passing a credit check, they have two PAYG options.
- Some bundles that start from £5 (just a bit pricier than the regular £3.99)
- A PAYG top up which offers cheap call, text, and browsing rates at 3p per/min; 2p per text; and 1p per MB.
Check out the full iD Mobile review to see all the goodies they offer.
Like giffgaff, Tesco Mobile piggybacks off of the O2 network. This makes the network very competitive in the market, given O2’s reliability. Tesco Mobile has a pre-paid kind of deal which runs similar to what the other SIM only networks offer. When you top up credit on your Tesco Mobile, you can convert it into a bundle which gives you minutes, texts, and data. These bundles are called Rocket Packs. You will get 500 minutes of talk time, 5000 texts, and 3GB of data for a rocket pack of £10.
SIM only deals that offer unlimited data
Though unlimited data plans have been around for some time with Three, it wasn’t until recently that several networks started offering them. Many people need a lot of data due to the increase in applications that download or stream HD movies and music, and online games. Students belong to the group of consumers that use a lot of data. This means SIM only deals that offer unlimited data are most suited for students. Here are the best unlimited data plans for students.
The SMARTY network is the youngest network in the UK, but they hit above their weight. They are at par with Three as the best network that offer unlimited data plans. SMARTY offers only 1 month SIMO deals which offer customers great flexibility. There are no speed caps on the SMARTY unlimited data plans, but only a fair usage policy of 1TB.
Three and SMARTY operate the same way, so they are joint best in this category. Three however have two SIM only plans, and each allows you to switch to the other anytime you want. Both plans come with unlimited data, calls and texts. There are no speed caps but a fair usage policy that restricts your consumption to 1TB applies.
giffgaff offers unlimited data for their SIM only plan for £25 a month. There are no caps on texts and calls, and you get 20GB of data per month. However, the 20GB uncapped data applies only in the UK. With usage restrictions in some EU destinations. There is also a speed throttle once you hit 20GB of usage.
Other SIM only deals that offer great data deals
Maybe you don’t have a problem with credit history, but your monthly data never seems to be enough. There are a few SIM only deals that offer great value on high data plans
Are you wondering why Three keeps popping up on the list? It is because they have a thing for satisfying data hungry customers. They have a 12-month contract SIM only deal which offers unlimited calls and texts, and infinite data!
Existing as the fastest 4G network in the UK and offering 25GB of data, and unlimited calls and texts for just £23 per month, the EE SIM only deal can only be described as excellent. This means that you enjoy loads of monthly data and other freebies such as cashing in on BT Sport and Apple Music access.
For a SIM plan that offers unlimited calls and texts, and 8GB of data for £10 per month, we think that Vodafone has done well enough. Weighing the price of the package against the perks, this seems like a well-balanced plan. 8GB is not small data, and it should suffice for the browsing needs of a lot of average internet users.
Many people would normally conclude that Three has the best SIM plan for unlimited data and other allowances, but we are rating SMARTY higher. No credit check and 1 month only plans means the flexibility offered by SMARTY on their unlimited plan, without throttling speeds can’t be beat!