SIM prices have dropped recently. Some people do not believe in paying more than £10 per month as that will get you enough data, texts and calls. If you are out of contract, and you are hit by the hikes in prices from Vodafone, Three and O2, now is definitely a great time to switch if you want to save money. Here is all the SIM-only information you need to know:

SIM Only Is Often Cheaper Compared to a Traditional Mobile Contract Because It Does Not Include the Phone

SIM only deals cover the mobile service only: it gives you fixed monthly allowance of data, texts and minutes. It is usually cheaper compared to a traditional mobile contract because SIM only deals do not bundle in the phone cost. You will need to have a handset to insert the SIM , or you can purchase one separately.

Although you aren’t paying for a phone, you will still need to sign a contract to receive a SIM -only deal. Deals are typically offered on a rolling one-month contract or a twelve-month contract.

Choose a SIM That Has the Allowance You Need

Do not be sold on excessively generous allowances that you will never use. Ask yourself if you really need those 6GB of data or unlimited minutes. Most do not use anywhere near that; you can use an online tool to know your actual past usage.

There are two websites accredited by the regulator Office of Communications to choose from. Both of them analyse your phone bills from the past 3 months and determine your average usage, then they suggest deals based on that.

Ctrlio will cleverly remind you whenever better deals, according to your usage, become available (just when your contract ends or monthly). Currently, the site can read bills of Vodafone, Three, O2, Giffgaff and EE customers.

Billmonitor works mainly for customers of Vodafone, Three, Tesco Mobile, O2 and EE. It is not the most user-friendly website, but it gives you a detailed bill analysis. Also, Ctrlio, HandsetExpert and MobilePhoneChecker are useful when you are ready to find the best deal.

Check the Signal Strength Where You Work or Live

Ofcom’s Telecoms Coverage Checker can help you get a rough idea of signal strength that you want to know in a certain area. This will show you the results for any of the 4 main networks (Vodafone, Three, O2 and EE). However, ‘piggyback’ networks usually use their signal and offer better value, hence do not think your options are only limited to one of those biggies.

For a more accurate evidence that Ofcom’s checker can provide you, pick up a free PAYGO SIM from the network you are considering and top it up with a little credit, then put it to the test prior to committing.

You Must Have an Unlocked Phone – It Is Often Free to Get This Done

If you purchased your mobile phone on a traditional service contract, it might be locked and only used on the network that you bought it from (to check, pop in a SIM from another network and see if it will work). If you find it is locked, you will have to unlock it so that your SIM from the new provider will work.

If you are out of contract, then your network has to do that for free. If you purchased it from on PAYGO (pay-as-you-go), or you are still in contract, you may pay up to 15 pounds to unlock it.

Switching from a Contract? You Should Serve the Notice to Leave as Soon as Possible

Most contracts need at least one month’s notice to cancel. That means as a minimum you will be required to pay for those many days the moment you tell your provider you are leaving. Plans typically roll over at exactly the same price; if yours happened to come with a handset, that could be 50 pounds or more per month. Thus, you do not want to pay for it longer than it’s necessary. A total of 1.5 million customers are still paying for the handset price as the contract ends, according to Ofcom.

The first thing you should do before even trying to find a new deal is calling 30 days before your minimum term ends and request your porting authorisation code (PAC) to keep your number. You can then use that one month to find a new idea, while you are still running down the clock.

In case you decide to change your mind, you can tell your network you have decided to stay. Also, it is more likely that it will get in touch offering a better deal when it thinks you are serious about going to another network provider.

You Can Keep Your Number

When you talked to your current network provider to give them notice, they should have offered you a PAC (porting authorisation code). You will need the PAC if you would like to keep your same number when moving to a new network. In case you did not get the PAC, you can still do that by contacting your network provided your existing contract has not been terminated yet.

Although the process usually varies by provider plus you can do it over the phone, once your new network gives you your new (temporary) number, you will have to go online and fill a form.