12 month SIM only deals

Find the right 12 month SIM only deals for you

Want to cut your mobile costs but still get some great special offers? You could Save up to £321* by switching to a 12 month SIM only deal.

*How we calculate our savings figures: Switching from an ending 24 month handset contract to a SIM-only contract (and keeping your existing handset) could save you £321 per year, or £26 per month. This calculation is based on the price of the top selling 24 month handset package in Q1 2022 (Apple iPhone 13 with 100GB data) against the against the cheapest equivalent SIM only deal on the Uswitch site as of Jan 2024 (TalkMobile 120GB data £11.95 per month). Correct as of 1st February 2024. See more here: Uswitch savings

What are 12-month SIM only deals?

A 12-month SIM only plan is a year-long mobile phone contract that includes texts, data and minutes without a handset. You just pay for the SIM. The SIM card is the chip that slots into your phone and connects you to your mobile network.
If you’ve already got a phone or you’re happy to buy a new one, a 12-month SIM only deal can be a good option. It’s usually cheaper than a standard mobile phone contract. In fact, you could save up to £360 a year by switching to SIM only, and you don’t need to keep topping up your credit.

How do 12-month SIM only deals work?

Unlike other SIM only plans, including rolling contracts and Pay As You Go, a 12-month SIM only deal ties you in for a year.
You decide on the amount of data you want each month and the number of texts and minutes. This sets your monthly payments.

Can I switch to a 12-month SIM only contract?

If you’re out of contract with any other provider or you’re on Pay As You Go (PAYG), you’re free to switch immediately. Speak to your current provider about refunding any credit left on a PAYG account.
If you’re on a rolling monthly contract, you may need to give 30 days’ notice.
If you’re mid-contract and planning to stay with the same provider, you might be able to switch plans but, moving to a new network is another matter. You’ll need to pay for any remaining months upfront, which can be expensive. Wait until the end of your contract and you’ll be free to shop around again.
Always check the T&Cs of any 12-month SIM only deal before you commit.

Why would I choose a 12-month SIM only contract

If you want to cut your mobile phone bill, a 12-month SIM only plan may be the answer. It is also a good choice if you want to keep an eye on your expenses. With a fixed tariff, you know how much you’ll be paying each month. The only additional expense is the upfront cost of a new handset if you haven’t got one.
As with all mobile phone contracts, choosing the right 12-month SIM only deal means weighing up the pros and cons.

The advantages of 12-month SIM only deals

Save money with SIM only 

A 12-month SIM only deal can be the budget-friendly option. If you’ve got a phone you love and you’re out of contract, making the switch from a standard tariff could free up some cash. A fixed monthly cost makes budgeting easier too.

More flexibility 

Although you’re committed to a year with that network, a 12-month SIM only plan gives you more freedom than a 24 or 36-month contract.

You can keep your phone

If there’s nothing wrong with your existing phone, you can hang onto it to keep costs down and reduce waste.

Unlimited data

If you use your phone for tethering, live streaming and gaming, an unlimited data plan is likely your best option. For heavy mobile usage, you can add unlimited texts and minutes too, depending on the plan and provider. It is worth noting that some unlimited plans don’t include tethering, so double-check before signing up.

Easy phone upgrades 

As long as your new phone is compatible with your SIM, you can upgrade without the worry of your monthly payments increasing. Great news if having the latest smartphone is your thing.

Credit checks are simpler 

Without an expensive handset, credit checks are even easier. Some providers don’t even do them.
This means if you’ve been refused a mobile contract elsewhere or your credit rating isn’t great, a 12-month SIM only plan could be the answer.
Even better, once you’ve got a contract in place, you can improve your credit rating, provided you make the monthly payments on time.   

It’s the greener option

Rather than buying another new phone, a 12-month SIM only deal lets you carry on using the one you’ve got, which is the more planet-friendly choice.


Want other ways to save money? Depending on the provider, 12-month SIM only deals often come with a range of freebies, discounts and special offers. For example:

  • Three offers built-in data roaming for travel abroad, rewards through their app, and six months’ free access to Paramount+.
  • O2 gives you inclusive EU, USA and Australia roaming, six months’ free access to Apple Music, double data if you’ve got Virgin Media broadband and a choice of other extras.

Free 5G

Some 12-month SIM only deals include 5G at no extra cost. Just make sure your smartphone is 5G-enabled and you’ve got coverage in your area.

The disadvantages of 12-month SIM only deals

The upfront expense of a new phone

You may need a new phone. Although you can get models for £100 or less, you may not want this hefty expense. 

The hassle of unlocking your phone

If you’re moving to a new network provider, you may need to unlock your phone. This will only apply to older models, as mobile providers have been banned from selling locked phones since December 2021, and many providers stopped long before this.  

No brand new phone

A big advantage of the standard phone-and-SIM contract is the relatively cheap access to new smartphones. A 12-month SIM only deal involves sticking with what you’ve got or buying a new one yourself.

Your phone goes out of date

Choosing 12-month SIM only deals increases the likelihood that your phone will:

  • become obsolete
  • have reduced battery life
  • not compete with other smartphones in terms of spec eg have a less impressive camera
  • stop working effectively
  • put your data at risk if security updates have stopped 

You’re locked in for a whole year

Particularly if you’ve got poor coverage or you see a cheaper or better deal with a different provider.

It’s expensive to leave early

If you want to switch providers before the end of your contract, paying off the remaining months upfront can make an early exit difficult.

What happens when I choose a 12-month SIM only deal?

We’ll help you compare the best 12-month SIM only deals available. Once you’ve chosen your favourite, there are a few simple steps to get you signed up.
How to switch to a 12-month SIM only plan with Confused.com:
  • Click the ‘Buy now’ button. You’ll get an overview of the deal. If you’re happy, click ‘Continue’ to go straight to the provider’s website.
  • Sign up. Add your details and accept the contract terms and conditions – make sure you read them carefully first.
  • Get your PAC (Porting Authorisation Code). This lets you keep your mobile number. Text PAC to 65075 and your provider will send you the code or tell you what to do next. You can also request your PAC via your current online account on your provider’s website. Once you’ve got your PAC, use it within 30 days.
  • Get your SIM card. Simply slot it in and you’re ready to go. 

Can I keep my number if I get a new 12-month SIM only contract?

Yes, absolutely.If you’re sticking with the same provider, it’s easy. They’ll set up your new 12-month SIM only plan for you. You don’t need to do anything.
If you’re moving to a new network, ask your current provider for your PAC.
The transfer can take up to 48 hours, although it’s usually quicker. You may need to turn your phone off and on again to get connected.
You also have the option to switch to a different number with your new 12-month SIM only deal. Then, instead of a PAC, you need a STAC or Service Termination Authorisation Code.

Can I get 5G with a 12-month SIM only plan? 

Yes, although certain conditions apply.

  • 5G must be available in your area. Find out by putting your postcode into Ofcom’s coverage checker
  • It must be included as part of your 12-month SIM-only deal
  • Your phone must be 5G-enabled
In the UK, 5G is currently limited to the main towns and cities. All the main networks (EE, Vodafone, Three and O2) offer it to customers in those areas. You can also get 5G through MVNOs like Voxi, Sky, Lebara and Lyca Mobile.

Can I change my provider before the end of the contract?

Yes, although certain conditions apply.
You’ve made a legally binding agreement to stick with your current provider for a year. If you want to leave early, you’ll probably have to pay an early termination charge (ETC), typically the total cost of the months left on your contract.

There are some exceptions, for example:

  • If you’re still within the initial cooling-off period, usually 14 days.
  • Your coverage is inadequate.
  • You’ve been getting bad customer service.
  • Your prices rise by more than is stated in the Ts and Cs.

Between 10 to 40 days before you reach the minimum term on your contract, you’ll get an end-of-contract notification (ECN) from your provider. This is an Ofcom requirement and companies can be fined if they don’t do this.

This should give you:

  • The end date of your contract
  • How much you’ve been paying until now, and what you’ll pay when your contract ends
  • Your current provider’s notice period, if it applies
  • Its best deals, including prices only available to new customers
  • Details of other contracts included as part of a bundle.

Once you’ve got your ECN, you can start getting quotes for new 12-month SIM only deals.

Can I change my monthly payments before the end of my 12-month SIM only deal?

Talk to your provider about whether an upgrade is possible. If you’ll be paying more per month after the switch, they may not object.
If you’ve complained to your provider about their service, they may move you to a cheaper tariff until the end of your contract. It depends on its policy.

What happens at the end of a 12-month SIM only plan?

A 12-month SIM only deal usually switches automatically to a 30-day rolling contract. Monthly payments will stay the same.
Then it’s up to you whether you:
  • Continue as you are
  • Upgrade to a new contract
  • Cancel your plan and switch to a new network.
If you move to a new provider, you may need to give 30 days’ notice.

Which networks offer 12-month SIM only deals?

EE, O2, Three and Vodafone all offer 12-month SIM only deals.
Check out the MVNOs too. They’re hosted by the Big Four and run on their networks rather than owning or operating their own. This means they can sometimes undercut their parent companies as they don’t have the overheads.

Here are some of the main MVNOs.

  • EE: BT Mobile, Plusnet Mobile
  • O2: Giffgaff, Lycamobile, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile
  • Three: ID Mobile, Smarty
  • Vodafone: Asda Mobile, Lebara, Talkmobile, Voxi

What are the best 12-month SIM only deals?

It depends on how you use your mobile phone and what you want from your provider.
When you’re comparing 12-month SIM only deals, there are a few factors you need to think about:

  • Your data usage
  • The number of calls you make
  • The number of texts you send
  • Whether there are any offers or discounts bundled with the plan
  • Whether you are looking for other services – for example, you may get a better deal by getting mobile and broadband together
If you’re always on social media, use mobile tethering, browse the web and live stream music and videos, you’ll chew through a lot of data.
To find out exactly how much, log into your mobile account on your provider’s website or their app.
To find out which of the apps are particularly data-hungry, go to Settings > Mobile Data on your phone. You’ll see a list of apps, with the one at the top using the most data.

Where can I find a cheap 12-month SIM only deal?

This is when it pays to shop around. Compare 12-month SIM only deals to find the best plan for you.


EE is not included on price comparison websites, but its MVNOs are. It shares its network with Lyca Mobile, 1pmobile, BT Mobile, Co-op Mobile, Ecotalk, Plusnet Mobile and To The Moon, among others.


Here are some of the cheapest 12-month SIM-only deals from the most popular providers found through our price comparison.



  • Data: 6GB 5G data 
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £6.99
  • EU roaming up to 25GB
  • O2 priority tickets



  • Data: 3GB 5G data
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £5
  • Free 5G at no extra cost
  • Three+ rewards app



  • Data: 6GB 5G data
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £7
  • VeryMe Rewards app


Talkmobile (uses Vodafone’s network)

  • Data: 60GB 5G data
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £4.98 for three months, then £9.95
  • EU roaming included
  • No 2023 price rises.


iD Mobile (uses Three’s network)

  • Data: 5GB 5G data
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £6
  • Three months free Apple TV+
  • Free data roaming up to 30GB.


Sky Mobile (uses O2’s network)

  • Data: 4GB 5G data
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £8
  • Data rollover


Tesco Mobile (uses O2’s network)

  • Data: 2GB 5G data
  • Minutes and texts: Unlimited
  • Monthly payments: £7.50
  • Flexible cap on spending