Data-Only SIM Plans

Find out how data-only SIMs work and compare internet plans with Savvy today.

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, updated on February 13th, 2024       

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Internet - Compare Broadband & NBN Plans

We’ve partnered with Econnex to bring you a range of internet plans to help you compare them.

Data-only SIM plans have emerged as a flexible internet solution for Australians looking for internet on the go, offering internet access for tablets, modems, and other devices. Whether for work, entertainment, or staying connected on the go, it’s important to understand how data-only SIM plans work.

You can compare a range of internet plans in one place through Savvy. Consider plans tailored to your specifications and available where you live from a variety of leading Australian providers. Fill out our simple online form and get a no-obligation quote today!

What is data-only SIM plans and how do they work?

A data-only SIM plan is a type of mobile broadband plan which provides internet connectivity without the traditional voice call and SMS features associated with regular mobile plans. As the name suggests, it’s a SIM card which can be inserted into portable devices to provide an internet connection on the go.

These plans come with a specific allowance which determines the amount of data users can consume each month, with unlimited mobile broadband only available in very select cases.

There are two main types of data-only SIM plan to consider:

Prepaid data-only SIM plans

Prepaid broadband plans require you to pay for your data at the start of the month. These plans come without lock-in contracts and don’t charge for excess data usage, as your data cap is pre-determined, and you’ll simply be required to recharge at the end of each period (typically a month) or when it runs out. However, these plans are typically more expensive than postpaid SIM plans.

Postpaid data-only SIM plans

Unlike prepaid plans, postpaid plans are paid at the end of the month. This means that you may be subject to excess data charges if you exceed your monthly limit (although some providers won’t charge for excess usage). These plans may also come with lock-in contracts, though this isn’t always the case, but are often much cheaper than prepaid options.

What devices can I use a data-only SIM plan for?

Data-only SIM plans are versatile and compatible with a range of devices which may rely on physical connectivity for internet access. Common devices that can use data-only SIM plans include:

  • Tablets: data-only SIMs are often used in tablets, including serving as an internet plan for iPads and other brands. They enable users to access the internet without Wi-Fi.
  • Pocket Wi-Fi: pocket Wi-Fi, also known as mobile hotspot devices, uses data-only SIMs to create a portable Wi-Fi network. This allows multiple devices to connect to the internet through the hotspot.
  • USB modems/dongles: these plug-and-play devices connect to a computer or compatible device’s USB port and use a data-only SIM to provide internet access. Modems and dongles are useful for laptops and desktop computers.
  • Dedicated modems: some modems are designed specifically for data-only SIM cards. They can occasionally be used for home internet or as a backup source.
  • Laptops: laptops with built-in SIM card slots can use data-only SIMs for internet access, providing connectivity when Wi-Fi is unavailable.
  • Smartwatches and wearables: some smartwatches and wearables are equipped with cellular connectivity and can use data-only SIMs for certain functions, such as receiving notifications or tracking locations.
  • IoT devices: data-only SIMs can sometimes be used in various Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including security cameras, GPS trackers and environmental sensors.

How do I compare data-only SIM plans?

Comparing data-only SIM plans involves considering several key factors to find the mobile broadband plan that best suits your needs:

  • Data allowance: evaluate the amount of data offered by each plan. Consider your typical monthly data usage to avoid overpaying for excessive data or running out prematurely. These plans can range from as little as 5GB to 10GB all the way to 400GB or more.
  • Network coverage: check the coverage provided by the mobile network associated with the SIM plan. Ensure it offers reliable coverage in your area and places you’re likely to be.
  • Network connection: consider the network connection (namely whether it’s 4G or 5G) and whether the speed and coverage provided meet your requirements for mobile broadband.
  • Contract terms: determine whether the plan is available on a month-to-month basis or if it requires a contract commitment and whether one is more suitable for you than the other.
  • Cost: compare the monthly cost of each plan, including any upfront fees for the SIM card. Be aware of any additional charges or costs which may impact you.
  • Data rollover: some plans offer data rollover, allowing unused data to carry over to the next month. This can be beneficial if your data usage varies.
  • International roaming: if you travel frequently, check if the plan includes international roaming options and their associated costs.
  • Device compatibility: ensure the data-only SIM plan is compatible with your device. Some devices may require specific SIM card sizes or compatibility with certain networks.

Common questions about data-only SIM plans

Can I use a data-only SIM in my smartphone?

Yes – you can use a data-only SIM in a smartphone which is compatible with the SIM card size. However, keep in mind that data-only SIMs don’t provide traditional voice call or SMS services, so you'll rely solely on internet-based communication apps for calls and texts.

How do I work out how much data I need for my SIM?

To determine your data needs, it’s important to consider your typical monthly usage. If you’re using your SIM for activities such as streaming or gaming, you’re likely to need more data than if you’re primarily browsing and checking your emails. More data-intensive activities may also require a more reliable and strong internet connection, meaning 5G may be more suitable than 4G in some cases.

How do I activate a data-only SIM card?

Activation procedures vary by provider. Typically, you'll insert the SIM card into your device and follow the instructions provided in the package or online by the provider. Activation may involve creating an account, selecting a plan and adding credit or data.

When do data-only SIM plans expire?

The expiration of data-only SIM plans depends on the provider and plan. Many plans have a specific validity period, which may range from 28 or 30 days up to as long as 365 days in some cases. However, others may last until you use up the data or credit. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your chosen plan for details on expiration.

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Disclaimer:

Savvy is partnered with Econnex Comparison (CIMET Sales Pty Ltd, ABN 72 620 395 726) to provide readers with a variety of internet plans to compare. We do not compare all retailers in the market, or all plans offered by all retailers. Savvy earns a commission from Econnex each time a customer buys an internet plan via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased directly, as all purchases are conducted via Econnex.

Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an internet plan. For further information on the variety of internet plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.

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