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Sim only is pretty simple: here’s what you need to know


Are you a package kind of person or do you prefer to keep your choice of phone and data separate? We’ve got the lowdown on sim only subscriptions.

What is Sim only?

A sim only subscription is exactly what it says it is. In other words a phone subscription without a phone. So whether you’ve bought yourself the newest iPhone or want to keep using your current phone or even a second hand or refurbished option, it’s all possible.

You can choose from a monthly subscription, a one-year subscription or a two-year subscription. With a monthly subscription you’re very flexible and get to choose another provider very quickly if that’s better for you.

A two-year subscription is the cheapest because the provider knows you won’t go away for two years. If you want some flexibility but are not planning on changing providers every month a one-year subscription might be the right choice.

What about Sim only with unlimited data?

With a sim only subscription you get a sim card with a certain amount of monthly data. This way you’ll only pay for the data you really need. But you can also go for sim only with unlimited data so you can use the internet and call or text message your friends and family without having to worry about extra subscription costs.

There is, however, a catch. Unlimited doesn’t really mean unlimited because of the  Fair Use Policy (FUP) which says your data usage should be reasonable and doesn’t structurally exceed the average use of other sim only subscribers too much.

Providers use this to prevent network overload and ‘free’ (mis)use of the internet. If you would really have unlimited data you wouldn’t need their tv and internet packages anymore and that would cost them money. So it’s also a commercial aspect.

If you exceed the unlimited data ‘limit’ you’ll first get a warning. If you keep using too much data your internet will be slowed or shut down or you’ll have to pay more for it. If you use more data in a day than you’re allowed and your internet is ‘only’ slowed down you can get more free data.

Don’t worry too much though. With unlimited, you get such an amount of data that its nearly impossible to exceed the limit! Vodafone’s Red Unlimited subscription deal, for example costs €32.50 per month and includes 40 GB in the EU!

Do we really need unlimited data?

Whether you need unlimited data depends on your data consumption. If you use a lot of internet Mbs to stream movies, series and music all day or you’re an avid gamer who wants to game smoothly and without delay you’ll probably need unlimited data to make this possible.

It’s also handy to have unlimited data if you call or text your friends and family a lot. If you only make calls and text messages and use the internet occasionally you’re good with a ‘normal’ sim only subscription with a predetermined amount of monthly data. 

What if you make phone calls to people outside the EU with a sim only deal?

If you want to call someone outside the EU you’ll be charged at the rate of the foreign provider. So the costs for your calls depend on their rates. Calls from the Netherlands to a country outside the EU tend to be more expensive.

If you are worried about those long calls to mum and dad back home, a prepaid sim card helps keep your costs under control because your foreign calls can’t exceed your subscription costs.

What about sim only during on your exotic holiday in Bali?

You can keep using your sim only subscription outside the EU but you’ll be charged more to make calls and use the internet. To avoid this you can buy an international sim card from your provider which you can use abroad.

For example, the Vodafone Alles in 1 Wereld deal, which costs €8.50, gives you 100 MB, 100 minutes of calls and 100 text messages and can be easily switched on in the app.You can also buy a local sim card at your destination and in most cases this is the cheapest option – especially if you plan to use Google maps to get around.

Vodafone, for example, also offers prepaid sim cards, which will help mum and dad keep the costs down while visiting you and they want to check up that all is okay back home.

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