SIM Only vs Fixed Contract: Which Is The Best Mobile Plan For Me?

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It’s 2019. Chances are, you’re owning a smartphone and your plans are riding data-heavy. So which is the best mobile plan for you?

For the majority, SIM-only mobile data plans tend to be preferred because it gives you the best value if data is your main concern. Plus, with SIM-only plans, gone are the days where you’d be locked down and tied to a subscription for 2 years.

Is SIM-only better than contract?

Not necessarily. SIM-only plans are generally cheaper than fixed contract plans (the cheapest mobile plan is the $0 Flex Plan from Circles.Life, which gives you 1GB of data for literally $0/month), but that doesn’t necessarily make them better.

But which plan is “better” depends very much on your needs – how much data do you consume on a monthly basis? Do you travel overseas often? How many minutes of talktime or SMSes do you use each billing cycle? Are you looking for a new smartphone as well? Do you prefer face-to-face service or virtual assistance? In some cases, the more expensive plan could actually be the better one for you. 

With all these questions to consider, how do you know what is the best mobile plan for you? And, how do you even begin to compare? 

Here are some of the pros and cons of both SIM-only and fixed contract mobile plans so that you can make a better informed decision.


SIM-only plans: For maximum flexibility with a minimum price tag

Mobile phone plans are generally split into two categories: SIM-only plans, or contract data plans.

Pros of SIM-only plans

  • More affordable
  • Not tied down to a contract
  • No cancellation fees
  • Customisable plan

For those who feel that 24 months is too long to commit for a fixed contract plan, a SIM-only plan gives you the option of shorter plan durations or even no contract at all. SIM-only plans work for you if you prefer the flexibility of choosing the mobile you want, rather than being restricted to the ones tied to contracts.

On top of that, SIM-only plans are customisable. This gives you full transparency as to how much and which add-on is included in your SIM-only bundle, so you know exactly what you are paying for.

Read more: Best No Contract, SIM Only Plans for Light, Moderate, and Heavy Data Users

On the other hand, SIM-only plans do come with a few drawbacks despite its flexibility.

Cons of SIM-only plans

  • Top-ups and additional costs necessary if you want to use more than data
  • Higher upfront cost for mobile handsets
  • No handset subsidy

Fixed contract mobile data plans tend to offer a subsidy for your handset, complete with discount vouchers if you choose to re-contract with the same telco. Since these are not available with SIM-only plans, there is a higher upfront cost should you want to get the latest mobile phone or upgrade your existing handset.

For example, getting an iPhone XS Max 512GB costs about S$2,149 as a separate purchase on Circles.Life, while it can cost just $949 upfront if you get it bundled with a contract on Starhub.

Additionally, if you regularly require more add-ons for data, SMSes and talk time beyond your base plan, the costs may add up and not be as cost-effective.


Fixed contract data plans: For better value when bundled with a new handset

Compared to SIM-only plans, contract mobile plans may seem more rigid. But, sticking it out for loyalty does come with a few perks.

Pros of fixed contract plans:

  • Better overall deals
  • Attractive discounts on latest handsets
  • Cost of handset spread out

That said, there are many factors that will determine which contract plan will suit you best. It’s important to not just look at the amount of data offered and the price of the contract, but the talk time, SMS and contract duration bundled together.

Read more: Cheapest Mobile Data Plans with Fixed Contracts in Singapore

Cons of fixed contract plans:

  • Tied down for 24 months
  • Cancellation fees
  • Higher costs for add-ons you might not even use

The best mobile plans are the ones that suit your needs. For data-heavy users, it’s beneficial to consider plans that offer data for cheap. But, if talk time and SMS (or any other add-ons) are important to you too, it may be worthwhile to get a contract plan, where you enjoy additional telco perks and rewards.

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