What is a 30-day rolling SIM?

Submitted by Abi on 9 December 2014 - 4:02pm

One month SIM-only contracts, or 30-day SIMs as they are also known, have introduced a new level of flexibility to pay monthly mobile phone deals. Gone are the long contracts that lock you in for 12 to 24 months. Instead you can opt for a one month rolling contract that gives you the freedom to move to a new deal when you want to. We take a look at how one month SIMs compare to longer contracts and find out which network offers the best 30-day deal for you.

What is a 30-day contract and how does it work?

30-day SIM contracts are just the same as any other pay monthly deal. You still get billed every month and you still have a fixed amount of calls, texts and data to use. The big difference, as the name suggests, is the duration of the contract; 30-day SIMs last for just that. Some auto-renew each month unless you cancel them so you can roll on if you are happy with the terms of your deal. This is a useful feature as, unlike Pay As You Go, you don’t need to remember to top up. 

Why you should choose a 30-day SIM

No commitment 

The flexibility of monthly SIM cards is their biggest appeal. The short term contract can be perfect if you’re between deals and you need something to tide you over. Some of the shorter contracts do come with notice periods, so if you just want a 30-day SIM check with your network what the T&Cs are before you join or could end up paying for 60 days.

The People's Operator and Tesco Mobile are the only networks to let you cancel your contract at anytime up to 48 hours before your bill date. Giffgaff use a prepay system similar to Pay As You Go. To stop your contract just don't buy another Goodybag. Or, if you have set up recurring payments, simply log in to your account and cancel your card details before the payment is taken.

The table below shows the notice period required by each network to end your contract. All credit agreements come with a 14 day cooling off period during which you're free to cancel your contract without penaltyTo cancel your contract you'll need to contact your network's customer support team, click on the logos for more information, and remember to ask for a PAC code if you want to keep your number.

Network              Notice Period
Three 30-day SIM Only 30 days 
EE one month rolling sims 30 days 
O2 30-day rolling SIM 30 days
Vodafone 30-day SIMs 30 days 
Virgin Mobile 30-day rolling SIM Only contracts 30 days. Calls are charged at 3p per minute and texts at 13p if you cancel during your cooling off period.
Tesco Mobile rolling one month SIM Cancel anytime up to 48 hrs before your bill date.
The People's Operator 30-day rolling SIM Cancel anytime up to 48 hrs before your bill date.
giffgaff SIMs are all 30-day deals No notice required. All Goodybags are pre-paid.

You can try out a new network 

If you’re moving to a new network and you’re not sure what their coverage is like where you live, then 30-day SIMs are a good way to try out a new network without having to commit to a long and expensive contract. 

You can build up your credit score 

If you’ve had problems being accepted for a mobile contract with a phone, or a 12 month SIM contract, then a shorter contract might be better for you. Because there is less commitment you are more likely to be accepted and, as long as you keep up the monthly payments, you’ll help to improve your credit rating and increase your chances of being accepted for a contract with a phone in the future. Find out more in our guide Why credit checks needn’t be a barrier.

You get many of the same network perks 

That’s right; you can still get most of the same extras with a 30-day contract that you get with a 12 month deal - like O2 Priority, Three’s Feel at Home and EE’s 2-for-1 cinema tickets. Some extras are only available on longer contracts, like Vodafone’s entertainment packages and EE's double-speed 4G, so if there is a particular perk that’s important to you make sure you choose the appropriate 12 month plan. 

Why you shouldn’t choose a 30-day SIM

They are more expensive

So what’s the catch? Well, as good as one month SIM only deals are, the networks don’t like to think that you’ll be hopping off to one of their competitors every month. So, to entice you to sign up for a longer deal, 30-day contracts are usually a few pounds more expensive than the equivalent 12 month deal offered by the network. 

In real terms this is around a £3 increase each month but over 12 months that adds up to £36. OK, so not a life changing sum, but still if you’re not planning on moving networks in the next year then it makes sense to save yourself the extra cash and go for a longer contract.

Which one month SIM is the best for me?

All of the networks offer competitive 30-day rolling SIM Only deals so it's worth comparing them all, if you're looking for a rolling contract. Tesco Mobile offer the most flexibility when it comes to notice periods and include 4G at no extra charge on all SIMs over £10.

But, if you want a really flexible SIM with low commitment, then giffgaff offer a nice compromise. Apart from being good value, giffgaff's 30-day Goodybags don't auto-renew unless you want them to and there's no notice period if you decide to stop your contract.


What's your experience of 30-day SIM contracts? Do you change each month when you spy a new deal, or do you let your monthly SIM roll on? Tell us in the comments section below.