Your Guide to SIM Only Deals In Ireland

If you’re looking for a bare-bones mobile-only deal to save money or control your internet usage, you need this guide. Fewer providers than ever offer this service and they can be hard to find. Many others offer basic deals that include data and it can be confusing trying to figure out which ones will save you money but still give you the service you need.

Save yourself the headache as well as some time with this short read that tells you everything you need to know to pick the best mobile only deal in Ireland for you.

What is a mobile only deal?

There's a lot of overlap between companies that provide Internet and those that provide mobile phone services. Some providers focus on broadband first and offer mobile phone deals as add-ons. Others are the reverse and offer mobile phone service with broadband as an optional extra.

A mobile-only deal means you won't have access to the internet unless you pay extra for it or unless you use an external, separately billed WiFi connection. This option is becoming less common but is still offered by a small number of providers.

Who are the main mobile only deal providers in Ireland?

The 2 main providers of exclusively mobile only deals are eir and Lycamobile. Both of these companies offer an option to pay for calls and texts only without any mobile data allowance.

Most other providers offer stripped-down versions with either limited or unlimited mobile data for customers whose main reasons for owning mobile phones are to send and receive calls and texts.

These are the 7 main providers of calls, texts, and mobile data bundles in Ireland:

What are the main mobile only deals in Ireland?

Eir is the only provider that offers calls only on a 14-day top-up schedule. As with all top-up plans, this means that your call allocation is valid for a fixed number of days from the purchase date of your top-up.

Lycamobile offers a 30-day version that includes texts and calls but no data while all other providers have moved to a calls + text + data model with variations on the allowances, top-up periods, and contract lengths for each bundle.

The main mobile only and mobile + data bundles in Ireland

Provider Calls Texts Mobile Data Contract
Eir Yes No No 14 day top up
Lycamobile Yes Yes No 30 day top up
Virgin Mobile Yes Yes Yes 30-day contract
Vodafone Yes Yes Yes 28 day top up
Tesco Mobile Yes Yes Yes 28 day top up
Post Mobile Yes Yes Yes 28 day top up
48 Months Yes Yes Yes Monthly contract
Three Mobile Yes Yes Yes 28 day top up
Gomo Yes Yes Yes Monthly contract

What’s included in a typical mobile only deal?

Every deal includes calls, almost every provider offers texts and the majority now also include data and roaming allowances. 5G is becoming the standard for network speed although you might still experience 4G and even 3G with some providers.

1. Calls

Unlimited local and national calls are standard. International allowances vary by company and by bundle. Some providers may limit this to Friday afternoon and weekend only with calls at other times being either limited or charged.

2. Texts

These range from about 60 texts at the lower end to unlimited. Most providers offer unlimited packages.

3. Data allowance

Allowances are typically from approximately 1G at the low end up to unlimited. Some providers such as Vodafone offer access to different networks from 3G through to 5G with different plans for each. This will affect your browsing and download speeds.

4. Roaming allowance

Where data is included there is generally an allowance for roaming data within the EU. Specific carriers such as Lycamobile specialise in international bundles while others may or may not provide for roaming outside the EU.

What to watch out for when choosing a mobile only deal

Providers have been working to make plans easier to understand than ever, but that doesn’t mean you should pay for a deal without understanding exactly what you are getting.

The 7 questions you need to ask before you sign up for any deal:

1. How much does it cost?

Plans are either prepay/top-up or contractual. If they are top up you need to know how often you will have to top up before your allowances expire. The typical time periods for top-up mobile deals in Ireland are 15, 28, and 30 days. Some providers offer rolling 30- day or monthly contracts.

2. How many calls or minutes do I get?

Local and national calls are generally unlimited. Some providers limit this to Friday afternoon and weekend only, so check this carefully. If you make a lot of international calls make sure you know if the provider handles the region you’ll be calling, what the allowance is, and what you will pay if you go over your limit.

3. How many texts are included?

Most deals have unlimited texts but some are calls only or limit texts to as little as 60 per top-up or contract period. Make sure you understand what yours are.

4. What network speed will I have?

These range from 3G to 5G with many providers having a ‘fastest available’ clause. Check what you are promised and read reviews from existing customers if data download speeds are important to you.

5. Am I under contract?

Prepay, top-up plans are by definition non-contractual. Where a contract exists check the duration. These are usually 30-day or monthly contracts but make sure of this before you sign up.

6. How often do I need to top up?

Your minutes, calls, and data will all expire at the end of your top-up period, so you need to know what this is. The shortest tend to be 15 days and the longest 30.

7. What are my roaming limits and costs?

Most bundles include an allowance for EU roaming. Make sure you know what this is, and what you will be charged if you exceed the limit. If you travel outside of the EU frequently, make sure you know if your plan will cover this and what the cost will be.

Why get a mobile only deal?

Calls or calls and text only are a great idea for anyone who wants to save money and either already pays for a broadband connection or has internet access elsewhere. It's also a great option for parents who what to stay in contact with their children but don't want them to have unrestricted internet access.

The advantages of a stripped-down mobile-only or mobile + data deal are:

  • Cheap and easy to set up
  • You can generally carry existing phone numbers easily from provider to provider
  • It’s either very easy to cancel a contract or you don’t have any contract at all
  • You can stay in contact with people but limit or eliminate internet access
  • If you have internet access elsewhere you don't need to pay for it again

The disadvantages of a stripped-down mobile-only or mobile + data deal are:

  • No internet access or restricted access on a limited plan
  • Top-up minutes, calls, texts, and data all expire whether you use them or not
  • Calls made or data used outside allowances can be expensive

Still not sure what you need?

If you still need help choosing the best mobile or broadband bundle for your needs, head on over to our deals page or alternatively, check out our provider page to see what each has to offer. Our handy FAQs page is also packed with useful information and you can always reach us via our contact page and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you have.