UK SIM Cards: Everything You Need To Know | 2022
Visiting the United Kingdom soon? Make sure to know what to expect when it comes to purchasing a UK SIM card.
Fortunately, Europe is one of the best places where you can buy a SIM card easily. You should be able to find a cheap SIM card pretty much anywhere in Europe. In fact, most data packages are affordable, which makes the whole thing easier!
In this guide, we’ll explain where to buy a SIM card in the UK in person and online. We’ll also discuss prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs if your mobile supports them. That said, if you’re traveling to other countries in Europe, you should be able to use the same SIM card because most SIM card providers also offer coverage in other European countries.
Before you read this guide, you may wonder if you actually need a SIM card in the UK. If you don’t mind not having Internet, you’ll likely find free Wifi in restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels.
That said, if you need data to get around, call a Uber, or translate English – you may want to get a SIM card for your travels in the UK.
Note that your mobile phone provider may already offer UK coverage if you’re European. If that’s the case, you won’t need a SIM card for your adventures in the UK.
Best SIM Cards In The UK
If you’re traveling in the United Kingdom, we recommend using a SIM card from Three, Vodafone, O2, or Airalo. (I’ll get back to Airalo later on, so keep reading to learn more!)
That said, if you’re planning on visiting other countries during your trip to Europe, you might want to make sure to pick an option that offers coverage in other European countries.
How To Buy A SIM Card In The UK
You can either buy a Europe prepaid SIM card in person in some international airports, mobile provider stores, convenience stores, or online.
Usually, you can expect higher costs and low data offers at the airport, so we don’t recommend buying a SIM card at the airport. That said, you won’t necessarily find SIM card shops in every airport, so it’s essential to keep this in mind. And, when you see a shop, you might also have limited options.
For this reason, I’d recommend buying a SIM card directly from the mobile provider store. Note that you may need your passport to buy one.
Although, this means you won’t get data right upon your arrival. So, if you prefer to be connected at all times, you could use an eSIM or purchase a European prepaid SIM card online.
Now, let’s take a look at the data plans offered by Three, Vodafone, and O2.
Three SIM Cards
Three offers three different types of data packs with prepaid SIM cards:
- 10 GB, unlimited calls & texts, GBP 10 ($11.27)
- 50 GB, unlimited calls & texts, GBP 20 ($22.53)
- Unlimited GB, unlimited calls & texts, GBP 35 ($39.43)
All offers last for one month, and option three is probably best as you receive unlimited data.
Vodafone SIM Cards
Vodafone offers several bundles to prepaid customers, all for 30 days:
- 7 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 10 ($11.27)
- 20 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 15 ($16.90)
- 40 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 20 ($22.53)
- 100 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 30 ($33.80)
- Unlimited data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 40 ($45.06)
As you can see, the prices are not too dissimilar to Three, and you can also opt for an unlimited data plan.
O2 SIM Cards
O2 has several options for pay-as-you-go plans for customers too:
- 20 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 10 ($11.27)
- 30 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 20 ($22.53)
- 60 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 15 ($16.90)
- 150 GB data, unlimited calls & texts for GBP 30 ($33.80)
As you can see, the plans are the cheapest with O2. However, they don’t offer the option of unlimited data.
Overall, we think Vodafone is the best option if you plan to buy your SIM card in person. That said, any would do if you can’t find their store!
How To Buy A UK Prepaid SIM Card Online
If you wish to have your SIM card ready for your arrival, you could purchase it online or on websites like Amazon.
You’ll find different plans on Amazon. For example, the Orange Holiday Europe Prepaid SIM Card works in more than 30 countries and gives you 20BG of data for 14 days. the UK is included.
But there are many other options worth considering, so have a look and make sure the countries you plan on visiting are listed.
Another option is to purchase a prepaid European SIM card on Simify. This works if you live in the United States or Australia. They currently offer 4 different packages.
- 12 GB, valid for 30 days for $26 – works in 71 countries
- 100 GB, valid for 30 days for $49 – works in 44 countries
- 80 GB, valid for 28 days for $69 – works in 45 countries
- 40 GB, valid for 28 days for $55 – works in 45 countries
Finally, the last option is to buy an eSIM card for Europe.
How To Buy An eSIM Card For The UK
eSIM is a new concept allowing you to have a virtual SIM card inside your phone. If your mobile phone supports eSIM cards – it’s definitely one of the best options to get data in the UK.
Curious? Learn more about eSIM for travelers.
I started using eSIM as soon as my mobile phone supported it. And I first tried it when visiting my family in Canada. To buy eSIMs, I usually use Airalo. Keep reading to learn more about the best eSIMs in the UK.
If you want to buy an eSIM for the UK, you could purchase one on Airalo. This website offers many eSIM cards worldwide and special plans for Europe and the UK. I’ve been using Airalo in Europe for several months, and it works fine.
Here are the options available for the UK:
- Uki Mobile: 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $45
- Uki Mobile: 3 GB, valid for 30 days for $10
- Uki Mobile: 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $15
- Uki Mobile: 10 GB, valid for 30 days for $22.50
Here’s an overview of the options available in Europe:
- 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $5
- 3 GB, valid for 30 days for $13
- 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $20
- 10 GB, valid for 30 days for $37
- 50 GB, valid for 90 days for $100
- 100 GB, valid for 180 days for $185
The options mentioned above are part of Eurolink and offer coverage in 39 countries, including the United Kingdom.
Alternatively, if you’re traveling in other countries that are not mentioned on the list, you can try Discover Global, which offers coverage in 87 countries, including the UK.
Here’s an overview of the options available on Discover Global:
- 1 GB, valid for 7 days for $9
- 3 GB, valid for 15 days for $24
- 5 GB, valid for 30 days for $35
- 10 GB, valid for 60 days for $59
- 20 GB, valid for 180 days for $89
Now, one important thing to note about Airalo is that you’ll need to keep an eye out for the provider in each country. Suppose you ever have trouble connecting to the Internet during your trip. In that case, it might be because you’re connecting automatically to networks and need to select a network manually instead.
When you purchase the eSIM, you’ll get access to the list of networks supported in each country.
Alternatively, you could look at your options on Holafly. You can read our Holafly review to learn more about this eSIM store. I’ve also tried this eSIM provider in Europe, and it worked fine. Their Europe eSIM work in 32 countries (including the UK), and they offer the following plans:
- Unlimited data for 5 days for $19
- Unlimited data for 10 days for $34
- Unlimited data for 15 days for $47
- Unlimited data for 20 days for $54
- Unlimited data for 30 days for $64
- Unlimited data for 60 days for $84
- Unlimited data for 90 days for $99
Finally, Nomad is also a great eSIM provider. Here’s an overview of the plans available for the United Kingdom:
- 1GB, valid for 7 days for $5
- 3GB, valid for 30 days for $9
- 5GB, valid for 30 days for $11
- 10GB, valid for 30 days for $14
- 20GB, valid for 30 days for $21
Final Thoughts On SIM Cards In The UK
As you can see, getting a prepaid SIM card in the UK or even an eSIM for your travels in the UK is pretty easy. You’ll even be able to stay connected wherever you go in Europe without changing your SIM card, especially if you purchase a European SIM card.
I believe the eSIM card is the most convenient way to get data in the UK if you wish to have data upon your arrival. This way, you won’t need to go to a store to buy a SIM card. Obviously, you need to make sure your mobile phone supports eSIM first.
Traveling to the United Kingdom soon? Read one of the following blog posts: