Best international SIM cards in the UK

Gert Svaiko

Planning an overseas trip? Along with booking flights and packing your suitcase, you’ll also need to work out the cheapest way to use your phone in another country.

You might have free Wi-Fi in your hotel, but it’ll be really useful to get online on your phone while you’re away. You might need it for checking maps, looking up travel information and keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

In this guide, we’ll run through all of the best UK SIM cards to use abroad. This includes UK networks which permit roaming in Europe, and details of roaming add-ons for other worldwide destinations. Plus, info on the best eSIM cards for travel almost anywhere in the world.


Table of contents

Which is the best UK phone network for roaming in Europe?

Many networks in the UK offer free roaming in Europe, so you can use your phone just like at home. However, all have a fair usage data cap, and you’ll also have to stay within the restrictions of your pay monthly plan.

The following networks in the UK offer roaming in Europe

ProviderFree roaming in Europe?Data cap
O2Yes25 GB
Asda MobileYes5 GB
BT MobileYes15 GB
GiffgaffYes5 GB
iD MobileYes30 GB
LebaraYes30 GB
LycamobileYesDepends on plan
PlusnetYes14 GB
SmartyYes12 GB
Superdrug MobileYes12 GB
Virgin MobileYesDepends on plan

All of the above have charges for roaming outside of Europe. So if you’re travelling to the USA, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, Japan or any other worldwide destination, stay with us. We’ll cover the best international SIM cards in the UK in just a moment.

📚 Read more: Can you use your phone abroad? Everything you need to know

Best UK SIM for EU roaming

If you’re not on a contract and don’t fancy signing up for one, or your network charges for EU roaming, you’ll need to find another way to use your phone while in Europe.

Luckily, a number of providers offer short-term SIM-only deals with roaming included. These are flexible providers like Lyca Mobile, Smarty and iD Mobile which have rolling one-month pay as you go and SIM only deals available.

You can just pop this SIM card into your phone and use it while you’re away. This will mean a new number, but you can always port your old number over if you intend to continue using the plan once back in the UK.

Here are a handful of the best EU roaming SIM only deals in the UK right now:

Lyca Mobile National Plan Extra SIM Only²

Lyca Mobile’s pay as you go SIM deal gives you unlimited UK calls and texts, and 30 GB of data for 30 days while in the UK. You’ll get free roaming in the EU and India included, but there is a fair usage data cap of 12 GB.

There’s also 100 international minutes included, plus 5G at no extra cost. It’s available as an eSIM too, if your phone is compatible.

You’ll get all this for £12, although at the time of writing Lyca Mobile is running a half price offer which slashes the cost to just £6.

If you’re after a low cost, low-commitment deal to cover travel in Europe, this could be one to check out.

iD Mobile Pay Monthly SIM³

A good option for longer trips as it lasts for 30 days, this pay monthly SIM deal from iDMobile offers 60 GB of data while in the UK. You can use your UK allowance for data, calls and texts in 50 destinations, including Europe. However, data usage while abroad is capped at 30 GB. This makes it one of the most generous plans out there in terms of the data usage cap.

The Pay Monthly SIM is a rolling 30-day plan, so you can cancel after your trip or let it keep running - it’s up to you. The total cost is £10 a month.

Smarty 16GB SIM⁴

Smarty has a range of rolling 30-day SIM only deals, all offering EU roaming included as standard.

One of the best value options for those looking for a SIM to take on holiday is the 16GB plan. It costs just £8 and includes unlimited calls and texts, fast 5G and 4G data and EU roaming with a 12 GB fair usage limit.

You can cancel anytime, whether it’s after your trip or a few months down the line.

📚 Read more: How to buy a sim card in the UK?


Best SIM only deals in the UK for roaming worldwide

If you’re travelling outside of Europe, you’ll find that your UK network charges fees for international roaming. These are often in the form of add-on packages, such as:¹

  • EE - the Roam Abroad Pass which lets you use your UK allowance in the USA, Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand for an extra £25 a month.
  • Three - the Go Roam add-on lets you roam in 71 destinations for £5 a day, or you can buy a Data Passport for unlimited data in 89 countries for £5 a day
  • Vodafone - the Roam Further add-on lets you use your UK allowance for an extra £6.85 a day.
  • O2 - with the O2 Travel add-on, you’ll get unlimited data, minutes and texts for £6 a day. This covers the US, Australia, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand.
  • Lebara - Lebara offers possibly the best Indian SIM for UK travellers, as it lets you use your UK allowance for free in India. This also applies to European destinations. For other destinations, you can buy a roaming add-on. Prices vary depending on the destination and duration.
  • Sky Mobile - Sky’s Roaming Passport Plus costs £2 a day and lets you use your UK allowance in the USA, UAE, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey.

These options tend to be quite expensive though, especially if you’re heading off on a longer trip. It could be more cost-effective to buy an international SIM card instead. We’ll look at the available options next.

📚 Read more: How to buy a sim card in the United States?

Best UK eSIM cards for international travel

A popular option for globetrotting travellers is to buy an eSIM card online. These are virtual SIM cards designed for use in different destinations. Unlike a physical SIM card, you don’t have to wait for it to arrive in the post. You can just buy your digital SIM online, choosing your data amount, time period (i.e. 7 or 14 days) and your destination.

Once purchased, you’ll be sent a QR code to scan to install the digital SIM card and data plan on your phone.

One thing to note though is that not all phones are compatible with eSIM cards. If your phone is one of the latest iPhone, Samsung or Google models, it’s likely to work with eSIM cards - but you might need to check before you purchase.

The main benefit of these eSIM cards is convenience. You can buy, install and start using it in minutes, without being tied to a plan or contract. You could also save money compared to buying an add-on package or plan from your UK network provider.

Here are some of the most popular eSIM card providers, along with details of their destination packages:


Airalo offers local, regional and global eSIMs covering 200+ countries and regions, so you can choose a package depending on where you’re going. You’ll also have plenty of choice when it comes to data amounts and time periods.

Prices on the Airalo website are in dollars, but don’t let that put you off - these eSIM cards can be bought and used by UK customers.

Here’s a roundup of Airalo eSIMs you might want to check out:

ChangeUS2 GB data15 days$8 (approx. £6.30)
Yes! Go!Australia5 GB data30 days$12.50 (approx £9.80)
AsialinkAsia (14 countries including China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia)10 GB data30 days$37 (approx. £29)
DiscoverGlobal - 127 countries5 GB data

50 mins calls

50 texts

60 days$50 (approx £39)


EasySIM offers data-only eSIM cards for a huge number of countries worldwide. All you have to do is choose your destination, data plan and purchase online. Here are some prices for popular destinations and data packages:

US5 GB data30 days£13
Australia¹⁰10 GB data30 days£20
India¹¹20 GB data30 days£84

What’s more, easySIM cards can be used in multiple destinations. This means you can travel to a number of different countries and not have to change SIM card.


Holafly is another data-only travel eSIM provider. It offers eSIMs for individual destinations, or for regions such as Asia, North America or the Caribbean - ideal if you’ll be visiting multiple places during your trip.

It also gives you unlimited data in many destinations, so you can get online as much as you need to. Although this does make it more expensive than some other providers.

Here are a few of your options with Holafly, so you can get an idea of prices:

US¹²Unlimited data7 days£24
Australia¹³Unlimited data15 days£44
Asia (region - 11 countries) ¹⁴Unlimited data30 days£67

Save on holiday spending with the Wise debit card

While you’re sorting out a SIM card for your trip, you’ll also want to check out options for holiday spending.

The good news is that you don’t need to change currency or carry cash around with you. Just use the Wise card from the money services provider Wise, instead.

Open a Wise multi-currency account online and you can get a Wise card for a one-time cost of just £7 or get the Wise digital card for free. This powerful international debit card lets you spend like a local in 150+ countries, including Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, Asia and many more.

This clever contactless card automatically converts your pounds to the local currency at the mid-market exchange rate with no mark-up or margin added on top. Wise also has transparent fees, with just a tiny fee for converting the currency.

Sign up with Wise today 💰

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

And that’s it - our roundup of the best international SIM cards in the UK right now. If you’re travelling to Europe, it’s worth checking whether your home network offers free roaming (or roaming for a small extra charge). This will mean you can use your phone just like at home, and keep your number too.

But for worldwide travel, an add-on roaming package or a travel eSIM could be the way to go. It isn’t super cheap, but it could be worth it if staying online is important to you. There’s also the option to look into getting a local SIM card, bought from a network or provider in your chosen country once you arrive. This isn’t always as easy to arrange, but it could potentially be cheaper.

Whichever option you choose, have a great trip. And don’t forget to pop your Wise card in your travel wallet before you set off.

Sources used for this article:

  1. MoneySavingExpert - Cheap mobile and data roaming
  2. Lyca Mobile - National Plan Extra
  3. iD Mobile - Pay Monthly SIM
  4. Smarty - All plans
  5. Airalo - United States eSIM
  6. Airalo - Australia eSIM
  7. Airalo - Asia eSIM
  8. Airalo - Global eSIM
  9. EasySIM - USA
  10. EasySIM - Australia
  11. EasySIM - India
  12. Holafly - eSIM USA
  13. Holafly - eSIM Australia
  14. Holafly - eSIM Asia

Sources checked on 26-Jan-2024.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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