Headed to England? Get ready for the trip of a lifetime! But, before you go, it’s important to take care of all the details, including which internet and data package you’ll use abroad. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to purchase a local SIM card once you get to England – but it’s not the only solution. In this step-by-step guide, I’m covering all your options, including prices and everything else you should know. Let’s dive in!
Welcome to a country where history and innovation are intertwined, where picturesque landscapes blend with urban scenes, and where every corner reveals a unique story. From the bustling streets of London to the medieval sights of Yorkshire, England offers a range of ambiance and environments to every traveler.
If you’re planning a trip to England, I recommend starting in London. This wildly popular city boasts countless attractions such as Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, a range of impressive museums, and more. You could spend a lifetime wandering those streets and admiring all that the city has to offer!
However, there is far more to England than just London. By venturing outside the capital, England reveals its natural splendor, inviting you to explore the countryside, coastal towns, lakes, and ancient architecture.
For those looking for a touch of magic, a visit to the stunning province of Cornwall is a must to enjoy the turquoise waters and beautiful beaches. Discover King Arthur’s legends at Tintagal Castle, which rises dramatically on the clifftops, or lose yourself in the charm of St Ives, with its winding streets and artistic heritage.
Although England is famous for its delicious fish and chips, it’s actually a melting pot of lots of delicious foods. There is no shortage of amazing and diverse restaurants to try around the country.
England’s pub culture is also appealing, inviting you to savor a pint of dark beer in cool pubs with a particularly joyful atmosphere. This is an especially recommended experience during game times!
No matter where you’re going and for how long, don’t forget to arrange a call and internet package to England so you can stay in touch with your loved one throughout your trip. There are several options available to you – physical SIM cards that you can buy upon arrival in the UK or digital eSIM cards. We’ll explain more about each option below.
SIM Cards for England – What You Need to Know
England is home to a fairly reliable mobile network that uses the GSM cellular network, as opposed to the CDMA network. This means that, in general, long-distance calls to the UK should be able to connect to local networks without too much trouble. Even if you come from a country that uses the CDMA network, your smartphone should still work properly in the UK without any problems.
When it comes to the internet, everything runs smoothly, especially in developed cities, such as London, which also has the 5G network, although it is currently limited to the largest cities. In more rural areas, particularly the Scottish High Lands and Isles, Central Wales, and more isolated parts of England and Northern Ireland, you may only have access to 2G or 3G.
Can I rely on WIFI in England?
Q: Chances are you’re considering whether you even need a SIM for England. Maybe you can only get by with the Internet? Especially if it’s a relatively short vacation. In short, yes, England is full of cafes, train stations, restaurants, and malls where you can browse with WIFI. However, this limits you greatly. Imagine you need to order an Uber or navigate the streets of London, but don’t have an internet connection. In situations such as these, you won’t be able to rely only on free internet, and you’ll surely be wishing you had purchased some data!
Which SIM cards are best for England?
If you’re traveling to England and planning to buy a SIM card there, I recommend using Three, Vodafone, O2, or eSIMple SIM cards. (Skip ahead if you are interested in using an eSIM from eSIMple.)
If you plan to visit other countries during your trip, it’s important to make sure that your SIM card and data package will be available for those destinations as well.
How & Where to Buy Physical SIM Cards in England
You can buy a SIM card in advance or you can purchase one at an airport, a mobile phone store, or even at local supermarkets. It’s important to note, though, that costs will often be higher at the airport. You’ll also need your passport to buy a SIM card at any of these locations.
The downside of this option is that you will not have access to the internet from the moment you land. So, if it’s important to you to be connected as soon as you arrive, then you can use an eSIM or purchase a prepaid European SIM card online.
Now, let’s take a look at the packages offered by Three, Vodafone, and O2.
Considered one of the most reliable companies in England, Three is one of the UK’s largest telecommunications companies. Offering mobile and internet services to both residents and tourists, they have a variety of packages that we will detail below.
One of the key features of Three is their focus on providing generous data allowances. They are known for their “Go Roam” feature, which allows customers to use their data, text, and call allowances in many overseas destinations at no extra cost. This can be a worthwhile bonus for those who continue to travel in Europe after visiting England.
Three offers three different types of data plans with prepaid SIM cards:
10 GB, unlimited calls and texts, £10
50 GB, unlimited calls and text messages, £20
GB, unlimited calls and text messages, £35
All plans are valid for 1 month.
Vodafone is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, operating in several countries around the world, including the UK. Many tourists choose to go with this company because they have heard the name and are considered relatively economical.
Vodafone provides a wide range of plans to suit different needs and budgets. For travelers, they usually offer dedicated programs and packages tailored to tourists.
Vodafone provides support across channels, including phone, online chat, and physical stores. In case of any problem or question, their customer service representatives are available to assist, ensuring a comfortable user experience.
Vodafone offers several prepaid plans, all valid for 30 days:
7 GB Unlimited data, calls and text messages for £10
20 GB Unlimited data, calls, and text messages for £15
40 GB Unlimited data, calls and text messages for £20
100 GB Unlimited data, calls and text messages for £30
Unlimited data, calls and text messages for £40
O2 is a veteran communications company in England and is also considered the cheapest option. O2’s coverage is excellent, with its 2G, 3G, and 4G networks available to 99% of the UK population. Its 5G network is also currently expanding, mainly in major cities.
O2 has several packages to choose from:
20 GB unlimited data, calls, and text messages for £10
30 GB Unlimited data, calls, and text messages for £20
60 GB Unlimited data, calls, and text messages for £15
150 GB Unlimited data, calls, and text messages for £30
As you can see, the cheapest plans are from the O2 company. However, they do not offer the option of unlimited internet, as with the other companies.
Which physical SIM card is most recommended?
If you don’t have a phone that supports an eSIM, then I recommend going with Three. For £20 you get 50 GB of data for 30 days on one of the best 4G/5G data networks in the UK.
However, if your device supports it, an eSIM from eSIMple is by far your best option, and will be covered shortly.
Where is the best place to buy physical SIM cards in England?
In England, there are many places where you can buy SIM cards. Here are some popular options:
- Cell Phone Stores: The official stores of mobile network providers like O2, Vodafone, Three, and EE are popular places to buy physical SIM cards. These shops are usually located in major cities and towns throughout England.
- Convenience Stores & Supermarkets: Many convenience stores and supermarkets across England offer SIM cards from various suppliers. Places like Carphone Warehouse, Argos, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s often have dedicated departments or kiosks where you can find SIM cards and compare options. These locations may offer competitive prices and easy access, especially if you’re already buying other items.
- Airport Kiosks & Vending Machines: If you prefer to have a SIM card as soon as you get there, some airports in England have kiosks or vending machines where you can purchase SIM cards. This option provides convenience, especially if you need a connection quickly upon arrival. However, it’s worth noting that prices at airport locations may be slightly higher compared to other options.
- Online sites: Many mobile network providers in England allow you to purchase SIM cards directly from their websites. Sometimes this is the cheapest option, but keep in mind that you can only do it when you get there and provide a specific address.
Using an eSIM for England
An eSIM is a digital SIM card that can be installed directly into a smartphone through an easy-to-use app.
If you have an eSIM-enabled device, you can purchase overseas data plans, offering calls, texts, and internet from anywhere in the world. All you have to do is download the app, choose a plan, and then scan the code that will be sent to your email – easy!
If your device supports it, I highly recommend using an eSIM for England from eSIMple.
Not only are their packages affordable, but can also be customized to the duration of your trip. Here are the packages offered for the UK:
1 GB for 4 days + 100 minutes free – $3
3 GB for 7 days + 100 minutes free – $6
5 GB for 21 days + 100 minutes free – $10
10 GB for 30 days + 100 minutes free – $15
Aside from being the cheaper provider, they also offer reliable service and a super easy set-up process. In fact, the whole process is done in just a few clicks.
They also offer helpful support services in a range of different languages, ensuring everyone is covered. Plus, if you’re traveling to other places on top of England, eSIMple supports over 70 countries, so you can simply adjust your plan as needed.
How do eSIM cards work?
Setting up and activating your eSIM is a really easy procedure that will only take a few minutes. After you have verified that your cell phone is compatible with overseas access and you have chosen the package that best suits your needs, you will need to scan a QR code sent to you by email. After doing that, you’ll be ready to use the Internet and make calls as soon as you arrive at your destination.
How do I know if my mobile phone is compatible with an eSIM?
Most models of popular smartphone companies like Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, or Google are compatible as long as you have up-to-date models.
What is the delivery time of a physical SIM card in England?
SIM cards can be purchased in stores in the UK or online, with delivery times ranging from 48 to 72 hours (in Europe). There are also companies that offer express delivery on the same day, but if you’re already there, it’s recommended to shop in-store.
Can I share HotSpot data with eSIMple?
Many eSIM companies don’t allow this, but with eSIMple, you can.