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SIM card for data/voice

I have searched the helpline and read a number of comments and articles on this topic and maybe have more questions now than before.

My situation is that we will be in London and area for a week and a half, plan on arriving and getting a rental car at Heathrow and taking off for some sights, winding up in Portsmouth for a few nights, then to London.

I have an Android smartphone (samsung 4G), unlocked, that I plan on using for GPS and Internet, voice less important, we can roam on wifes phone (ATT Int. Roaming) for the few calls we make to each other,and checking in with work (this is actually a partial business trip)

I know the best would be to find a store in London for the Sim, but options are either buy over the internet ahead of time or at Heathrow since I need the GPS right away.

Longwinded set-up, but does anyone have any insight as to either option? preference for carrier/website? a gig would be plenty for a flat rate, pay as you go, I could get by with less. Thoughts?

Posted by
31303 posts


Your cheapest option will probably be to find the nearest Carphone Warehouse after you land, and buy a SIM card there. The staff should be able to recommend the best network and plan for your needs, and help set it up.

The other option you could consider is to buy a SIM from one of the travel phone firms such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Telestial, Mobal, EuroBuzz, etc. (check their respective websites for details). This option will likely be more expensive with data included, but will provide you with a working phone as soon as you step off the plane. Many of these firms use U.K. carriers anyway and many provide post-paid billing (calls charged to a credit card), so you won't have to be concerned with running out of minutes in the middle of a call or having to top-up.

I checked one of the above firms and THIS is an example of one of their plans. You'd have to contact them for further information.

Happy travels!

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Paul,

YOu may want to look at your local T-Mobile shop.

THey are beginning to see the light and offer some less expensive options. i use their PAYG and was in the shop looking at my future Note 3.

THey have a 50 USD/Month Celluar offer it allows free international tavel. Dont know the details, but they did mentioned when you do travel, the cellular automatically drops to the 2G network. I guess you can still get 4G, but it will cost more.

Im going to do the same as you, but since ive been overthere already, i have my SIM.

it doesnt cost you anythiing, yet, to ask questions.

happy trails.

Posted by
11266 posts

In addition to any replies you get here, try asking on the Prepaid GSM UK and Ireland Forum. Posters there get into real nitty-gritty about different options; the talk can get very technical, so don't be afraid to ask for clarification.

Posted by
3108 posts

Paul ,take a look at LEBARA sim cards . They are a UK based firm ,and have subsidiary operations in France , Germany and other countries . I first used one in the UK four years ago ,and in France and Germany as well , always worked perfectly with no glitches and dirt cheap rates , Go to the website for details . They also have very low rates on data packages . Happy hunting !

Posted by
261 posts


Pay as you go (PAYG) is very common here in the UK, and topping up can be done from a lot of ATMs, not to mention the usual convenience and grocery stores. You do have a few otions -

1) It is becoming more common now to see 'international sims' out of vending machines in the international terminals at US airports. You could try that, but you would be forced to wait till you got to the airport with no guarantee.

2) Check with TMobile in the US to see if they have a PAYG sim that would work in the UK.
3) The internet, ahead of time, as you mention - probably your safest if you need it as soon as you land.
4) Once you clear immigration at Heathrow, check the convenience stores in the immediate area. I know there is a Vodaphone shop over in T5. Best bet is to ask someone once you clear immigration.
5) Look for a carphonewarehouse or phone4u once you are in London.
6) Per Heathrow's website, they sell sims and rent phones.

Mobile shops are very common here - Vodaphone, EE (which includes Orange and TMobile), Three, Virgin, are all possibilities.

If its me, I check with TMobile in the US to see if they can sell me one before I leave. If not, then I buy one off the internet.

Good luck!

Posted by
113 posts

If you are taking the Heathrow Connect or Express there is a vodaphone shop at Paddington Station as well.