Avoid high roaming charges when traveling to Europe! Are you flying to London for your trip to the United Kingdom? You can easily buy a UK sim card on arrival at London Heathrow Airport. Local prepaid sim cards are one of the cheapest and best ways to stay connected when traveling abroad and it doesn't cost as much as you may think.
In this complete guide for buying a UK sim card at London Heathrow Airport you can find where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per April 2023, my recommendation and also info about international and e-sim cards for the UK.
Getting a local prepaid sim card is the first thing I do when arriving to a new country. It is often the cheapest way to get connected and get data on your phone. On my way to visit every country in the world I have written more than 200 local sim card guides now from all over the world.
Some of the latest ones are: Bali, Malaysia, Kenya, South Africa, Sydney, Singapore, but also Europe, Asia, USA, New York, Miami, Bangkok. But you can also find every major airport and country in Europe on Traveltomtom as well as the other London airports: London Stansted Airport, London Gatwick Airport, London Luton Airport.
So bookmark Traveltomtom and next time you go on a trip abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the best sim card advice for your destination.
Why buying a UK sim card at London Heathrow
Yes, your Airbnb in London or your hotel will have free public WiFi and so does the restaurant and the bar but keep in mind that public WiFi is through an unsecured network. The use of a VPN is recommended to protect your data.
Staying connected when traveling to London makes life so much easier. Looking up direction for the nearest underground station, finding the museum or park where you are heading to, staying in touch with friends, looking up stuff on the internet, using your banking apps when something goes wrong. Having no data on your phone makes life complicated these days.
Buying a sim card for the UK on arrival at London Heathrow Airport is easy and takes just a couple minutes. Therefore Traveltomtom advices travelers visting London to buy a sim card for the UK straight away at the airport.
RELATED: Charming London Airbnb's for UNDER $100 per night!
Traveltomtom recommends an EE UK sim card for traveling to London. They have the best 4G/5G mobile data network and they offer a great prepaid sim card deals at London Heathrow Airport. For around £20 you get 25 GB data.
Sim cards at London Heathrow are a little more expensive than the same prepaid sim card deals in London city center. Check out my article about the best UK sim card for tourists in 2023.
If you are traveling to Europe onwards after visiting London then definitely look into my comparison of the best international sim cards in 2023 and you might find a great sim card for your trip there or even an e-sim card for the United Kingdom.
E-sim cards for the UK
E-sim cards are the most convenient and easiest way to stay connected when traveling to UK. No more visiting a store, no more swapping physical sim cards, you arrange everything online within just a couple minutes. You order an e-sim card and receive a QR code in your email along with instructions. Follow the instructions and you are connected instantly.
Check out the following UK e-sim card deals:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $7.5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $15 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $22.5 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $36 USD
Click here to directly order one of the above e-sim card deals for the UK and find more info.
All the above e-sim cards for the UK are data-only and calls are NOT supported. The data allowance is only valid in the UK, there is no free EU roaming with these e-Sim cards.
If you are looking for UK e-Sim cards that supports calls as well as EU roaming then check out the following international e-sim cards for the UK:
- 5 GB data only in all of Europe for 30 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data only in all of Europe for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 10 GB data in all of Europe + $2 calling credit for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 8 GB data in all of Europe + unlimited calls in Europe for 14 days = $29.90 USD
- 20 GB data in all of Europe + unlimited calls in Europe for 14 days = $49.90 USD
- 20 GB data only in all of Europe for 30 days = $34.90 USD
Click here to order one of the above international e-sim card deals for the UK or find more offers and info in the link.
There is also still the possibility of ordering an international sim card with coverage in the UK online and get it shipped to your home address before your trip. For $49.90 USD you get 20 GB data + unlimited calls within Europe and 120 minutes worldwide. Click on the link to order directly or find more info.
Free EU roaming with UK sim card
Since June 2017 roaming fees within the European Union are banned and you can use your Spain sim card in Germany without any extra charges. People traveling to multiple countries in Europe therefore can use their UK sim card, which is valid in 35 countries across Europe.
However, because of Brexit the United Kingdom is not part of the EU anymore and in some cases roaming charges apply. Vodafone UK started charging a daily roaming fee for prepaid costumers. There is free EU roaming on som O2 UK sim cards, and on some not. EE and Three UK still offer free EU roaming included with their prepaid sim card plans.
So when buying a sim card in the UK and you want free EU roaming always ask explicitly if it is included or if extra charges apply.
For more EU roaming info and tips and trick about buying a local sim card in Europe in 2023 check out the link.
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London Heathrow Airport arrival
Being one of the biggest airports in the world you can understand that getting lost around here is pretty easy. There are 4 terminals in use: 2,3,4 and 5. There are free busses and trains running between the terminals, but for buying a sim card at London Heathrow there is no need to travel to another terminal. All terminals offer more or less the same UK sim card services.
Getting from London Heathrow to the city center is easy as there are trains running almost 24 hours. There are even Express trains that bring you to the city in 35 minutes!
Where to buy a sim card at London Heathrow
Regardless in which terminal you arrive there are several options for buying a sim card at London Heathrow Airport:
- Sim card vending machines
- Sim Local shops
- WH Smith shops
- We Know London - Tourist Information
Sim Local shops
These people are specialized in selling sim cards and here you will get the full service. They instal the sim card for you and make sure you walk out with when it is working. The offered UK sim card packages at Sim Local shops are often the same as the WH Smith shops and the sim card vending machines, but Sim Local charges £5 for their services extra.
WH Smith shops
There is a ton of info available at all the WH SMith shops, but it is all self service. The staff working at WH Smith has often no clue about what is what. Don’t expect any service when buying a sim card for the UK at a WH Smith shop.
Sim card vending Machines
Often has the best prices, but obviously no service. You even have to find a place to borrow a paperclip to open your sim card lock in your phone. The info displayed is ok, but you can’t ask any questions at all.
The sim card vending machines can be found all over the place, next to vending machines for drinks and snacks, often already near the baggage belts.
We Know London tourist info
They are not in every terminal, but they also sell sim cards. The guys are not so keen selling them, at least they were not really friendly to me and seemed kind of not interested giving me more information. They have limited sim cards available.
Terminal 2 LHR airport
When you walk out of arrivals there is a Sim Local and a Tourist Information Desk on your right hand side. Straight ahead there is a WH Smith shop. There is a sim card vending machine at the luggage collection before entering the arrivals hall. There is also a sim card vending machine next to the lift when you walk towards the parking garage and the trains.
Terminal 3 LHR airport
When you walk out of arrivals you walk right into a Sim Local and a WH Smith shop. They are next to each other. There are two sim card vending machines at the luggage belts and there are also two in the arrivals hall.
Terminal 4 LHR Airport
When you walk out of the arrivals there is a WH Smith shop on your left hand side. In Terminal 4 there is NO Sim Local shop. There are two sim card vending machine just a couple meters away from the WH Smith shop.
Terminal 5 LHR Airport
As soon as you walk into the arrivals hall in LHR Terminal 5 you turn right and keep walking straight. After about 50 meters there is a Sim Local shop and a little further there is a WH Smith shop. There are veding machines at the luggage belts.
UK sim cards prices at London Heathrow
You can buy UK sim cards from 5 different mobile internet providers at London Heathrow: Lebara Mobile, Lyca Mobile, Three, Vodafone & EE. Per mobile internet provider I will show you the available packages and tell you where you can buy them.
Three UK prepaid sim card LHR
There are 6 different Three UK sim card package available at London Heathrow, see the table below. Sim Local charges £5 extra for the same package you buy at the sim card vending machine and so does the Tourist Info.
Best Three UK sim card at London Heathrow can be found in the sim card vending machine.
Vodafone prepaid sim card LHR
Buying a Vodafone UK sim card at London Heathrow is very straight forward. There is only one package available. Sim Local charges £5 extra for service.
Best Vodafone UK sim card at London Heathrow can be found in the sim card vending machine or the WH Smith shop.
EE prepaid sim card LHR
There are only 2 EE UK sim cards at London Heathrow for sale. Again Sim Local charges £5 extra for its service.
Best EE UK sim card at London Heathrow can be found in the sim card vending machine, the WH Smith shop or the Tourist Info. EE is the only mobile internet operator in the UK that has service in the London Underground stations.
Lebara prepaid sim card LHR
The Lebara sim cards at London Heathrow have rather small data bundles and therefore don’t have my preference. For £20 you get 3GB, at Vodafone you get for the same money 20GB, just saying…
Not even worth mentioning in a UK sim card comparison, sorry Lebara your value for money is SO NOT GOOD!
Lyca Mobile prepaid sim card LHR
There are 5 different Lyca Mobile prepaid sim cards available. The annoying thing is that they sell different packages everywhere. But in the end they are NOT great value for money compared to the other available sim cards at London Heathrow anyway. I personally would NOT recommend buying a Lyca Mobile sim card at London Heathrow.
Also Lyca Mobile is a no-go for when you are looking for the best prepaid sim card at London Heathrow.
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Best sim card London Heathrow
After checking out all the prepaid UK sim cards at London Heathrow it is fairly easy to pick out the best one:
Vodafone UK is the best prepaid sim card for tourists at London Heathrow in 2023!
They offer the best value for money: 20GB for just £25. Second is that things are very uncomplicated as there is just one package available. Buying a Vodafone sim card at London Heathrow is the best available UK sim card.
This Vodafone sim card is valid in all of Europe plus Switzerland, Norway and Turkey.
For the best Europe sim card for traveling have a look at the complete guide I wrote for a Europe trip!
My experience buying a sim card at London Heathrow
Obviously since I am a master in changing sim cards I didn’t need any help from one of the staff of the Sim Local shops so I chose to go to WH Smith shop like I also did at London Gatwick Airport. As a professional travel blogger I swap countries every month and the first thing I do is buying a local sim card. So when I was at London Heathrow Terminal 5, the last place for my research I bought a Vodafone 25 sim card at WH Smith shop, walked towards the train and inserted my sim card. It said: NO SIM! No way!
Out of all people why did particularly I get a faulty sim card? I already sat in the train and ended up in Terminal 2. There I found out that sim cards sold at WH Smith are also from Sim Local, so in case you have any issue you can go to the Sim Local shops. So did I do. At Sim Local they couldn’t fix the issue either and they made me buy a second Vodafone sim card package. I was reassured I would get the money back from the faulty sim card.
All the hassle took me about an hour to get it fixed and on top of that I had to call them the next morning and then later send two emails. Four days later after sending all the info over email to Sim Local, I finally got my money back through Paypal!
In case you are not in a hurry and are able to wait I recommend you buying a sim card for the UK in 2023 in the city center. Then click on the link and I show you all the prices and packages available. On top of the above mobile internet operators you can also find O2 shops in London. Prices for buying a sim card in London city are cheaper than at the airport.
Order a sim card for the UK online
The following international sim cards with coverage in the UK can be ordered directly online. These sim cards are pre-activated and will be shipped to your home address prior to your trip.
Three data pack 8 GB - $24.90
- 8 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- Unlimited calls/sms within Europe and UK
- Valid 30 days
There are also 3 UK international sim cards for 1 year and for 2 years. Click on the link below for more info!
O2 Go Card - $24.90
- 10 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- $2 calling credit - top up possible
- Valid 30 days
Orange Holiday Europe - $49.90
- 20 GB data
- Unlimited calls/sms in Europe
- 120 minutes worldwide
- 1,000 sms worldwide
- Valid 14 days
Click here to order one of the above international sim cards for the UK directly online.
Personally I would recommend you the last available option: Orange Holiday Europe with 20 GB data. I have used it myself many times and it worked smooth as silk.
Another reminder that the easiest way to get connected when traveling to the UK in 2023 is an e-sim card. Order your e-sim card for the UK directly online through this link or find more info. With an e-sim card you keep your own number.
I hope the above UK sim card comparison for London Heathrow was helpful for you. I wish you a safe trip to London and in case you are still looking for accommodation have a look at my article about best cheap Airbnbs in London. For a complete guide for the best prepaid UK sim card click here or for buying a sim card at Manchester Airport on this link.
Questions? Please leave me a message below. I am happy to help you out making the most of your trip to London and or Europe. When interested in what visiting every country in the world looks like then head over to my Instagram account @traveltomtom. As per April 2023 I visited more than 150 countries.
Enjoy your trip to London!