Avoid high roaming cost when you travel to Europe and buy a UK sim card for traveling in Europe when you arrive at Heathrow! This is the best way to stay in touch and it doesn’t have to cost much. In this guide for buying a sim card at London Heathrow I tell you where to buy a UK sim card and show you all the available options regardless which terminal you arrive.
This article is based on my research in May 2019 when I traveled to Antigua & Barbuda from London. When buying a sim card at the airport is too much hassle after a long flight you can also buy them in London, therefore read my article about best prepaid sim card in the UK.
Are you arriving at London Gatwick Airport, Luton or Stansted, then click on the link for detailed guides for buying a sim card at those airports. In the past I also wrote guide for buying sim cards in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Barcelona and more.
Traveling in Europe with a UK sim card
Luckily since June 2017 roaming fees within the European Union are banned and you can use your sim card without any extra charges in all of Europe. People traveling to multiple countries in Europe therefore don’t have to buy. A UK sim card is valid in 35 countries across Europe.
EU roaming cost and Brexit
So far Brexit is still not happening and therefore until further notice there are no extra roaming costs in the EU with UK sim cards. It is pretty uncertain what is about to happen, but I will update this blog as soon as there is more info about it.
Buy a Europe sim card online
In case you want to be connected as soon as you land then there is another option and that is buying a sim card for traveling in Europe online. Through this link you can order a Orange prepaid sim card that is valid all over Europe with NOW 20GB data including 2 hours international calling time.
Portable Wifi device
Especially when traveling in a group or with kids I can advice you to have a look at the TEP Wireless portable Wifi device. It lets you connect up to 5 devices at the same time and gives you unlimited internet in more than 100 countries around the world.
London Heathrow Airport
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. It is easy to get to London city center from Heathrow 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 abundant options for buying a sim card at London Heathrow. There are basically 4 options:
- 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 for buying a sim card!
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.
Available UK sim cards London Heathrow
You can buy UK sim cards from 5 different mobile internet providers at London Heathrow: Lebara Mobile, Lyca Mobile, 3 (Three), Vodafone and EE.
Per mobile internet provider I will show you the available packages and tell you where you can buy them.
Three (3) 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.
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.
Also Lyca Mobile is a no-go for when you are looking for the best prepaid sim card at London Heathrow.
Best sim card London Heathrow
When comparing all the above available sim cards at London Heathrow it is fairly easy to pick out the best UK sim card.
The best London Heathrow sim card is Vodafone!
First of all they offer the best value for money: 20GB for just £20. Second is that things are very uncomplicated as there is just one package available. Buying a Vodafone sim card at London Heathrow is a no brainer!
The sim card is valid in all of Europe and a bunch of other countries as well: Australia, USA, Hong Kong, etc.
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 f*cking 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 buying a UK sim card. Then click on the link and I show you all the prices and packages available in London city center. 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.
Buy your sim card online
Want to be connected as soon as the plane touches the ground? Or not bothered shopping for a sim card at London Heathrow after a long flight? Order your sim card online and let it be shipped to your home address. Often it even comes with free shipping. Orange offers a sim card with NOW 20GB and 2 hours of international calling time, click on the link to find out more.
Order a portable Wifi device
This is a perfect solution if you want to connect more than one device to the internet at the same time. A portable Wifi device from TEP Wireless offers unlimited data per day in over 100 countries.
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.