Avoid high roaming charges when traveling to the UK! Are you flying to London Heathrow for your trip to the United Kingdom and wondering if you can buy a prepaid sim card at the airport on arrival?

In this complete guide for buying a sim card at London Heathrow Airport you can find out everything about where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per July 2024, my recommendation, the best e-sim cards for the UK, a vlog of my experiences on arrival, info about international sim cards and more.

Buying a prepaid sim card on arrival at London Heathrow Airport for traveling in the UK isn't that complicated. Local prepaid sim cards are one of the cheapest ways to stay connected when traveling abroad and it doesn't cost as much as you may think. However, we are in 2024 and e-sim cards for traveling to London would be even easier.

Getting a local prepaid sim card or ordering an e-sim card on the internet is the first thing I do when arriving to a new country. It avoids high roaming charges and slow overseas data roaming plans. On my way to visit every country in the world I have written already more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.

Here are some of these sim card guides: BaliMalaysiaKenya, South Africa, Sydney, Singapore, Shanghai, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Philippines but also Europe, Asia, USA, New York, Miami, Bangkok as well as London Stansted Airport, London Gatwick Airport, London Luton Airport.

Related: Best e-sim cards for traveling to UK in 2024.

So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark me!

Some links in this article about buying a sim card at London Heathrow are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don't worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you.

My recommendation

Traveltomtom recommends buying a Three (3) UK sim card at London Heathrow Airport. There is a prepaid sim card deal for £20 GBP ($25 USD) with 100 GB data and unlimited calls/sms. Where to buy and more info below.

However, the easiest, fastest and even cheapest way to stay connected when traveling to the UK is an e-sim card. Forget about buying a sim card at London Heathrow Airport. Be online as soon as the plane lands with an e-sim card. It is super easy to get your UK e-sim card on the internet and they already start from just $5 USD.

Traveltomtom recommends e-sims from Airalo or SimOptions, but there is also Jetpac, Nomad, Holafly, etc.

For a much more detailed guide about using e-sim cards when traveling to the UK check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best e-sim cards for the UK in 2024.

If you decide to buy a prepaid sim card on arrival in the UK then London Heathrow Airport is of course the most convenient place to get your UK sim card for tourists. For that reason prepaid sim cards at London Heathrow Airport are more expensive than in phone shops in the city center of London.

Check out my guide for buying a prepaid sim card for tourists in the UK in 2024 with more info about the best 4G/5G network in the UK, the best UK sim card deals and more.

If you are traveling to more countries around the world after visiting London then definitely look into my comparison of the best international sim cards in 2024 and you might find a great sim card for your trip, e-sim cards included.

When on a Europe trip then do NOT buy a UK prepaid sim card as they won't allow unrestricted free EU data roaming, but pick one from this list of the best prepaid sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2024 or Traveltomtom's specific guide for the best EU eSIM cards.

Best e-sim cards for the UK

E-sim cards are the most convenient and easiest way to stay connected when traveling to London in 2024. No more visiting a sim card store or swapping physical sim cards. You arrange everything online within just a couple minutes.

You order an e-sim card for the UK on the internet, you receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and within less than 2 minutes you have a UK e-sim card installed on your phone.

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom it automatically connects you to an available network and you enjoy data on your phone pretty much when the plane lands.

Make sure your phone is e-sim compatible before ordering an e-sim card for the UK.

For all FAQ's about using e-sim cards when traveling to the United Kingdom click on the link to read my detailed guide.

There are several e-sim card providers, here are the most trusted ones.

Airalo

Airalo offers multiple data-only e-sim cards for traveling in the UK and Traveltomtom has used Airalo lots of times without any problem Check out the Airalo e-sim card deals for the UK in 2024:

  • 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 for more info or to directly order an e-sim card for the UK via Airalo.

The above Airalo e-sim cards for the UK are from Uki Mobile and are data-only. Calling and texting is NOT supported. The data allowance is only valid in the UK, there is no free EU roaming with these e-Sim cards. They operate on the 4G/LTE networks of O2 and Three.

SimOptions

SimOptions offers different e-sim cards, so called international e-sim cards for traveling. These e-sim cards are valid in up to 39 countries and include free EU data-roaming and as well as unlimited calling and texting.

The above e-sim cards are just a small selection of what SimOptions has to offer, see below for more e-sim deals for the UK:

  • 10 GB data (5G ready) + $2 calling credit for 30 days = $22.90 USD
  • 20 GB data + unlimited calls for 15 days = $23.90 USD
  • 12 GB data + 30 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $29.90 USD
  • 20 GB data-only valid in UK, Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand = $34.90 USD
  • 30 GB data + unlimited calls/text for 30 days = $44.90 USD
  • 30 GB data + 120 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $49.90 USD
  • 60 GB data + unlimited calls for 30 days = $51.90 USD
  • 100 GB data (5G ready) + 120 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 28 days = $59.90 USD

Click here to order an international e-sim card for the UK via SimOptions or find more offers and info in the link.

Nomad

nomad esim card plans for uk 2024

A third trusted and reviewed e-sim provider is Nomad. Traveltomtom has used Nomad in more than 10 countries around the world.

Here are the regular Nomad e-sim card plans for the UK in 2024:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $7 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $8 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $11 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $15 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD

Click here to order an e-sim card for the UK from Nomad.

Before ordering an e-sim card for the UK make sure your phone is first of all unlocked and second, your smartphone needs to be e-sim compatible otherwise an e-sim won't work.

For more UK e-sim card offers and much more details check out my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to the United Kingdom in 2024 with an answer to all FAQ's about using e-sims for traveling to the UK and more e-sim operators like Sim Local, Jetpac, Holafly, etc.

If your phone is not e-sim compatible but you still would like to order a sim card for traveling to London on the internet then don't worry. There are international prepaid sim cards with coverage in the UK and you order them directly online.

A physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip to London and on arrival it is plug and play. For $49.90 USD you get 30 GB data + unlimited calls within Europe and 120 minutes worldwide. Click on the link to order directly via SimOptions or find more info.

Why buying a UK sim card at London Heathrow

Yes, your Airbnb in London or your London hotel will have free public WiFi and so do restaurants and the bars, 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. Getting direction for the nearest underground station, finding the museum or park that you are looking for, staying in touch with friends, looking up stuff on the internet, using your banking apps when something goes wrong, ordering a taxi through an app. Having no data on your phone makes life complicated these days!

Buying a sim card for the UK on arrival at London Heathrow Airport or getting an e-sim card for the UK is easy and takes just a couple minutes.

RELATED: Charming London Airbnb's for UNDER $100 per night!

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 at London Heathrow offer the same UK sim card services for tourists. There are plenty of places to buy sim cards: baggage claim hall, arrival hall, sim card vending machines, tourists information desks and even at convenience stores.

Interested what it looks like arriving at London Heathrow Airport then check out my vlog below with my experiences buying a sim card at London Heathrow Airport.

Where to buy a sim card at London Heathrow

Regardless in which terminal you arrive there are several options for buying a prepaid sim card at London Heathrow Airport:

  • Sim card vending machines
  • Sim Local sim card shops
  • Travelex Currency Exchange
  • WH Smith convenience stores
  • We Know London - Tourist Information

As you can see there are endless opportunities for buying a local prepaid sim card at London Heathrow Airport. All around you there will be signs for buying tourist sim cards for London.

Sim Local sim card stores

sim local store london heathrow

This sim card shop is specialized in selling tourist sim cards and here you will get the full service. They instal the sim card for you and make sure you walk out with a working data connection on your phone. For this service you pay a price of £5 GBP - $6 USD basically, all prices are already inclusive of this service fee.

There are Sim Local shops in the baggage claim areas as well as in the arrival halls of all terminals at London Heathrow Airport. International credit cards are accepted and the opening hours are from 06.00 am till 10.00 pm.

WH Smith convenience stores

wh smith london heathrow

Also at the WH Smith convenience stores they sell UK prepaid sim cards for tourists. There is some good info available at all the WH Smith stores, but it is self-service. The staff at WH Smith is not specialized in selling prepaid sim cards, it is a convenience store. Don’t expect the same service as at a sim card shop. However, if you are looking for the cheapest sim card deals at London Heathrow Airport then you have to buy a sim card from WH Smith. But be ready to do the activation and registration of the sim card yourself.

Sim card vending machines

sim card vending machine london heathrow

The sim card vending machines at London Heathrow Airport are also from Sim Local and they sell the exact same prepaid sim cards as they sell in their stores. In the sim card vending machines as well as at the Sim Local stores you can buy UK prepaid sim cards from: Lycamobile, EE and Three.

The sim card vending machine obviously offer no service. You even have to find a place to borrow a paperclip to open the sim card slot in your phone. The info displayed is ok, but limited. There is no info available on the sim card vending machine about EU data roaming.

There are many sim card vending machines around at London Heathrow Airport. You find them in the baggage claim area, in the arrival hall and even in the parking lot.

Travelex - Currency Exchange

travelex currency exchange sim cards

For changing money it is not recommend, but I can recommend Travelex for buying a sim card at London Heathrow Airport. They have the cheapest sim card deals starting from €20 GBP ($25 USD). They sell Lebara, Vodafone, Three and EE prepaid sim cards. The problem is that not all Travelex shops/kiosks offer these prepaid sim card deals. Some do, some don't! It is a hit or miss.

We Know London tourist info

WeKnow London is a tourist information desk / travel agency / sim card shop. They are not in every terminal at London Heathrow Airport, but in Terminal 2 and 3 they are right in front of you when you walk into the Arrival Hall. They also sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. They sell prepaid sim cards from Vodafone and O2 on top of the standard sim cards that you get in every sim card shop.

Terminal 2 LHR

Terminal 2 has plenty options to buy a prepaid sim card. In the baggage claim hall there are two Travelex - Currency Exchange, 3 sim card vending machines and 1 Sim Local store. When you walk out of arrivals there is a Sim Local and a Tourist Information Desk on your right hand side as well as a WH Smith convenience store. 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

There are 2 sim card vending machines in the Baggage claim hall. When you walk out of arrivals you walk right into a Sim Local sim card shop and a WH Smith convenience store. They are next to each other. There are two more sim card vending machines in the arrival hall of London Heathrow Airport terminal 3

Terminal 4 LHR

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

there is a Travelex Currency exchange and 2 sim card vending machines in the Baggage Claim area. 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 sim card shop and a little further there is a WH Smith convenience store.

Prices sim cards at London Heathrow

You can buy UK sim cards from 5 different mobile internet providers at London Heathrow: Lycamobile, Three, Vodafone, EE and O2. Many shops sell the same prepaid sim cards, but at different prices. Find out below where to get the cheapest prepaid sim card at London Heathrow Airport.

The prices for UK sim cards below are stated in GBP and updated with the latest info as of July 2024. £1 GBP = $1.28 USD and $1 USD = £0.78 GBP.

Sim Local

sim local store sim cards london heathrow

All the Sim Local sim card stores they sell Three, EE and Lycamobile prepaid sim cards for tourists. At the Sim Local stores they do the registration and activation for you and that is why the same prepaid sim card deals for traveling in the UK are £5 cheaper at other places at London Heathrow Airport.

Three prepaid sim cards

  • 10 GB data* + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £25 GBP - ($32 USD)
  • 50 GB data** + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £30 GBP - ($38 USD)
  • 100 GB data** + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £35 GBP - ($45 USD)
  • Unlimited data** + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £50 GBP - ($64 USD)

*10 GB free EU data roaming included, **12 GB free EU data roaming included.

Three UK prepaid sim cards are 5G ready and include some free EU data roaming.

Lycamobile prepaid sim cards

All the Lycamobile prepaid sim cards include international minutes to 41 countries.

  • 10 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £30 GBP - ($38 USD)
  • 100 GB data* + unlimited calls/text in the UK 30 days = £30 GBP - ($38 USD)
  • Unlimited data** + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £35 GBP - ($45 USD)
  • Unlimited data** + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £40 GBP - ($51 USD)

*10 GB free EU data roaming included, **16 GB free EU data roaming included.

Lycamobile UK prepaid sim cards are 5G ready and include some free EU data roaming. Lycamobile is an MVNO and uses the 4G/LTE/5G network of O2 in the UK. 

EE prepaid sim cards

  • 30 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £30 GBP - ($38 USD)
  • 100 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK + 60 international minutes to 41 countries for 30 days = £35 GBP - ($45 USD)
  • 200 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK + 120 international minutes to 41 countries for 30 days = £45 GBP - ($57 USD)
  • Unlimited data + unlimited calls/text in the UK + 180 international minutes to 41 countries for 30 days = £55 GBP - ($70 USD)

EE prepaid sim cards do NOT include free EU data roaming and the EE prepaid sim cards are NOT 5G ready. 4G/LTE is the max speed on EE prepaid sim cards for tourists. Because of all these restrictions and limitations it is not my preferred prepaid sim card for traveling to the UK.

ee e sim card plan london heathrow airport

The Sim Local stores are also the only place at London Heathrow Airport where you can buy an e-sim card. Only EE provides e-sim cards for tourists.

Sim card vending machines

sim card vending machine london

The sim card vending machines are operated by Sim Local and therefore they sell the same prepaid sim cards as in the Sim Local stores but then cheaper of course.

ee sim card plan vending machine london heathrow

lycamobile sim card plan vending machine london heathrow

three sim card plan vending machine london heathrow

You get a discount of £5-10 GBP depending on the sim card, but you will have to do the activation yourself. I don't know what would happen if you buy a sim card from the sim card vending machine and then walk to the Sim Local store and ask for help with the activation! :)

Travelex - Currency Exchange

travelex sim cards london heathrow airport

I never recommend this store or kiosks for exchange money as their exchange rates around the world are crazy expensive. Anyway when it comes to sim cards they suddenly have the cheapest sim card deals at London Heathrow Airport, but you have to do the activation yourself.

  • Lebara sim card for £40 GBP = Unlimited data, calls and sms in the UK for 30 days
  • Vodafone sim card for £20 GBP = 40 GB data + unlimited calls/ sms in the UK for 30 days
  • Three sim card for £20 GBP = 100 GB data + unlimited calls/ sms in the UK for 30 days
  • EE sim card for £20 GBP = 50 GB data + unlimited calls/ sms in the UK for 30 days

As you can see these sim card prices are significantly cheaper than the sim card vending machines and the Sim Local sim card shops.

WeKnow London

weknow sim card shop london heathrow

The most expensive prepaid sim card deals and data plans at London Heathrow Airport are sold at the We Konw London information desk. Here they sell on top of the usual sim cards also Vodafone and O2 prepaid sim cards for traveling in the UK. But remember that both, O2 and Vodafone do NOT offer free EU data roaming.

WH Smith convenient stores

At the WH Smith convenient stores they sell the following prepaid sim cards for tourists and as you will see these are the same prepaid sim cards you can sell at the Sim Local stores but then £5 GBP cheaper. Remember that when buying a UK prepaid sim card from WH Smith you have to activate and register the sim card online by yourself.

Three prepaid sim cards

  • 10 GB data* + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £20 GBP - ($25 USD)
  • 100 GB data** + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £30 GBP - ($38 USD)
  • Unlimited data** + unlimited calls/text in 70 countries for 30 days = £45 GBP - ($57 USD)

*10 GB free EU data roaming included, **12 GB free EU data roaming included.

Lycamobile prepaid sim cards

All the Lycamobile prepaid sim cards include international minutes to 41 countries.

  • 10 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £25 GBP - ($32 USD)
  • Unlimited data** + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £35 GBP - ($45 USD)

*16 GB free EU data roaming included.

EE prepaid sim cards

  • 30 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK for 30 days = £25 GBP - ($32 USD)
  • 100 GB data + unlimited calls/text in the UK + 60 international minutes to 41 countries for 30 days = £30 GBP - ($38 USD)
  • Unlimited data + unlimited calls/text in the UK + 180 international minutes to 41 countries for 30 days = £50 GBP - ($64 USD)

EU data roaming with UK sim cards

Since 2017 roaming fees within the European Union are banned and you can use for example your sim card from Spain in Germany or your sim card from Ireland in Italy without any extra charges. 

However, Brexit has shaken things up and the United Kingdom is not part of the EU anymore.

Roaming charges apply on UK sim cards. Vodafone UK started charging a daily roaming fee for prepaid costumers and since June 2023 O2 and EE also stopped providing free EU data roaming on their prepaid sim card plans.

Three (3) UK still has free data roaming in Europe included in their prepaid sim cards but there are limitations.

So when buying a prepaid sim card in the UK and you are traveling in Europe onwards then explicitly ask the mobile internet provider. For more EU roaming info and tips check out my complete guide for buying a local prepaid sim card on arrival in Europe in 2024.

If you want to avoid all this hassle then simply order a prepaid or an e-sim card for traveling to Europe online. Click on the link to find my comparison of the best tourist sim cards for Europe in 2024.

Best sim card at London Heathrow

The EE prepaid sim cards at London Heathrow Airport are the only ones that are NOT 5G ready, also EE does not include any free EU data roaming, that makes it very easy for Traveltomtom to not recommend EE sim cards. Also prices for EE sim cards are much higher than other sim cards at London Heathrow.

Sim Local shops offer the best service as they will activate and register your UK sim card properly, but you pay £5 GBP extra for that. Sim card vending machines and WH Smith convenience stores are cheaper but it is all self-service.

The cheapest sim card deals you can find at the Travelex - Currency Exchange as they offer UK prepaid sim card deals for £20 GBP ($25 USD) with a lot of data.

The Three prepaid sim card with 100 GB data, including 12 GB data roaming and unlimited calls/sms in 70 countries is therefore rated as the best prepaid sim card at London Heathrow. At Travelex kiosks they sell this sim card for £20 GBP ($25 USD).

E-sim cards for London do not come near that offer, but great thing about e-sim cards is that you can order them directly online and arrange everything within just a couple clicks. You are online as soon as the plane lands in the UK.

For $21 USD you already get a UK e-sim card with 20 GB data.

Check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to the United Kingdom in 2024.

Another very simple conclusion is that if you are visiting London and traveling onwards in Europe it is very much recommended to look into European sim cards with free EU data roaming. Check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best Europe travel sim cards for 2024.

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 tourist sim card for the UK in 2024 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 prepaid sim card for the UK online

international prepaid sim cards for traveling to uk 2024

If your phone is not e-sim compatible but you would like to order a sim card for traveling to the United Kingdom online before your trip then check out the following.

Arrive prepared for your trip to London with an international prepaid sim card. You order them online and a physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address. You put this sim card in your phone and it automatically connects to an available network upon arrival in London, basically when the plane lands you are instantly online.

SimOptions offers the following international prepaid sim cards for the UK:

1. O2 Go Card - $24.90

  • 10 GB data
  • $2 calling credit (no top-up)
  • valid for 30 days
  • valid in 34 countries
  • 4G/LTE

2. Three Data Pack - $24.90

  • 10 GB data
  • Unlimited calls/sms
  • Valid 30 days
  • Valid in 56 countries
  • 4G/LTE

3. Orange Holiday ZEN - $29.90

  • 12 GB data
  • Unlimited calls/sms in Europe
  • 30 minutes worldwide
  • 200 sms worldwide
  • Valid 14 days
  • Valid in 34 countries
  • 4G/LTE

4. Bouygues Telecom - $44.90

  • 30 GB data
  • Unlimited calls in Europe
  • Valid 30 days
  • Valid in 39 countries
  • 4G/LTE

5. Orange Holiday Europe - $49.90

  • 30 GB data
  • Unlimited calls/sms in Europe
  • 120 minutes worldwide
  • 1,000 sms worldwide
  • Valid 30 days
  • Valid in 39 countries
  • 4G/LTE

Click here to order an international sim card for traveling to the UK via SimOptions.

In the days before e-sims Traveltomtom has used the Orange Holiday Europe multiple times for my trips to Europe and it always worked smooth as silk.

Another reminder that if your phone is e-sim compatible the easiest way to get connected when traveling to the UK in 2024 is an e-sim card. You can order your e-sim card for the UK directly online through either SimOptions or Airalo. But there is also Nomad, Holafly, Jetpac, etc.

Check out Traveltomtom's complete guide for buying an e-sim card for traveling in the United Kingdom in 2024.

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 for tourists or click here or for buying a sim card at Manchester Airport.

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 July 2024 I visited more than 155 countries.

Enjoy your trip to London!

sim card london heathrow