When traveling to London from overseas Im sure you want to keep your fooks back home updated about your trip. To avoid crazy roaming costs I would strongly recommend you to buy a UK sim card at London Gatwick Airport. But after such a long flight you rather don’t go through all that hassle and just buy the best one available, right? In this blog about buying a UK sim card at London Gatwick Airport I will find the best sim card for you and tell you were to buy it.

Beginning of February 2019 I took a little Europe trip for 2 weeks and flew from Brussels Airport to London Gatwick Airport. Upon arrival I roamed around both the LGW terminals to find out the places where they were selling UK sim cards for tourists. Based upon my experiences I wrote this article to find the best UK sim card at LGW Airport for you. Later when I left London I made to stupid mistake to show up at the wrong airport. However because of this I was also able to write guides for buying a UK sim card at London Stansted and London Luton Airport. In May 2019 I finally wrote a guide about buying a sim card at London Heathrow as well.

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UK sim card for tourists traveling in Europe

Since June 2017 the EU banned roaming fees within the European Union. That means you can use your UK sim card with data all over the EU including Norway.

Free EU roaming and Brexit

In case the UK will decide to leave the European Union, there is a big chance that free roaming within the EU will not be available anymore for sim cards of the UK internet providers. But until today there is no certainty about what is going to happen. May things chance I will update this blog straight away.

Europe sim card online offer

Buy a sim card for traveling in Europe online at get free shipping to your home address. Click on this link to find out more about a Orange sim card valid in more than 30 countries. NOW INCLUDING 20GB data instead of 10GB, click on the banner below to claim it.

europe sim card orange 728x90

Until further notice there are no extra roaming costs in the EU with UK sim cards!

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London Gatwick Airport

There are 4 London Airports so make sure you are looking at the right airport for buying a UK sim card. On this trip I also ended up at London Stansted Airport for my flight to Gdansk, Poland. But only at security I found out I was at the wrong airport. I needed to be at London Luton Airport. London Gatwick Airport is located about 40 minutes South of London by public transport. It is mostly European flights that arrive here, but there are also some intercontinental flights arriving at London Gatwick Airport.

South and North Terminal

Most intercontinental flights from Middle East and Caribbean are arriving at the North Terminal and flights from Turkey, US, Africa Asia are mostly arriving at the South Terminal. For buying a UK sim card at London Gatwick Airport there is no difference at whi h terminal you arrive. They sell the same UK sim card packages at both terminals at the same places.

gatwick airport terminals

Where to buy UK prepaid sim card for tourists at London Gatwick Airport

Unlike many international airports there are no mobile internet operator shops at London Gatwick Airport. When buying a sim card at Frankfurt Airport you will find an O2 shop, or at Rome Airport there is a Vodafone shop. At London Gatwick Airport you can only buy a UK sim card at a vending machine or at WH Smith shops.

gatwick airport sim card vending machine

gatwick airport sim card

Good to know: at the WH Smith shops you actually buy a sim card with credit. With this credit you can buy a (data) package. Included in this price is a £10 application service. As a costumer you won’t notice it as the sim cards at the vending machine at London Gatwick Airport have the same but the packages are already activated.

Buying a UK sim card at London Gatwick Airport

There are 5 different mobile internet providers in the UK: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone and Virgin. At London Gatwick Airport I could not find O2 and Virgin sim cards, but instead they sell Lebara Mobile and Lyca Mobile sim cards for traveling in Europe.

UK sim cards vending machine London Gatwick Airport

The vending machines selling UK sim cards for tourists can be found at baggage claim in both the South and the North terminal at London Gatwick Airport. These vending machines will obviously give no service apart from detailed information about the available UK sim cards. The vending machine sell the following prepaid UK sim cards: Vodafone, Lyca Mobile, EE and Three.

uk prepaid sim card comparison

There are 6 different UK sim cards available:

Vodafone 20 SLV for £20

  • 200 UK minutes
  • Unlimited UK texts
  • 1GB data UK + extra 4GB
  • Valid 30 days

vodafone sim card london gatwick

As of what I make up out of it, the data package is only valid in the UK. Anyway when you see all the other available UK sim cards at London Gatwick Airport Im sure you will understand that buying a Vodafone UK sim card is not the best option for tourists.

Three All in One Bundle Unlimited for £30

  • Unlimited calls in the UK
  • Unlimited texts in the UK
  • 12GB data
  • Valid for 30 days

uk sim card three

Your data that comes with a Three sim card is valid all over Europe and Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and USA. 

EE National Bundle for £20

  • 150 UK or international minutes to 34 destinations
  • 150 UK texts
  • 10.5GB data
  • Unlimited EE to EE calls and texts
  • Valid for 30 days

ee uk sim card for tourists

EE International Bundle for £25

  • 250 minutes UK or international
  • 500 UK texts
  • 13GB data
  • Unlimited EE to EE calls and texts
  • Valid for 30 days

ee uk sim card for tourists 1

Additional service is that EE is the only mobile internet provider that has a wifi connection at London Underground stations. There is no phone signal in the London tube, but you can connect to EE wifi at stations when you have a EE sim card.

Lyca UK Plan Super for £25

  • 3000 minutes in the UK
  • 100 international minutes to selected countries 
  • 3000 texts in the UK
  • 6GB data
  • Valid for 30 days 

Lyca UK Plan Ultra for £35

  • Unlimited calls in the UK
  • 100 international minutes to selected countries 
  • Unlimited texts in the UK
  • 15GB data
  • Valid for 30 days

prepaid sim card lyca mobile uk

Lyca Mobile uses the network of O2 in the UK.

Best UK sim card for tourists at the London Gatwick vending machine 

Evaluating all the above available UK sim cards in the vending machines at London Gatwick Airport I can easily advice you not to buy a Vodafone UK sim card. To me the best UK sim card at the vending machine is the EE sim card with National Bundle. Don’t be fooled by the name, you can still use the data outside the UK. I don’t really call and text so I would not even use the 150 minutes and 150 texts, but the 10.5GB for just £20 is really good value for money.

In comparison: 1GB data on a Dutch sim card or German sim card for tourists cost approximately €10!

Buying a UK sim card at a WH Smith shop

The WH Smith shops at London Gatwick Airport sell EE, Three and Lebara Mobile sim cards.

They offer a wide range of prepaid UK sim cards for tourists, 7 in total.

prepaid sim cards london gatwick airport

EE sim card

WH Smith shops offer the exact same EE sim cards as the sim card vending machines.

prepaid sim card uk ee

Three sim card 

They also offer 3 different Three UK sim cards for £20, £30 and £45. The packages are slightly different than the prepaid sim card vending machine All of these packages offer you 3000 UK minutes and 3000 UK texts. The difference is the data bundle: 1GB, 12GB and Unlimited data. So for £45 you have unlimited 4G internet for 1 month.

three uk prepaid sim card

The Three sim card at the vending machine gives you unlimited text and calls within the UK, the Three sim card at the WH Smith shop is limited to 3000 minutes and calls, for what it’s worth! ;)

Lebara Mobile UK sim card

Lebara Mobiel £20

  • 500 international minutes to 41 destinations
  • 500 UK minutes
  • 1GB data
  • For £2 extra 200 international minutes

Not the best UK sim card for tourists at all as you can easily call through Whatsapp, Viber, Skype for free nowadays and 1GB data is gone in 1 hour.

prepaid sim card lebara mobile uk

Lebara Mobile £30

  • Unlimited international minutes to 41 destinations
  • Unlimited UK minutes
  • 1000 UK texts
  • 5GB data
  • £5 additional PAYG credit

No clue what exactly PAYG credit means and no one could explain me either. If you have read my Spain sim card, Netherlands sim card or France sim card articles, you would already know that Im not a fan of Lebara Mobile. Their prices are no way near competitive! Lebara Mobile is a hard no-go when you are looking for a European sim card for tourists.

Your best bid for buying a UK sim card for tourists at a WH Smith shop is the same as the vending machine: EE UK sim card!

If you picked up your luggage and walk out of the arrivals there is no way back and you can not buy a sim card at the Gatwick vending machines anymore. No worries the best UK prepaid sim card at London Gatwick is also available the WH Smith shop.

Conclusion: the best UK sim card at London Gatwick Airport is: EE!

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Free shipping on online order

Remember that sim cards for traveling in Europe can also be ordered online and shipped for free to your home address when you click on the link. Find out more about the Orange prepaid sim card with NOW 20GB data. Double data, claim it below, click on the banner.

europe sim card orange 728x90

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How to get from London Gatwick Airport to London City

There are multiple coaches connecting Gatwick Airport with London city, but the best way to travel to London is by train. You can't miss the signs for train station all over Gatwick Airport. They will lead you to the South Terminal. Buy your ticket at one of the vending machines or you wireless payment on your credit card or debit card. If not sure ask one of the helpful staff guiding you in the right direction!

This is the ticket machine for buying tickets from London Gatwick to London city. There are a ton of options, pretty confusing, so I always ask some of the staff to help me.

how to get from gatwick airport to london 3

There are express trains that take you directly to the city and in off-peak hours it will only cost you £8.30 if you buy an Oyster Card or simply tap on with your credit or debit card.

how to get from gatwick airport to london 1

Most of the times Im able to buy a day pass for the London public transport for £17.10, which allows me to take the Underground and busses in London till 04.00am the next morning. Definitely a good ticket to buy when you want to reach the hotel and explore London directly after.

how to get from gatwick airport to london 4

I hope all the above information about buying a sim card at London Gatwick Airport was helpful for you. Let me know if you have any specific question, please leave me a comment below. For more info and a UK sim card comparison, click on the link. In this article I will compare all the available prepaid sim cards you can buy in the mobile internet provider shops around the country.

Enjoy your trip to London!

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