Planning a trip to London and flying to London Gatwick Airport and wondering if you can buy a prepaid sim card on arrival? Avoid high roaming charges and slow overseas data roaming plans. This is a complete guide with everything you need to know about buying a UK sim card at London Gatwick Airport.

Find out where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per January 2024, my recommendation and experiences on arrival, information about international sim cards and the best e-sim cards for the UK.

Getting connected is the first thing I do when arriving in a new country. Finding out where and how is always a little challenge, but mostly I end up buying a local prepaid sim card or I order an e-sim card.

As I am trying to visit every country in the world I constantly fly all around the world in search for new adventures. Since I like to document all my travel tips you can already find more than 200 sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all around the world: New York, Miami, NewarkMexico City, Costa Rica, Bogota, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Europe, DublinBarcelona, Milan, Riyadh, Muscat, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Hong Kong, Bangkok and many more.

Related sim card guide are buying a prepaid sim card for the UK in 2024 and a list of the best e-sim cards for traveling to the UK in 2024.

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

On Traveltomtom you can also find guides for buying a UK sim card at London Stansted and London Luton Airport as well about buying a sim card at London Heathrow and Manchester Airport.

UK sim cards and traveling in Europe in 2024

Since 2017 the EU banned roaming fees within the European Union, but after Brexit the UK is officially not a member of the EU anymore. The UK mobile phone providers changed the EU roaming rules and now charge a daily fee for using your UK sim card in other parts of Europe. Read more about it in my article about the best way to stay connected when traveling to the UK or find out everything about EU roaming and how it works exactly in my guide for buying a local prepaid sim card in Europe on arrival

There are sim cards which you can use in all of the EU including Switzerland, Norway and the UK. Check out my comparison of the best sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2024 and find the one that suits your trip.

My recommendation

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card on the internet over buying a prepaid sim card on arrival at London Gatwick Airport. You can buy physical prepaid sim cards for traveling to the UK from sim card vending machines and from the WH Smith convenience stores.

The best value sim card at London Gatwick Airport gives you only 10 GB data for $25 USD.

If your phone is e-sim compatible then you should get yourself an e-sim card for the UK and for $21 USD you can already get an e-sim card with 20 GB data. Much cheaper than the prepaid sim cards you can buy at London Gatwick Airport.

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for the UK via Nomad, Airalo or SimOptions.

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

Prepaid sim cards for the UK are more expensive at Gatwick Airport than in London city center in a phone store. If you would like to buy a sim card on arrival in the UK and want the best sim card deals then don't buy a sim card at London Gatwick Airport.

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.

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 esim card plans for united kingdom 2024

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 international esim cards for uk 2024

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 EU data-roaming and as well as calling and texting.

Check out the SimOptions international e-sim card plans for 2024:

  • 15 GB data + unlimited calls for 15 days = $21.90 USD
  • 10 GB data (5G ready) + $2 calling credit for 30 days = $24.90 USD 
  • 12 GB data + 30 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $29.90 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD (data-only, no EU roaming)
  • 30 GB data + unlimited calls for 30 days = $44.90 USD
  • 30 GB data + 120 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $49.90 USD
  • 50 GB data (5G ready) + 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.

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.

They 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 or find more info.

London Gatwick Airport

There are 4 airports in London so make sure you are looking at the right airport for buying a UK sim card. London Gatwick Airport is located about 40 minutes South of London. It is mostly European flights that arrive here, but there are also some intercontinental flights arriving at London Gatwick Airport as well. LGW Airport can easily be reached by train from London city center.

South and North Terminal

gatwick airport terminals

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

Where to buy a sim card at London Gatwick Airport

gatwick airport sim card vending machine

Unlike many international airports there are no mobile internet operator stores at London Gatwick Airport. At London Gatwick Airport you can only buy a UK sim card at a vending machine or at one of the WH Smith shops, a convenience store.

gatwick airport sim card

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. The WH Smith stores are also located in both terminals, but in the Arrival Hall and can't be missed!

At the WH Smith shops you can expect some kind of service, however staff is busy selling drinks and snacks to travelers as well, so don't expected to be treated like a king. The sim card vending machines actually gives pretty detailed information about the prepaid UK sim cards they are selling.

There are 5 different mobile internet providers in the UK: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone and Virgin. At London Gatwick Airport they do not sell O2 and Virgin sim cards, but instead they sell Lebara Mobile and Lycamobile sim cards.

Sim card vending machines London Gatwick Airport

uk prepaid sim card comparison

The vending machine sell the following prepaid UK sim cards: Vodafone, Lycamobile, EE and Three.

Vodafone - £20 GBP - $25 USD

vodafone sim card london gatwick

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

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 - £30 GBP - $38 USD

uk sim card three

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

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 - £20 GBP - $25 USD

ee uk sim card for tourists

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

EE - £25 GBP - $32 USD

ee uk sim card for tourists 1

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

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.

Lycamobile - £25 GBP - $32 USD

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

Lycamobile -  £35 GBP - $45 USD

prepaid sim card lyca mobile uk

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

Lycamobile uses the network of O2 in the UK.

Best sim card London Gatwick Vending Machine

Evaluating all the above available UK sim cards from the vending machines 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. I don’t really call or text so I would not even use the 150 minutes and 150 texts, but the 10.5 GB for £20 GBP is good value for money.

Buying a UK sim card at a WH Smith shop

prepaid sim cards london gatwick airport

The WH Smith shops at London Gatwick Airport sell EE, Three and Lebara Mobile sim cards. They offer a wide range of prepaid sim cards for the UK.

EE sim card

prepaid sim card uk ee

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

Three sim card

three uk prepaid sim card

They also offer 3 different Three UK sim cards for £20, £30 and £45 GBP. 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.

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 Mobile - £20 GBP - $25 USD

  • 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 GBP - $38 USD

  • 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.

Best sim card at London Gatwick Airport

The WH Smith shops at London Gatwick Airport sell the same UK sim cards as the sim card vending machines. The conclusion of my comparison is that EE is the best sim card for the UK at London Gatwick Airport in 2024. They offer 10.5 GB data for £20 GBP ($25 USD) and you get 150 minutes and sms to use in all of Europe.

However, you can already buy an e-sim card for the UK with $10 GB data for $22.5 USD. Cheaper and easier to get. You can get this e-sim card for the UK by ordering it on Airalo.

Or what about this e-sim card from Orange?

orange 5g ready esim card for uk 2024

An international e-sim card with 50 GB data for $59.90 USD for all of Europe including unlimited calling and text. You can order this Orange e-sim card via SimOptions.

E-sim cards are the easiest way to get connected when traveling to the UK and therefore Traveltomtom wrote a complete guide with everything you need to know before ordering an e-sim card for the UK in 2024.

Where to stay in London? Check out these amazing cheap Airbnbs in London city center for less than $100 per night. On a trip to Europe? Check out the best sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2024 in this link.

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 39 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.

Also a last reminder that if your phone is e-sim compatible you can order an e-sim card for the UK on the internet and arrange everything within a couple clicks.

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for the UK via either SimOptions, Airalo or Nomad.

For more info about using e-sim cards in the UK check out my complete guide for buying an e-sim card for traveling in the United Kingdom in 2024.

How to get from London Gatwick Airport to London City Center

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 am sure some of the above information about buying a prepaid sim card at London Gatwick Airport was helpful for your upcoming trip to London.

If you have any specific question then please leave me a comment below.

For more detailed info about UK prepaid sim cards check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best UK sim cards for tourists in 2024. Find out which mobile internet provider has the best 4G/5G mobile data network coverage in the UK.

Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.

Enjoy your trip to London!

Some links in this article about the best sim cards at London Gatwick Airport are affiliate links, which means I earn a small percentage in case you decide to purchase something after clicking on an affiliate link. This is at absolutely no extra costs to you!