5 Best Roaming SIM Cards | For International Travel | UK

Wondering which SIM card to buy for international travel?

In this article, we’ve compared the roaming charges and policies of every major UK mobile network, including resellers, and picked out the best ones.

We’ve also explained how roaming rules and charges work more broadly, to help you find the right SIM deal to use overseas.

Roaming SIM policy summary

Below, you’ll find a summary of the roaming policies of each major UK mobile network and virtual network operator.

Or, jump to our summary of the best SIMs for international roaming.

ProviderRoaming policy detailsEU roaming, PAYMInternational roaming, PAYMEU roaming, PAYGInternational roaming, PAYG
O2Check on O2Inclusive in 49 countries/territories, up to a 25GB fair usage limitInclusive in 27 countries/territories

Some other countries: O2 Travel Bolt On, £6 a day, gives you UK allowance
Inclusive in 49 countries/territories£1.99 per day up to 100MB in Monaco, Jersey, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Switzerland
EECheck on EEInclusive in 47 countries/territories if you have a roaming Smart Benefit or Roam Abroad add-on (£10 per month), or £2 a day otherwise, up to a 50GB fair usage limitInclusive in 5 countries/territories, if you have a roaming Smart Benefit, Max plan, or Roam Abroad add-on (£10 per month), up to a 50GB fair usage limit

Other countries: £6.85 a day for 150MB
£2 a day in 47 countries/territories, up to a 25GB fair usage limitPay for usage
VodafoneCheck on VodafoneInclusive in Ireland and Isle of Man, £2 a day or inclusive on certain Xtra Airtime Plans to 49 countries up to a 25GB fair usage limitInclusive in 32 countries on Unlimited data Xtra Airtime Plans, or £6 per day up to a 25GB fair usage limit

£6 per day in 73 other countries up to a 25GB fair usage limit
Inclusive in Ireland and Isle of Man, £5 for 8 days in 49 countries up to 3GB£8 for 8 days in 73 countries/territories, up to 2GB, or £25 for 15 days up to 4GB
ThreeCheck on Three£2 per day in 49 countries/territories, up to 12GB fair usage limit£5 per day in 22 countries/territories, up to 12GB fair usage limitInclusive in 49 countries/territories, up to 12GB fair usage limit£5 per day in 22 countries/territories, up to 12GB fair usage limit
BTCheck on BTInclusive in 47 countries/territories, up to a 50GB fair usage limit£6 per day up to 500MB in 12 countries/territoriesInclusive in 47 countries/territories, up to a 50GB fair usage limit£6 per day up to 500MB in 12 countries
VOXICheck on VOXI£1 per day in 50 countries/territories (in blocks of 1, 2, 8 or 15 days) up to 20GB fair usage limit£15 for 8 days in 73 countries/territories up to 2GB, or £25 for 15 days up to 4GB£1 per day in 50 countries/territories (in blocks of 1, 2, 8 or 15 days) up to 20GB fair usage limit£15 for 8 days in 73 countries/territories up to 2GB, or £25 for 15 days up to 4GB
ID MobileCheck on iD MobileInclusive in 50 countries/territories, up to a fair usage limit depending on your planPay for usageInclusive in 50 countries/territories, up to a fair usage limit depending on your planPay for usage
GiffGaffCheck on GiffGaffInclusive in 37 countries/territories, up to a 5GB fair usage limitPay for usageInclusive in 37 countries/territories, up to a 5GB fair usage limitPay for usage
LebaraCheck on LebaraInclusive in 40 countries/territories up to a 30GB fair usage limitInclusive in India up to a 10GB fair usage limit, pay for usage elsewhereInclusive in 40 countries/territories up to a 30GB fair usage limitInclusive in India up to a 10GB fair usage limit, pay for usage elsewhere
Tesco MobileCheck on Tesco MobileInclusive in 48 countries/territories, until January 2023 when you’ll pay per MBPay for usageInclusive in 48 countries/territories, until January 2023 when you’ll pay per MBPay for usage
SmartyCheck on VodafoneInclusive in 34 countries/territories, up to a 12GB fair usage limitBuy an add-on and then pay for usageInclusive in 34 countries/territories, up to a 12GB fair usage limitBuy an add-on and then pay per MB
Sky MobileCheck on SkyInclusive in the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man, £2 per day in 40 countries£2 per day in 15 countriesInclusive in the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man, £2 per day in 40 countries£2 per day in 15 countries
PlusnetCheck on PlusnetInclusive in 52 countries/territoriesPay for usageInclusive in 52 countries/territoriesPay for usage
Asda MobileCheck on Asda MobileInclusive in 37 countries/territories, up to a 25GB fair usage limitPay for usageInclusive in 37 countries/territories, up to a 25GB fair usage limitPay for usage
TalkmobileCheck on TalkMobileInclusive in 36 countries/territories, up to a 15GB fair usage limitInclusive in 5 countries/territories, up to a 15GB fair usage limitInclusive in 36 countries/territories, up to a 15GB fair usage limitInclusive in 5 countries/territories, up to a 15GB fair usage limit

Best SIM cards for roaming

Roaming SIM cards.

Let’s begin our reviews.

From the table above, here are the five best roaming SIM card providers, and what makes them stand out.

1. BT SIM Only Deals

If you’re buying a SIM card to use in the UK and travel in Europe, BT is the best choice with their Roam Like Home scheme.

They offer inclusive roaming in 47 European countries and territories, with no daily roaming charge, and quite a generous 50GB fair usage limit. You can also use your calls and texts allowance just like you can in the UK.

Most other mobile networks charge you at least £2 per day to roam in the EU, and many also limit you to just 20-25GB of your data allowance as well. But with all BT SIM plans, you can use up to 50GB in the EU, as long as your SIM’s monthly data allowance is at least this high.

Beyond Europe, BT gives you the option of buying a £6 daily roaming pass, which gives you 500MB of data in 12 popular travel destinations, including Australia, India, the UAE, and the USA. However, it doesn’t give you the ability to make calls or send texts without paying extra.

Overall, if you mostly travel in Europe, with the occasional trip further afield, BT’s SIM cards are a great choice for roaming.

The other good thing about BT is they use the EE mobile network. This means that when you’re in the UK, you have access to the best network in the country.

Image

BT ISP logo.

Pros

  • Inclusive EU roaming.
  • High 50GB monthly fair usage limit.
  • Can also roam in other countries.
  • Uses the EE mobile network in the UK.
  • Cons

  • Only 12 countries are covered beyond Europe, and you’ll need to pay £6 to roam in these destinations.
  • Overall value rating

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    2. O2 SIM Only Deals

    Like BT, O2 also has a very comprehensive EU roaming scheme. You can use your allowance, including data, calls and texts in 49 countries free of charge, albeit with a 25GB fair usage limit on your data.

    The place where O2 really stands out though is their roaming beyond Europe. They offer inclusive roaming in 27 other countries, which is more than nearly any other mobile network, with no fair usage limit.

    Also, O2 has quite a useful “Travel Bolt On”, which unlocks your UK data allowance in a number of other countries for £6 per day.

    This isn’t cheap, but if you’re spending a short time in a country not normally covered under any inclusive roaming schemes, it can be quite useful to help you avoid having to pay per megabyte of data used.

    The other good thing about O2 is they also include inclusive EU roaming for pay as you go SIM customers, once again in 49 different destinations. In non-European countries though, pay as you go customers are quite limited – you need to pay for usage, or you can spend £1.99 for 100MB in certain European destinations, like Monaco.

    Another slight downside to O2 roaming: you can’t use tethering or your hotspot when overseas. This isn’t the case with EE, Three, or Vodafone.

    Image

    O2 logo.

    Pros

  • Can roam for free in 49 European countries.
  • 25GB monthly fair usage limit on EU roaming is quite good compared to some other networks.
  • Can also roam in 27 non-European countries, including New Zealand and Mexico, with no fair usage limit.
  • £6 per day allows you to unlock your allowance in less common destinations.
  • Cons

  • Can’t use tethering when overseas.
  • Overall value rating

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    3. Vodafone SIM Only Deals

    Vodafone is the best choice if you want inclusive roaming beyond Europe on a pay monthly SIM plan.

    There is a 25GB fair usage limit, but with an Xtra Airtime SIM, you get inclusive roaming in 49 European countries, plus 32 other non-European destinations – much more than any of the other major networks offer.

    Beyond these 81 countries, you can also roam in 73 other nations for £6 per day, again up to a 25GB limit. The number of different countries Vodafone allows you to roam in, without having to worry about huge extra charges, is quite good.

    The downside is that Vodafone’s pay monthly SIMs with roaming benefits are quite expensive. You have to be careful to pick the right one, because these roaming benefits are only available with certain Xtra SIM plans – at the moment, it’s just the unlimited data ones with four Xtra benefits included that give you roaming in the full range of countries.

    Also, Vodafone roaming isn’t great for pay as you go customers. You basically need to pay between 50p to a pound per day for 3-4GB of data usage, charged over the course of a week or so, except in Ireland and the Isle of Man.

    Image

    Vodafone logo.

    Pros

  • Certain SIM plans give you inclusive roaming in 49 EU countries, plus 32 other destinations.
  • Can also roam in 73 other countries with a daily charge.
  • 25GB monthly fair usage limit on your data is quite high.
  • Cons

  • Roaming is only available on certain, quite expensive pay monthly SIM deals.
  • Overall value rating

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    4. Lebara SIM Only Deals

    Lebara is a great choice for roaming in India, and a good choice for roaming in the EU.

    You get free roaming in 40 EU countries, up to a 30GB fair usage data limit, which is quite good. And in India, you can use up to 10GB of your allowance each month, free of charge, plus make calls and send text messages.

    This roaming arrangement is available for pay as you go customers, making Lebara quite a good choice if you frequently travel to India or the EU and need a SIM only deal.

    The other good thing about Lebara is their SIM only plans are great value for money. They offer 5G speeds, as well as high data limits for a reasonable monthly cost.

    However, in other countries, you probably wouldn’t want to roam with Lebara. You’ll need to pay per megabyte of data used, and you’ll likely be charged per call made and text message sent as well.

    Image

    Lebara logo.

    Pros

  • Good value for money SIM plans.
  • Inclusive roaming in 40 EU countries, plus India.
  • 30GB fair usage limit in Europe.
  • No contracts on their SIM plans.
  • Cons

  • 10GB monthly data usage limit in India.
  • Have to pay extra for usage when roaming in most non-EU countries.
  • Overall value rating

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    5. EE SIM Only Deals

    We used to recommend EE much more highly for roaming, but don’t so much anymore since they’ve introduced daily roaming charges for many customers. However, they’re still a good choice in some situations.

    The great thing about EE is their flexibility. Basically, with some of their more expensive pay monthly SIMs, you get a certain allocation of “Smart Benefits”, which you can change as much as you want. When you want to roam, you can choose a roaming Smart Benefit.

    With a roaming Smart Benefit enabled, you get inclusive roaming in 47 European countries, as well as five other common international destinations. You can use your calls/texts and up to 50GB of data per month, which is quite high.

    Without a Smart Benefit, you can also pay £2 per day to roam, including as a pay as you go customer. This is quite good – most other networks charge about £5-£6 per day for the same thing.

    The downside to EE is beyond Europe, and not including the five other countries they cover, you’ll need to pay £6.85 per day for just 150MB of data.

    Image

    EE logo.

    Pros

  • Smart Benefits are quite good, in that you can just activate them when roaming.
  • Allows you to use your calls, texts and data allowance in 47 EU nations, and five other countries.
  • High 50GB fair usage limit.
  • Only £2 per day to roam if you don’t have a Smart Benefit.
  • Cons

  • In most countries outside of Europe, you’ll need to pay nearly £7 per day for just 150MB of data.
  • Smart Benefits are only available with EE’s more expensive pay monthly SIMs.
  • Overall value rating

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐


    How to choose a SIM card for roaming

    Mobile SIM cards.

    In this part of the article, we’ve explained some key things to consider when choosing a SIM card to travel with overseas.

    How does roaming work with UK mobile networks?

    Roaming refers to when your mobile phone connects to a mobile network in a foreign country.

    When you roam, you might be able to use your data and calls/texts allowance that you have at home in the UK. Or, you might be charged per megabyte of data used, per text sent, and per minute spent on the phone, depending on your network, your SIM plan, and the country you’re visiting.

    Even if your network allows you to use your allowance, they might restrict you in two ways:

    1. By forcing you to pay a daily or monthly roaming charge, in order to use your allowance overseas.
    2. By adding a “fair usage” limit, restricting the amount of your data allowance you can use internationally.

    This is why it’s important to choose your SIM card carefully, before travelling overseas.

    How has roaming changed with Brexit?

    International mobile roaming graphic.

    Post-Brexit, from January 2022 many UK mobile carriers have changed how their roaming in the EU works.

    Before, most networks allowed you to use your UK allowance free of charge in nearly all European countries. However, since Brexit, this is no longer the case.

    Many mobile carriers have introduced daily roaming charges for customers roaming in Europe, and others have introduced stricter limits on how much of your data you can use overseas.

    It’s still perfectly possible to travel Europe on a UK SIM and access your allowance, without worrying about paying huge excess usage charges. However, you need to be careful to use the right SIM, otherwise you might find yourself having to pay a daily charge, or hitting a fair usage cap.

    What are roaming fair usage limits?

    Most UK mobile networks have what they call “fair usage” limits for customers who roam.

    These fair usage limits usually do two things:

    1. They limit the amount of data you can use overseas. If you have a SIM card with a 50GB monthly data limit in the UK, you might only be allowed to use 25GB of data per month overseas. Most often, this limit is the same across all SIM plans a provider offers, no matter how much data you have, however some networks have different international usage limits depending on your monthly data allowance.
    2. They restrict the amount of time you can spend roaming overseas. This is designed to prevent you from living in another country for an extended period with your UK SIM card. For example, with EE, you must spend at least two months in any four-month period in the UK, otherwise they will contact you and ask for proof that you continue to have a “stable link” as they call it to the UK.

    These fair usage limits, especially around data, can sometimes be quite restrictive. For example, you might only be allowed to use 10GB of data per month overseas, with some providers. This is why it’s important to review the fair usage policies prior to buying a new SIM card for roaming internationally.

    What’s the best SIM for EU travel?

    Greece holiday destination.

    The best SIM provider for EU travel is BT at the moment, for the following reasons:

    • They include roaming in 47 countries and territories in Europe.
    • They have a very high 50GB data limit when roaming.
    • There are no daily usage charges or other fees, as long as you don’t go over your allowance or the 50GB data roaming limit.

    What’s the best SIM for travelling beyond Europe?

    For travel to Asia, America, and Oceania, Vodafone is a great choice, as long as you don’t mind entering into a pay monthly SIM contract.

    They allow you to roam in 32 non-European countries, including Canada, Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, and the USA, with quite a good 25GB fair usage limit. However, you’ll need to buy one of their most expensive unlimited data SIM plans to get this inclusive worldwide roaming.

    O2 is another good choice, as they offer free roaming in 27 countries outside of Europe, with no fair usage limits on your data.

    For roaming in India, Lebara is a great option, as long as you don’t need to use huge amounts of data. They give you up to 10GB of data per month in the country, which is quite good considering how cheap their SIM deals are.

    How do calls and texts work when roaming?

    Woman making a phone call.

    Most of the time, if you’re in an inclusive roaming destination with your network, you’ll have access to your full calls and texts allowance, just like at home.

    As a general rule, you’ll be able to call and text UK numbers, as well as numbers in the country you’re visiting. However, it’s worth checking this as it varies from network to network, and country to country.

    If you’re not in an inclusive roaming zone, you’ll pay per minute spent on the phone, and per text message sent. This can get very expensive very quickly, so it’s important to check your network’s roaming policies before travelling internationally and making calls or sending texts.

    Will I get 4G or 5G speeds when roaming?

    Most of the time, you’ll only get 4G or even 3G speeds when roaming.

    Some networks, like O2, don’t offer 5G roaming at all. However, other carriers, like Vodafone, offer 5G in certain countries, especially in Europe.

    The mobile data speeds you’ll get when roaming also depend on exactly where you’re travelling. In major cities, you might get 5G, however in locations like the Canary Islands, it’s less likely.

    If your network offers 5G roaming, there’s normally no extra cost to access these faster speeds.

    Can you do data tethering or use your phone as a hotspot when roaming?

    Woman setting up a mobile hotspot on her phone.

    Whether or not you can share your phone’s data when overseas, such as using tethering or your mobile hotspot, depends on the mobile network you’re using.

    With EE, Three Go Roam in Europe, and Vodafone, you can use tethering when overseas, but with O2, you can’t. With the smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) such as GiffGaff and iD Mobile, it varies from provider to provider, so you should check with them before travelling.

    Conclusion

    This is the end of our guide to the best SIM cards for international roaming.

    Remember, the best SIM for travelling mostly depends on where you plan to visit.

    For travelling in the EU, a basic SIM card with inclusive EU roaming, like what BT offers, is normally the best option. However, to roam further afield, you might need to invest in a more expensive SIM from O2 or Vodafone to get inclusive roaming in other destinations.

    if you’re still not sure which SIM card to buy, feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

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    8 thoughts on “5 Best Roaming SIM Cards | For International Travel | UK”

      • Thanks for sharing this Graham, that is quite sneaky of them. We will have a look and see if there is a better choice to potentially replace Virgin Media PAYM in this article.

        Reply
      • We have checked this again and it appears to still be 50GB, as far as we are aware. May I ask where you have seen 15GB?

        Reply
    1. ID Mobile appear to still support inclusive EU roaming. They tend to have some decent priced tariffs generally. They piggyback Three and generally seem to offer similar packages. I personally switched to using three, but I may consider them again when my term is up, especially if they keep the EU roaming.

      Reply
      • iD Mobile is another good option. The fair usage limit tends to be a bit lower than with VOXI, however (it depends on how much you pay per month). They also don’t seem to have any roaming packages for those travelling beyond the EU.

        Reply
      • Hi, O2 will have you covered in Turkey and the UAE with their travel bolt on, or you could pay £6 per day with Vodafone to use your allowance in all three countries. There aren’t really any providers that will offer free roaming in all three of those countries unfortunately.

        Thanks

        Reply

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