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Prepaid SIM card for London: Where to Buy in 2024?

Check out our guide to connecting to the internet in London - find out where to buy the best SIM card for the UK.

Leoneska Ruiz

January 1, 2024

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So you’re going to London. Home of the royal family, quirky pubs, and those famous black cabs. To take it all in, there’s one thing you can´t do, don’t have an internet connection. That’s why with a SIM card for London, you’ll be able to use your cell phone during your trip.

Modern travelers rely on a solid internet connection to get by. This is why you need to buy a London SIM card to avoid excessive charges from your telephone company. On the other hand, if you have a phone compatible with the new eSIM technology, you can also buy a virtual SIM card with which you will be communicated even faster.

Let’s find out how you can buy a SIM card or digital SIM card for London and what the best options are.

Virtual SIM card for London

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Where can I buy a SIM card for London?

We have clarified that the best way to stay connected to the internet on your trip is through a prepaid SIM card for London. But if you haven’t traveled lately or you don’t know the city it is normal to have doubts about where to do it. The good news is that as a tourist, you have many options to buy your SIM card for London; you need to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Each option has its clear advantages, and it will almost always depend on when you want to buy your SIM card. In the last few years, a new trend known as embedded SIM card or eSIM has emerged and is here to stay with more advantages than the traditional SIM card.

Tourist in London uses their cell phone. Source: freepik.com

In this article, we will give you information on each option, but generally speaking, travelers visiting London have three ways to buy their SIM card for tourist:

  • You can buy them before arriving in the city. This is thanks to the virtual stores that offer the service with deliveries worldwide. 
  • You can buy them once you are in London. You have to know the local phone companies, go to one of their physical stores and buy your SIM card.  

The last option and solution for many travelers are to buy a virtual SIM card before arriving in London through virtual stores but with immediate delivery no matter where you are.

Buy before you travel.

We already know that the best way to stay connected to the internet in London is through a prepaid SIM card. In turn, for many travelers, the best way to buy one of these SIM cards is before arriving in the city through online stores. There are a lot of options on the web that offer tourist SIM card services for London and other destinations. They also offer international shipping to almost any destination and with a lead time that often depends on the delivery zone. A solution with immediate delivery is the virtual SIM cards, which we will know more about later. 

It is true that on the internet, you can find many options for SIM cards for London, but what should we take into account to choose one? Well, important points such as coverage and connection speed that they offer are fundamental. These remote providers rely on local phone companies to offer you the service, so you should choose one that enjoys the coverage of a good operator in London. It is also important to check if the online store does not have any usage policy that may affect your connection speed.

Last but not least, it is important to confirm if the online store has delivery in your country, what would be the cost of this delivery and what are the available payment methods. After having all this information, you will be ready to buy your SIM card for London and enjoy its benefits.

Pros of buying a data plan for abroad before traveling

These advantages are shared by physical SIM cards and virtual SIM cards. However, the digital options have some more benefits that we will get to know later:

  • Always connected

Buying your SIM card before arriving in London will allow you to activate it as soon as you are in the city, so you will always be connected to the internet. This is ideal for keeping in touch with those close to you, requesting a location, or even finding a means of transport.

  • More time to enjoy

You can complete the task of sorting out your internet connection in London before you arrive. This way, you won’t waste time looking for physical stores to buy your prepaid SIM card once you are in the city.

  • More plans for tourist

It is very common that online stores have more options for plans for tourists than local operators. So there are options for short, long, and medium stays.

Buy your tourist SIM card in London.

Before the virtual stores took part in the telecommunications market, the traditional way to have a SIM card for tourists in London was through a local operator. These companies within their services offer packages aimed at tourists, just locate a physical store and request your SIM card. It is important to mention that in this way, it will always be necessary to register your chip as indicated in the internal policies. This process, besides requesting an identification document, can take time. With this in mind, we will be talking about the operators that offer services for tourists in London.

Vodafone UK

This company, with a presence in several European countries, also has operations in the UK and coverage in London. Vodafone prepaid SIM card for London has five plan options available for tourists. These data packages range from 7GB to 100GB, and even a final but more expensive unlimited data option. In all versions, the plans include unlimited messages and minutes to local numbers. The duration of the packages is 30 days with an automatic renewal option. In case of no credit for ninety days in a row, the SIM card will be suspended. You can find a map of London’s physical stores on their website to locate them more quickly.

Three 

This UK-based company has excellent coverage in London and SIM card options for tourists. Three SIM card has a Pay-as-you-go format with options of 10GB, 50GB, 100GB, and a final package with unlimited data. Along with the data, you will have unlimited calls and messages to local numbers and the option to roam in other European countries for an additional daily fee. The duration of the plans is 30 days, and you can renew it as long as you have enough credit. These SIM cards, in addition to being available in physical stores in the city, are available at Amazon UK with local home delivery.

O2

Another option to buy a local SIM card for London is through O2. This phone company offers plans known as rolling plans with options from 10GB to 150GB to be used in 30 days. In case you do not use up the data and renew the plan, the data will be available in the next period. In addition to the data, you can enjoy unlimited calls and messages to local numbers. O2 offers the option to associate the payment of your plan to a credit or debit card so that the debit and renewal will be done automatically. In case of no credit within six months, the SIM card will be suspended.

How much does a prepaid SIM card for internet in London cost?

The local UK phone companies are well established in London, so you will be able to find a physical store not far from you. All options have similar prices for each of the data quantities. The choice of which one to select may be more about ease of purchase and proximity to your location. You can expect to pay between $15 and $50 for a local SIM card for London. The more data the plan offers, the more expensive it will be. As you will also notice, all plans are for 30 days, so if your stay is shorter, you will be paying more for a service that you will not fully use.

For this reason, we will introduce you to an excellent alternative known as a virtual SIM card or just eSIM. Online stores like Holafly offer this type of virtual SIM card for London and many other destinations, with plans adjusted to any type of stay.

eSIM card for London, the future of SIM cards

london esim
Holafly virtual card rates for London. Source: Holafly

Telecommunication is advancing faster and faster, and the latest evolution that has arrived is the embedded SIM card or eSIM. These are completely digital versions of the physical SIM cards that you have been using for years. They bring with them, in addition to all the features of the physical versions, the possibility of getting into your hands faster.

An example of this is the Holafly eSIM for London, with which you can be connected only after a few clicks. Being digital, online stores like Holalfy can sell and deliver them anywhere in the world and instantly. In addition to having coverage available in more destinations around the world.

Along with what we have already mentioned below, we will give you some of its advantages and disadvantages so that you know in depth about the new trend in telecommunication.

Advantages and disadvantages of virtual SIM cards

Advantages:

  • Purchase and activation in minutes

It is very easy to buy them; just visit the Holafly website, select your destination and plan, then proceed with the purchase, and that’s it. The eSIM being digital will be sent immediately to your email from which you can activate it.

  • Unlimited data is yours.

All plans available for London also offer unlimited data within the period of use. You will never stop communicating with the Holafly eSIM card for London. And if you are visiting other places, the European eSIM will work for you!

  • Top up at your fingertips.

If your stay in London extends a little longer, with Holalfy’s eSIM UK, you can top up your service. It is as easy as entering the store and selecting another plan for the same destination. This will be automatically activated on your eSIM card.

  • Customer service every day 

Holafly eSIM users recommend customer service. Available 24 hours a day every day in more than five languages and several communication channels to solve any situation from the smallest to the most complex.

Disadvantages 

  • You must confirm the compatibility. 

Please note that unless your phone is eSIM compatible, you will not be able to use eSIM. It is more common in the latest generation phones. If you are not sure if yours has it, you can check Holafly’s list of compatible phones.

How much does the eSIM for London cost?

Let’s take a look at the different eSIM plans offered by Holafly.

Days of useData PlansPrice (USD)
5 daysUnlimited data$19
7 daysUnlimited data$27
10 daysUnlimited data$34
15 daysUnlimited data$47
20 daysUnlimited data$54
30 daysUnlimited data$64
60 daysUnlimited data$84
90 daysUnlimited data$99
Table 1. eSIM Card rates with data for London from Holafly.

Frequently asked questions about London SIM cards

How else can I connect to the internet in London?

You can activate data roaming and use data from your current provider. But this will be very expensive. If you plan on using this option, you can expect a hefty phone bill when you return home. Alternatively, you could buy Pocket Wi-Fi (a portable device that generates WiFi for your phone). This option is also expensive, and you’ll have to carry the device everywhere. A physical or virtual SIM card for London is the cheapest and most convenient way of connecting to the internet.

How much does data roaming cost in London?

The cost of data roaming depends on the provider, but you can expect to pay between $7 – $15. So if you watched a movie on Netflix, it could cost you hundreds. That’s why we recommend a London SIM card.

What if my SIM card doesn’t work?

If you buy your virtual SIM card from Holafly, you can contact their customer support team 24/7. All SIM cards come with set-up instructions.

Will my phone work in London?

In order for your mobile phone to work in London, you must make sure that it has unlocked bands. That way, you will be able to connect to the internet through local operators in London.

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