A UK sim card is essential for anyone visiting the UK. It means that you can make phone calls and access mobile data for the same price as someone living the United Kingdom as opposed to the more expensive roaming rates you would be charged if you kept your regular sim card in your phone.
You have a choice of a SIM card pre-activated on your choice of two different O2 Big Bundle tariffs. The best option will depend on the type of calls you plan on making and how much data access you need. Both of these O2 prepaid tariffs offer low-cost roaming when used in other European Union countries (although this may change if you’re travelling after 31 December 2020). Overall an O2 SIM card on one of the Big Bundle plans is an excellent choice if you’re visiting the UK and making side trips to Europe.
These O2 UK sim cards feature:
- A UK mobile phone number (your UK number is printed on the sim card packaging so you can give your number out to friends and family before you travel)
- Cheap European roaming (you can use your data allowance and you have calls to European numbers when travelling in many other European countries)
- Unlimited call minutes to phones in the UK when using your sim card in the UK
- Unlimited text minutes to UK mobile phones when using your sim card in the UK
- Free incoming calls (regardless of where the call originates)
- An allowance of high-speed 4G data that you can use in both the UK and many other European countries
- Tethering is supported in the UK (you can use your phone as a mobile hotspot)
- The price of this sim card includes free delivery in Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Singapore so you can get your sim card before you leave home
Call and data charges when using this sim card in the UK
Your O2 UK sim card comes preloaded with a bundle of calls and data, which makes it a great value option if you’re visiting the UK.
You have a choice of two tariffs:
- The £15 Big Bundle tariff is the best option for people who will mostly be making local calls (including calls to other people also travelling with an O2 UK SIM card) but need data for maps, social media and translation apps and who also need to use their phone when travelling in other European Union countries.
- The £30 Big Bundle tariff is the best option if you need a lot of data (20GB to use in the UK) but also need to make both local and international calls and who also need to use their phone when travelling in other European Union countries.
Here is an overview of the two plans you can choose from:
|Plan||£15 Big Bundle||£30 Big Bundle|
|Cost of sim card (including first month of service)||$45||$75|
|Inclusive UK call minutes||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Inclusive UK text messages||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Call Australian landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|Call Australian mobile||£1.50/minute||12p/minute|
|International text message||25p/message||15p/message|
|Cost to continue your service for another month||£15||£30|
* Note: these two plans do not include international calls in your call allowance and you need to add additional credit to make international calls. If you need to make international calls, the O2 UK sim card with international calls will probably be a better option for you.
The above call and data rates apply when using your phone in the United Kingdom. Different rates apply when using it outside the UK.
Your mobile service renews on the same date each month. For instance, if you start using your service on 23 January, your next month will start on 23 February. This means that it is slightly better value in October compared with February.
This sim card includes unlimited UK calls and text messages
O2’s Big Bundle Bundle tariffs include unlimited call minutes and unlimited text messages to UK numbers. This included value can be used for:
- Calls to standard UK landline and mobile numbers. This includes calls to UK numbers starting with 01, 02, 03 and 07 but it does not include calls to premium numbers nor does it include calls to numbers in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (which are international calls even though they share the same +44 country code as the United Kingdom).
- Text messages to UK mobile numbers (when using your phone on the O2 network in the United Kingdom). It does not include text messages to phones in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (which are charged as international text messages even though they share the same +44 country code as the United Kingdom).
Calls to premium service numbers
Your inclusive call value is good for calls to standard landline and mobile numbers in the United Kingdom. This is any UK number beginning in 01, 02, 03 and 07* as well as 0800 and 0808 (freephone) numbers but it does not include non-geographic service numbers and other premium numbers.
Numbers starting with 08 (except 0800 and 0808 freephone numbers), 09 and 118 are charged at a higher rate than regular phone numbers. Numbers beginning with 08 are a little bit like 1300 numbers in Australia where a lot of people think that they are free but they are actually considerably more expensive than standard phone calls.
These numbers are charged in two parts: the access charge (which goes to O2) and the service charge (which usually goes to the company you are calling but sometimes goes to the company they got the premium number from). O2’s access charge is 55p/minute and the service charge varies from nothing to 13p per minute bringing the maximum charge to call these numbers to 68p.
|Calls to numbers starting with 0843||55–62p/minute|
|Calls to numbers starting with 0844||55–62p/minute|
|Calls to numbers starting with 0845||55–62p/minute|
|Calls to numbers starting with 087||55–68p/minute|
|Calls to Ryanair, Travelodge and Premier Inn (0871 numbers)||68p/minute|
Many service numbers are used by companies that need a non-geographic number that is not tied to a specific area so they can advertise one number nationwide that is diverted to the branch closest to the customer but some of these numbers are used by companies that simply want to either avoid talking to their customers or make a little more profit from each inbound phone call.
Numbers beginning with 03 are similar to 08 numbers in that they are non-geographic numbers but these are the same price as a regular phone call and you can call these for free using your 1000 inclusive call minutes. Some companies serving tourists (for instance easyJet and the YHA) have transitioned to 03 numbers to make it easier and cheaper for their customers to call them but other companies (like Ryanair, Premier Inn and Travelodge) still use expensive 0871 phone numbers.
*Numbers beginning in 070 have a much higher charge than regular mobile numbers as do mobile numbers in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (which look similar to UK mobile numbers). It is unlikely that you will call one of these numbers but if you get a message saying that you don’t have enough credit to call a number starting with 07, that would be the reason.
Calls to other UK numbers
Several other UK phone numbers are priced differently to standard phone calls. These include:
|101||Police (non-emergency)||15p per call|
You will need extra credit in your prepaid balance to dial 101 (the non-emergency police number).
International call charges when using the O2 sim card in the UK
If you are on the £30 Big Bundle tariff, international call charges are discounted when using the O2 SIM card in the UK, but these discounted call rates do not apply when roaming on other networks elsewhere in Europe. As international calls are not included in your inclusive call bundle you will have to top up extra credit so you have a sufficient balance in your prepaid account to cover the cost of these calls.
|£15 Big Bundle||£30 Big Bundle|
|New Caledonia (landline)||£1.50/minute||21p/minute|
|New Caledonia (mobile)||£1.50/minute||23p/minute|
|New Zealand (landline)||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|New Zealand (mobile)||£1.50/minute||10p/minute|
|South Africa (landline)||£1.50/minute||10p/minute|
|South Africa (mobile)||£1.50/minute||12p/minute|
If you are on the £15 Big Bundle plan (or are travelling outside the UK on the £30 Big Bundle plan) then we recommend using an app such as Facetime, Localphone, Rebtel, Skype or Viber for all your international calls. If you have credit on a Rebtel or Skype account, you are able to call any phone (not just other Rebtel or Skype users) at low rates.
The cost of international text messages varies depending on which country you are sending a text message to. The charges for international text messages are:
|Text message to countries in the European Union||6p/message|
|Text message to Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man||20p/message|
|Text message to all other countries (£15 Big Bundle plan)||25p/message|
|Text message to all other countries (£30 Big Bundle plan)||15p/message|
You can avoid these charges by using iMessage (when sending a message from one iPhone to another) or by using an app such as Telegram or What’s App!
O2’s UK coverage
Compared with other networks, O2 has excellent coverage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
O2 advertises 99% coverage, which is slightly higher than other UK networks and it won the uSwitch Best Network Coverage award in 2019. Since 2013, O2 has been investing over £2 per day on improving its network coverage and in the 2018 Ofcom Spectrum auction, they ended up with more spectrum than any other UK network. The frequency that O2 operates on also means that it generally has better indoor coverage than other UK mobile networks.
Basically, this means that your sim card will work in most parts of the United Kingdom, including the Scottish Highlands and islands. However, 99% still isn’t perfect and coverage in rural areas is never as good as what we’re used to in Australia (if you’re an Optus or Telstra customer, then virtually nowhere else in the world offers rural coverage as good as what you’re used to at home). All networks in the UK do have some areas where coverage is a little patchy, particularly in rural areas. If you will be visiting rural areas you should check your coverage here.
Using your O2 sim card outside the UK in Europe zone countries
You can use your inclusive call and data allowance when travelling in other European Union countries, making an O2 UK sim card an ideal sim card for use when travelling elsewhere in Europe. However, there are some conditions.
With the O2 UK SIM card, you can use your inclusive calls and data in the following countries (Europe zone countries): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Martinique, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthelemy (St Barts), St Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
This covers all European Union countries plus Iceland and Norway and French territories in the Caribbean and South America. However, it does not include other European countries including Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), Georgia, the Isle of Man, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Cyprus, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine.
The included value you can use when roaming in Europe outside the United Kingdom will depend on which tariff your O2 UK SIM card is set up on. Generally, the Big Bundle plans are great value for roaming outside the UK as they include a bundle of calls and data that work throughout the European Union.
When using your O2 SIM card in the above Europe zone countries outside the United Kingdom, your tariff’s inclusive value includes:
- Unlimited call minutes to standard landline and mobile phones in the UK and to other countries within the Europe zone
- Free incoming calls (regardless of where the call originates)
- Unlimited text messages to mobile numbers in the UK and to mobile phones within the Europe zone
- High-speed 4G data (8GB data if you’re on the £15 Big Bundle plan and 10GB data if you’re on the £30 Big Bundle plan).
However, international calls to countries outside Europe are much more expensive when using your phone outside the United Kingdom in Europe zone countries. If you need to make an international call (to someone outside the Europe zone) then you should use an app such as FaceTime, Rebtel, Skype or Viber. You can call regular phones with Skype (not just other Skype users) as long as you have credit on a Skype account.
These cheap European roaming rates are a result of a European Union regulation that requires that EU mobile companies do not charge high roaming fees when their customers travel in other EU countries and there is a chance that these cheap European roaming rates may be discontinued when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
Brexit is scheduled for 31 January 2020, however, the transition period will last until 31 December 2020, which means that the cheap European roaming rates listed here should remain in place until the end of December 2020.
O2 have stated that they have no plans to increase roaming charges after Brexit, but it is impossible to be certain of this and there is always a small chance that roaming fees may increase in 2021 if European mobile networks decide to charge higher roaming fees to UK networks.
European roaming charges on the Big Bundle tariff
O2’s Big Bundle tariffs are a great option if you’re travelling in Europe after visiting the United Kingdom. With this tariff, you can use your included call and data bundle (up to a maximum of 10GB per month) when travelling in Europe zone countries.
|£15 Big Bundle||£30 Big Bundle|
|Use in UK||European roaming||Use in UK||European roaming|
|Calls||Unlimited call minutes||Unlimited call minutes|
|(to UK numbers only)||(to Europe zone)||(to UK numbers only)||(to Europe zone)|
|Text messages||Unlimited text messages||Unlimited text messages|
|(to UK numbers only)||(to Europe zone)||(to UK numbers only)||(to Europe zone)|
|Data||6GB data in the UK and Europe||20GB data||10GB data|
The Big Bundle plans give you a monthly call and data allowance. The total call and data allowance is for use in both the UK and when roaming in Europe zone countries, however, the way that the calls and data can be used varies depending on whether you are using your phone in the United Kingdom or when roaming in Europe zone countries. For instance, if you are on the £30 Big Bundle plan you unlimited call minutes during the one-month validity of your plan, in the UK this call allowance can only be used for calls to UK numbers, but when travelling in Europe zone countries it can be used for local calls, calls to the UK and calls to other Europe zone countries.
The inclusive data allowance in your O2 tariff can be used when roaming in Europe zone countries up to a maximum of 10GB in a one-month period. This means that you can use the maximum data allowance if you are on the £15 Big Bundle tariff, but only 10GB of your 20GB data allowance if you are on the £30 Big Bundle tariff.
O2’s European roaming is a great deal, but there are some terms and conditions:
- Your first use of the O2 sim card must occur on O2’s network in the United Kingdom
- You cannot use the sim roaming in Europe (outside the UK) for longer than 60 days in any four-month period
- You cannot use more than 10GB data roaming in Europe (outside the UK) during a 30-day period. This means that if you are on a Big Bundle package with more than 10GB data (such as the £30 Big Bundle plan with 20GB data), then you are restricted to using only 10GB data when roaming in Europe outside the UK (although you can use the rest of the 20GB data package in the UK).
- Data roaming must be enabled on your phone in order to access data when travelling outside the UK.
- There is a small chance that these cheap European roaming rates may be discontinued when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
Cheaper calls to countries outside Europe when travelling outside the UK
Calls made within the European Union (for instance calls made from France to Spain) are cheap (you can use your included minutes for these calls), but calls made to non-EU countries while roaming within the EU (for instance calls made from France to Australia) are considerably more expensive (calls to Australia cost £1.99/minute, regardless of which O2 tariff you have). Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to make cheaper calls home when travelling outside the United Kingdom.
Apps such as Facetime, Localphone, Rebtel, Skype or Viber all give you cheap (and in some instances, free) calls home to Australia. Because these apps use a lot of data it is best to use them when you have a Wi-Fi connection. These apps can also be used when you’re in the UK, especially if you have the £15 Big Bundle package which does not include discounted international calls.
We recommend adding credit to either a Rebtel or Skype account. If you have credit on a Rebtel or Skype account you are able to call any phone (not just other Rebtel or Skype users) at very low rates. An advantage of Rebtel is that it has the option of piggybacking your international call on top of a local call to minimise data use.
Using your O2 sim card outside Europe
Although an O2 SIM card is a great option when travelling within O2’s Europe zone countries, it is considerably more expensive (and not recommended) outside this zone. This even applies in other European countries such as Andorra, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Switzerland that are not in the European Union as well as countries in Eastern Europe such as Albania, Belarus, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Northern Cyprus, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.
We activate your sim card for you
We activate your sim card for you so all you need to do is wait until you arrive in the UK, pop your sim card in your phone and turn it on.
Your sim card will be ready to use on the date you specify when you place your order.
Your sim card is loaded and ready to use
When you buy your sim card from us, the price includes your first month of service. In most instances, there is no more to pay and you can start using your sim card the moment you land in the UK.
The Big Bundle packages don’t include any credit, but we do pay the initial £15 or £30 to cover your first month of service. This means that you can use your inclusive call and data allowance without needing to add any additional credit, but you will need to top up a little extra credit if you need to make calls that are not included as part of your plan (such as international calls or calls to 0845, 0871 or 0875 numbers). Most people using the Big Bundle packages do not need to top up any additional credit.
Yes, you can tether with this SIM card. Unlike many other UK and European prepaid SIM cards, you can now tether (use your phone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot) with this SIM card.
Tethering is only supported when you’re on the O2 network in the United Kingdom and if you have an Apple iPhone, tethering will only work with an iPhone 5 or newer and it needs to be running iOS 10.1 or higher.
O2 Big Bundle plans are based on a monthly billing cycle where you prepay for your month of service in advance (when you buy your sim card from us, your first month of service is included). Because it is a prepaid service, it will only renew if you top up additional credit to pay for the next month. O2’s billing cycle is now based on a calendar month, which means that if your service starts on 11 January it will remain active until 10 February with each new month of service starting on the same day each month. Based on this, it works out slightly better value in longer months (like October) but it is not as good value in shorter months (like February).
Topping up your credit
Your sim card is pre-loaded with credit and is ready to use when you arrive in the UK, however it is easy to top up extra credit after arriving in the UK.
Even though you will have a zero pound balance on your prepaid account, your credit will have been added to your account the day you arrived in the United Kingdom (but O2 will have taken this to pay for your Big Bundle plan). You should not need to top up any extra credit as you will have a bundle of calls and data that will last for one month from the date you arrived in the UK.
You may need to top-up additional credit for the following reasons:
- You need to call a premium number that is not included in your free calls
- You need to make international calls
- You want to extend your service for an additional month (you need to top up £15 to extend the £15 Big Bundle tariff for another month or £30 to extend the £30 Big Bundle tariff for another month)
Topping up at shops in the UK
You can buy top-up vouchers from over 100,000 shops in the UK including corner shops, newsagents (including WH Smith), post offices, petrol stations, pharmacies (like Boots and Superdrug) and supermarkets (like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose). The minimum value top-up voucher is £10.
Any shop in the UK that has the green top-up logo will sell top-up vouchers for the O2 network.
Just ask the cashier at any of these shops for an O2 top-up voucher and you will be given a top-up voucher that looks like a receipt. The top-up voucher will include instructions for redeeming your top-up. Basically, to redeem a top-up voucher call 4444 from your mobile and follow the prompts (which will ask you to key in the code printed on the voucher).
As a tourist, you can not top up directly with O2. You must purchase a top-up voucher from a retailer in the UK or from a third-party top-up site.
Only UK residents can top up by calling O2 or through the O2 website, as O2 only accept credit cards issued in the UK (from a UK bank with a UK billing address). However, there is no problem buying top-up vouchers from other retailers (or even from O2’s own physical retail outlets).
Topping up when travelling in Europe
You can only buy credit from shops in the United Kingdom, but there are still other ways that you can top up when travelling outside the UK.
If you are travelling outside the UK you can top up online at mobiletopup.co.uk (this website will accept payment by PayPal and will also accept Australian credit cards).
Before you leave the UK to travel around Europe, it is a good idea to buy credit in the UK as top-up vouchers purchased from retail shops in the UK are slightly cheaper than credit purchased online.
Extending your service if you’re staying longer than one month
Your service is good for one month from the date you arrive in the United Kingdom. You have two options if you’re staying longer than one month:
- Top up to pay for another month (which will give you another month of your inclusive call and data value)
- Pay O2’s higher standard call and data rates
The first option is better value and it is what most people choose but if you’re only staying a couple of days longer than a month then it is better to simply pay a higher rate for those last couple of days rather than pay for another full month.
To choose the first option, simply top up enough credit to pay for your second month and when your first month has finished O2 will deduct the cost of your next month from your prepaid credit balance to pay for your next month. If you do this before your first month has finished, any unused data will roll over to the next month.
The cost of each additional month is £15 if you’re on the £15 Big Bundle plan or £30 if you’re on the £30 Big Bundle plan.
If you choose the second option, you will be charged the following rates (which will come out of any remaining value in your prepaid credit balance):
|Call UK landline||35p/minute|
|Call UK mobile||35p/minute|
|Send text message||15p/message|
|Send picture message||45p/message|
|Call O2 customer service or top-up line||Free|
Because call charges are much more expensive if you choose the second option, this is only recommended if you are only going to be staying a few days longer than a month. If you do this, we recommend using an app such as Rebtel or Skype to make any calls.
Frequently asked questions
When will I know my UK mobile phone number?
You will know your UK mobile phone number as soon as you receive your sim card. Your phone number is printed on the back of the SIM card packaging. It is the 11-digit number starting with 07 printed under the barcode.
Does my phone need to be unlocked?
Yes. Your phone must always be unlocked before using a sim card from a different network. Nowadays, many phones are sold already unlocked but it is best to check that your phone is unlocked prior to travelling. If you’re on a contract, most networks will unlock your phone and many will do this free of charge.
Can this sim card be used in data-only devices?
This sim card is designed for use in a mobile phone and cannot be used in data-only devices such as tablets or pocket Wi-Fi devices. You need to visit a mobile phone shop in the UK to buy a data-only sim card to use in a tablet or similar data-only device.
Can I use my phone as a mobile hotspot?
Yes. Unlike many other European prepaid mobile services, O2 let you tether (use your phone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot). This wasn’t always the case and up until early 2017 this was a service restricted to customers on contract, but now all O2 customers including prepaid customers can use their phone as a mobile hotspot.
A couple of important points:
- If you have an Apple iPhone, tethering will only work with an iPhone 5 or newer and it needs to be running iOS 10.1 or higher.
- Tethering is only supported when using your phone on the O2 network in the United Kingdom. There is no guarantee that it will work when roaming on other networks outside the UK.
Do I need to register my service and do I need to provide ID?
No. There is no requirement to register your service or show identification when activating a new mobile phone service in the United Kingdom. Simply put it in an unlocked phone, turn it on when you arrive in the UK and you’re ready to go.
When will my service start working?
When you buy your sim card from us, we ask for the date you arrive in the UK. We add credit to your sim card just after midnight (UK time) so your sim card is ready to use the day you arrive in the UK. It is important to let us know if your travel dates change so we can ensure that your mobile service is ready to use as soon as you arrive in the United Kingdom.
How long will my sim card remain active for?
Your service will be valid for one month from the date you arrive in the UK, you can extend your mobile service for another month simply by topping up enough credit (£15 or £30 depending on your Big Bundle tariff) to pay for your next month of service.
If your credit runs out or your Big Bundle package ends, your sim card will remain active for six months from the last date you used your phone (the last date you accessed data, sent a text message or made a phone call). You can top up your credit within this six month period to start using your service again, but if you go for longer than six months without using your SIM card, your service will expire and you will need to buy a new SIM card.
If you regularly travel to the UK or Europe, you can keep your sim card active simply by popping it in your phone at home (make sure you turn off data roaming first) at least once every six months to send a text message (the cheapest thing you can do when roaming outside Europe). You will need extra credit on your account to do this.
How long does delivery take?
These sim cards are posted from Melbourne, Australia and delivery should take around 2–3 business days if you live in southeastern Australia (including Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney) and up to a week for other parts of Australia.
We also ship to New Caledonia, New Zealand and Singapore and delivery takes around one week to these places.
It is posted as a standard letter, and the delivery is not trackable. It is best to allow an extra week in case of any delays in the postal service.
Can you recommend any resources for my UK trip?
We are a well-travelled bunch and we have been all over the United Kingdom. You’re welcome to call us for general travel advice. Alternatively, if your trip is focused on England take a look at englandrover.com for independent advice about accommodation, sightseeing and transport options in England. The people who run englandrover.com are happy to answer any specific enquiries on their Facebook page.