Visiting the UK? Enhance your trip with a pre-paid SIM


These days we're all so used to using our smart phones when we're out and about; for maps to help get us from a to b, to look up local businesses and to generally search and find information we need on the go. So when we can't use our phone’s data for one reason or another, we can feel at a loose end!

This can especially be the case when visiting an unfamiliar country. Information helps us to make the most of a visit, so unreliable data connection or extortionate data costs associated with non-EU SIMs can quickly hamper our enjoyment.

If you're travelling to the UK or Europe from outside the EU, it can be well worth your time to buy a pre-paid sim ahead of your journey. By doing this you'll get a European mobile number and access to cheaper rates than you'd get through your usual carrier- even if you have an international call/data plan.

Here are a few tips to consider when getting a European pre-paid SIM.

1. First thing’s first, you’ll need to make sure your phone can accept other SIM cards. Some phones are ‘locked’ to a certain network, meaning you won’t be able to use a different carrier’s SIM card. If you’re unsure, you can contact your service provider to check. If it transpires your phone is currently ‘locked’, they should be able to ‘unlock’ it for you (a small fee may be applicable).

2. There are many different providers of SIM cards in the UK / Europe and most are available to buy with a small amount of pre-loaded credit with no contract and no commitment. If you’re staying a while you can choose to pre-load with a larger amount, or else go for the minimum and top up as you go. If you have a smartphone, look for a SIM card that also includes data.

3. When weighing up your options, you might want to check and compare rates - for calls within the country; to and from other countries you'll be visiting; and not to forget, calling back home. Make sure to also get rates for data and texting both within and outside the card's home country. Be aware that rates can vary significantly so it’s worth shopping around.

4. When ordering a SIM, be sure to get the right size for your phone. Many smartphones (including iPhones) use micro-SIM or nano-SIM cards.

5. Before you leave home, save your contacts' phone numbers to your phone, not your SIM. This way, you'll still be able to access all of your phone numbers to make calls back home.

6. Most pre-paid SIM cards will expire after a period of inactivity. Rather than let any unused credit go to waste when you're flying back home, remember to use all your remaining credit or pass your SIM to another traveller to use.