An O2 SIM card in your phone gives you cheap local and international calls from the UK. Its main advantage over other UK SIM cards is the excellent range of bolt-ons that give you internet access, cheap international calls and cheap European roaming.
You have a choice of a SIM card preactivated on your choice of three different O2 Pay & Go tariffs. The best option will depend on the type of calls you plan on making and how much data access you need. There are also several add-on options that let you add extra data and all O2 prepaid tariffs offer low-cost roaming when used in other European countries. Overall an O2 SIM card is an excellent choice if you're visiting the UK and making side trips to Europe.
|International SIM||£15 Big Bundle||£25 Big Bundle|
|Call UK landline or mobile phone||30p per minute||First 750 minutes each month free, then 35p per minute||First 3000 minutes each month free, then 35p per minute|
|Call Australian landline phone||3p per minute||£1.50 per minute||£1.50 per minute|
|Call Australian mobile phone||12p per minute||£1.50 per minute||£1.50 per minute|
|Data access||£1 per day or add bolt-on (1GB for £10)||2GB included, then £1 per day||5GB included, then £1 per day|
|Data speed||Up to 4G speed||Up to 4G LTE speed (faster data)||Up to 4G LTE speed (faster data)|
|Monthly cost||No minimum monthly cost||You must top up at least £15 to start your service. It will cost £15 to continue this Big Bundle for an additional month||You must top up at least £25 to start your service. It will cost £25 to continue this Big Bundle for an additional month|
|Best for cheap international calls||Best inclusive package with local calls and moderate data use||Best inclusive package with local calls and high data use|
Call charges to special numbers (on all O2 pay and go tariffs) are as follows:
- Calls to 0500, 0505, 055, 056, 080 and 082 numbers 15p per minute
- Calls to 07744 and 07755 numbers 25p per minute
- Calls to 070 numbers 66p per minute
- Calls to mobile phones in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man 35p per minute (this includes calls to some multi-country travel SIM cards which come with mobile numbers from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man)
- Calls to 0844, 0845 and 0870 numbers (similar to 13 and 1300 numbers in Australia) 45p/minute
- Calls to 0871 numbers 35p per minute
- UK text message 14p
- International text message 14p
- Picture message 35p
You can set up an account on O2's website (although this entirely optional) so you can check your account balance online. If you want to do this you will need to enter a UK address (your hotel address will be fine).
If you choose the O2 International SIM card you will receive discounted international calls. International calling rates with the O2 International SIM card are:
|Australia||3p per minute||12p per minute|
|Canada||2p per minute||2p per minute|
|France||2p per minute||5p per minute|
|Ireland||1p per minute||5p per minute|
|New Zealand||2p per minute||10p per minute|
|Singapore||1p per minute||1p per minute|
|South Africa||3p per minute||10p per minute|
|Spain||2p per minute||9p per minute|
|USA (excluding AK & HI)||2p per minute||2p per minute|
International SMS text messages cost 14p per message.
Please note: International call charges are much higher if you choose one of O2's Big Bundle packages. With a Big Bundle package you will pay £1.50 to call home to Australia (and most other countries outside Europe). If you choose one of the Big Bundle packages we advise that you use a service such as Facetime, Localphone, Rebtel, Skype or Viber to make cheaper international calls when you call home.
Free calls and text messages to other UK mobiles
Your O2 SIM card comes with an allowance of calls to other UK mobile phones. The allowance will vary depending on which rate plan you choose, although all plan options are fine if there are several of you travelling around the UK together using O2 SIM cards.
With the International SIM tariff
If you choose the International SIM tariff and top up more than £15, you get 3000 minutes of calls and 3000 text messages to other O2 UK mobiles for one month.
|Top up value||Bonus|
|£10–14 top up||3000 text messages to other O2 UK mobile phones plus 100MB data|
|£15+ top up||3000 text messages and 3000 minutes of phone calls to other O2 UK mobile phones plus 200MB data|
With a Big Bundle tariff
If you have one of the Big Bundle tariffs you still have an allowance of calls to UK landline phones and other UK mobile phones (and this isn't restricted to other O2 mobiles).
|£15 Big Bundle||£25 Big Bundle|
|750 minutes to other UK landline and UK mobile phones||3000 minutes to other UK landline and UK mobile phones|
|2000 SMS text messages to UK mobile phones||4000 SMS text messages to UK mobile phones|
The O2 UK SIM is a great option for use throughout Europe (especially in Europe) as roaming rates are very reasonable in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Monaco, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Vatican, San Marino, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The cost of using your mobile with an O2 SIM in these countries is:
|Call a mobile phone or landline in the country you are visiting||4p per minute|
|Call a mobile phone or landline in the United Kingdom||4p per minute|
|Call a mobile phone or landline in another EU country||4p per minute|
|Call a mobile phone or landline in Australia||£1.99 per minute|
|Receive a call||free|
|Send a text message||1p per message|
|Receive a text message||free|
|Access data (with the O2 Travel bolt-on)||£1.99 per day
(up to 100MB)
|Access data (without the O2 Travel bolt-on)||4p/MB|
These European roaming rates apply to all O2 pay and go SIM cards, however you can't use the inclusive call and data allowance of your Big Bundle package when travelling outside the United Kingdom so it is best to buy your SIM card set up on the International SIM tariff if you plan on using it mostly outside the UK. Ensure you have the O2 Travel bolt-on added to your SIM to get the cheapest data rates if you plan on using at least 50MB data per day, however this is not really necessary for occasional data use. In any case it is best to go into your phone's settings and check which apps can use mobile data so only apps that you need when out and about (apps like Google Maps and Google Translate) use mobile data and all other apps only use data over a Wi-Fi connection. Doing this will ensure that you're not charged too much for data access when travelling outside the UK.
Please note: European roaming rates are only cheap when travelling within the European Union (and some other non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland). Roaming is considerably more expensive if you're travelling to some other European countries (including Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Cyprus, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and the Ukraine).
Bolt ons are a great way to add extra features to your mobile service without paying too much. These let you pay a bit more in exchange for lower call charges or extra features like unlimited data and low-cost roaming in Europe.
Rather than confuse you with the full list of available bolt ons, we will just list the four most popular ones here.
O2's Web bolt ons let you access the internet from your phone. These generally make sense if you're staying in the UK for a week or longer. O2's various web bolt-ons include:
|Basics||£3 per month||100MB|
|All Rounder||£6 per month||500MB|
|The Works||£10 per month||1GB|
To set up these O2 Web bolt ons call 2202 free of charge from your O2 Pay & Go mobile phone.
Data is only included with O2's Web bolt-ons in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. No data is included when roaming outside the UK.
You are charged £1 per day for data in the UK if you don't have a web bolt-on or if you have used all your web bolt-on allowance.
O2 Travel is a new bolt-on that gives you cheaper data while roaming in many European countries. O2 Travel costs £1.99 for 100MB data during one day while travelling in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Monaco, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Vatican, San Marino, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
In most cases this bolt-on will already be active on your account, however it is best to call O2 customer service on 4445 prior to leaving the UK to double check this otherwise you may be charged the casual European roaming rate of 4p/MB. You can add the O2 Travel bolt-on by texing TRAVELON to 21300 this feature is not already enabled on your mobile.
When you have used your 100MB daily roaming allowance you can add an additional 100MB by texting MORETRAVEL to 21300.
O2 has excellent coverage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can check your coverage here.
As a service, we can add credit to your O2 Pay and Go SIM (UK) so that you can be up and running before you arrive in the UK.
The credit amounts are £15 (AUD$39), £20 (AUD$50), £25 (AUD$61) and in Australia the price for credit includes bank fees. Of course, this cost is higher than purchasing in the UK as it includes exchange fees, bank fees and credit card fees.
You may add credit by choosing the option above (we add the credit for you), or alternately you can purchase vouchers to add yourself from us here at travelgear .
You are very welcome to only purchase just the blank SIM card for AUD$10, and when we send the SIM, this will give instructions on how to add credit both from Australia and when you are in the UK.
If you want to wait until you arrive in the UK, it is very easy to top up your SIM. You can pop into anywhere you see the topup logo, including all WHSmith stores, Boots Chemists and many convenience stores and supermarkets. Even a lot of ATM's will let you recharge the O2 SIM!
However some people would prefer the convenience of topping up here before you arrive in the UK. We add the credit close to the time you arrive in the UK, as in some instances (eg the International SIM) you will get bonuses such as free calls to other O2 mobiles.
Please let us know if you have any questions about the SIM or the credit.
Please note the above rates are current as of 1 Jan 2016