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)||1GB included, then £1 per day||4GB included, then £1 per day|
|Data speed||Up to 3G 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 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 50MB data|
|£15+ top up||3000 text messages and 3000 minutes of phone calls to other O2 UK mobile phones plus 100MB 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 as roaming rates are very reasonable in the following countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, 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||16p per minute|
|Call a mobile phone or landline in the United Kingdom||16p per minute|
|Call a mobile phone or landline in another EU country||16p per minute|
|Call a mobile phone or landline in Australia||99p per minute|
|Receive a call||4p per minute|
|Send a text message||5p per message|
|Receive a text message||free|
|Access data||£1.99 per day
(up to 50MB)
These European roaming rates apply to all O2 pay and go SIM cards.
Please note: While calls made within the European Union are relatively cheap, calls made to non-EU countries while roaming within the EU are considerably more expensive (calls to Australia are 99p/minute for instance). It is recommended that you use an app such as Localphone, Rebtel, Skype or Viber over a Wi-Fi connection for calls home while using this SIM card outside the UK.
Bolt ons are the best bit about O2's Pay & Go plans. 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 50MB data during one day while travelling in Andorra, 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 19p/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 50MB daily roaming allowance you can add an additional 50MB by texting MORETRAVEL to 21300.
O2 has excellent coverage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can check your coverage here.
Please note the above rates are current as of 1 September 2015