The O2 UK SIM card gives you cheap calls and data access when visiting the United Kingdom and many European countries.
|We now sell all our O2 UK SIM cards pre-loaded with credit so your SIM card is ready to use as soon as you arrive in the UK.|
You have a choice of a SIM card pre-activated on your choice of two 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. 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.
Call and data charges when using an O2 SIM card in the UK
The O2 UK SIM card is great value 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 three plans you can choose from:
|£15 Big Bundle||£30 Big Bundle|
|Call a UK landline or mobile phone||1000 minutes included, after you have used your first 1000 minutes per month you will be charged 35p/minute||5000 minutes included, after you have used your first 5000 minutes per month you will be charged 35p/minute|
|Send a text message to a UK mobile phone||5000 text messages included, after you have sent your first 1000 messages per month you will be charged 15p/message||5000 text messages included, after you have sent your first 5000 messages per month you will be charged 15p/message|
|Call an Australian landline phone||£1.50/minute (you need to add credit to make international calls)||2p/minute (you need to add credit to make international calls)|
|Call an Australian mobile phone||£1.50/minute (you need to add credit to make international calls)||12p/minute (you need to add credit to make international calls)|
|Send a text message to an Australian mobile phone||25p/message||15p/message|
|Data access||5GB included, then £1/day||20GB included, then £1/day|
|Included credit||£0 (but your first month of service is already paid for so you have one month of access to your inclusive call and data package)||£0 (but your first month of service is already paid for so you have one month of access to your inclusive call and data package)|
|Cost to continue your service for another month||£15||£30|
Best inclusive package with local calls and moderate data use
This is the best option for the average person visiting the United Kingdom and travelling onwards to Europe.
Best inclusive package with local calls and cheap international calls and high data use.
This is the best option if you want to upload lots of photos to sites like Facebook and Instagram.
The above call and data rates apply when using your phone in the United Kingdom.
|Neither Big Bundle package includes international calls to Australia in you inclusive bundle of call minutes so you have to top up additional credit to call home.|
Charges to UK landline and mobile phones apply to standard numbers only (that is to mobile phone numbers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales starting in 07 and landline phone numbers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales starting in 01, 02 and 03), higher charges apply when calling premium numbers such as numbers beginning with 0845, 0871 and 0875 (similar to 13 and 1300 numbers in Australia) and when calling phones in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (including some travel SIM services that advertise as having UK numbers). Calls to freephone numbers beginning with 0800 and 0808 are free on all tariffs.
Charges for calls to special numbers are as follows:
|Freephone numbers (starting with 0800 and 0808)||Free|
|Premium numbers (starting with 08 and 09). This includes 0871 numbers used by the Premier Inn and Travelodge hotel chains.||55p/minute plus the service charge (an additional 7–13p/minute) so your total cost will be between 62p and 68p/minute)|
|Landline and mobile numbers in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man (although these numbers use the UK +44 country code, they are considered international calls but are not among the countries that have discounted calls with the International SIM or £30 Big Bundle tariffs)||55p/minute|
|Directory information numbers (starting with 118)||55p/minute|
The Big Bundle packages don’t included 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).
International call charges when using the O2 SIM card in the UK
If you are on the 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|
|Australia – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|Australia – mobile||£1.50/minute||12p/minute|
|Canada – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|Canada – mobile||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|France – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|France – mobile||£1.50/minute||5p/minute|
|Germany – landline||£1.50/minute||1.5p/minute|
|Germany – mobile||£1.50/minute||5p/minute|
|Ireland – landline||£1.50/minute||1p/minute|
|Ireland – mobile||£1.50/minute||5p/minute|
|Italy – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|Italy – mobile||£1.50/minute||10p/minute|
|Netherlands – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|Netherlands – mobile||£1.50/minute||10p/minute|
|New Zealand – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|New Zealand – mobile||£1.50/minute||10p/minute|
|Singapore – landline||£1.50/minute||5p/minute|
|Singapore – mobile||£1.50/minute||5p/minute|
|South Africa – landline||£1.50/minute||8p/minute|
|South Africa – mobile||£1.50/minute||12p/minute|
|Spain – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|Spain – mobile||£1.50/minute||9p/minute|
|United States (excluding AK & HI) – landline||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
|United States (excluding AK & HI) – mobile||£1.50/minute||2p/minute|
Discounted international call rates to the United States of America do not include calls to Alaska or Hawaii. Calls to Alaska and Hawaii are charged at 4p/minute to both landline and mobile phones if you are on the £30 Big Bundle tariff, the standard international call charge of £1.50/minute applies if you are on the £15 Big Bundle tariff.
International text messages cost 15p/message if you are on the International SIM or the £30 Big Bundle tariff and 25p/message if you are on the £15 Big Bundle plan.
If you are on the £15 Big Bundle plan (or are travelling outside the UK) 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.
Compared with other networks, O2 has excellent coverage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It will work in most parts of the country, including the Scottish Highlands and islands. However, 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.
Roaming in Europe
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, 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, 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 the best value for roaming outside the UK as they include a bundle of calls and data that work throughout the European Union.
|How will Brexit effect European roaming?
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 11pm (UK time) on Friday 29 March 2019, however the transition period will last until 31 December 2020 so 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.
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 get 5000 minutes of calls 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.
|Incoming calls are free on all O2 plans when travelling in 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 30-day 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.
- It is likely 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 (although this does use your inclusive call minutes).
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, credit will have been added to your account the day you arrived (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 30 days from the date you arrive 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 (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.
|You can only use top up vouchers for the O2 UK network. You can not use top up vouchers for the O2 network in Germany to top up this SIM card.|
If you are travelling outside the UK you can top up online at mobiletopup.co.uk and also at ding.com (these websites will accept payment by PayPal and 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.
Help is just a phone call away
If you have any questions with your SIM card when you are travelling in the United Kingdom (or elsewhere in Europe) it is easy to get help. You can call O2's UK-based customer service centre or if you prefer you can call us directly. We have a UK number (020 3286 2828) that will come out of your generous allowance of minutes of your Big Bundle package. Our UK number is also the cheapest way to contact us if you are roaming elsewhere in Europe (as it will come out of your call allowance). However if you are calling us from the UK with a SIM card set up on the International SIM tariff, then it will be cheapest for you to call our Australian number +61 3 9988 0686. You can call our UK number 24 hours a day.
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. Although nowadays, many phones are sold already unlocked; 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 free of charge (Vodafone may charge a small fee for unlocking your phone but Optus and Telstra generally don’t charge anything).
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 and turn it on when you arrive in the UK and it is ready to go.
When will my SIM card 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 30 days from the date you arrive in the UK, you can extend your mobile service for another 30 days simply buy 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 in Australia (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.
Do you have any other advice for my UK trip?
The travelgear.com.au team 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 you 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.
Please note the above rates are current as of 15 November 2018