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eSIM UK Pay As You Go: compare, buy and travel with the best coverage | April 2024

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Last update: April 1, 2024
Roams UK
Author: Roams UK
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In a nutshell

Discover the best Pay As You Go eSIM in the UK. Enjoy instant connectivity and mobile data with no monthly contract, with the flexibility to top up as you need with Holafly eSIM.

Buy here the best Pay As You Go eSIM

PAYG eSIM: all alternatives

Nowadays, internet connectivity when traveling is not a luxury: it's a necessity. However, it is sometimes difficult to stay connected while abroad, either due to lack of coverage or high roaming charges. For this reason, eSIMs have become a new economical alternative to local SIMs and international roaming.

Today, from Roams, we tell you which are the different companies that offer the best eSIM to connect to the Internet in the UK, how to buy one, as well as its advantages and disadvantages. At the end, we will talk about other options that you still have available if your mobile does not support this new technology: the Pay As You Go SIM.

But first, we leave you a comparative table, so you can see the prices with the different companies, you have to have an eSIM pay as you go in UK.

eSIM providers and prices in the UK
Providers Price/Days Data Fine print
Holafly
  • From £19/5 days
  • Unlimited data
  • Nothing
Vodafone
  • From £10/30 days
  • 2GB
  • Only available to pay monthly customers
O2
  • From £10/30 days
  • 7GB
  • Only available to pay monthly customers

What is an eSIM?

The eSIM is an embedded SIM card that allows multiple mobile phone plans to be activated on a single smartphone. This virtual card is embedded in the latest generation of devices and is expected to completely replace the traditional SIM card in the near future.

The eSIM is usually installed in a mobile phone by scanning a QR code that the mobile phone company provides in an email when the phone is purchased. The QR code includes all the information about the operator to which it will connect, and the data allowed on the device.

Thanks to this new technology, when you travel and buy an eSIM, you will keep the same contact number and will not have to change your regular SIM, so you will not run the risk of losing it.

Moreover, thanks to its low prices, it has become the best friend of every traveller who wants to visit the UK and more countries around the world.

How does an eSim work?

Why is an eSIM necessary in the UK?

When you travel to the UK, an eSIM is necessary for multiple reasons beyond internet connectivity. Some of these reasons are:

  • Shop online from your mobile phone effortlessly, quickly and securely.
  • It is a more reliable, secure and convenient way to get mobile data. No fear of having your personal accounts hacked.
  • You won't have to change your mobile or get a new number. You will keep yours and your WhatsApp with your contacts.
  • Forget about high roaming costs with your national operator.
  • You'll be connected to the internet as soon as you land in the UK.
  • It's easy to set up. No registrations or subscriptions.

eSIMs, like those from Holafly for example, are a great option for travelling to the UK if you buy them before you fly. As a traveller, you may find it difficult to find a shop that doesn't ask for anything apart from your passport, and you don't want misunderstandings due to the language barrier at the time of purchase.

eSIM Pay As You Go will help you save time and money. It will be your best ally at any time during your trip.


Pay-as-you-go eSIM providers for the UK

Since the eSIM for visiting the United Kingdom became popular with travellers, multiple providers have appeared on the global market.

That's why, we at Roams have compiled a list for you to find out what they offer and what options you have to buy for your trip to the UK. Holafly, E.E., Three UK and Vodafone are the most popular. However, after analysing them, here's a spoiler: Holafly has the best value for money.

Holafly eSIM PAYG

Holafly is a company specialising in travel eSIM cards, which include a flat-rate data package. The eSIM, now quite popular with travellers, can be purchased online via their webshop, from where it is possible to select the prepaid eSIM for the UK, which includes unlimited data plans lasting between one week and three months.

In addition, you do not need to be a UK resident or provide any documentation to purchase the data eSIM. In two simple steps, you can have unlimited internet during your trip in the United Kingdom.

Benefits of using a Holafly eSIM in the UK:

  • All packages are unlimited.
  • Cheaper than data roaming.
  • Buying is super easy and quick.
  • You can buy the eSIM in just a few steps.
  • Ability to keep the same WhatsApp number.
  • No need to bring personal documents to buy an eSIM.
  • No registration or subscription required.
  • 24 hour customer service in your language.
  • Internet from the moment you arrive in the UK.

Features not included in the Holafly eSIM:

  • Holafly eSIM plans do not include a mobile phone number. But you will be able to make calls on apps such as WhatsApp.
  • It can only be used on one mobile device.

Buy your UK eSIM Card with a 5% discount with the code ROAMS

Pay As You Go eSIM E.E.

E.E. is one of the UK's leading mobile operators. This provider offers internet services under 4G and 5G networks. The brand also has one of the fastest connections and widest coverage in the region.

Advantages of using an E.E. eSIM in the UK:

  • You only have to scan the QR code to activate the eSIM.
  • Provides you with the My EE App to manage the eSIM.

Considerations for the E.E. eSIM in the UK:

  • Only available to monthly paying customers, this feature is not included in Pay As You Go plans.
  • The cost is high compared to a Holafly eSIM, for example.

eSIM with Three UK

Three is one of the leading telecommunications companies in the UK. It has been offering 5G network connectivity since 2019. However, Three's UK eSIM was only launched on a trial basis.

Things to note about Three's eSIM for the UK:

  • Currently, it is not possible to buy an eSIM from this company.
  • It does not have a catalogue offering this product, either in physical or digital shops.

Vodafone eSIM: not suitable for PAYG

It is no secret that this is one of the UK's leading providers offering virtual cards, with a data plan, for surfing the internet and using the most important apps. One of the highlights of this provider is that it has extensive mobile phone networks. And while Vodafone's virtual SIM can be used on both phones and smartwatches, there is no option for tourists, and it requires a monthly payment. That means it is not possible to buy it on their Pay As You Go plans.

Benefits of using a Vodafone eSIM in the UK:

  • You don't have to sign contracts or go through cumbersome paperwork to buy one.
  • No activation fees.

Disadvantages of the Vodafone eSIM for the UK:

  • Only available to pay monthly customers.
  • To make an online purchase, you must first have a physical Vodafone SIM card.
  • Switching from eSIM to physical SIM costs between £4 and £5.

How much cellular data do you need to travel to the UK?

It is difficult to give an answer to those wondering how much mobile data they will need to travel to the UK. The quick answer is perhaps: it depends.

Because it's true: it depends on your data usage. However, to give you an idea, if you're someone who constantly plays videos, makes video calls with your loved ones, posts constantly on your social networks and takes a quick look at Google Maps to make sure you never get lost, the minimum you need is a plan with 1GB per day. From there on up, it's all profit.

How important is having an unlimited data SIM

Pay as you go SIM

If your mobile phone does not support eSIMs, there is a quick solution: buy a SIM card in the UK on a pay-as-you-go basis, a convenient option for those who need to be connected to the internet at all times and do not have the technology required for virtual cards.

For this, there are several options of providers offering different plans and prices, so it is important to research and compare before making a decision. Some options are:

The easiest way to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card is to visit a mobile phone shop in person. There you can compare plans and prices, and choose the SIM card that best suits your needs. Alternatively, you can buy a SIM card online via the provider's website, which will allow you to have the SIM card delivered to your home address before you travel to the UK. In both cases, it is important to check if your phone is compatible with UK mobile networks and unlock it if necessary.

However, if your smartphone is eSIM compatible, Holafly has plans starting from £19 that will give you unlimited data for your trip to the UK.

Buy your UK eSIM Card with a 5% discount with the code ROAMS


FAQs

Can I get an eSIM on pay as you go?

Although it was thought that eSIM was not currently available to Pay As You Go customers on various operators and that to get an eSIM it was necessary to start with a regular plastic SIM card, it is now possible to have an eSIM on PAYG thanks to the plans offered by Holafly, which range from £19 with unlimited data.

How can I buy prepaid eSIM?

To buy a prepaid eSIM and not have surprises at the end of the month with the bill, from Roams, we recommend you to take a look at the plans offered by Holafly. This virtual card offers unlimited data, the best connection in the UK and 24/7 customer service in your language. To buy it, just go to their online store, choose your option, and you will receive your activation code by mail. And that's it.

What do I get when I order an eSIM?

When you purchase an eSIM, the company will send you a QR code to your email. With this code, you just need to activate your eSIM, and now you can enjoy browsing the web.

Which UK mobile providers offer eSIM?

Although providers such as Vodafone, EE and O2 offer eSIMs on their services, these virtual cards can only be activated if you are a regular user of the company and have a monthly plan with physical SIM cards. If you are only looking for an eSIM, the best provider is Holafly.

How much is eSIM a month?

Actually, the only cost of the eSIM is the cost of the data plan itself. There are different eSIM plans, it already depends on the plan you want to choose and the one that suits them best. With Holafly, for example, you can choose plans from £19 with unlimited data.

Our methodology
Roams offers a free information and comparison service, which tries to help anyone find the product that best suits their needs. To ensure that the data presented is correct, extensive market research and product analysis is carried out. Our database of mobile phone and internet rates is updated every day. The content is frequently reviewed by a team of writers with previous experience and/or specific training in telephony.

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Laura Burón
Edited and revised por Laura Burón