EE SIM Cards and eSIM 2024: A Comprehensive Guide for Tourists

If you want to stay connected while on your UK trip, EE SIM cards and eSIM are excellent options to consider. They let you get local mobile data plans for your mobile device so you can access secure and smooth Internet. This guide will provide an overview of EE SIM cards and eSIM to help you get online while visiting the UK. We will compare the different options to help you choose which is best for your travel needs.

EE sim and eSIM in the UK

I. Quick Facts about EE

EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) is the UK’s second-largest mobile network provider. Here are some facts about EE UK you may need to know:

  • Founded: 2010 
  • Headquarter: London
  • Full company name: EE Limited
  • Types of services: mobile phone networks, broadband Internet, fixed-line, and digital television
  • Coverage: 99% of the UK population with 4G mobile internet signal 
  • Number of users: 21.7 million users as of 2022
  • Distribution: 700 EE stores; pop-up shops and cabins in shopping centers and many other locations in the UK; store-within-a-store outlets via a partnership with Sainsbury’s
  • Customer support: 24/7 via phone call, live chat & email
  • Language: English
EE is the UK's second-largest carrier
EE is the UK’s second-largest carrier

II. Why EE When Visiting the UK – Coverage and Speed

With its extensive network coverage and quick data speeds, the EE network ensures travelers remain connected while in the UK.

1. EE Coverage in the UK

EE has extensive network coverage (Source: nPerf)
EE has extensive network coverage (Source: nPerf)
  • EE ranks second position with widespread 4G/5G coverage in the UK (Three UK ranks first);
  • EE’s 4G network reaches about 95% of the population and 80% of the geographic land mass;
  • Visitors using EE network can access the Internet nearly everywhere, including cities, towns, and remote areas;
  • EE’s 5G network is very extensive but prepaid users cannot access EE’s 5G network.

2. EE Speed

EE has very fast data speeds (Source: OpenSignal)
EE has very fast data speeds (Source: OpenSignal)
  • Average download speed: 40Mbps – the fastest download speed
  • Average upload speed: 9.3Mbps – the fastest upload speed
  • Consistency: 72.7% – the most consistent network

► Choosing EE is a smart choice for maintaining connectivity during your UK trip. EE’s extensive 4G/5G networks, fastest data speeds, and consistency allow tourists to stream music, share photos, get directions, and much more while on the go. 

III. What are the Best EE Connectivity Options for Tourists to the UK?

The table below shows the three main EE connectivity choices for visitors to the UK:

Three SIM cards– Multiple SIM options to choose
– Budget-friendly costs for cellular services
– Easy purchase online or upon arrival
– Unlocked mobile phone required
Pocket Wifi– Portable
– Different mobile devices may connect to the Internet using a pocket Wifi
– Limited range
– Have to return the device after trip
– Expensive rental rates
Roaming– No SIM swap
– Convenient
– Familiar home number, plan, and operator
– Pricey charges
– Network coverage depends on the contract between EE UK and your carrier

► Recommendation: Getting an EE SIM card allows you to stay connected like the UK SIM cards for less than roaming or renting pocket wifi. Pop it in your phone and enjoy affordable calls, data, and texts while you explore!

IV. Best EE SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

The table below shows some EE SIM card options for tourists to the UK and prices accordingly.

GBP 10 GBP – USD 12.68 GB of data + unlimited texts & 500 minutes30 days
GBP 15 – USD 19 25 GB of data + unlimited texts & minutes30 days
GBP 20  – USD 2550 GB of data + unlimited texts & 500 minutes30 days
GBP 30 – USD 38125 GB of data + unlimited texts & 500 minutes30 days

V. Does EE Support eSIM in the UK?

Sure. EE UK provides eSIM to tourists. It is simply an embedded SIM that stores the cellular data needed to access the EE network. An EE eSIM is already built into your cell phone. Plus, it allows you to have multiple different lines on a device that you can easily switch between.

  • No physical SIM card
  • No store visit
  • Easy online download and activation
  • Dual SIM feature

To purchase a UK eSIM, you may:

  • Download directly from EE’s website. ID check is required.
  • Buy from a third-party reseller. No identity check, online purchase.

► Recommendation:

It is much simpler to get an eSIM for the UK through a third-party instead of directly from EE; however, choosing which provider may be rather challenging. You should consider to buy UK eSIM plans from Gigago – a trusted eSIM reseller offering reasonably priced eSIM plans in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Gigago eSIM plans for tourists to the UK
Gigago eSIM plans for tourists to the UK

Gigago has multiple UK eSIM package options for tourists. Their smallest package is only $3.00 for 1GB of data usable in 3 days. Other plans range from $3.00$95.90 with various data amounts and trip durations accordingly. Choosing a Gigago eSIM ensures you will have a reliable and affordable Internet connection for the ultimate UK travel experience.

Pro Tips:

  • Check if your phone/ tablet is compatible with eSIM. Check out our up-to-date list of eSIM-embedded devices.
  • Opt for the UK eSIM option that best suits your travel needs, trip duration, and budget.

VI. Where to Purchase EE SIM cards and eSIM?

Now is the time to figure out where to purchase EE SIM cards and eSIM.

1. Where to Buy EE SIM Cards for the UK?

1.1. Upon arrival at the UK airports

Travelers may buy EE SIM cards at:

  • London Gatwick International Airport: WHSmith convenience store and SIM Card Vending Machine
  • London Heathrow International Airport: Local SIM stores; WHSmith convenience stores, and SIM Card Vending Machine 
  • Manchester International Airport: Spar Shop, WHSmith convenience store, and SIM Card Vending Machine

1.2. EE stores & authorized dealers

EE SIM cards are available at around 700 EE stores; pop-up shops and cabins in shopping centers and many other locations in the UK. EE also has store-within-a-store outlets via a partnership with Sainsbury’s. These stores are located in most cities and towns in Manchester, London, etc. and offer a wide range of EE SIM plan options at budget-friendly rates. 

EE Store - Middleton Grange Shopping Centre
EE Store – Middleton Grange Shopping Centre

2. Where to Purchase EE eSIM for the UK?

Tourists to the UK may get EE eSIM via the following channels:

  • Online service on EE’s official website
  • My EE app
  • Commute to the nearest EE shop

Pro Tips:

  • Have your passport/ driver’s license as well as credit card/GBP cash ready for SIM purchase and registration.
  • If you need Internet as soon as you arrive in the UK, buy EE SIM cards at UK airports.
  • If you want better deals, purchase EE SIM cards in the city centers.

VII. How to Activate EE SIM/eSIM in the UK?

Activating EE SIM cards/ eSIM is a straightforward process. Just take the following steps:

1. How to Activate EE SIM Cards in the UK?

If you go with an EE SIM card, here are the steps to get it up and running:

  • Pop your EE SIM in your unlocked cell phone;
  • Turn on your phone;
  • Follow on-screen prompts to activate the EE SIM – In most cases, it should be pre-activated;
  • If cellular data is not working after activation, check network settings;
  • Once activated, you can use your phone on EE’s network anywhere in the UK.

2. How to Activate EE eSIM?

If you opt for an EE eSIM, you need to:

  • Confirm that your cell phone works with EE eSIMs;
  • Get an EE eSIM online – you will be sent a QR code via email;
  • Scan QR code using My EE app or in phone’s settings, touch Mobile Service > Add eSIM > Use QR code;
  • Set up the EE eSIM profile on your mobile device;
  • You can now use EE cellular services.

VIII. Alternatives to the UK EE SIM cards

Tourists to the UK have other options to get mobile services from carriers like Three, Vodafone, and O2.

  • Three offers good deals, especially if you use a lot of data. Some plans also include free roaming around Europe;
  • O2 plans are rather cheap and some allow free EU roaming, too;
  • Vodafone plans get you a good amount of data, calls, and texts;
  • Gigago eSIM: Going with Gigago is handy as you can easily change plans if needed. Plus, their UK eSIM options are pretty affordable and flexible. Though UK eSIM by Gigago does not use EE mobile network carrier, but the coverage and speed is still great for most tourists.
  • For UK, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1 GB for 3 days with $3.00 . What is great about Gigago’s UK eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $3.00$95.90 . Thus, it does not matter how Internet users you are and how long your trip is in the UK, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

IX. FAQs about EE SIM cards and eSIM

How much data do EE SIM cards and eSIM plans include?

EE offers a wide range of data allowances on EE SIM cards and eSIMs starting from around 1GB up to unlimited on higher plans. It depends on the specific package.

How long is an EE SIM card or eSIM plan valid for?

Most EE pay-as-you-go SIM cards and eSIM plans are valid for 30 days from the date of activation before expiring if not topped up.

What countries can I use my EE SIM card or eSIM in?

EE SIM cards and eSIM allow domestic use within the UK. Outside the country, international roaming charges apply which can be expensive for data use.

X. Conclusion

In conclusion, this guide has provided useful information for tourists on how EE SIM cards and eSIM can help then stay connected while visiting the UK. They allow tourists to conveniently access EE’s high-speed 4G/5G network without worry of high roaming charges. eSIM for the UK is an excellent choice for those who prioritize flexibility without needing a physical SIM.