How to Buy a SIM Card at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) 2024: Best Plans + Updated Price

Learn how to buy a SIM Card at London Heathrow airport (LHR) step-by-step, best plans to choose for tourists to London UK, with the most updated price.

Guide to buy a sim card at London Heathrow Airport

Are you heading to London soon and landing at Heathrow airport? Are you wondering how you can stay connected while traveling in this stunning city? Don’t stress about getting online right away. There are easy options at the airport to get a UK SIM card with data so you can use maps, look up train schedules, and let your family know you arrived safely. This essential guide will show you everything you need to know about buying a SIM card at London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

I. How to get a SIM Card at London Heathrow Airport (LHR)?

To buy a UK SIM card for London, travelers have 03 common options: buying online before departure, buying at the airport, and buying in London city centers. To decide which option is best for you, take a quick look at the comparison table below:

At Heathrow Airport– Convenient after you land
– Activated right away
– Fewer provider options
– Quite expensive
Online before trip– More choices of plans/ providers
– Time to find the best deals
– Have to wait for delivery (physical SIM card)
– May not work until setup
In London center– Widest selection of plans/ providers/ stores
– Affordable rates
– Extra travel into city first
– Potentially higher price than online

▶ Our recommendations:

  • If you want Internet as soon as you reach London, don’t mind queuing at the airport’s SIM stands after arrival, and price is not a concern, buying a SIM card at Heathrow Airport is a good option.
  • If having Internet access immediately upon arrival is not a priority, go to the city center to purchase a SIM card for the best deal.
  • If you want to have Internet with reliable mobile data upon arrival actively and easily, buy it online before your UK trip.

II. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Heathrow Airport?

SIM Local Store at London Heathrow Airport
SIM Local Stores sell SIM cards at London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is one of the world’s largest airports, with four terminals in operation: 2, 3, 4, and 5. Tourists do not need to travel to another terminal to purchase a SIM card at Heathrow Airport because all terminals offer UK SIM cards to tourists. At the airport, SIM cards can be purchased at a variety of locations, including the arrival hall, baggage claim hall, sim card vending machines, and even convenience stores.

What to prepare: passport for ID proof, cash/credit card

Cost: quite expensive compared to buying online or in the city center

Pros: convenient, support from staff

Cons: not all stores are open 24/7. You will not be able to buy a UK SIM if you arrive late at night and stores are closed. Check carefully beforehand.

1. Local SIM stores

Location: Located in the baggage claim areas and arrival halls of all terminals.

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday (6:00am-10:00pm)

Plans: Offers SIM cards from Three, EE, and Lycamobile. Some plans include data and calls/ texts 10-100GB (for 30 days).

2. WHSmith convenience stores  

Location: in the terminals near arrival halls (from terminal 1 to 5)

Opening hours: daily but hours vary by store. (6:00 AM – 9:00 PM)

Plans: Sell the same SIM cards as Sim Local but you must activate yourself. Plans include 10-100GB of data and calls/texts for 30 days.

WHSmith map store at Heathrow airport
WHSmith map store at Heathrow airport

3. SIM card vending machines

Location: in baggage areas and terminals near shops.

Opening hours: Work 24/7 but no staff to help.

Plans: SIMs from Sim Local for cheaper but you activate yourself. Similar plans to Sim Local and WHSmith.

4. Travelex Currency Exchange 

Location: In Terminal 2 and 5 baggage claim halls.

Opening hours: Open daily but hours vary.

Plans: Have the cheapest SIMs starting at 20 pounds for 30 days with 40+ GB data and calls. No activation help.

Travelex Currency Exchange at London Heathrow Airport
Tourists to the UK can purchase a SIM card at Travelex Currency Exchange – Heathrow Airport

5. We Know London tourist info desks

Location: in Terminals 2 and 3 arrival halls. 

Opening hours: daily from early to late.

Plans: Sell SIMs plus help with activation and travel questions.

III. Do SIM card shops at LHR airport open after midnight?

No, SIM card shops at LHR Airport generally do not stay open after midnight. While the airport itself might operate 24/7, most shops and services, including SIM card kiosks, typically close between 11 PM and midnight.

This means that if you arrive late at night, you may find that these stores are closed and you won’t be able to purchase a SIM card immediately. It’s advisable to plan accordingly and consider alternative options, such as pre-ordering a SIM card online or using an eSIM if your phone supports it.

IV. Best Tourist London Airport SIM Card Options and Price

Tourists can get UK SIM cards from major UK mobile network operators at Heathrow airport: Three, Vodafone, EE, and O2. Stores sell the same prepaid physical SIM cards but at different costs.

Good to know: £1 GBP = $1.28 and $1 USD = £0.78 GBP (January, 2024)

OperatorDataCalls & TextsPrice
EE (SIM Local store)30GB/ 30 daysUnlimited calls & texts in the UK£30/ $38
EE100GB/ 30 daysUnlimited calls & texts in the UK & 60 international minutes to 41 countries£35/ $45
Three (SIM Local store)10GB/ 30 days (10 GB free EU data roaming)Unlimited calls & texts in 70 countries£25/ $32
Three100GB (12 GB free EU data roaming)Unlimited calls & texts in the UK£35/ $45
Vodafone40GBUnlimited calls & texts in the UK£20

If you do not know which provider to choose, we recommend Three mobile operator because of its reputation and popularity.

V. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at London Heathrow Airport?

It is essential to prepare necessary items so that you can get your UK SIM card.

  • Have your passport ready for ID proof and SIM activation
  • Research which providers and data plans work best for your needs before your UK trip
  • Know what size of SIM card your phone uses (micro/ nano)
  • Check store hours. Not all places are open 24/7 so you may have to wait ultil morning if arriving late at night.
  • Consider backup options. If stores are closed, you may use airport Wifi. Buying a UK SIM card or eSIM online before your trip is a great option.
  • Prepare cash and credit cards for payment.

Pro Tips:

  • You need to make sure that your cell phone is unlocked and charged. 
  • You do not need to bring SIM removal tool as store staff will help set up and activate your UK SIM card.

VI. UK eSIM for London – An Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at London Heathrow Airport

Affordable UK eSIM plans offered by Gigago
Gigago offers a wide range of UK eSIM plans

Choosing a eSIM rather than a physical SIM card at Heathrow Airport for Internet connection when visit London is an excellent option. This is why:

  • It is easy to download and activate an eSIM plan before your UK trip and activate it from anywhere.
  • Once bought, eSIM activate instantly. You will have data and calls as soon as you reach London.
  • No need to keep physical SIM cards for different countries, easy to switch plans while traveling.
  • Multiple plans and wide coverage

Gigago is a trusted eSIM providers for many countries around the world, including United Kingdom. For the UK, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1GB for 3 days with $3.50 . What is great about Gigago’s UK eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, vary between $3.50$125.98 . Therefore, 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 UK eSIM.

Important Note: Make sure your smartphone is unlocked and supports eSIM technology before purchase. Refer this updated eSIM compatible list for quick check.

VII. FAQs about Getting a SIM Card at London Heathrow Airport

Where can I buy a SIM card at London Heathrow airport?

You can get a SIM card from SIM Local stores, WHSmith stores, vending machines, and currency exchanges like Travelex located throughout the terminals.

Do I need to unlock my smartphone to use SIM card for London?

Definitely. Your smartphone needs to be unlocked by your home carrier to use a SIM from a different network abroad.

Is there EU data roaming included?

Some Three plans offered at Heathrow airport include limited EU roaming but not all. Check terms to avoid high bills while visiting Europe.

VIII. Conclusion

Getting a SIM card at London Heathrow airport is a great option if you need immediate Internet access upon arrival. This option seems very convenient, but it costs much more than buying a SIM card in the London center. For diverse and cost-effective data plans while traveling in the UK, eSIM would be an excellent choice.