How to Buy a SIM Card at Manchester Airport (MAN) 2024: Best Plans + Updated Price

If you are visiting the UK and landing at Manchester Airport, one of the first things you need to do is buying a SIM card to stay connected. Getting a SIM card at this airport ends up being very simple. In this guide, we will go over how to buy a SIM card at Manchester Airport (MAN), the best plans, and the finest alternative to get Internet during your trip to Manchester, UK.

I. Should You Buy a SIM Card at Manchester Airport (MAN)?

Yes. Purchasing a UK SIM card upon arrival at Manchester Airport has long been a popular choice among international tourists to have an Internet connection in the UK. However, there are also some other better options available.

The table below shows the pros and cons of getting a SIM card at Manchester Airport versus ordering beforehand or shopping in the city center:

Where to buyProsCons
At Manchester Airport– Convenient
– Immediate Internet access upon arrival
– Limited plans
– Fewer operator options- Rather expensive
Online before trip– A larger range of plans
– Reasonable rates
– Wait for delivery (prepaid physical SIM)
– Additional delivery charges
In Manchester center– Widest options of plans available
– Cheapest rates
– Need to commute to the city center

► Our recommendations:

  • For immediate Internet upon arrival, getting a SIM card at Manchester Airport is a good choice.
  • For the best offers of SIM plans and rates, consider commuting to the city center to get a UK SIM card.
  • For reliable mobile data upon arrival at an affordable price, purchase your UK SIM card several days before your flight.

II. Where to Get a SIM Card at Manchester Airport?

Manchester Airport map
It is simple to purchase a SIM card at Manchester Airport

It is so easy to get a SIM card at Manchester Airport: ordering a UK SIM card online before your flight then picking it up at Manchester Airport or purchasing a UK SIM card upon arrival. Let’s explore the details of each way.

1. Online before your UK trip and pick up at Manchester Airport

One easy option is to purchase a SIM card from one of the UK major providers before your trip. You can order online and choose “airport pick up” as the delivery option. They will then prepare your SIM card and have it ready for collection upon arrival. Remember to check if your chosen operator provides this service.

After you pass through customs at Manchester Airport, head to the customer service desks in the Arrivals area of Terminal 1 or 3. Look for signs pointing you to the specific providers you ordered from. Go up to the counter and give your name – they will give you your pre-ordered SIM card and active for you.

What to prepare: passport for ID proof, order confirmation for pickup

Cost: Generally affordable, £10-30/ a month depending data allowance.

Pros: Time-saving, SIM will be ready immediately upon arrival.

Cons: Must order in advance, small risk of delay in the SIM being ready for pickup

2. At Manchester airport upon arrival

SIM cards offered at Manchester Airport
You can get your UK SIM Card at Manchester airport upon arrival

There are 03 terminals at Manchester Airport. Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are used for flights from outside Europe and Terminal 3 is only for flights in Europe. Both Terminal 1 and 2 are simple to traverse and you can easily purchase a SIM card at Manchester Airport. 

At this airport, there are no mobile network operator stores so you may only buy SIM cards at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 with the four options as below:

What to prepare: passport, cash/ credit card, unlocked phone to insert your SIM

Cost: Expensive than buying in Manchester center or ordering online

Pros: quick Internet connection after landing, staff support

Cons: Shops do not always stay open late. If you reach late at night, some outlets are closed, and you will be unable to purchase a UK SIM card.

2.1. SIM Card Vending Machine

Location: Near the luggage belts at Terminal 1 and 2.

Plans: EE, Three, Vodafone SIM cards with various data plans and call/ text minutes (£20-45 GBP).

2.2. Spar Shop

Location: Terminal 1 and 2

Opening hours: Open 24 hoursPlans: Various UK SIM cards but you need to top up the credit yourself. SIM cards cost £2.99 GBP and 3GB of data costs £10 GBP.

Spar Shop sells UK SIM card at Manchester Airport
Spar Shop offers SIM card for the UK at Manchester Airport

2.3. Travelex Currency Exchange

Location: Terminal 1 and 2.

Plans: Lebara UK SIM cards with calls, texts, and data (£25 GBP)

2.4. WHSmith convenience stores

Location: Terminal 1 and 2

Opening hours

  • Monday: 03:30 – 21:30
  • Tuesday: 03:30 – 22:30
  • Wednesday: 03:30 – 21:00
  • Thursday: 03:30 – 21:00
  • Friday: 03:30 – 21:00
  • Saturday: 03:30 – 22:30
  • Sunday: 03:30 – 21:00

Plans: SIM cards from Vodafone, EE, Lebara with data and call/ text (£20-30). Staff is available to help.

If landing at other UK airports, you can learn our guides on buying a SIM card at London Heathrow airport (LHR) and Gatwick Airport (LGW).

WHSmith convenience store offers UK SIM cards at Manchester Airport
WHSmith convenience store sells tourist SIM cards at Manchester Airport

III. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Manchester Airport – Registration Process

Being prepared with the right documents and items will help you smoothly purchase a UK SIM card at Manchester Airport.

  • Passport: Make sure to bring your passport for identity verification
  • Payment method: You can buy SIM cards using British pounds in cash or a debit/ credit card.
  • Research plans: Do your research online beforehand on which carriers offer SIM card at Manchester airport and what data allowances and price plans they have. This will help you opt for the most appropriate SIM card.
  • Unlocked phone: Ensure your phone is unlocked and not tied to a network provider in your home country.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to bring a SIM removal tool with you as store staff will insert and activate the UK SIM card for you.

IV. Best Tourist Manchester Airport SIM Card Options and Price

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

At Manchester Airport, stores offer UK SIM cars from major UK carriers such as EE, Vodafone, Three. They also offer UK SIM cards from Lycamobile that uses O2 networks.

OperatorData/ Calls/ TextsValidityPrice
EE10.5GB, 150 minutes30 days in Europe£20/ $25
EE13GB, 250 minutes30 days in Europe£25/ $32
Three12GB, unlimited calls/ texts30 days in Europe£30/ $38
Vodafone20GB, 250 minutes, unlimited texts30 days in the UK£25/ $32
Lebara1GB, 500 minutes (international), 500 minutes (UK)30 days£20/ $25
Lebara5GB data, £5 credit, 1000 minutes (international), unlimited minutes (UK), 1000 UK texts30 days£30/ $38
Lycamobile6GB, Unlimited calls/ texts30 days in Europe£25/ $32
Lycamobile20GB, Unlimited calls/ texts30 days in the UK£35/ $45

V. UK eSIM for Manchester – An Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at Manchester Airport

UK eSIM plans offered by Gigago
Gigago offers a wide range of eSIM plans for tourists to Manchester, UK

Tourists visiting Manchester, UK can buy a prepaid eSIM plan instead of physical SIM card to stay connected. This is why:

  • Convenience: UK eSIM plans can be purchased and activated online at any time before your flight. Once purchased, eSIM activate immediately and you will have data and call and text services upon arrival.
  • Affordability: eSIM packages for the UK are much cheaper than international roaming charges.
  • Reliability: Prepaid eSIM offers reliable mobile data throughout the whole trip.

Gigago is a trusted UK eSIM provider that delivers a wide range of UK eSIM plans at competitive rates. For example, Gigago offers 10GB of data valid in 30 days for only $30, which is much more budget-friendly than UK SIM cards provided at Manchester Airport.

Pro Tip: You need to have an eSIM-compatible cell phone ready to download eSIM plans. Learn how to check if your phone supports eSIM by yourself or refer this eSIM compatiblity device list for quick check.

VI. Where to Buy a SIM Card Outside Manchester Airport?

Getting a SIM card outside Manchester Airport, particularly in the Manchester center is a great idea. You can go around Manchester to the major carrier stores, supermarkets, or convenience stores. These places offer a range of SIM card plans at affordable prices. 

Where to buy: EE store (Spring Gardens,…);flagship Vodafone store in Exchange Square; Three store on New Cathedral Street; Carphone Warehouse; Tesco/ Sainsbury’s; WHSmith (in major stations like Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations); etc.

What to prepare: unlocked phone, passport for ID verification, card/ credit cash.

Cost: reasonable, data plans range from 1GB for £10 to unlimited data for around £20-30/ month.

► Our recommendations:

  • For budget-minded UK visitors with schedule flexibility: Get to the Manchester center to buy SIM cards at budget-friendly rates.
  • For UK visitors with eSIM-capable devices: A prepaid eSIM is a smart selection, delivering dependable mobile data at fair prices.

VII. FAQs about Buying SIM card at Manchester Airport

What if my cell phone is not unlocked? Can I still use a SIM card for Manchester?

Your cell phone must be carrier-unlocked to use a UK SIM from a different network provider.

Where can I get a UK SIM card at Manchester airport?

Tourists can easily buy a UK SIM card from stores like WHSmith and Spar Shop located in both Terminal and 2. There are also vending machines near the baggage belts.

Do I need to show ID when buying SIM card at Manchester airport?

Definitely. You will need to show your passport for age verification and ID checks.

VIII. Conclusion

In conclusion, you can easily purchase a SIM card at Manchester Airport, in the city center, or online before your UK trip. An eSIM is also an excellent choice thanks to its flexibility, diverse plans, and budget-friendly rates. Remember to choose the way to stay connected that best suits your priorities and needs.