International SIM card deals
Making calls from the UK to international numbers can be expensive from both your landline and your mobile. International calls can cost as much as £3 per minute, depending on where you are calling, so if you call abroad often your mobile phone bill can get rather big. The answer could be for you to get a prepaid international SIM card or to add international calls to your current mobile plan. Read our useful guide to find out more about how you could save money on international calls.
There is a lot of choice when it comes to international SIMs, so the best deal for you will depend upon your situation. How much you call abroad, where you are calling, and how many different countries you wish to call, all play a part in finding the most suitable deal.
Most international SIMs are rolling contracts, where you get a certain allowance of calls and texts per month, which will often include UK calls as well. However, this won’t include calls to premium rate numbers in the UK or overseas, or any calls to customer support and similar services who charge for calls.
Which networks offer international SIM deals?
All of the UK's major mobile networks - EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone - offer international SIM deals, providing a cheap and flexible option to make regular calls abroad.
Other providers that have international SIM deals include, but are not limited to:
International calling add-ons
All major networks and many of the smaller providers offer international calling add-ons. This may be a simpler option than an international SIM only deal, as you can use your current mobile and network provider without having to worry about a new SIM. Depending on which add-on you choose, adding international calls to your plan will normally add somewhere between £3 and £15 to your monthly bill.
The four main UK network providers all have international add-ons that include:
- Three International Saver: Adds on a massive 3,000 minutes per month to overseas landlines for around £15 per month.
- Vodafone International Saver: Adds 100 minutes to overseas landlines and mobile for just £3 a month. This is a cheaper option for those who don’t call internationally too regularly.
- EE The International: Adds on 500 minutes to overseas landlines and mobiles for £10 per month.
- O2 International Favourites Bolt On: Also adds on 3,000 minutes to overseas landlines, as well as 100 minutes of mobile calls to three overseas numbers of your choosing.
The countries included within the add-ons will change from network to network so remember to always check the term and conditions before you purchase any add-ons.
International SIM deals vs international add-ons: Which is better?
At the end of the day it is hard to say that one is better than the other when it comes to international SIM deals vs international add-ons. The choice you make will be entirely dependent on your personal preference and your situation.
If you are looking for ease and are not too worried about the extra expense, then add-ons can be easier as you don’t have to worry about any new contracts and can simply continue using your phone normally for a little extra per month. If you want a cheaper deal then international SIMs can work out significantly cheaper, especially if you make more calls abroad than you do in the UK.
International calls using the internet
Nowadays there are many ways you can make international calls using the internet. Services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber all allow you to make a call as long as you have Wi-Fi or 3G/4G mobile data available. This means that you don’t need any sort of international calling bundle to make ‘free’ overseas calls.
However, this can have its downsides. Firstly, you won’t always have internet or a 3G/4G signal. The other problem can be that this type of calling uses your 3G/4G data allowance, meaning that you may run out of data a lot quicker. Without an unlimited data plan it can be expensive to top up, so it may be more cost-effective to save your data for more useful things.
Occasional international calls
If you rarely call abroad then you may not need an international call plan at all. However, is it cheaper to make international calls on your landline or your mobile? This will of course depend on your landline provider and mobile network plan, but generally speaking it will be cheaper to call abroad off your landline than your mobile. If you only occasionally call abroad then we would recommend planning ahead to call at a time when you can use the internet so you can make a free call.
Last reviewed: 13 May 2022
Next review: 13 June 2022