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I want to buy a SIM card with prepaid data plan in UK. I will travel around France and Finland. I'm staying for less than a month, and I expect to use <250 MB. It seems that most plans don't allow data roaming across countries for pre-paid plans. My criteria are (1) cost, (2) convenience, and (3) internet speed. Is it better to get multiple SIM cards, one for each country?

I have looked up a few plans in UK:

  • three.co.uk: £10 3p/min, 2p/SMS, 1p/MB in UK; but 24.5p/min, 8.1p/SMS, 45.8p/MB in France/Finland
  • lebara
    • Freedom £38 plan: 30 days, unlimited minutes & texts, 1GB in UK, Finland, France, and more.
    • pay as you go: 10p/min, 12p/SMS, 15p/MB in UK; 19p/min, 12p/SMS, no internet in France and Finland
  • O2.co.uk International Sim: £15 1p/min and 100MB within UK; 6p/min, 10p/SMS in France, 12p/min, 10p/SMS in Finland, no data roaming
  • giffgaff: £7.50 goodybag 1 month 200 mins, unlimited SMS, 250 MB, +2p/MB internet in UK; 45p/MB for data roaming
  • Orange: 24p/min, 8p/SMS, 42p/MB in France and Finland
  • Vodafone: £8/day for 100 MB
  • dataroam: £99 30 days, 1GB+MiFi, in 37 countries

Among the plans in this list, lebara Freedom £38 sounds most reasonable. Is there a better option I should consider?

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Welcome to the site. What do you mean by 'better'? It's a subjective word - means different things to different people. If you explain what YOU'RE looking for - ie cheapest, best coverage, and so on, it will be more likely to be answered accurately and usefully. –  Mark Mayo Jul 5 '13 at 23:31
    
@MarkMayo Thanks for the advice. I have updated to include my subjective but generic criteria. Cost is the most important at this point. –  Memming Jul 6 '13 at 13:14
    
Is there one country you'll be spending more time in than the others, or is it fairly evenly split? –  Gagravarr Jul 6 '13 at 14:37
    
@Gagravarr Good point. I'm spending equal amount of time in UK and France, less time in Finland. –  Memming Jul 7 '13 at 11:02
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I asked them about that too when buying, answer: the French law requires that operators have their customers' personal information (name, address, ID copy etc.). Some companies for security reasons choose to require that you have a French address and a French bank card (don't know why). When I got lefrenchmobile they just asked for the ID copy but I put my address back in UK they said it was fine. –  user7638 Jul 23 '13 at 14:35
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You will almost certainly be better off buying a separate SIM for each country. This may change in the next few years as roaming charges may be eliminated completely within the EU, but for now separate SIMs for each country is the best option.

Personally, I use the following :

In the UK, I use O2. The SIM is "free" and available from any number of shops, but you will need to purchase a 10 pound recharge voucher at the same time. From there, you can activate one of their "Web Bolt Ons" (http://www.o2.co.uk/tariffs/payandgo) which will give you 100MB for £3, 500MB for £6, or 1GB for £10. These amounts are taken from the credit on the account (ie, the £10 you originally purchased). There are many other providers all of which have similar pre-paid plans.

In Finland, I use Saunalahti. You can purchase a SIM card at any R-Kioski (which are everywhere, including at Helsinki Airport), at the Supermarket at Helsinki Airport, or from numerous other locations. It costs around €6 (although is often on special for closer to €3) and includes €6.90 credit. Data plans are available, but if you don't sign up for one then there is a maximum charge for data of €2/day. Depending on how long you will be in the country, it may be cheapest to simply buy multiple SIMs and swap between then. Again, there are multiple providers available with similar plans.

As I said, these are simply the ones that I use - there are multiple other options available - however I've visited both of these countries at least 3 times each this year already, and both of these SIMs have worked without any problems.

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Very helpful answer. Thank you! –  Memming Jul 8 '13 at 12:42
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I used to have different sim cards for each country and now I switched to lefrenchmobile which should actually be called european mobile. You have a french number but it's the same price when you call from any country in Europe. For internet you can get different packages depending if you only stay in France or Europe.

The "+" : the prices in all europe, the home delivery and the service in english.

The "-": you can't buy data packages directly you have to convert all or parts of your credit if you want one (but you can do internet with package).

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I bought different sim cards in the UK and France. The one issue I had with buying a Virgin SIM card in France was that they needed a home address even though I was buying a prepaid card. I had a local residence that I could have claimed but I am not sure how it works for a typical tourist. You might need to get someone to purchase the card for you in France.

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