Heading to London and need a SIM card? This guide has all the key information you need to get connected with a UK SIM card at Heathrow airport.

Where to buy a SIM Card at London Heathrow Airport

I. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Heathrow Airport

There are a few main options for purchasing a SIM card at Heathrow:

1. SIM Local Stores

  • Location: In the baggage claim areas as well as in the arrival halls of all terminals
  • Opening hours: 6am-10pm
Getting Sim card at UK airport - SIM local store
SIM Local Store

2. Vending Machines

There are also automated vending machines that sell SIM cards located throughout Heathrow’s terminals. You can find it easily in the baggage area, arrival hall, even in the parking.

The main downside with vending machines is the lack of customer support if you need help activating your SIM card. Overall they offer a quick self-service option.

Buy UK Airport SIM - Automated Kiosk
Automated Kiosk at Airport

3. Supermarkets & Convenience Stores

There are also mini supermarkets and stores like WHSmith located across Heathrow’s terminals that sell SIM cards from major UK networks. These include:

  • Boots – Boots stores located in Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5 sell SIMs from O2, Vodafone, EE and others. Open hours are generally 5am – 10pm.
  • WHSmith – Found in all terminals, WHSmith shops open from 5am – 10pm. Offer SIM cards from Vodafone, EE, O2, GiffGaff, and more.
  • Spar – Small Spar convenience stores in Terminals 2 and 3 also stock SIM cards from many providers.

While slightly less convenient than dedicated SIM card retailers, these shops provide another option if needed.

Convenience Store - Boots
Convenience Store – Boots

II. Heathrow Airport SIM Card Options and Costs

There are plenty of SIM card options from major UK networks available at Heathrow Airport. Here’s an overview of key providers and current pricing:

Network SIM Type Data Minutes Texts Price (USD)
O2 Pay As You Go 15GB Unlimited Unlimited $35
Vodafone Pay As You Go 12GB Unlimited Unlimited $25
EE Pay As You Go 25GB 100 Unlimited $35
Three Pay As You Go 12GB 3000 Unlimited $25
GiffGaff Pay As You Go 25GB 250 Unlimited $25
Lebara Pay As You Go 15GB 1000 1000 $25
LycaMobile Pay As You Go 12GB 300 Unlimited $10

*Prices are approximate conversions to USD at time of writing. Actual costs in GBP. Data packages valid for 30 days

Getting a SIM card at Heathrow airport means you’ll have data right after landing.

III. What You Need to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Heathrow Airport

To purchase and set-up a UK SIM card when you land at Heathrow, make sure you have:

  • Unlocked Phone – Your phone must be unlocked to accept a foreign SIM card. Contact your home carrier to unlock before traveling if needed.
  • Passport or Photo ID – Some SIM card providers require you show your passport or national ID when buying.
  • Nano/Micro SIM – Older phones use regular or micro SIM cards. Newer devices need a nano SIM, so bring an adapter if your current SIM isn’t nano sized.
  • Activate Instructions – Print out or screenshot instructions from the SIM provider on how to activate the SIM card once inserted into your phone.
  • Credit/Debit Card – Many SIM card vending machines and stores only accept credit or debit card, not cash. Have a card ready to pay.

With those items, buying and setting up a SIM card immediately after your flight lands at Heathrow Airport is quick and hassle-free.

IV. eSIM as an Alternative to Physical SIM Card at Heathrow Airport

Using an eSIM is a great alternative to buying a traditional plastic SIM card at Heathrow Airport. Here are the main benefits:

  • Convenience – eSIMs are digital, meaning no need to go to a store. Just download the eSIM profile and get connected.
  • Multi SIM Capability – eSIM allows you to have both your existing home SIM and a local data SIM active simultaneously.
  • Flexibility – You can switch eSIM profiles as you travel to different countries. Or have multiple local profiles on one phone.
  • Better Security – An eSIM can’t be physically removed from your phone like a plastic SIM card. Provides better protection against SIM swap fraud.

Many providers now offer global eSIM plans targeted at travelers, especially is GIGAGO

The benefit of an eSIM service like UK eSIM from GIGAGO is you can download the eSIM profile before you fly using Heathrow’s free WiFi. Then your UK data is ready to use immediately after landing – no need to find a store.

Let’s take a look at their best plans

Best UK eSIM plans
Best UK eSIM plans

Overall, eSIM provides maximum flexibility and convenience for staying connected while traveling. Heathrow’s WiFi makes it easy to set-up your eSIM after landing.

👉eSIM tips: Check eSIM- compatible device list before purchasing your eSIM.

UKeSIM- alternative to buy SIM card at Heathrow Airport
UKeSIM Best Plans

V. FAQs

Can I buy a SIM card late at night or early morning at Heathrow Airport?

Most SIM card stores and vending machines are open 24 hours a day at Heathrow, even very early or late. So you can purchase a SIM no matter what time your flight arrives or departs. 24/7 availability makes getting a SIM after a red-eye flight easy

What are the opening hours for SIM card shops at Heathrow terminals?

The major SIM card retailers like BT Mobile, Dixons and airport convenience stores generally open from 5am or 6am and close around 10pm-11pm. Smaller shops may have more variable hours. But you’ll always find multiple options open early morning through to late evening.

Can I pay by credit/debit card for a SIM card at Heathrow?

Yes, paying by credit or debit card is widely accepted at Heathrow Airport SIM shops and vending machines. Contactless or chip payments are the most common method. Some smaller stores may only take cash, so have some GBP on hand just in case.

Do Heathrow Airport SIM shops sell both contract and prepaid (Pay As You Go) SIMs?

Most SIM card retailers at Heathrow focus on selling prepaid SIMs as these are more convenient for short term visitors. But some do offer local contract SIMs for UK residents. Stores like BT Mobile also sell 12 month SIM only contracts for tourists needing long-term UK connectivity.

Is VAT included in the SIM card price at Heathrow?

Yes, SIM card prices advertised at stores and vending machines in Heathrow Airport will include the standard 20% VAT. Taxes are incorporated into the listed rates.

VI. Final Words

Purchasing a UK SIM card at Heathrow Airport is super quick and easy. Don’t forget to get ready with our UK eSIM after landing!