Nothing ruins the start of an exciting UK trip like struggling to find a SIM card that works once you land at Manchester Airport. Whether you’re here for a weekend city break or a longer vacation, having reliable data connectivity should be a breeze. This quick guide will help you navigate their SIM card at Manchester Airport. Let’s get you connected for exploring Manchester!

Where to buy a SIM card at Manchester Airport

I. Where Can I Buy A SIM Card At Manchester Airport?

WHSmith at Manchester Airport
WHSmith at Manchester Airport

If you’re coming to visit the UK from overseas, one of the first things you’ll want to do after arriving at Manchester Airport is to get a local SIM card. This allows you to stay connected during your trip without incurring expensive international roaming fees from your home carrier. Here are the key places you can buy a SIM card at Manchester Airport:

  • WHSmith Stores: Have a large selection of networks and plans to choose from. However, they do close slightly earlier at 10pm. Still a good option during most hours. Look for WHSmith between Terminals 1 and 2.
  • Spar Shops: Very convenient as they are open 24/7. Spar shops can be found in both Terminal 1 and 2, so you can get a SIM at any time of day or night.
  • SIM Card Vending Machines: Located at the baggage carousels in both Terminal 1 and 2, these vending machines allow you to purchase a SIM card immediately upon arrival while waiting for your luggage. They offer a basic, no-frills option.
  • Currency Exchange Counters: In addition to exchanging money, the currency exchange locations inside both terminals also sell SIM cards. Open long hours for customer convenience.

Tips: For finding more and more budget-friendly plans, it is advised that you get a SIM card in Manchester city.

II. Manchester Airport SIM Card Options and Costs

The major UK network operators like Vodafone, EE, O2, and Three offer prepaid tourist SIM cards at Manchester Airport. Here is an overview of popular SIM plans and estimated pricing:

CarrierPlan DetailsPrice (USD)Validity
EE150 mins, 10.5 GB data (Europe-wide)$2530 days
250 mins, 13 GB data (Europe-wide)$3230 days
ThreeUnlimited calls/texts, 12 GB data (Europe-wide)$3830 days
Unlimited calls/texts/data (Europe-wide)$5730 days
Vodafone250 mins, unlimited texts, 20 GB data (UK only)$4130 days
O2 Go Card10 GB data, $2 call credit (34 countries)$24.9030 days

EE and Three tend to offer the best value plans that include minutes, texts and generous data that can be used throughout Europe. This provides flexibility if you plan to also visit nearby countries. Vodafone is slightly cheaper if staying solely in the UK while O2 Go Card is an especially affordable solution for American travelers on a budget. 

III. What I Need to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Manchester Airport

To purchase a SIM card at Manchester Airport, be sure you have:

  • Passport/ID – Most SIM providers will require you to present a valid passport or other government-issued photo ID for verification purposes. Have your ID ready.
  • Payment Method – The major options accept both cash and credit cards. Carry some pounds sterling or have your chip-and-pin credit card available for smooth transactions.
  • Device Compatibility – Check your phone, tablet, or other device is unlocked and able to accept a local SIM card. UK SIMs use nano-SIM format.
  • Airport Maps – Familiarize yourself with terminal maps indicating SIM retailers like WHSmith, Spar, etc. Signs are posted as well. Allow time for purchase before departing the airport.

Overall, coming prepared with the right documentation, research, and some pounds goes a long way towards easily acquiring a convenient pay-as-you-go SIM for your stay upon arrival in Manchester.

IV. UK eSIM – An Alternative to SIM Card at Manchester Airport

UK eSIM - Alternative for tourists
UK eSIM – Alternatively for tourists

Instead of waiting in long lines at Manchester Airport to buy a SIM card, consider getting an eSIM from for your UK travel needs.

As the top eSIM provider for tourists, offers a fast and convenient alternative to physical SIM cards. With data packs starting from just $3.50, you can buy an eSIM plan right from your phone and have it activated within minutes – no need to find a retailer at the airport.

Skip the airport queues and get your UK eSIM today


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

Yes, SIM cards can be purchased 24/7 at Manchester Airport. Stores like WHSmith and Dixons open very early morning and close after the last flight. This allows you to buy a SIM no matter what time your flight arrives or departs.

What are the SIM card shop opening hours at Manchester Airport terminals?

Opening hours vary for each retailer, but major SIM sellers like Vodafone, WHSmith, and Dixons are open 4:30-5:30am until 10:00-10:30pm daily. Smaller shops may have more limited hours. Be sure to check opening times for the specific store you plan to visit.

Can I pay with credit/debit card for a SIM card at Manchester Airport?

Most major SIM card retailers accept major credit and debit cards. However, some smaller shops may be cash only. Before buying your SIM, check if the store accepts card payment to avoid any problems

Do the SIM card shops at Manchester Airport offer discounts or deals?

The main SIM card outlets do not typically offer special discounts for airport purchases. Prices are generally the same as buying directly from the mobile carrier. You can sometimes get a discount by showing a valid student, youth, or teacher ID card.

How can I access free airport WiFi when I land to arrange a SIM card?

Manchester Airport provides free WiFi throughout the terminals. To access, connect to the “Manchester _ Free WiFi” network. You’ll need to watch a 30-second advert video before getting online access. This will allow you to research SIM options and arrange an eSIM if needed when you arrive.

VI. Final Words

In conclusion, Manchester Airport offers tourists easy access to local SIM cards from a variety of retail outlets and vending machines located throughout the terminals. Being able to purchase an affordable pay-as-you-go SIM upon arrival sets travelers up for hassle-free connectivity from the start of their UK adventures. Consider choosing an affordable eSIM plan from, which is ideal for travelers seeking flexibility and the best value when staying connected during their UK visit.

Get United Kingdom eSIM – Beat roaming fees and bypass airport SIM shops