Traveling to the United Kingdom can be an amazing experience. With so many beautiful sights, it’s great if you can stay connected with EE.

Let’s take an in-depth look at EE mobile carrier options for tourists visiting UK.

EE SIM Card and eSIM

1. Quick facts about EE

EE (formerly known as Everything Everywhere) is a major provider of mobile network services in the UK. Here are some key facts about EE:

  • Established: Founded in 2010 from a merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK
  • Subscribers: UK’s largest mobile network with over 32 million subscribers
  • Services provided: Provides 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services
  • Stores: 600+ stores across the UK
  • Customer support: 24/7 customer support in 11 languages
  • Awards: Winner of multiple awards for network quality and service

With its extensive coverage, fast speeds, variety of plans and quality customer service, EE is a good choice for travelers coming to the UK.


2. EE Coverage and Speed in the UK

Before getting an EE SIM, it’s good to understand their network coverage and speeds across the UK.

2.1 EE coverage in UK

EE- Coverage maps
EE- Coverage maps. Source: nperf

According to this coverage map, their 4G network reaches more than 99% of the UK population. They have strong coverage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – including major cities and rural areas.

EE has been rapidly expanding their 5G network over the past couple years. As of 2022, their 5G covers over 50% of the UK. Speeds and availability vary by region, with the fastest 5G concentrated in big cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

2.2 EE speed

In addition to broad coverage, EE also offers fast mobile data speeds.

EE - Speedtest
EE – Speedtest. Source: Broadband

According to Broadband’s latest report, EE’s average 4G download speed is 61.2 Mbps and their average 4G upload speed is 14.43 Mbps.

EE’s early rollout of 5G has provided a boost in speed for some users. In Ookla’s testing, EE’s average 5G download speed reached 126.10 Mbps, while average 5G upload hit 21.6 Mbps. However 5G is only available in certain cities so far.

EE- Speed test ranked by Ookla
EE- Speed test ranked. Source: Ookla

EE has ranked as the UK’s fastest mobile network for years according to multiple independent reports. While actual speeds vary due to location and signal, EE generally provides the fastest and consistent data rates for UK travelers.

3. EE connectivity options for travelers to UK

As a tourist visiting the UK, you have a few different options to connect to EE’s fast, reliable network:

  • Get an EE SIM card: Purchasing an EE SIM card for your unlocked phone is the most direct method. You can buy a prepaid EE SIM either before your trip or upon arrival.
  • Use an EE pocket Wifi rental: Renting a pocket wifi device provides a small portable hotspot connected to EE’s network.
  • Roam onto EE’s network: Roaming directly onto their UK network.
Option Pros Cons
Get an EE SIM Card Fast connectivity on EE's network Requires swapping SIM card
Use an EE pocket wifi rental Connects multiple devices Must be returned to avoid fees
No SIM swap in phone Limited 300ft range
Roam onto EE's network Easier to monitor data Very expensive ($10-15/day)
Performance varies by roaming agreement

For most UK visitors, getting your own EE SIM card will provide the best experience. You get lower rates, faster speeds and more data compared to roaming or using a pocket wifi. The minor hassle of swapping your SIM is worth it!

4. Best EE SIM card for tourists & cost

EE offers several prepaid SIM card options that are perfect for short UK trips. Here are some of the best EE tourist SIM deals:

Best SIM card options

Plan Data Validity Cost
EE Pay As You Go 500MB 7 days ~$10
EE 7 Day Super SIM 12GB 7 days ~$20
EE 14 Day Super SIM 24GB 14 days ~$30
EE Monthly SIM 160GB 30 days ~$40

The Pay As You Go SIM gives you a small amount of data at low cost for very short trips. The 7 and 14 day Super SIMs offer more substantial data for week-long to two week visits. The Monthly SIM provides tons of data for longer stays.

These prepaid SIMs provide unlimited UK calling and global texting. You can add more data as needed by purchasing top-up vouchers.

5. Does EE UK support eSIM?

Yes, EE does offer eSIM support on compatible Apple and Google phones. eSIMs provide digital cellular connectivity instead of using a plastic physical SIM card.

Some benefits of using an eSIM include:

  • Easy to activate cellular service without swapping SIMs
  • Ability to store multiple eSIM profiles for different countries
  • More secure connectivity since eSIMs can’t be physically removed
  • Streamlined setup when you arrive in the UK

Right now, our UK eSIM service for UK does not currently include EE plans due to their lower coverage in rural areas. But we do offer eSIMs from Three UK with more extensive nationwide coverage for travelers.

6. Where can you buy an EE SIM card and eSIM?

6.1 Where to buy EE SIM card for UK

  • Upon Arrival at the Airport

Many UK airports have EE stores or kiosks located right in the arrivals area or in the terminals. This allows you to buy and activate an EE SIM as soon as you land. Just look for their bright yellow and magenta colors and signage.

Buy EE SIM card at Airport
Buy EE SIM card at Airport
  • At an EE Store

EE has over 570 retail stores located throughout the UK. Visit an official branded store to buy the latest SIM card deals and plans. Bring your passport as ID.

Store staff can help you activate your new SIM card right on the spot so you leave connected. Use the EE store locator to find an EE shop nearby.

Buy EE SIM card at Store
Buy EE SIM card at Store
  • At Other Retailers

You can also purchase EE SIMs at third-party retailers like Carphone Warehouse, Argos, Tesco Mobile and more. Prices may be slightly lower than official EE stores.

When buying an EE SIM in-person, be sure to have your passport ready for identification. Staff will assist you in activating your new SIM on the spot.

6.2 Where to buy EE eSIM

EE’s prepaid eSIMs for tourists are currently only sold at EE’s stores and kiosks within the UK. You cannot obtain their tourist eSIMs online yet.

However, UK eSIM from GIGAGO provides eSIMs for UK from other leading providers that can be purchased conveniently on our website before you depart. Our self-service eSIM process allows instant activation from our app once you arrive – without visiting any store.

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

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

7. How to activate EE UK SIM card/eSIM

7.1 How to use EE UK SIM card

  • Insert the SIM: Locate the SIM card slot on your device and gently insert the EE SIM card.
  • Power on device: Turn on your phone, tablet or mobile hotspot that now has the EE SIM.
  • Activate the SIM card: If not already activated automatically, you may need to call EE or use their app to activate your new SIM.
  • Configure APN: Ensure mobile data is working by setting the proper APN settings, if required.
  • Check your service: Make a test call and browse the internet to confirm your EE SIM is activated correctly.

7.2 How to activate EE UK eSIM

  • Install eSIM: Download the eSIM mobile profile to your device using a QR code or activation link.
  • Activate eSIM: Complete the verification process by scanning your passport or entering the eSIM EID number.
  • Set up eSIM: Follow the prompts to get your cellular plan configured with EE’s network.
  • Start using: Once activated and set up, you’ll be ready to start making calls and using data with your eSIM!

For step-by-step instructions, please see eSIM activation guides

Activating your eSIM only takes a few minutes allowing you to stay connected during your UK trip!

8. EE Call & SMS rates

Here are EE’s pay-as-you-go rates for calls and texts from your SIM card or eSIM while traveling in the UK:

Call & SMS Rates

Call/SMS Type Rate (USD)
Calls to UK mobile numbers $0.30/min
Calls to UK landlines $0.20/min
Calls to numbers in EU/EEA $0.25/min
Calls to international numbers $1.25/min
Texts to UK numbers $0.20/SMS
Texts to numbers in EU/EEA $0.20/SMS
Texts to international numbers $0.30/SMS

These are the standard rates for Pay As You Go plans. Calling within the EE network is often cheaper on monthly contracts.

9. Useful USSD codes for EE UK SIM card/eSIM

USSD codes allow you to check your EE SIM card balance and info directly from your phone by entering number combinations. Here are some useful USSD codes:

USSD Codes

USSD Code Description
*#100# Check account balance
*144# Check call, text and data usage
1501# Check remaining data allowance
*133# Enable/disable international calling
*131# Manage call diverting and forwarding
104phone number# Add numbers to call barring list
1313*phone number# Add numbers to whitelist
*146# Dial voicemail messages

Simply enter these codes into your phone dial pad and tap call/send. Your EE network info will display instantly with no need for an internet connection.

USSD codes provide a quick way to monitor your prepaid SIM usage and account status directly on your device.

10. How to top-up EE UK SIM card/eSIM

Running low on prepaid data or minutes? You can easily top-up your EE SIM/eSIM balance in a few ways:

Online via the EE website:

  • Login and select “Top Up”
  • Use a credit/debit card to instantly add funds

Text message:

  • Text TOPUP $5 for $5 top-up
  • Funds added within minutes

EE retail stores:

  • Visit any EE store and pay cash/card
  • Top-ups available from $6-60

Keeping your EE SIM topped up is quick whether you use a voucher or card-based recharge. Just add more minutes and data as needed.

11. Alternatives to EE

While EE is an good mobile network choice in the UK, there are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Three UK – Three offers some of the lowest cost prepaid data SIM cards starting around $10. Speeds can be congested in cities though.
  • Vodafone – Vodafone has the second best coverage and speeds behind EE. Their SIM card rates are competitive.
  • O2 – O2 has good 4G coverage but slower average download speeds compared to EE and Vodafone.

Be sure to check coverage maps to ensure your network of choice has strong service where you are visiting in the UK. Often EE is the good option, but these others can serve as cost-effective backups.

Aditionally UK eSIM as an alternative to give you outstanding prepaid rates and connectivity through premium providers like Three UK. Let’s see more about their best plans:

Best UK eSIM plans
Best UK eSIM plans

12. FAQs about EE in UK

Can I change my EE mobile plan?

Yes, you can upgrade, downgrade or switch plans online through your account. Changes take effect at your next billing cycle.

How much data will I need in the UK?

For light usage like maps, calls and some web browsing, you may need only 5-10GB for a weeklong trip. For heavier usage with video streaming, music etc., 15-30GB for a week is recommended. Buy a top-up voucher if you need more.

Can I use my EE SIM card in multiple devices?

Yes, you can use your EE nano-SIM or eSIM profile in any unlocked phone, tablet, mobile hotspot or other cellular-enabled device while traveling. Just switch the SIM or reinstall the eSIM profile to change gadgets.

Is my home network SIM also valid in the UK?

Possibly, if your provider has a roaming agreement with a UK carrier. But roaming data rates are extremely expensive – usually $10 to $15 per day! Better to get a local UK SIM/eSIM.

13. Final words

In summary, EE consistently provides the fastest mobile data speeds and widest 4G/5G coverage in the UK. Their network performance makes EE SIM card and eSIM an excellent connectivity choice for tourists.

Getting UK eSIM is also convenient if you have a compatible dual SIM device. Both options enable fast sharing of your UK travel experiences at affordable rates.