Getting an O2 UK SIM card during your trip allows you to stay connected with data, calls and messages at affordable rates.

Let’s see their options.

O2 SIM Card and eSIM

I. Quick Facts About O2

Let’s check some quick facts about this brand before choosing:

  • Established: Founded in 2002,
  • Subscribers: O2 is one of the biggest mobile networks in the UK with over 25 million customers.
  • Services provided: O2 launched 2G services in 1993, 3G in 2004 and 4G in 2013. It now provides 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services, key services offered include mobile phone plans, mobile broadband, SIM cards, roaming services etc.
  • Stores: O2 has over 450 stores and other retail outlets across the UK for easy SIM purchase.
  • Customer service:  Available through phone, email, web chat etc in English language 24/7.
  • Awards: O2 has won many awards over the years including Best Network Coverage, Best Customer Service, Best SIM-only deals etc.
O2 SIM Card and eSIM

II. O2 Coverage and Speed in the UK

When choosing a network in the UK, coverage and speed are two of the most important factors.

1. O2 Coverage in the UK

O2 - Coverage maps
O2 – Coverage maps

According to various coverage maps, O2 has extensive coverage across most parts of the UK. It covers all major cities and towns. Rural areas also have fairly good coverage but some remote parts may have limited connectivity.

Comparing O2’s coverage map to other major networks like EE, Vodafone and Three, it can be seen that O2 lags behind slightly in terms of rural coverage. But all in all, O2 provides adequate coverage for tourists visiting popular destinations.

2. O2 Speeds

O2 Speed test
O2 Speed test. Source: Broadband

In terms of data speeds, O2 offers fast 4G speeds averaging around 50Mbps for downloads and 14Mbps for uploads according to Opensignal. This is comparable to other networks like EE, Vodafone and Three which also have similar 4G speeds.

5G is available in many major cities bringing enhanced speeds of over 150Mbps. So with O2, tourists can enjoy fast speeds for social media, maps, videos and other data needs. Speeds may reduce in extremely crowded areas or remote locations.

III. O2 Connectivity Options for Travelers

As a tourist visiting the UK, you have three main options to connect to the O2 network:

  1. Get an O2 UK SIM card – Most convenient option to get unlimited data, calls & texts on O2. But requires SIM change.
  2. Use a pocket wi-fi device – Connects via O2 but can be less reliable.
  3. Roam onto O2 – Simple but expensive so not recommended.

Here is a comparison of the pros and cons of each option:

Connectivity Options

Option Pros Cons
Get an O2 SIM card Unlimited data, calls & texts Requires SIM change
Fully on O2 coverage Locked to O2 plans/rates
Direct customer support
Use a pocket wi-fi device No SIM change needed Relies on mobile data
Can share WiFi with others Can be less reliable
Additional rental costs
Roam onto O2 with other SIM Simple to enable Very expensive rates
Use existing SIM & number For occasional use only
Not viable as main connection

Getting an O2 SIM card is the best option for most tourists visiting the UK for affordable and reliable connectivity on the O2 network.

IV. Best O2 UK SIM Card for Tourists & Prices

O2 offers both pre-paid and post-paid SIM cards for tourists. Pre-paid SIMs are the most convenient option as they don’t require any contracts.

Here are some of the best prepaid SIM deals for tourists on O2:

SIM Card Price Features
O2 Travel SIM $21 1GB data valid for 1 month. Top ups available.
O2 1-Month SIM $25 Unlimited texts and calls. 1GB data. No contract.
O2 30-Day SIM $30 Unlimited calls and texts in UK. 10GB data.
O2 Welcome Europe SIM $36 Includes unlimited UK calls/texts + 9GB roaming data in Europe. Valid for 1 month.
O2 Flexi Travel SIM $56.99 Unlimited UK calls/texts. 15GB data. 6 month validity.
O2 Data Travel SIM $71.99 30 days access with 30GB data. No calls/texts.
O2 Travel Bundle SIM $86.99 Includes calls/texts in 60+ countries. 30GB data over 6 months.

For heavy data usage, the O2 Travel SIM with 30GB for 30 days offers an excellent combo of data and validity at a reasonable rate.

V. Does O2 UK Offer eSIM?

Yes, O2 does provide eSIM services in the UK for compatible devices like latest iPhones and Google Pixel phones.

eSIM allows you to activate a data plan digitally without needing to insert a plastic SIM card. It offers greater convenience as you don’t need to carry multiple SIM cards.

You can purchase an O2 eSIM directly from O2 online or at their stores. Alternatively, third party eSIM providers also offer O2 eSIM options.

Unfortunately UK eSIM currently does not offer O2 UK eSIMs due to their higher costs. But they provide more affordable eSIMs from other major UK networks like Three.

VI. Where To Buy An O2 UK SIM Card & eSIM

There are a few options to purchase an O2 SIM card or eSIM when visiting the UK:

1. Where to buy O2 UK SIM card

Upon Arrival

O2 SIM cards are available at airport arrival halls, tourist shops and kiosks in London airports like Heathrow, Gatwick etc. But prices may be higher.

Buy O2 SIM Card at Airport
Buy O2 SIM Card at Airport

O2 Stores

For best rates, visit official O2 stores available in most cities. You’ll need to show passport as ID. Store staff can help set up the SIM card.

Buy O2 SIM Card at Store
Buy O2 SIM Card at Store

Other Retailers

Many authorized retailers like supermarkets and phone shops also sell O2 SIMs across the UK. Compare rates across retailers.

2. Where to buy O2 eSIM


The ideal choice is order an O2 SIM for delivery to your UK accommodation or eSIM for instant digital activation. Provides convenience but verify seller reputation first.

For O2 eSIM, visit the O2 website or app and follow the eSIM activation steps. Alternatively purchase from reputed eSIM websites that email eSIM profiles.

VII. Activating Your O2 UK SIM Card or eSIM

Activating and using an O2 SIM card or eSIM is very straightforward:

Activate O2 UK SIM Card

  1. Insert the SIM card: Locate the SIM card slot on your device
  2. Power on your device: Turn on your device and wait for it to recognize the SIM card
  3. Activate the SIM card
  4. Set up APN settings if you can not use the eSIM.
  5. Check your services.

Activate O2 UK eSIM

Follow these steps to activate your O2 eSIM:

  1. Install eSIM profile on phone
  2. Accept T&Cs
  3. Verify identity
  4. Activate eSIM plan
  5. Start using eSIM

VIII. O2 Call & SMS Rates

When using an O2 pay-as-you-go SIM, here are the current call and SMS rates:

Call & SMS Rates

Call/SMS Type Rate (USD)
Calls to UK mobile numbers $0.35/min
Calls to UK landlines $0.25/min
Calls to numbers in EU/EEA $0.30/min
Texts to UK numbers $0.20/SMS
Texts to numbers in EU/EEA $0.20/SMS
Calls to international numbers $1.50/min
Texts to international numbers $0.35/SMS

Rates are quite affordable for brief calls and texts. Remember these are only applicable if you opt for an O2 pay-as-you-go voice & text SIM card. Data-only SIMs cannot make calls.

IX. Useful USSD Codes for O2

USSD codes allow you to easily check your data balance, activate plans and more directly from your phone keypad. Here are some useful O2 USSD codes:

USSD Codes

USSD Code Description
*#909# Check account balance
1241# Check call, text and data usage
*128# Manage call forwarding and diversion settings
*131# Turn international/premium calls on/off
*342870826525# Change network settings and set data limits
*100# Check remaining data balance
141number# Restrict calls to barred numbers/types
*133# Customize 4-digit account access PIN
1203number# Bypass call barring for approved contacts

X. Top- Up Your O2 UK SIM Card

You can easily top-up your O2 prepaid credit using vouchers or a credit/debit card:

  • Vouchers – Purchase top up vouchers from O2 stores, retailers like supermarkets and petrol stations. Scratch to reveal a code and dial *125*CODE# to redeem.
  • Online – Use your card to top up online via O2 website or app. Provides instant top up.

Ensure you redeem the top up correctly using the USSD code. This will instantly add the data, minutes or validity. Contact O2 if you face any issues.

XI. Alternatives to O2 UK SIM Card

While O2 is a solid overall choice, you could also consider these popular networks in the UK:

  • EE – Fastest speeds, great coverage, but slightly pricey.
  • Vodafone – Reliable connectivity and good deals for heavy data users.
  • Three – Affordable unlimited data SIMs perfect for streaming and social media.

If you need lots of data at cheap rates, a Three SIM card is highly recommended and offered by. Besides, GIGAGO provides eSIM UK through Three network, which would be a great choice if you refer eSIM over a physical SIM. Let’s take a look at their best plans: 

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

XII. FAQs about O2 UK

Does O2 have good coverage in London and other major cities?

Yes, O2 has excellent coverage across major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham etc. Both 4G and 5G networks are available.

Can I switch my O2 number to a different provider?

Yes, O2 supports number portability. Contact your new provider to initiate the change while keeping your existing phone number.

Can I use my O2 UK SIM card across Europe?

Yes, O2 SIMs come with inclusive roaming across Europe so you can use them when traveling to Europe too.

How do I contact O2 customer support?

You can call 333 (free from an O2 phone) or access online customer support via live chat for any issues.

Does my unlocked phone work with O2?

O2 is on the GSM network supporting unlocked phones. Simply insert the SIM and it will work seamlessly.

XIII. Final Words

O2 UK is an excellent choice of SIM card if you need wide coverage across the country including rural areas. Their prepaid tourist SIMs provide sufficient data and validity at reasonable rates.

Consider getting UK eSIM to keep you conveniently connected during your entire UK holiday!