UK telecom (mobile) operator with low roaming fees

I need to find a new operator for my UK sim card.

Currently I’m with EE, and have been since… well since they were called O2 and offered a pre-iPhone smartphone that was O2 branded.

That said, they recently started doing a “£2.50 per day” roaming charge, whether you make calls or not. Just to be connected. So that’s not tenable.

What’s everyone else on? Looking for something dirt cheap - as I pretty much only use it for MFA authentication when in CH… when in the UK, it’s mainly data + a few occasional calls…

I use giffgaff and just top up when i need to

I’ve been using 1p Mobile for years, it uses the EE backbone so great 5G speeds in the UK and full roaming in Europe for the same tariffs as the UK.

The data boosts are good value e.g. 25GB (UK+Roaming) for £10 a month but even if you don’t use a boost the PAYG rate is only 1p per MB (~£10 a GB) which seems reasonable.

They have a spammy name but they were highly recommended on a number of traveller sites and HUKD

I also use Giffgaff for my Mum’s contract. Have had no issues with them. Think I pay about 7 quid a month for the lowest level bundle.

Giffgaff are also an excellent choice but its worth mentioning that they have a 63 day rule on roaming, if you exceed that you will not longer be able to use your bundles. I recall looking into them some years back and that was a deal breaker for me since I may not return to the UK as often to reset that limit.

1p Mobile have a 4 month persistent roaming policy, so a little better and since I do go back to blighty at least once every 4 months I’ve not had any issues.

1p mobile EU/EEA roaming policy.

As part of our fair use policy, we may monitor and check your roaming use over a rolling 4-month period. If, during this period, you have spent more time abroad than at home and/or your roaming usage exceeds your domestic usage we reserve the right to apply a surcharge of £1.00 per day to your roaming consumption. This surcharge will be taken from your credit balance on a daily basis.


Do you need a UK SIM? I had one, but in the end scrapped it and just upgraded my roaming tariff on my Swiss mobile.

It’s more used for MFA. A lot of UK institutions won’t let you use an international number to get the security SMS to authenticate your ID.

Keep in mind I’m tax resident in the UK; so have a lot of stuff there that I still need to deal with…

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Two ideas:

  1. try an eSIM. There are numerous companies offering short/long prepay offers for the UK. Some just data, some with a UK number. You simply switch from your Swiss eSIM to a UK one on your phone when over there.
  2. Check Lycamobile. For CHF24/30 days you can have calls CH>UK & EU. When you are in the UK, they issue you a UK mobile number FoC while there…

That doesn’t really address my issue.

I’m after a contract that allows me to receive SMS, when in Switzerland, with a UK number, that never changes.

Until recently, ee allowed this on the £5 a month pack, for free… but I guess with brexit, they don’t need to offer free roaming in the EU anymore…

Giffgaff or 1p Mobile do that, you just port your old EE number to them which is what I did (I’ve had the same UK number since 2002). Additionally I have a dual sim iPhone so Swisscom is on eSim and 1p Mobile takes up the physical sim slot, so no need to rock two seperate phones.

But based on the posts above,1p would charge £1/day, or ~£30 per month…

GiffGaff, I need to look into what the bundles are… because if I can still receive SMS for free, that would work well.

That’s a risk if you don’t go back at least 3 times a year, however during Covid I didn’t return for almost a year and nothing happened.

I used GiffGaff previously, not sure if they are still good. If MFA is the main thing, then maybe see also if they have an MFA app which then gets rid of your SMS requirement entirely.

I have Lyca Mobile and I am going to UK for holidays. Do I understand correctly, that the most optimal way would be to activate Hello Swiss M (probably the same package, that you have mentioned in your post) for the month when the visit takes place (normally I use S while not travelling), which gives me 3 GB of data in UK, and if it is not enough than buy EU Data M with another 3GB. Do you know, whether whenever they mention EU it is also valid for UK as well?

When you arrive in the UK and turn your phone on, you will get a text message advising that you can tell your friends you have a temporary UK mobile number and the number is in the text.
Otherwise you simply go on using your mobile as you would in Switzerland.
M package would seem the way to go. Though you will likely need to buy more than the 3Gb of data.
According to Lyca’s website UK is covered within Europe.
(All this info is buried deep in their website.)

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Strange, but I have only received a message about tariffs (which are not fully correct, because I have 3 GB free data in UK), but no UK number.