EU SIM cards

I assume it’s still the case that EU SIM cards include free roaming in all the EU? Obviously I now have limits on most of my UK network SIMs.

I will be leaving for a month or so in Europe tonight or tomorrow starting in France. Can anyone recommend the best sim only deal for data that will last me a month and allow roaming in the rest of Europe?


1 Like

Depends how much data you feel you’re going to use vs having wifi access etc. average person uses 5-6gb on basics.

Smarty and giffgaff offer 12gb within the EU I believe.

Your current network may also offer you some kinda deal on roaming, also depends how old your contract is as some still keep the older terms. Worth checking with them to be sure.

Or grab a three payg sim as they’re not charged in the same way if I recall correctly.


Speaking for Vodafone, I get 25GB a month to use when I’m roaming in the EU which is inclusive of my plan. I am however on an old contract so my terms are different to if you were to take a contract out with them today.

But echo above, depends how much data you use roughly a month, do you intend to use more while you’re abroad or less?

1 Like

It’s 20GB until 9 Aug and then 5GB after.

As per subject and OP I’m not looking for a UK SIM. I’m looking for an EU SIM and checking 1) that if I pick up a SIM in Calais it will have EU roaming included and 2) which are the best SIM-only MVNOs to consider.

All SIM-only providers I’m aware of have different packages for any monthly usage but I will be after 20-30GB/month.

1 Like

Apologies, just confused if they’re all going to work the same way, why not just stick to your own is what I’m trying to understand?


Again, as per OP and thread title, they don’t all work the same way.

I need an EU SIM. I’m asking for advice and recommendations for EU SIMs.

1 Like


Very little difference and seems you’re not seeing my point.

But good luck.

Three payg.

1 Like

Very little difference between what and what?

And what’s exactly is your point? You haven’t been very clear at all. You say " if they’re all going to work the same way, why not just stick to your own". They are not going to “work the same way” as I have explained now three times. What on earth gives you this impression?!

The situation is simple to understand. My UK network limits me to 5GB data when roaming in the EU. My understanding is that any EU SIM card does not (as was the case for us when we were in the EU). So the most cost-effective way to get the 20-30GB of data I will need I need to buy a EU SIM card when I arrive in the EU. I am now here asking for advice on the best EU MVNO I can get a SIM card from.


You have now edited your post. 3 PAYG is typically more expensive than getting a local SIM. And if you use an existing SIM you have to pay £2/day. I won’t have time to order one online but I will see if I can find a store.

Eek I was just looking around, an Orange France sim was €40 almost for 30gb :worried:

Free Mobile looks fair, €20 all unlimited but looks like you have to go into their 1 store they have in Paris to cancel it after :unamused:

Just on the three sim thing, many local shops will sell them but appreciate you’re off soon.

There were other options about but looks like we get lucky here with high data packages vs some EU packages :exploding_head:

I wouldn’t bet the house on that being the case. I think UK data is cheaper than in many other countries (one of the advantages of us being so tightly packed together).

Another thing to consider is coverage. The advantage of using a UK SIM and roaming is that it will connect to any available network. So if Orange doesn’t cover an area, then you can stay connected with SFR or whatever.

1 Like

My EE sim allows me to use all my data if I wish when in Europe, up to 15gb in the U.S.A

1 Like

Dependant on how much data you tend to use, edit here to say I’ve seen you mention 30GB as the top end of days usage, so this SIM would suit.

Lebara offer this SIM which can be used in Europe, it’s free roaming for up to 30GB of data, so just avoid the unlimited plan.

Failing that might be best to check other forums more places to answer something like this. MSE forum would be a good place to find out about local EU SIM which may be better suited to a visit to France then the rest of Europe.

Depends on your data usage? and you have to balance finding a SIM card, understanding the terms and conditions and plan limitations versus just paying a few quid more here and knowing what you’re getting and you also have it as soon as you arrive.

Never had an issue with “term and conditions” using local SIMs in dozens of countries across multiple continents.

Though for Europe I am leaning toward a 3 PAYG SIM until they cut it off. For countries not covered by 3 it will very likely be best to get a local SIM like usual.


I’ve seen it with EU companies also when the data that the bundle advertises isn’t the same as the allowance you get while roaming which isn’t always made clear especially when buying a SIM from a corner shop in a place where you don’t speak the language.

I thought that’s been illegal for years?

Telia Lithuania for example, similar situation with WINDTRE Italy,

If I understand correctly - their workaround is that EU law states the max they can charge for roaming data is €0.0219 per MB so say you’re paying €30 a month for your domestic plan (which can include any amount of data let’s say 100GB) that’s just 27.4GB at 0.0219/mb which is all you really have to give your customer if they pay you €30 a month even when you offer them 100GB domestically (without getting overly complicated about factoring potential calls and SMS usage)

That’s a pretty cheap rate so most UK companies just allowed you to use your full bundle abroad as a marketing or competition forced perk of choosing them, and because of abuse most UK companies made it clear that you must be in the UK most of the year otherwise you’ll be charged this maximum rate allowed by the EU, see Giffgaff for example

And then some EU operators allow more than the minimum they have to based on the plan € presumably as some marketing tactic.

There’s another way. Call 3179 to get your RIO code, which works like a PAC does in the UK. Make sure you’ve written it down correctly, it should look like 04 P RRRRRR CCC where 04 is Free’s operator ID, P stands for “particulier” (individual), RRRRRR will be your subscription ID, and CCC are the check digits. Then download OnOff, they’re a French VoIP app that accepts port-in from French mobile providers. Port in your number, and it automatically terminates your contract with Free.

And yes, EU law allows providers to limit how much of their domestic allowances are made available for roaming. They’re even allowed to offer completely domestic-only plans so long as they make this absolutely clear at point of sale. Generally speaking for voice and SMS providers won’t bother to charge for usage beyond the equivalent rates because not enough people use that much to make it worth setting up the collection mechanism.

This is usually the case. Look for the smaller or “lagging behind” provider in a given EU market and that’s usually where you’ll find the most generous roaming allowances. For example, Three in Austria used to offer PAYG plans with their entire allowances made available to use in the EU. Then they started to do better, and didn’t need it as a competitive advantage anymore, while T-Mobile (now Magenta) started offering EU data roaming on their PAYG (they previously only offered voice and SMS roaming). Similarly, in Sweden, Telia and Tele2 restrict roaming, while Telenor allows use of the entire plan allowance in the EU and Three offers more generous allowances (although not full use).

EDIT: for OP’s use case Free Mobile is probably the best way to go. So long as their coverage in France is acceptable to you, their EU roaming allowances are as good as it gets if you want to pick up a SIM in France.


A thought I just had: I recently upgraded to a phone with eSIM. Are there any eSIM options I could look into?