Buying a SIM card as an international student

Posted 1 month ago

Buy before you fly!

When moving to Bath for university, you'll have a lot to consider, and staying connected is crucial. Obtaining a SIM card before arrival can significantly ease your transition, allow you to communicate with family and friends back home and navigate your new home from the moment you land. Here are our recommendations for SIM cards:

Why buy beforehand?

  • Immediate connectivity: Arriving in a new country can be overwhelming. Having a UK SIM card in your phone right from the start means you can call, text, and use data without seeking public Wi-Fi or purchasing a local SIM in a rush - which isn't always easy if you don't know where the shops are yet!
  • Ease of transition: With a SIM card ready, you can share your new UK number with contacts, arrange transportation, and navigate using maps without delay. This preparation removes one more stressor from the list of adjustments that come with moving abroad.
  • Avoid unexpected costs: Using your home country's SIM card can lead to crazy roaming charges. By obtaining a UK SIM card in advance, you'll have control over your costs with a plan that suits your budget and needs.
  • Better preparedness: Researching and choosing your SIM card and planning ahead of time allows you to compare options without the pressure of needing an immediate solution. This way, you can select a phone company/plan that best matches your anticipated usage and budget. Speaking of phone companies...

SIM card companies we'd recommend


Giffgaff offers flexibility with its "goodybags," prepaid plans that include a mix of data, minutes, and texts. Their plans are competitively priced, and Giffgaff uses the O2 network, ensuring excellent coverage across the UK, including Bath.


EE boasts the fastest 4G network in the UK and offers a variety of plans, including pay-as-you-go and monthly contracts. Their coverage is robust, making it a great choice for those prioritising internet speed and network reliability.


Vodafone provides extensive coverage and a range of plans tailored to different needs. Their "Big Value Bundles" on pay-as-you-go offer flexibility, and "VeryMe Rewards" provide discounts and freebies - perfect for students

Each provider offers unique benefits and plans designed to meet the needs of students, from flexible payment options to extensive coverage and generous data allowances - but make sure to shop around and find the right SIM card for you.