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Best international SIM cards for roaming abroad: How to get cheap mobile data on holiday

What are the best international SIM card deals, for cheap data connections when roaming outside of the UK? We compare the biggest UK networks to see which offers the best deals on data when abroad.

Going abroad on holiday doesn’t have to mean going back in time too, as you’re forced to live without an internet connection for a week or two. Sure, plenty of hotels come with WiFi these days, and some of them don’t even suck. But when exploring new places, mobile data is more useful than ever. From accessing smartphone maps to finding nearby sights and restaurants with apps, your phone is an invaluable companion to getting the most out of your holiday.

Thankfully there’s an affordable way to stay connected even when you travel outside of the UK – roaming SIM cards. Lots of these SIMs now also offer international minutes, texts and data as part of the deal, so you can easily stay connected with loved ones back in Blighty.

How do international SIM cards work? Simple. Just buy one from a UK network, pop it in your phone while away, and stay connected without worrying about a huge data bill when you get home. Alternatively of course, you could get yourself on a contract that offers great roaming deal options. 

These are the best international SIM deals you can get right now. Also check out our guide on international roaming costs with the big UK networks, to see what you can expect to pay if you use your phone abroad right now.

Best roaming SIM cards 2017: O2

O2’s offering for roamers is called O2 Travel and it applies to pay monthly contracts. For those users a charge of £1.99 per day offers unlimited data and 120 minutes of talk within Europe. In other countries it can be up to £4.99 per day.

There are also pay as you go offers from £1.99 per day in Europe that offer 100MB of data every 24 hours. Calls then cost 4p per minute and texts are 1p each, although these charges are only for outgoing as all incoming calls and texts are free to receive.

Check out the O2 Travel page for more info.

Best roaming SIM cards 2017: Three

When it comes to roaming, Three is one of the best network options out there. Whether you use a pay monthly, SIM-only or pay as you go plan, they all have free roaming included for lots of countries.

The Three Feel At Home offering lets you use your UK allowance of free calls, texts and data while abroad. Or, if you’re using a pay as you go SIM that counts for your add-on allowance. You can even call and text home as if you were still there, totally free or extra charges when using your allowance.

The Feel At Home offering from Three works in 42 countries at the time of writing, including USA, Germany, Australia, Portugal and Greece.

Best roaming SIM cards 2017: iD

The iD network has a plan that it calls TakeAway which offers free access to calls, texts and data within the EU as well as some other countries like the USA, Australia and Sweden.

TakeAway plans are SIM-only and last for a 12-month contract. The top offering gives you a hefty 2000 minutes, 5000 texts and 10GB of data, so you won’t need to worry about paying extra.

The iD plans start at £5 and offer data rollover options for the GoTo plans or adjustable caps for the ShockProof plans.

Best roaming SIM cards 2017: EE

EE requires you to buy a data add-on to use data while abroad. The plus side here is that you won’t accidentally rack up massive data bills when on your travels.

When you arrive at your destination, your browser will open with all the options you get in that country. Most EE Extra plans will give you unlimited roaming in certain European countries, including calls back to the UK.

The EE data add-on packages start at £3 per day, which includes 500MB of data per day.

Best roaming SIM cards 2017: Vodafone

Vodafone dishes out travelling freebies in the form of its Euro Traveller package. This lets pay monthly customers use all of their regular allowance for £3 per day, when in Europe.

There’s also a World Traveller plan that gives you use of your allowance at a daily charge of £5.

Finally there’s the Vodafone Data Traveller options which gives you 25MB of data per day for £5 a day with a £3 per megabyte charge when you go over that.

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