How do I get phone service in the UK with my American phone?

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There are two options if you are travelling in the UK from the United States. You can either upgrade your current deal to include international minutes or buy a sim-only deal for your phone. If you are doing the latter, it would be handy to check if your phone is unlocked. 

Select your carrier below to search the prices of international minutes:

If you can’t see your carrier in the above list, search here with our friends at The Money Daily for the latest deals and offers.

Before you decide on a sim-only deal, you may want to check if your phone is unlocked. If you’ve bought a phone recently, the chances are that it’s already unlocked. However, if you are using an older model and bought your phone along with a phone contract, it’s worth checking. 

How do I check if my phone is unlocked?

Method 1

Android

  1. go to Settings
  2. select Connections
  3. select Mobile/Cellular Networks
  4. choose Network Operators
  5. wait for available networks to appear

If more than one network appears, your phone is likely unlocked and you are free to change out the SIM card and carrier as you like. 

If only one network comes back, you’re either in an area of poor coverage or your phone is locked. 

iPhone

  1. go to Settings
  2. select Cellular
  3. if you see Cellular Data Network in the available options, your iPhone is unlocked

Method 2

Relatively simple, but you will need another sim card from another carrier. 

  1. turn off your phone
  2. safely remove your SIM card
  3. replace with the new SIM from a different carrier
  4. turn the phone on again and wait for the reboot
  5. once rebooted, check for the new carrier name in the top right-hand corner
  6. try to make a call

If the call goes through, your phone is unlocked. If you can’t make the call, your phone is locked to the original carrier. 

How do I unlock my phone if locked?

If you have bought your phone outright and it is no longer under contract, US carriers must unlock it by law. To do this, visit your carrier’s website and fill out the required request form and the following instructions and they will help you through the relatively simple, if not tedious, process. 

SIM only deals

Now that your phone is unlocked and ready to go, you can begin finding the right SIM for your trip. Most UK carriers offer incredibly cheap deals on calls and data packages. 

See the list below to find the latest deals:

Search here for the latest UK SIM-only deals.

TG Top Tip

Even with the UK moving away from the EU from Brexit, most UK carriers are still providing surcharge-free roaming access. This means that once you buy a UK sim, you can use it across Europe for your future travel plans.

All you need to do is turn the SIM card on every once in a while to make sure it stays active and isn’t automatically disconnected. 

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