Planning a trip to the United Kingdom and flying to Manchester Airport? In this guide you can read everything about how to stay connected when traveling to Manchester and buying a prepaid sim card at Manchester Airport. Find out where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per August 2023, my recommendation, the best e-sim cards for the UK and even information about international sim cards for the UK.
In most cases buying a local prepaid sim card or getting an e-sim card is the first thing I do when I get to a new country. As I am also trying to visit every country in the world I constantly get to new places and therefore on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world: USA, Asia, Europe, New York, Miami, Jamaica, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kigali, Nairobi, Pakistan, Tel Aviv, Colombia, Turkey, South Africa and many more.
Traveltomtom recommends buying a Vodafone sim card at Manchester Airport. For £25 ($30 USD) you get 20 GB data for the UK. However, Vodafone UK does NOT support free EU roaming anymore after Brexit.
A great alternative is a travel sim card with data and global coverage. Arrived prepared to Manchester and order your prepaid sim card online before your trip. Check out my comparison of the best international sim cards for travelers in 2023 and pick the one that suits your trip the most.
However, the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to the UK is an e-sim card.
Best e-sim cards for the UK
An e-sim card is the most convenient and easiest way to get connected when traveling to Manchester in 2023. No need to visit a store anymore, no need to swap physical sim cards, just an online process. You order an e-sim card on the internet, receive a QR code, follow the instructions and you are connected in no-time.
Check out the following UK e-sim card plans:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $7.5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $15 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $22.5 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $36 USD
These Uki Mobile e-sim cards operate on the LTE/4G network of Three and O2 in the UK. Data is only valid in the UK and calling and texting is not supported.
There are also e-sim cards for the UK that support calling and texting as well as EU roaming. These international e-sim cards are valid in up to 70 countries around the world:
- 5 GB data only in all of Europe for 30 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data in all of Europe + $2 calling credit for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 8 GB data in all of Europe + unlimited calls in Europe for 14 days = $29.90 USD
- 20 GB data in all of Europe + unlimited calls in Europe for 14 days = $49.90 USD
- 20 GB data only in all of Europe for 30 days = $34.90 USD
Click here to order one of the above international e-sim card deals for the UK or find more offers and info in the link.
When buying an e-sim card for the UK make sure your phone is e-sim card compatible!
In case your phone is not e-sim card compatible and you are still looking to buy a sim card online for your trip to the UK then there are also physical international prepaid sim cards. You can for example already get 12 GB data plus unlimited calls in Europe for $29.90 USD. Click here to order this international sim card for the UK directly online or check out all the offers and get more info.
UK sim cards and traveling in Europe
Most of the prepaid sim cards you can buy at Manchester Airport support EU roaming, even after Brexit. But be careful and always ask when buying a prepaid ims card in the UK for the latest EU roaming restrictions. Brexit changed a lot! For example Vodafone UK prepaid sim cards do NOT support free EU roaming. Three and EE sim cards still allow free EU roaming, even after Brexit. For more info check out my guide for the best prepaid and e-sim cards for the UK in 2023.
If you are traveling onwards to other countries in Europe and want a hassle free sim card for ALL of Europe including the EU then order a sim card online listed in my article: best e-sim cards and prepaid sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2023.
For more info about free EU roaming and Brexit check my article about tips and tricks for buying a prepaid sim card in Europe on arrival.
There are 3 different terminals at Manchester Airport, but if you are flying in from outside Europe you will either land in Terminal 1 or 2. Terminal 3 is only used for flights within Europe. Both, Terminal 1 and 2 are easy to navigate and there are multiple options to buy a UK sim card at Manchester Airport.
Manchester Airport offers its passengers 4 hours of free wifi. Manchester Airport wifi is reliable, fast and free to access. Great service!
Where to buy a sim card at Manchester Airport
The below prices and data plans are updated as per August 2023. £1 GBP = $1.27 USD and $1 USD = £0.79 GBP
Arriving at Manchester Airport means you can buy a sim card for tourists in 4 different places:
- Sim card vending machine
- Spar Shop
- WH Smith Shop
- Currency Exchange
At Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport you will find all 4 above options to buy a UK prepaid sim card and they can be found very easily.
The Spar Shops at Manchester Airport are open 24 hours.
WH Smith Stores close at 10pm every evening, but is arguably the best place to buy a UK sim card at Manchester Airport in 2023.
Sim card vending machine Manchester Airport
You will find the sim card vending machines at the luggage belts in Terminal 1 and 2 so while waiting for your luggage you can already buy a sim card at Manchester Airport. Don’t expect any service here of course, although the sim cards are already activated you just gotta put them in your phone. What you see is what you get:
Lyca Mobile UK sim card
- £25 = unlimited calls and text + 6 GB data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe.
- £35 = unlimited calls and text + 20 GB data - valid for 30 days in the UK.
EE UK sim card
- £20 = 150 minutes + 10.5 GB data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe.
- £25 = 250 minutes + 13 GB data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe.
Three UK sim card
- £30 = unlimited calls and text + 12 GB data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe.
- £45 = unlimited calls and text and data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe.
WH Smith Manchester Airport
All the WH Smith shops in Manchester Airport sell you the same prepaid sim cards like all over the UK.
Vodafones UK sim card
- £25 = 250 minutes + unlimited sms + 20 GB data + £5 credit - valid for 30 days in the UK only.
EE UK sim card
- £20 = 150 minutes and 150 sms + 10.5 GB data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe, USA, Aus, NZ and South America.
- £25 = 250 minutes and 500 sms + 13 GB data - valid for 30 days in all of Europe, USA, Aus, NZ and South America.
Lebara UK sim card
- £20 = 500 minutes international (41 destinations) and 500 UK minutes + 1 GB data - valid for 30 days.
- £30 = 1000 minutes international (40 countries), unlimited UK minutes and 1000 UK sms + 5 GB data and £5 extra credit - valid for 30 days.
Spar Supermarket Manchester Airport
As it suggest the supermarkets aren’t the best place for buying a sim card at Manchester Airport, but they are the only ones that are open 24 hours. So this is your last option. All UK sim cards at Spar Manchester Airport cost £2.99 and there are about 10 different UK prepaid sim cards to choose from.
You will need to top up yourself as the sim cards do mostly not come with credit, but 3 GB costs about £10. These sim cards are activated, but you will have to top up online, not convenient!
Currency Exchange Manchester Airport
Also at the Currency Exchange boots they sell UK prepaid sim cards for tourists at Manchester Airport. They one have a Lebara UK sim card on offer:
- £25 = Unlimited UK minutes and 1000 sms + 100 international minutes to 40 countries + 6 GB data (UK only) - valid for 30 days.
Best sim card Manchester Airport in 2023
For the best service you want to buy a sim card at Manchester Airport at one of the WH Smith shops. The staff is able to help you out a little at least compared to the other places that sell sim cards for tourists at Manchester Airport.
The best UK sim card at Manchester Airport is Vodafone as for £25 you get 20 GB data valid all across Europe as well as in Switzerland, Norway and Turkey and more than 4 hours calling time for 30 days. Great pay-as-you-go deal!
Buy a sim card for the UK online
The WH Smith shops are unfortunately only open until 10pm and it can be busy, so to avoid all that hassle you can order your sim card for the UK and even all of Europe online. Within a couple clicks you order a pre-activated international sim card that will be shipped to your home address.
Check out the following international prepaid sim card deals for the UK:
- 10 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- Unlimited calls/sms within Europe and UK
- Valid 30 days
There are also 3 UK international sim cards for 1 year and for 2 years. Click on the link for more info!
- 10 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- $2 calling credit - top up possible
- Valid 30 days
- 20 GB data
- Unlimited calls/sms in Europe
- 120 minutes worldwide
- 1,000 sms worldwide
- Valid 14 days
Click here to order directly one of the above international sim cards for the UK or find more info.
Also a last reminder that if you want to arrange everything online you can order a data-only e-sim card for the UK within just a couple clicks. Or click here for ordering an international e-sim card for the UK with calling minutes and texting included. An e-sim card the simplest way to stay connected when traveling to Manchester.
How to get from Manchester Airport to the city
There is a Metrolink service that connects the Airport with the Cornbrook Station in South Manchester. The journey takes a little over 30 minutes and goes almost every 10 minutes. Cornbrook station is not Manchester City Center, but it’s walkable distance or you could even take another short 4 minutes tram.
There is also a train station between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. There is a walking bridge in and between the terminals and the train station. There are trains running to Piccadilly Station from Manchester Airport every 10 minutes and the journey only takes you about 20 minutes.
The train is my preferred way to get from Manchester Airport to Manchester city center.
I hope this article about buying a UK sim card at Manchester Airport was helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions, I am happy to help you out. Please leave me a comment below.
For a complete guide about the best UK prepaid and e-sim cards for tourists in 2023 or the best European (e)-sim cards for travelers in 2023 have a look at my articles in the links.
Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.
Enjoy your trip to Manchester!
Some links in this article about buying a sim card for traveling to Manchester are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. This is at absolutely no extra cost to you.