Lycamobile Review: Cheap International Calls & 4G Internet on Pay As You Go

April 20th, 2016

On Lycamobile, you can make international phone calls from only 1p/minute. Lycamobile provides coverage from the O2 network and customers get 4G at no extra charge.

Lycamobile: Call the world for less.In the UK, Lycamobile is a specialist provider of international phone calls. With a free Lycamobile SIM card in your unlocked handset, you’ll be able to call abroad from as little as 1p/minute. Lycamobile uses O2 as their network coverage provider and customers get 4G internet at no extra charge.

In this article, we’ll review the Lycamobile service. We’ll start by looking at the costs of using Lycamobile: both for calling in the UK and for calling abroad. We’ll then compare Lycamobile to rival mobile networks, before looking at credit expiry, coverage and how to keep your existing phone number.

Order Lycamobile SIM Card (Free) »

Pricing & Tariffs

UK Rates

UK

Lycamobile charges 19p/minute to UK mobiles, 12p/minute to UK landlines, 15p/text and 9p/MB.

For calling, texting and browsing within the UK, Lycamobile charges the following rates:

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 19p/minute to UK mobiles (07 numbers)
12p/minute to UK landlines (01, 02 & 03 numbers)
Calls to Voicemail Free
Calls to Special Rate Numbers 23p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 15p
Picture Message (MMS) Not available.
Internet Rates:
Mobile Internet 9p/MB

The prices in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. If you’re roaming or making international phone calls, different rates will normally apply. Source for pricing information: lycamobile.co.uk.

Compared to other Pay As You Go networks, Lycamobile is actually relatively expensive for usage in the UK. For instance, ASDA Mobile charges only 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB (they have 2G and 3G coverage from the EE network). Three charges an even lower rate: 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB.

Of course, rival mobile networks such as ASDA and Three often lack the low-cost international calling offered by Lycamobile. Ultimately, this means you’ll need to weigh up the higher UK calling rates against the lower international rates when choosing Lycamobile.

International Rates

Lycamobile International Calls

Lycamobile’s motto is “call the world for less”.

The key selling point of Lycamobile’s service is the low rates for international calling. Whereas other mobile networks can sometimes charge you up to £1.50/minute for calling another country, Lycamobile allows you to call abroad from as little as 1p/minute.

The cost of international phone calls on Lycamobile will depend on the country you’re calling and whether you’re calling a mobile or a landline. The following table shows the per-minute rates for calling some common destinations:

CountryCalls to MobileCalls to LandlineText Message
China (+86)3p/minute1p/minute19p/message
India (+91)2p/minute2p/minute19p/message
Ireland (+353)19p/minute7p/minute19p/message
Italy (+39)19p/minute7p/minute19p/message
Pakistan (+92)8p/minute8p/minute19p/message
Poland (+48)5p/minute1p/minute19p/message
Romania (+40)4p/minute1p/minute19p/message
Sri Lanka (+94)15p/minute12p/minute19p/message
Turkey (+90)12p/minute3p/minute19p/message
United States (+1)6p/minute6p/minute19p/message

Cost of international calls & international text messages on the Lycamobile network (calls & texts made to a phone number in another country whilst you're in the UK). Last updated on 1st October 2016. Source: lycamobile.co.uk.

If the country you’d like to call isn’t listed above, you can find the price by entering the name of the country on Lycamobile’s website.

To get the best value rates for calling on Lycamobile, you’ll need to opt-in to Saver International. You can do this by texting SAVE to 2525. Your opt-in is valid for 30 days, after which you’ll need to opt-in again to get the lowest rates.

Order Lycamobile SIM Card (Free) »

UK Bundles

Lycamobile Bundles

For frequent mobile users, the best way to use Lycamobile is often to convert your Pay As You Go credit into a 30-day bundle. Here, you’ll be buying airtime in bulk. For a fixed price, you’ll get a certain amount of minutes, texts and internet to use at any time over the next 30 days.

Presently, you can buy the following UK Plan bundles (the minutes, texts and internet are for usage only in the UK):

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Lycamobile10010050MB£5.00
Lycamobile150150500MB£7.50
Lycamobile500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Lycamobile1,000Unlimited2GB£12.00
Lycamobile1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
Lycamobile2,000Unlimited5GB£18.00
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£20.00

Along with your UK Plan bundle, you’ll get discounted rates for calling abroad. Bundles can be purchased at any time through the Lycamobile website.

In the past, Lycamobile has offered a bundle with unlimited data but this is no longer available to buy.

International Bundles

If you’re likely to call abroad fairly often, Lycamobile also has a range of International Bundles. These will give you an inclusive allowance of international minutes. You may also get some inclusive text messages and UK data. Lycamobile also has a range of country-specific plans (e.g. for people regularly calling Bangladesh, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland or Romania).

Comparison to Alternatives

In the following section, we’ll compare the Lycamobile offering against what is currently available on rival mobile networks:

International Calling

In general, Lycamobile compares fairly well against rival mobile networks for international calling. The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of per-minute rates on giffgaff, EE, O2, Vodafone, Lebara and Lycamobile:

CountryCost of calling abroad from the UK (per minute)
EEgiffgaffLebara MobileLycamobileTelloO2Vodafone
China (+86)2p
(2p to landline)
2p
(2p to landline)
2p
(1p to landline)
3p
(1p to landline)
2.4p
(2.4p to landline)
1.5p
(1.5p to landline)
1.5p
(1.5p to landline)
India (+91)2p2p2p2p2.7p2p1.5p
Ireland (+353)8p
(1p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
5p
(5p to landline)
19p
(7p to landline)
4.7p
(2.1p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Italy (+39)7p
(2p to landline)
7p
(3p to landline)
5p
(5p to landline)
19p
(7p to landline)
3p
(2.1p to landline)
10p
(2p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Pakistan (+92)10p
(10p to landline)
8p
(8p to landline)
8p
(4p to landline)
8p
(8p to landline)
4.5p
(4.5p to landline)
6p
(6p to landline)
30p
(12p to landline)
Poland (+48)5p
(1p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
3p
(2.6p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Romania (+40)5p
(1p to landline)
2p
(2p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
4p
(1p to landline)
3p
(2p to landline)
4p
(1p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Sri Lanka (+94)20p
(10p to landline)
14p
(14p to landline)
15p
(12p to landline)
15p
(12p to landline)
14.9p
(15.5p to landline)
14p
(14p to landline)
30p
(12p to landline)
Turkey (+90)15p
(5p to landline)
11p
(3p to landline)
9p
(3p to landline)
12p
(3p to landline)
11.9p
(3.7p to landline)
12p
(3p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
United States (+1)3p2p5p6p2p2p1.5p

Cost of calling abroad from a UK mobile network (per minute). As the headline figure, we've shown the per-minute cost of calling a mobile phone number. Where a lower price applies for calling landline numbers, this is shown separately in brackets. Last updated on 1st October 2016. Source: ee.co.uk, giffgaff.com, lebara.co.uk, lycamobile.co.uk, tello.co.uk, o2.co.uk, vodafone.co.uk.

The comparison table assumes you’re using Pay As You Go and assumes you’ve opted in to international calling offers. For more information and for a full comparison that includes many other countries, please see our in-depth comparison of international calling rates.

£10 per month bundles

10 Pound Note

For £10/month, Lycamobile provides 500 UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 1GB of UK internet.

For £10/month, Lycamobile offers the UK Plan M bundle with 500 UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 1GB of UK internet. This is identical to giffgaff’s £10 goodybag offering.

The following table shows rival Pay As You Go bundles available for £10/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Lycamobile500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Three1003,0001GB£10.00
EE1001,0001GB£10.00
O21001001GB£10.00
Vodafone150Unlimited500MB£10.00

£15 per month bundles

15 Pound Notes

For £15/month, Lycamobile provides 1000 UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 6GB of UK internet.

For £15/month, Lycamobile has a UK Plan XL bundle with 1000 UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 6GB of UK internet. This compares incredibly well to what is available on other networks:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaff1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
Lycamobile1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
EE250Unlimited4GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited3GB£15.00
O27502,0002GB£15.00
Vodafone250Unlimited1GB£15.00

£20 per month bundles

20 Pound Note

For £20/month, Lycamobile provides unlimited UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 9GB of UK internet.

Finally, for £20/month, Lycamobile offers their flagship bundle which is known as UK Plan UL. This comes with unlimited UK calling, unlimited UK texting and 9GB of high-speed 4G internet in the UK.

Comparable tariffs includes the £20 goodybag from giffgaff with Always On data (unlimited UK calls, unlimited UK texts and unlimited UK data with 4G speeds and tethering on the first 6GB/month):

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£20.00
Three3003,00012GB£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£20.00
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£20.00
Vodafone500Unlimited4GB£20.00
O21,5004,0003GB£20.00
EE750Unlimited3GB£20.00

For more information, please see our full comparison of Pay As You Go bundles. Additionally, you may also want to consider Pay Monthly SIM cards which offer even better value if you’re happy to sign a contract.

Credit Expiry & Inactivity

Top Up Logo

On Lycamobile, top-ups will expire after 90 days.

On Lycamobile, your Pay As You Go credit will expire 90 days after the relevant top-up. If your credit isn’t used within the 90-day window, it will expire and will no longer be available for you to use.

In addition, to keep your SIM card active, you should make a chargeable event at least once every 120 days. Alternatively, topping up your SIM card will also keep it active. A chargeable event will typically include making an outgoing phone call, sending a text message or accessing the mobile internet. You’ll receive a reminder from Lycamobile if you haven’t used your SIM card for a period of 90 days.

For more information, please see our in-depth guide on Pay As You Go inactivity & credit expiry.

Handsets

iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6 EdgeLycamobile is a SIM-only mobile network. This means you’ll need to provide your own unlocked smartphone to use with Lycamobile. You can either unlock an existing smartphone (e.g. an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy) or you can buy a brand new unlocked smartphone.

When you fill out the form on the Lycamobile website, you’ll be sent a Lycamobile SIM card that slots inside your unlocked smartphone. When you order your SIM card, you’ll be asked to choose the right “SIM Type” for your phone. If you aren’t quite sure which size of SIM card you require, see our guide to smartphones and the required SIM card size in each one.

Order Lycamobile SIM card (free) »

Network & Coverage

2G, 3G & 4G Coverage from O2

O2 Coverage Map 2016Lycamobile is a virtual network operator that uses O2 as their coverage provider. Customers using Lycamobile should therefore receive the same level of coverage as customers on O2. At the time of writing, this is 99% population coverage. There’s also 78% population coverage for high-speed 4G internet.

Before ordering a SIM card from Lycamobile, we strongly recommended checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on the Lycamobile coverage checker:

Check Lycamobile Coverage (lycamobile.co.uk) »

giffgaff and Tesco Mobile are two other mobile networks also using coverage from O2.

Tethering Isn’t Permitted

Tethering or personal hotspotTethering refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet).

Unfortunately, Lycamobile does not allow you to tether on their network. The restriction is stated within their bundle terms and conditions:

The offer is for non-commercial, private, personal use only – Lycamobile reserves the right to withdraw or suspend the offer or to disconnect you if we suspect that offer is being used for commercial purposes, for conferencing, or if it is not being used in a handset (in a SIM box for example), if it is being used for tethering or if any reason Lycamobile reasonably suspects that you are not acting in accordance with this policy where we consider that the usage was illegitimate.

If you’d like a mobile network on which you’re able to tether, please see our guide to the best tariffs for tethering in the UK.

Roaming & Travel Abroad

Going AbroadOn Lycamobile, your account will be enabled automatically for international roaming when you travel abroad. The latest roaming rates can be found on the Lycamobile website.

As a special offer, Lycamobile currently offers limited free roaming in 18 other countries. To qualify, you’ll need a UK Plan bundle costing more than £10/month. The free roaming only applies for calling and texting, and there’s a hard limit of 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 100 Lyca-to-Lyca minutes for use in the offer. Mobile data is not included in the offer: you’ll still need to pay the normal price for using data abroad. Also, you’ll need to configure your handset to only connect to the Lycamobile network when travelling in supported countries.

The offer is currently available when you’re travelling to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America.

For more information, please see the Lycamobile website. For a similar roaming offer that also includes data and that works in 18 other countries, we recommend having a look at Three’s Feel At Home offer.

Keeping Your Phone Number

Transfer Phone Number to Lycamobile

Transfer your existing number to Lycamobile by submitting your PAC Code through this online form.

If you’re switching from another mobile network to Lycamobile, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.

As an incentive for moving your number over, you’ll receive up to £15 of free credit for doing this. This consists of £2.50 bonus credit immediately upon transferring your phone number. You’ll then get an additional £2.50/month in the following five months providing you top-up your SIM card each month (the minimum top-up is £5).

If you’d like to transfer your number to Lycamobile, start by contacting your old mobile network and asking them for a PAC Code. A PAC Code is nine-digits long and will authorise the transfer of your phone number to Lycamobile. It’s a legal requirement for your old mobile network to provide you with this.

Once you have the PAC Code from your old network, order your free SIM card from the Lycamobile website. After your new SIM card arrives in the post, fill out this online form to get your number transferred. You can schedule the transfer of your phone number for any working day in the next 8 weeks.

For step-by-step instructions on moving your number to Lycamobile, please select your current mobile network:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Lycamobile

Your current network provider:

  More Options

Please note that you can’t transfer Pay As You Go credit from another network to Lycamobile. For this reason, you should try to use up any remaining credit on your old mobile network before moving your number to Lycamobile.

More Information

For more information, please see the Lycamobile website. You can also order a free Lycamobile SIM card.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 19 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. keita alieu said:

    Why African nation like liberia and Guinea are not on lycamobile international bundles?

  2. Rahul said:

    Hey Ken,

    I’m travelling across Europe and I purchased my lycamobile data sim in the Netherlands. Unfortunately it stopped working upon leaving the country. I keep receiving SMSes to set my data limit by dialling *175# but when I do that it shows me an error saying that this is an invalid code. I’m not sure what to do in this case. I’ve tried all the possible APN settings and have now defaulted to the original ones as on using them I get “lycamobile” and “3G” in my status bar. Also, sometimes whatsapp works which makes me think that the issue is the data limit which is set at very low(as whatsapp uses very little data allowing it to get through). Do you know of a way in which I can resolve this situation? I would really appreciate the help as I’m very dependent on the internet whilst travelling.

    Thanks,
    Rahul

  3. Konstantinos said:

    Hi Ken,

    I am on Lyca and I have bought a new device which requires micro sim while my old one uses standard. How can I keep the same phone number with the new micro sim card?

    Thank you,

    Kostas

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kostas,
      Thanks for your comment. You can call Lycamobile on 322 – they should be able to arrange for a replacement SIM card to be sent out for you. For more information, please see my guide on replacing your SIM card.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  4. lena said:

    I think it’s a disgrace that you have to wait 49min to get an answer from a company that is meant to be so great they just rip you off. giffgaff is giving £20 deal unlimited calls and texts and as much data as you can eat. guess where the better deal is, no competition at all

  5. Atanga said:

    I am a Lyca customer and to be sincere, i enjoy most of their services and they are the cheapest to call abroad. But if someone says this particular service is “pure junk, arrant nonsense, sucks” i wont blame that person cus theres no point saying that
    the bundle is unlimited, and then bringing it down to 2G after the first 10GB… thats braking the law of fair contract terms such as wrong product info!!!

  6. Steven Parkes said:

    Hi Ken,

    You’ve recommended Lycamobile recently. Is it possible to send MMS messages on this carrier? If so, How?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steven,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to send picture messages on Lycamobile (at least, I haven’t been able to find any info on how to do this).
      Ken

  7. Ian said:

    Hi Ken!

    Thanks for this, just went to see the Lycamobile website and it seems to suggest calls & SMS between Lycamobile users are free? Can you verify?

    Thanks!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ian,
      Thanks for your comment! You’re right… calls and texts to other Lycamobile numbers are indeed free of charge on the Lycamobile network!
      Ken

  8. Nazakat Ali said:

    Unlimited data mean?
    I need really unlimited data(internet)

  9. mary degannes said:

    Dear sir,
    I recently returned from the USA and discovered that their Lycamobile has unlimited domestic and international text plans depending on the plan that one chooses etc, etc.
    Futhermore, looking at the UK Lycamobile, I’ve discovered that our plans are unprotected which means no unlimited international texts included etc.
    For me to obtain an unlimited international text feature, how does one obtain with with their basic plan? I look forward to hearing from you about my humble request. thank you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mary,
      Thanks for your comment. Lycamobile in the UK is a totally different network to Lycamobile in the US. As such, the two networks have substantially different tariffs. I’m not currently aware of any UK network offering unlimited international texting: as an alternative, you could consider using an instant messaging app (e.g. WhatsApp) to achieve the same outcome – all it requires is the other person also has the application installed (they can be anywhere in the world).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  10. Paul said:

    @onkalo….you quite obviously work for Lycamobile. I do not use the smartphone at home as I have broadband with Virgin. I work on call and can have 2 hours a day where I can freely browse the internet on my phone each working day – result? the 10GB of 4G has gone in less than 2 weeks. That 10GB has now been reduced to 5GB a month(July 2014). The ASA has recently UPHELD my complaint about Lycamobiles advertising claims. Unlimited should mean unlimited – not ‘unlimited’ to 5GB a month. They lie and flaunt the law as they see fit. Absolutely rubbish company.

  11. brummie said:

    Having been with both giffgaff and lycamobile
    Have experienced exactly the same problems with chronic abuse of advertising a service that dose not exist yet one is expected to pay for after ² weeks with either company I found signal was greatly reduced dare I say it deliberately slowed down to the point of being useless
    Yet they are happy to take ones money for this
    It seems 2g is being sold but advertised as something its not
    There is no such thing as being throtteled after 10g in fact next time one tops up you can expect 2g from the 1st day of usage
    I be tried sims in various phones in Birmingham city center
    Its not built up area or signal traffic
    But simply
    Selling mutton dressed as lamb
    Don’t waste your time
    By the way tesco mobile
    Like the above company’s also have same problem ie
    They all use o2 !!!

  12. onkalo said:

    Who the earth uses 10gb of mobile internet per month?? You’re so greedy!

    I am on an unlimited goodybag from giffgaff and on one month i tried my best to use as much internet as i could possibly do and i couldnt use more than 6 -7 gb per month, and now on normal internet usage with heavy skyping, voip, hangouts, lots of internet radio listening and youtube and photo uploads to google+ i rarely reach 4 gb internet usage per month!

    10 gb of 4g internet speeds (albeit them being slower as is on the slowest network possible – O2) then throttled down to EDGE speeds if, by a miracle it happens to go over 10gb, plus all those minutes and unlimited texts, plus such very low international calling for £12 or £15 or how much it costs is such a good generous offer! how much more can you ask for??

    Stop being greedy! Obviously you have an internet connection at home which you are using it half of the time in a month, and for that rest of the time that you are mobile and on the go 10 gb of internet seems a very generous allowance!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Onkalo,
      There’s a large variation in the amount of data different people use. I agree, 10GB is a lot of data (the average data consumption is closer to 1GB/month). Most people should be OK with a 10GB allowance. That said, I think the principle that many people are unhappy about is claiming 10GB to be truly unlimited. My own personal feeling is that Lycamobile should advertise the tariff as having “10GB of 4G internet” rather than “unlimited 4G internet”.
      Ken

      1. Rm replied:

        That is bang on.. this is a clearly misleading ad..i am staying in the UK on work visa right now and bought this plan with glee..about a week down with video chats back home and some youtube surfing, i am being throttled to 2g.. sucks.. big time..

  13. paul said:

    Re lycamobile.

    whats the point in having fast 4g Internet which then basically ‘dies’ with ridiculously slow speeds because you have used the 10gb up.

    most smartphones will use thst 10gb up within 2 weeks so you are then stuck with crap Internet on your phone for the rest of the month.

    YES…I AM A LYCA CUSTOMER.

    I HAVE REPORTED THEM TO THE ASA FOR MISLEADING ADVERTISING.

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