Depending on your network, it can cost up to £2 per day to use your phone in Spain. We review the best SIM cards for using your mobile phone in Spain.
Spain continues to be the top destination for British holidaymakers, with more than 18 million Brits visiting every year. Whether you’re there to enjoy the food and the culture, or there to enjoy the seaside resorts in the Canary Islands and along the Costa del Sol, you’ll probably want to use your mobile phone whilst you’re there.
From 2022, European roaming charges have returned and it can now cost up to £2 per day to use your UK SIM card in Spain. This can add an extra £14 to your phone bill for a one-week trip or an extra £28 for a two-week trip. Thankfully, it’s possible to side-step these charges by getting a £2.50 Pay As You Go SIM with inclusive roaming in Spain. Alternatively, you can get a local SIM card on arrival in Spain, with plans available from €10 per month.
In this article, we’ll look at the multiple ways to use your mobile phone in Spain. We’ll compare the costs of roaming on a UK SIM card and review the best UK plans for roaming in Spain. We’ll also look at how you can get a local SIM card in Spain and the coverage that’ll be available on it.
|Best Spain SIM Card:||Lebara Mobile (UK-based SIM)|
(includes 3 months half price with the KEN3 voucher code)
|Compatibility:||Works with most unlocked smartphones (including iPhone & Android)|
|Free SIM Card:||Get Lebara Mobile SIM (from £2.50 per month) →|
Using Your Mobile Phone In Spain
If you’re planning a trip to Spain, there are two ways to use your mobile phone whilst you’re there:
- You can roam on a UK-based SIM card. This is the easiest and most straightforward way to use your phone in Spain. You’ll have a UK-based phone number (+44) and you’ll pay your UK mobile network for usage.
- You can buy a Spanish SIM card on arrival. You can get a SIM card from one of the local Spanish networks on arrival. You’ll get a Spanish phone number (+34), along with large data allowance (e.g. 40GB data for €10). You will, however, need to buy and register the SIM card with your passport on arrival, which can be a bit of a hassle.
The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of the two options:
|Roaming on your UK SIM card||Buying a Spanish SIM card on arrival|
|Best for most short-term visits to Spain.
||Best for extended trips & heavy data users.
|You’ll have a UK-based number (beginning with +44).||You’ll have a Spanish number (beginning with +34).|
|Some UK networks charge up to £2 per day. However, others allow you to roam at no extra cost in Spain.||Plans start from €10 per month. You can get a SIM card from Movistar, Orange, Vodafone ES or Yoigo.|
|You can roam in Spain for up to 60 days every 120 days. A fair use limit will apply.||Use your phone in Spain for as long, and as much as you like. Best for long trips and heavy data users.|
|There’s no hassle: just set up & activate your UK SIM card before you depart.||You’ll need to buy & activate your SIM card for Spain on arrival (e.g. at a phone store).|
|There’s no need to register your SIM card with the authorities in Spain.||You’ll need to register the SIM card with the Spanish authorities.|
If you’d like to use your mobile phone in Spain with the least amount of hassle, we’d normally recommend roaming on a UK-based SIM card.
If your mobile network charges you for roaming in Spain, consider getting something like Lebara's £2.50 per month SIM (this includes 3 months half price when you use the KEN3 voucher code at checkout).
This is a one-month Pay As You Go plan with 3GB of data, unlimited minutes & unlimited texts. You can set it up before you depart and you can use it in Spain at no extra cost.
Get Lebara Mobile Pay As You Go SIM →
Roaming On Your UK SIM Card
The easiest way to use your mobile phone in Spain is through international roaming on a UK-based SIM card.
In the past, it was possible to use your UK SIM card at no extra cost when travelling to Spain. However, as a result of Brexit, some UK mobile networks have now introduced charges for using your phone in Europe. This means you might need to pay up to £2 per day to use your phone in Spain.
Roaming Charges In Spain
The following table shows the cost of using your mobile phone in Spain, along with the coverage available and the fair usage limit on each network:
|Network||European Roaming Cost||Roaming Coverage||Fair Use Limit For Data|
|ASDA Mobile||No extra cost||4G & 5G||5GB per month|
|BT Mobile||No extra cost||4G||50GB per month|
|EE||£2.29 per day1||4G||50GB per month|
|giffgaff||No extra cost||4G||5GB per month|
|O2||No extra cost||4G||25GB per month|
|iD Mobile||No extra cost||4G||Plan dependent – check here|
|Lebara Mobile||No extra cost||4G||30GB per month|
|SMARTY||No extra cost||4G||12GB per month|
|Sky Mobile||£2 per day||4G||–|
|Talkmobile||£1 – £2.25 per day2||4G & 5G||15GB per month|
|Tesco Mobile||No extra cost3||4G||–|
|Three||£2 per day4||4G||12GB per month|
|Virgin Mobile||No extra cost||4G||Plan dependent – check here|
|Vodafone||£2 per day5||4G & 5G||25GB per month|
|VOXI||£1 – £2 per day6||4G & 5G||20GB per month|
For access to the fastest 5G download speeds when you travel to Spain, get a SIM card from ASDA Mobile, Talkmobile, Vodafone UK or VOXI. Of these four networks, ASDA Mobile are the only ones that will allow you to use your mobile phone at no extra cost when you travel to Spain.
When you’re using a UK SIM card, it’s worth noting there’s a fair use limit in Spain. For data, this varies between 5GB and 50GB per month, depending on your mobile network. You’ll be able to use up to your UK plan allowance or up to the fair usage limit each month, whichever one is lower. In addition, you’ll need to spend the majority of your time inside the UK (normally measured as 61 days over a 120-day period). If you spend more than 50% of your time in Spain, you’ll need to get a local SIM card from one of the Spanish networks.
- EE: On EE, you’ll pay £2.29 per day to use your mobile phone abroad in Spain, unless you have the Roam Abroad add-on or Smart Benefit. You’ll continue to have free European roaming if your EE Pay Monthly plan started before the 7th July 2021.
- Talkmobile: If you’ve joined Talkmobile since the 14th March 2023, you’ll pay £2.25 for a 1-day Euro Holiday Booster. This will allow you to use your UK allowances when travelling in Spain. You can reduce the cost by choosing a longer Euro Holiday Booster (either £10 for 8 days, or £15 for 15 days).
- Tesco Mobile: From 2024, Tesco Mobile will introduce charges for roaming in Spain and other European countries. This will apply to all customers who joined or upgraded after the 16th June 2022.
- Three: On Three, you’ll pay £2 per day to use your mobile phone in Spain. This is unless your Three Pay Monthly plan started on or before the 30th September 2021 (if this is the case, you’ll benefit from inclusive roaming across Europe). You’ll also get inclusive roaming on Three’s Pay As You Go plans.
- Vodafone UK: On Vodafone’s UK plans, you’ll pay £2 per day to use your mobile phone in Spain. This is unless you have a Pay Monthly plan with 4 Xtra benefits, or a Pay Monthly plan taken before the 11th August 2021.
- VOXI: On VOXI, you’ll normally pay £2 per day to use your mobile phone in Spain. However, you can reduce this to as little as £1 per day when you buy a VOXI European Roaming Pass.
Best Roaming Deals For Spain
In our opinion, Lebara Mobile is currently the best UK mobile network for roaming in Spain.
On Lebara, you can get a Pay As You Go SIM card from just £2.50 per month, with the ability to use it at no extra cost when you travel to Spain. There’s no contract and no credit check when you get a Lebara Mobile SIM card so you can easily use it alongside the SIM card from another provider.
The following table shows a selection of Lebara’s Pay As You Go plans:
for 3 months, then £5/month
for 3 months, then £6/month
for 3 months, then £7/month
for 3 months, then £9/month
for 3 months, then £15/month
All of the prices shown include 3 months half price. This is a special offer available for June 2023. You’ll need to enter KEN3 as your voucher code during checkout to benefit from the half price offer.
If your mobile network still allows you to roam at no extra cost when you travel to Spain, you’re probably best off just using your normal SIM card when you’re there (unless you run out of data). Alternatively, if you’re only paying the £2 daily fee for a couple of days, it may not be worth the extra effort of getting a different SIM card.
Buying A Spanish SIM Card On Arrival
If you’re planning to use lots of data in Spain, or if you’re staying for an extended amount of time, it can be worthwhile getting a local SIM card from one of the Spanish networks. You can get a prepaid plan from €10 per month with lots of data included on it.
Here are the key things to know about getting a SIM card in Spain:
- You’ll need to get your SIM card on arrival. You can go to an official phone store or reseller to get your prepaid SIM. The cheapest place to get a SIM card is in the city centre. Alternatively, you might be able to get one at the airport but it’s likely you’ll be charged extra for it. You can also get a prepaid SIM from supermarkets and corner shops, but these can be difficult to activate (see the next point).
- You’ll need to register & activate the SIM with your passport. All local Spanish SIM cards need to be registered with your ID. The easiest way to do this is to bring your passport when you buy the SIM card as they’ll be able to register the SIM there for you on the spot. If you buy your SIM card elsewhere (e.g. at the supermarket), you may still need to bring it to the phone store for activation (online activation won’t normally be possible if you’re a visitor to Spain).
- You’ll need to get a pre-paid SIM (Prepago). As a traveller to Spain, you’ll need to get a pre-paid SIM card. It won’t be possible to get a contract plan (contrato) unless you have a Spanish bank account. If you want to top-up your SIM card, ask for ‘recargas’. You’ll probably need to top-up in person at a store as most UK bank cards cannot be used for topping up online.
- Prices vary if you’re visiting the Canary Islands. Prices will be slightly lower if you’re buying a SIM card in Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria or Lanzarote. This is because they have a lower rate of sales tax (7% IGIC). This compares to the 21% IVA which is charged on the Spanish Peninsula and on the Balearic Islands. The advertised prices normally include 21% IVA.
There are four main networks you’re able to choose from for your local Spanish SIM card: Movistar, Orange, Vodafone ES and Yoigo.
In the following section, we’ll look at their prepaid plans in more depth.
Movistar is Spain’s largest mobile network. They’re generally a good bet if you’re looking for a prepaid plan in Spain as they have some very competitive deals (such as 40GB data for €10). They also have the most extensive mobile coverage in Spain, though you’ll be limited to their 4G+ network as a prepaid customer (5G is only available on contract).
The following table shows Movistar’s pre-paid plans from €10 per month:
If you’re looking to get a Movistar SIM card, you can use the store locator on their website to find a nearby shop.
Orange is Spain’s second largest mobile network. They also offer some competitive pre-paid plans with 4G coverage, starting from €10/month for 25GB of data:
It’s also possible to get an Orange Tourist SIM card. On the tourist SIM cards, you’ll get a small allowance of minutes that can be used for calling internationally (including back home to the UK). You’ll also get unlimited data for the duration of your plan. The tourist SIM card costs €15 for 5 days or €25 for 15 days:
local & intl.
local & intl.
You can use Orange’s store locator to find a nearby store. They also have a website in English that can make it a little easier to find information about their plans.
Vodafone’s Spanish mobile network offers 5G-ready Pay As You Go plans. This is the best option if you’re looking for the fastest data speeds in Spain, as both Movistar and Orange limit their Pay As You Go plans to 4G coverage.
The following table shows the Pay As You Go plans available from Vodafone in Spain:
local & intl.
You can use the store locator on Vodafone’s website to find a nearby store.
It’s worth noting that Vodafone Spain is a separate network from Vodafone UK. Therefore, if you have a handset that’s locked to Vodafone in the UK, it won’t work with a Vodafone Spain SIM card unless you unlock it first.
Yoigo is Spain’s fourth and smallest mobile network. There are few reasons to choose a Yoigo SIM card on your trip to Spain as they have poorer coverage and smaller data allowances on Pay As You Go.
The following table shows Yoigo’s Pay As You Go plans:
You can find your nearest Yoigo store using the locator on their website.
Alongside the four main networks, there are also a number of smaller providers in Spain. They include Lebara Mobile Spain (which uses the Vodafone network) and Lycamobile Spain (which uses the Yoigo network). There’s also Lobster which calls itself the “full English mobile network”. They’re aimed at expats and they offer all of their plans along with customer support in English.
If you’re only visiting for a short amount of time as a tourist, we’d recommend sticking to one of the three big networks (Movistar, Orange and Vodafone ES). They have the most stores dotted across Spain so you can usually get a SIM from them without too much hassle.
If you’re planning to stay in Spain for an extended amount of time, it may also be worth investigating one of the smaller Spanish networks. For instance, you might be able to get a cheaper plan for less than €10/month. Alternatively, there are plans with inclusive international minutes or other features that might be beneficial for your stay (e.g. bundles that also include broadband and TV).
Handset & Network Compatibility
If you’re currently using your smartphone in the UK, it will also be compatible with the mobile networks in Spain. This is because the Spanish mobile networks use the same bands and frequencies that are in use within the UK.
The following table shows the bands and frequencies that are in use in Spain:
|Network Provider||5G Bands||4G Bands||3G Bands||2G Bands|
|Movistar||NR band n78||LTE bands 3, 7, 20||WCDMA 900, 2100||GSM 900, 1800|
|Orange||NR band n78||LTE bands 3, 7, 20, 42||WCDMA 900, 2100||GSM 900, 1800|
|Vodafone ES||NR band n78||LTE bands 3, 7, 20, 28||WCDMA 900, 2100||GSM 900, 1800|
|Yoigo||NR band n78||LTE bands 3||WCDMA 2100||GSM 1800|
You can check your handset manufacturer’s spec sheet to see a list of bands supported by your phone.
If you’re using a different SIM card for the duration of your trip abroad, you’ll need to make sure your handset is unlocked.
At present, Lebara Mobile is our recommended SIM card for usage in Spain. You can get a plan from them for just £2.50 per month, with inclusive roaming in Spain.
For more information, you can also see our in-depth guides to international roaming and our guide to roaming charges in Europe.
Your Comments 114 so far
We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 114 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.
Tesco changing EU roaming charges now Ken and giffgaff reducing their allowance to just 5gb a month. You could offer free EU roaming and just give 100MB data which would suite me as just need to whatsapp etc.. It looks like tesco are going down the road of at the minute charges.
Mike Williams said:
Every time I go to Spain for long vacations I use Lobster. They have good coverage, everything is in English (which is much appreciated). I order the SIM, pay the 28 days upfront and they ship it to the hotel. I am pretty happy with them.
Which other UK mobile operators sims use the local Orange network in Spain – other than three?
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