Lycamobile offers low-cost international calls from 1p/minute and coverage from the O2 network.

In the UK, Lycamobile is a specialist mobile network offering SIM cards designed for low-cost international calling. Using coverage from O2 as their network coverage provider, customers on Lycamobile can call other countries from 1p/minute.

In this article, we’ll review the Lycamobile service and compare it to the cost of international calling on other UK mobile networks. We’ll also look at bundle availability and how long your can expect your credit to last for. Finally, we’ll also look at coverage on Lycamobile and how you can move your phone number to the network.

Stop Press: For £15/month, Lebara Mobile is offering unlimited international minutes to 40 countries, unlimited UK minutes and 5GB of data. There’s also £4 free credit when you transfer your phone number. Order a free SIM card to try it out and get started.

Order Lebara Mobile SIM Card (Free) →

Pricing & Bundles

There are two ways of using Lycamobile: either on a traditional Pay As You Go basis or buy buying a 30-day bundle.

UK Rates

If you’re inside the UK and haven’t subscribed to a 30-day bundle, Lycamobile will charge you its standard Pay As You Go rates. These are currently 19p/minute for calling UK mobiles and 12p/minute for calling UK landlines. You’ll also pay 19p for every text message you send, and 12p for every megabyte of data you use.

The following table shows Lycamobile’s standard Pay As You Go rates:

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 19p/minute to other UK mobile phones
12p/minute to UK landlines
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) 19p
Picture Message (MMS) Not available.
Internet Rates:
Mobile Internet 12p/MB

Lycamobile is actually relatively expensive for usage inside the UK, compared to other Pay As You Go networks like O2 and Three which charge as little as 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. For this reason, you’ll need to weigh up any potential savings on international calling versus the additional amount you might need to pay for usage in the UK.

One advantage of Lycamobile that’s worth briefly mentioning is you can make free calls and texts to other Lycamobile customers. You’ll get this whenever you top-up as part of their offer with your free calls and texts being valid for the rest of the calendar month. For this reason, you should top-up at the start of each calendar month if you want to maximise the benefit you can receive from the offer.

International Rates

The main selling point of Lycamobile’s service in the UK is they’ll allow you to call abroad from 1p/minute. This is in contrast to the major mobile networks which can sometimes charge you up to £1.50/minute.

The following table shows the per-minute cost of calling abroad to selected countries when using a Lycamobile SIM card:

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)5p/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 8th January 2018. Source: lycamobile.co.uk.

You can see a list of international calling rates for each country in our full guide and comparison of international rates.

Lebara Mobile VS Lycamobile

In general, Lebara Mobile, the main competitor of Lycamobile in the UK, tends to have slightly cheaper rates overall.

Based on an analysis of the cost of calling 210 countries, Lebara Mobile was cheaper than Lycamobile 45% of the time. In 5% of cases, Lycamobile was cheaper and in the other 50%, the two networks were tied.

Lebara Mobile was cheaper Tied Lycamobile was cheaper
94 countries (45%) 105 countries (50%) 11 countries (5%)

Lycamobile VS Lebara Mobile rate comparison for 210 countries. Calculated from the per-minute rates for international calling to a mobile phone. Comparison was carried out on the 8th January 2018.

Order Lebara Mobile SIM Card (Free) →

Amongst the 94 destinations where Lebara Mobile was cheaper (e.g. including China, Italy, Turkey and the USA), the per-minute rates were on average one-third lower compared to Lycamobile.

Occasionally, special opt-in offers are available on both Lebara Mobile and Lycamobile for even cheaper rates compared to what is listed in the table above. You’ll normally need to opt-in to these offers (e.g. once per month) and additional requirements may also apply (e.g. you may be required to top-up a certain amount on a regular basis).

30-Day Bundles

Lycamobile Bundles

If you’re a regular mobile user, it might be better value to convert your Pay As You Go credit into a 30-day bundle. With a bundle, you’ll be buying your airtime in bulk. You’ll receive a certain allowance of minutes, texts and mobile internet to use at any time over the next 30 days.

At present, you can buy the following UK Plan bundles on Lycamobile:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Lycamobile150150-£5.00
Lycamobile150150500MB£7.50
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£10.00
Lycamobile1,000
+100 intl.
Unlimited2GB£10.00
Lycamobile1,000Unlimited3GB£12.00
LycamobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited6GB£15.00
LycamobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited11GB£20.00
LycamobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited15GB£25.00
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£35.00

On certain bundles, you’ll receive an inclusive allowance of 100 international minutes which can be used for calling selected countries that are listed on the Lycamobile website.

For customers who mainly call abroad and who are not concerned by UK allowances, Lycamobile also offers a number of international bundles and single county plans (e.g. for calling Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, Ghana or China).

Bundle Codes

You can buy a 30-day bundle from your Lycamobile credit by texting the relevant shortcode as follows:

Bundle Name Bundle Code
Talk & Text £5 Text 82551 to 3535 or dial *139*82551#
UK Plan S £7.50 Text 10744 to 3535 or dial *139*10744#
UK Plan M £10 Text 11044 to 3535 or dial *139*11044#
UK Plan L £12 Text 12044 to 3535 or dial *139*12044#
UK Plan Super £15 Text 1544 to 3535 or dial *139*1544#
UK Plan Mega £20 Text 2044 to 3535 or dial *139*2044#
UK Plan Ultra £25 Text 12644 to 3535 or dial *139*12644#
Lyca Globe £10 Text 1011 to 3535 or dial *139*1011#
Great Eastern £10 Text 1010 to 3535 or dial *139*1010#
Unlimited £9.90 Text 103000 to 3535 or dial *139*103000#
All in One £15 Text 542 to 3535 or dial *139*542#

You can also buy a bundle online through the Lycamobile website.

Voucher Code Offers

At the time of writing, Lycamobile is offering 50% off the first purchase of selected bundles for new customers joining their network. The discount is not available to existing Lycamobile customers.

As an ongoing offer, students with a NUS Extra card can get 10% off all of their Lycamobile top-ups. To get the discount, you’ll need to register your NUS Extra card number to your Lycamobile account. More information about how to do this can be found on the Lycamobile website.

Comparison to Alternatives

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

International Calling

The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of per-minute rates for international calling on a number of Pay As You Go networks. Some of the rates will require you to opt-in for international calling offers (e.g. on EE, O2 and Vodafone).

CountryCost of calling abroad from the UK (per minute)
EEgiffgaffLebara MobileLycamobileO2Vodafone
China (+86)3p
(3p to landline)
2p
(2p to landline)
2p
(1p to landline)
3p
(1p to landline)
2p
(1.5p to landline)
1.5p
(1.5p to landline)
India (+91)5p2p2p2p2p1.5p
Ireland (+353)8p
(1p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
9p
(5p to landline)
19p
(7p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Italy (+39)7p
(3p to landline)
3p
(3p to landline)
9p
(5p to landline)
19p
(7p 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)
6p
(6p to landline)
30p
(12p to landline)
Poland (+48)5p
(1p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Romania (+40)5p
(1p to landline)
2p
(2p to landline)
5p
(2p to landline)
5p
(1p to landline)
4p
(1p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
Sri Lanka (+94)20p
(15p to landline)
22p
(14p to landline)
15p
(12p to landline)
15p
(12p to landline)
18p
(15p to landline)
30p
(12p to landline)
Turkey (+90)12p
(5p to landline)
11p
(3p to landline)
9p
(3p to landline)
12p
(3p to landline)
12p
(3p to landline)
25p
(5p to landline)
United States (+1)3p2p5p6p2p1.5p

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 8th January 2018. Source: ee.co.uk, giffgaff.com, mobile.lebara.com, lycamobile.co.uk, o2.co.uk, vodafone.co.uk.

The lowest per-minute rates vary substantially depending on which country you’re calling. For more information and for a full comparison that includes many other countries, please see our in-depth guide to international calling rates.

If you’re making a large number of international phone calls, it may be worth choosing to buy an international calling bundle. Lebara Mobile has a number of All In One bundles offering 500 international minutes from £10/month and 1000 international minutes from £15/month. You’ll also receive an inclusive allowance of UK minutes, texts and internet.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Lebara MobileUnlimited1,0003GB£10.00
Lebara Mobile5001,0001GB£10.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited1,0006GB£15.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited1,0005GB£15.00
Lebara Mobile2501,0003GB£15.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited1,00010GB£20.00

£10 per month bundles

10 Pound Note

At the £10/month price point, Lycamobile offers the UK Plan M bundle with 100 international minutes to selected countries plus 1000 UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 2GB of mobile internet.

For the same monthly price, it’s possible to get 3GB of data per month on giffgaff but without the inclusive allowance of international minutes.

Alternatively, Lebara Mobile offers a choice of two £10 per month bundles. Lebara’s £10 UK Plan bundle matches the deal from Lycamobile fairly closely (you’ll get 100 international minutes, 1000 UK minutes and 2GB of data). Meanwhile, Lebara’s £10 All In One bundle comes with 500 international minutes plus 500 UK minutes and 1GB of data.

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

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£10.00
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£10.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
1,0003GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited3GB£10.00
EE1,000Unlimited2GB£10.00
Lycamobile1,000
+100 intl.
Unlimited2GB£10.00
Vodafone250Unlimited2GB£10.00
O22501,0002GB£10.00
EE100Unlimited2GB£10.00
Three3,0003,0001GB£10.00
Lebara Mobile500
+500 intl.
1,0001GB£10.00
EE250Unlimited1GB£10.00

£15 per month bundles

15 Pound Notes

For £15/month, Lycamobile offers UK Plan Super. The bundle comes with 100 international minutes, unlimited UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 6GB of internet.

This compares fairly favourable to what is available on other mobile networks, but a larger allowance of international minutes can be found on other networks. For instance, Lebara Mobile offers 500 international minutes and 3GB of mobile data or 1,000 international minutes and 1GB of mobile data for £15/month.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£15.00
LycamobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited6GB£15.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
1,0006GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited6GB£15.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited
+unltd intl.
1,0005GB£15.00
Three3,0003,0005GB£15.00
EE2,000Unlimited5GB£15.00
EE500Unlimited5GB£15.00
O25001,0005GB£15.00
Lebara Mobile250
+250 intl.
1,0003GB£15.00
EE1,000Unlimited2GB£15.00

£20 per month bundles

20 Pound Note

Lycamobile offers a £20 bundle called UK Plan Mega with 100 international minutes to selected countries, unlimited UK minutes, unlimited UK texts and 11GB of UK internet.

Once again, this compares fairly favourably to other networks. However, larger data allowances are available for the same monthly price if you’re not concerned about the inclusive international minutes (e.g. you can get Always-On data from giffgaff or 12GB of data from Three).

For a larger allowance of international minutes, Lebara Mobile offers up to 1000 international minutes with their All In One bundles.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00
Three3,0003,00012GB£20.00
LycamobileUnlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited11GB£20.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited
+unltd intl.
1,00010GB£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited9GB£20.00
O21,0002,0006GB£20.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited6GB£20.00
EE1,500Unlimited4GB£20.00

For more information, please see our full comparison of Pay As You Go bundles. You may also wish to consider Pay Monthly SIM cards if you’re happy to undergo a credit check and 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 date of the relevant top-up. If your credit isn’t used within this 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 or top-up at least once every 120 days. Chargeable events 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 and 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 ordering your SIM card from the Lycamobile website, you’ll be asked to choose the right “SIM Type” for your phone. If you aren’t sure which size of SIM card you require, see our guide to smartphones and the required SIM card size in each one.

Network & Coverage

2G, 3G & 4G Coverage from O2

Lycamobile is a virtual network operator using O2 as their network 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 for calling and texting. There’s also 97% 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’s online coverage map:

Check Lycamobile Coverage (lycamobile.co.uk) →

It’s also possible to get coverage from O2 through giffgaff, Sky Mobile or Tesco Mobile.

Tethering Isn’t Permitted

Tethering or personal hotspot 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 use tethering or portable hotspot 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.

Keeping Your Phone Number

You can transfer your phone number to Lycamobile by submitting your PAC Code through an 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 phone 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 each time).

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 phone number moved over.

For step-by-step instructions on moving your phone number to Lycamobile, please select your current mobile network from the dropdown menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Lycamobile

Your current network provider:

  More Options

Please note: it isn’t possible to 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 may also find it of interest to read our full comparison of international calling rates.

Your Comments 22 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 22 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Disgrace. Tried ordering a SIM and I think they do not post overseas. I can’t even fill my address up.

    Pls learn from giffgaff about posting overseas

    • Niko constant replied:

      they do ship overseas lyca have several websites for each country plus all you had to do was ring customer service on lyca and get it done that way ok lyca is a good network one of the best try what I said 1st then if all else fails come back then and talk ish ok

  • I recently used a text code to activate a Lyca bundle after buying top up cards. I cant remember the text code, and Lyca themselves just want me to sign up on their site.

    Where can I find those codes? I think it was something like 2020 or 4020 or something.

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