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Lebara review: Cheap SIM-only deals with international extras

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
/mth, starting price

Excellent-value SIM-only plans with the bonus of inclusive international calls

Cheap plans with lots of data
Reliable connectivity
100 international minutes bundled in
Not the fastest for 4G or 5G
High data costs while roaming

Bag a BONKERS Lebara SIM-only deal this month

This is our pick of the Lebara SIM only: if you sign up as soon as possible, you can nab unlimited 5G data for a very decent £22.50/mth on a one-year plan. What's more, you'll also get free EU roaming and 100 minutes to 44 countries around the world. Not bad, eh?

Lebara first made its name selling international telephone call cards. Following a foray into PAYG SIM cards across Europe with a focus on low-cost international calls, it has now expanded into 30-day rolling SIM-only deals with the same main selling points: low prices, inclusive international calls and affordable roaming, albeit with one big caveat that we’re going to get to later.

Lebara is now one of the cheapest mobile networks, and its users seem to feel that they’re getting a great service. Not only did Lebara scoop the Value award in this year’s Mobile Network Awards, but an amazing 95% of users would recommend it to a friend.

Lebara review: What do you get?

Lebara’s monthly rolling plans start out at just £5 for unlimited texts, unlimited calls and 3GB of data, and scale up to a 30GB plan for £15 and unlimited data for a mere £25. There’s no long-term contract and you’re free to cancel at any time, and you’re able to use 5G where available (if your phone supports it). Like Voxi, Lebara runs over Vodafone’s mobile network operating as a virtual mobile network operator (VMNO).

For this kind of money you can’t expect all the extras or features you might find on more expensive networks, but Lebara does bundle in 100 international minutes on all its SIM-only plans. That’s good news for anyone with family or friends abroad, or those who need to make international calls for work.

PackageMonthly feeTextsMinutesExtras
3GB£5UnlimitedUnlimited100 international minutes
15GB£10UnlimitedUnlimited100 international minutes
30GB£15UnlimitedUnlimited100 international minutes
Unlimited£25UnlimitedUnlimited100 international minutes

One thing Lebara won’t give you is a shiny new handset. It’s a SIM-only provider with no monthly contract phones for sale.

Browse Lebara SIM-Only plans

Lebara review: Customer service

Lebara's low costs might have an impact on its customer service. 42% of the users we heard from in our 2022 Mobile Network Awards survey said they were very satisfied with their customer service, and a further 28% were satisfied, but that still makes it one of the lowest scoring networks in our survey, even if just 6.6% of users described themselves as unsatisfied.

To balance that, however, 42% of the users we heard from in our 2022 Mobile Network Awards survey said they were very satisfied with their customer service, and a further 28% were satisfied. An impressively low 6.6% described themselves as unsatisfied.

Even more impressively, Lebara had a faultless scorecard on the subject of value for money. 83% of users said they were very satisfied, while 17% said they were fairly satisfied. In case you don’t feel like adding those figures up, that leaves no unsatisfied customers. This incredible performance won Lebara our Best Value award.

Right now, Lebara isn’t covered by Ofcom’s customer service and satisfaction reports, so we can’t compare it to other networks on that front.

Lebara review: Coverage, reliability and speed

With Lebara running on top of Vodafone’s host network, users can expect good speeds and coverage, though EE and Three both reach further and go faster according to the latest data from RootMetrics. Vodafone’s median UK download speed of 23.8Mbits/sec falls behind Three’s 29.9Mbits/sec and EE’s 66.2Mbits/sec, but it’s still ahead of O2’s 16.4Mbits/sec. What’s more, Vodafone beats Three’s average speeds in Wales and Northern Ireland, and is one of the fastest options in some UK cities, with median download speeds of over 50Mbits/sec in three of the 16 cities where RootMetrics runs its tests.

Its 4G coverage now extends to 99% of the UK population, but Vodafone has some catching up to do on 5G; where EE and Three’s 5G services now reach around 50% of the UK population, Vodafone still hasn’t reached the halfway mark. What’s more, EE and Three are reaching median 5G download speeds of 150Mbits/sec and 200Mbits/sec respectively, while Vodafone’s is approximately 130Mbits/sec.

None of this means Lebara will give you a slow connection, and it’s definitely one you can rely on. 86% of users we surveyed told us that Lebara was mostly or always fast enough for web browsing, while 68% said the same about audio streaming. Even with video streaming, over half (56%) of the users we spoke to said their connection was mostly or always up to the job, though only 10% said it was always ready. Overall, these results were among the best we had for reliability, putting Lebara behind Voxi and Smarty, but ahead of many more established networks.

We didn’t have a big enough sample of Lebara’s 5G customers to get a good idea of how satisfied they are with their 5G service, but we can work with Vodafone’s results. They’re slightly better than the average, with 51% of the 5G customers we spoke to either satisfied or very satisfied with their 5G connection. The main source of dissatisfaction for most customers (69%) was the lack of 5G coverage, which should improve as the network rolls out more 5G hardware.

Lebara review: Roaming

Where many other networks have introduced daily charges for EU roaming, Lebara still allows you to use all your plan allowances in the EU at no extra charge. The only exception is data on an unlimited plan, which is capped at 30GB/mth.

Outside of the EU, Lebara is in the mid-range when it comes to roaming charges, with calls coming in at £1.49 to make and 99p to £1.49 to take in many countries. Texts are usually 49p. However, watch out for higher bills in some territories, and for data costs, which are among the worst in the business at a shocking £14.99 per MB. The only good thing is that with a roaming spending cap of £42, you won’t quite get to 3MB before you’re cut off.

Lebara review: Other services and spending caps

Lebara has a sort of built-in spending cap, in that you can’t go over your plan allowances without spending extra on an add-on. Beyond this, there are no data rollover features or family plans.

Browse Lebara SIM-Only plans

Lebara review: Verdict

Lebara seems to have found a good balance between delivering cheap and reliable 4G and 5G connectivity. Reliability and customer service are also up to scratch, making this one of the top options for value, especially on its most cost-conscious 3GB and 15GB plans. If you’re looking for the best performance or more features, look elsewhere, but this is a great network for casual users, with the bonus of inclusive international calls.

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