Both Lyca Mobile and Lebara offer affordable SIM-only plans with international minutes included, making them great options if you have family living overseas. But which is best for you?
Overall winner in snapshot: Lebara
Both networks offer similar services, especially in the realm of international calls.
However, Lebara wins out thanks to its support for Wi-Fi Calling, 4G voice calling, and the fact that Lyca Mobile’s 5G service remains limited to Android devices only.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara: plans and pricing
Lyca Mobile and Lebara’s SIM-only plans are extremely good value. Plans range from basic one-month rolling deals to 12-month offerings that lock you in for longer but cost less. But whichever option you choose, you’re guaranteed a great deal.
At the time of writing you can get 3GB of 5G data, 50 international minutes to over 40 countries and unlimited UK calls and texts for just £4.99 per month on a rolling 30-day contract with Lebara.
If you’re happy to have just 4G data, you can get even cheaper deals with Lyca Mobile. 21GB of 4G, 100 international minutes and unlimited calls and texts to the UK for just £2.90 per month for three months and rising to £8.45 after that initial period.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara: International calling
International calling is the stand-out area for both providers, with both offering a fantastic service here with plenty of options. Comparing the two is a little complex, and likely comes down to what location(s) you want to call.
Both providers’ most basic plans with international calling options include 100 minutes that you can use to call 40+ countries, including the EU and much of Europe. Both also cover calls to Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the United States.
Prices are similar – it’s best to just compare the plans with data limits that suit you, and choose the network offering it at the lowest price at the time.
When we look at the networks’ broader international plans, it gets more complicated.
At the time of writing (January 2023), Lyca Mobile has an unlimited international minutes plan for £20, which includes unlimited calls to India (as well as the above 40+ countries), and up to 30GB of data. Lebara has a £20 plan with 30GB of data and unlimited international minutes too, but it has only 1000 minutes to India. On the plus side, you can spend a little more and get up to unlimited data – which you can’t with Lyca Mobile.
Lyca Mobile also has plans that include 250 minutes to ‘Morocco and more’ – that is, Morocco, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Philippines, Tunisia. That’s on top of the unlimited minutes to other countries.
Lebara, meanwhile, has a wider range of plans with international calls – giving you more choice over your monthly bill and data allowance.
Both networks also have dedicated bundles and/or add-ons for calling specific countries, such as Pakistan and Nigeria.
So, let’s look at which network is best for calling different locations…
- Standard international plans – no difference. Both offer basic plans with a minimum of 100 international minutes to 40+ locations, at similar prices. The only difference is that Lebara’s plans include Israel, and Lyca Mobile doesn’t
- EU – no difference. All EU countries (plus a number of non-EU European locations) are covered in both plans’ international minutes, regardless of which plan you choose
- Bangladesh – no difference. Both networks have similar bundles for calling Bangladesh at similar prices
- India – Lyca Mobile has plans that include unlimited calls to India, but Lebara’s top plans cap out at 1000 India minutes (the equivalent of around half an hour a day). Prices are similar, but if you don’t need to contact India quite that much, you may find Lebara is better value for you, especially if you want unlimited data
- Morocco, Mali, Senegal, Philippines, Tunisia – Lyca Mobile is best for calling all these countries, as it includes them in its ‘Morocco and more’ plans
- Ivory Coast – Lyca Mobile is best. It offers a dedicated bundle, and also includes calls to Côte d'Ivoire in plans that have ‘Morocco and more’ minutes
- Nigeria – Lebara is cheaper. Both have dedicated bundles with minutes to Nigeria, however
- Pakistan – no difference. Both have dedicated bundles/add-ons at similar prices
- Uganda – Lyca Mobile is best, as it has a special bundle with minutes to call Uganda
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara coverage
Lebara uses Vodafone’s network, which means around 99% coverage across the UK, with access to 3G, 4G and 5G networks. That means you’ll be able to access the fastest speeds around in major towns and cities, while accessing standard networks in all but the most rural of locations.
Lyca Mobile, meanwhile, makes use of O2. That offers the same 99% coverage, as well as 3G, 4G and 5G. Just be aware that at the time of writing, Lyca’s 5G only works on Android devices, meaning you won’t be able to access the fastest networks on iPhones or iPads. This is a big miss.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara speeds
Be aware that Lyca Mobile 5G only works on Android devices, meaning you won’t be able to access the fastest networks on iPhones or iPads. This is a big miss and helps set Lebara apart.
Lebara uses Vodafone’s faster 5G network, but Lyca Mobile customers with a compatible 5G phone will find access to the best networks in more locations as it takes advantage of O2’s slightly more widespread service.
Both also offer standard 3G and 4G services, which zip along nicely and provide breezy access to the internet when out and about.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara customer service
Neither Lebara or Lyca Mobile feature in the latest Ofcom reports into mobile customer service. However, both rate highly on TrustPilot and on online customer forums. Lebara customers can use a live chat service to discuss their SIM, or call directly using 5588 from a Lebara SIM or 0207 031 0791. Fast response times and good service are often reported.
Customer service is also a strong point for Lyca Mobile. It has a Trustpilot rating of 4.65 out of 5, which is significantly better than larger, household-name networks. It also has a multilingual customer service team, which can be contacted on 0207 132 0322, or 322 if you have a Lyca Mobile number. Lines are open 9am-6pm, Monday to Saturday.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara Wi-Fi hotspots
Neither Lebara nor Lyca Mobile offer access to mobile hotspots. So you’ll need to make use of your data allowance while on the move regardless of which network you pick.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara roaming
This is where both Lebara and Lyca Mobile stand out from the bigger mobile networks. Both offer EU roaming as standard, something which many networks have dropped in recent years. If you travel a lot, this makes both networks attractive.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara bonuses and rewards
Lyca Mobile and Lebara are all about keeping things simple. So while neither offer extras, bonuses or rewards, both come with inclusive international minutes.
This sets them apart from rivals and is more alluring than a shopping voucher, especially as it allows users to stay in touch with friends and family who don’t live in the UK.
As for which network is best, that really depends on what location you call the most regularly.
Lyca Mobile vs Lebara 5G coverage
As mentioned, Lebara uses Vodafone 5G, which is available in around 120 locations across the UK. It’s faster than the O2 5G which Lyca Mobile uses, although the latter can be found in 190 places.
However, it’s worth remembering that Lyca Mobile 5G is not supported by iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads – giving Lebara the edge here.