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Lebara vs Lycamobile: which international network is best?

Lebara and Lycamobile logos

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We compare the two main networks that specialise in making calls to other countries to see which has better 5G/4G signal, data speeds and benefits. Last updated: 9th February 2023

Offer notifications on Lebara and Lycamobile

Mobile networks: Lebara vs Lycamobile

Do Lycamobile or Lebara have better coverage?

Which network provides better 2G/3G/4G/5G coverage?

Lebara and Lycamobile's mobile networks

Call signal is very close but Lebara just win for 4G

Lebara uses Vodafone network

Check signal coverage

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Both Lebara and Lycamobile are virtual providers (MVNOs) that piggyback off a main network. Lebara use Vodafone’s network to provide signal, while Lycamobile use O2. Both have their pros and cons.

Call signal is definitely a strength of both providers. Through their hosts they are able to provide call signal most of the UK’s population and cover about 98% of the country’s landmass, so you’ll rarely be in a total blackspot on either.

For 4G data signal, Lebara are the slight winner. Through their hosts they are able to provide 4G in some surprisingly rural locations, while Lycamobile’s 4G can struggle more outside of the city. In urban areas the two are basically equal.

In any case, you’re best off using either networks’ coverage checkers here. The national picture matters less than whether or not either network covers your local area better. Check at home and anywhere else you’ll use your phone.

Useful link: Our Vodafone vs O2 network review

Lycamobile have 5G live in more locations

Lycamobile 5G

See locations

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Both networks offer access to their hosts 5G on every plan at no extra cost. While 5G is rapidly expanding on both networks, there is a clear winner here when it comes to overall 5G coverage.

You’ll currently get 5G in these 120+ UK towns and cities on Lebara and in these 190+ locations on Lycamobile. There is some overlap between the two, but one network might cover your local area while the other doesn’t.

Still, you’re more likely to get 5G in your area on Lycamobile and they are typically able to cover their locations better. But again it’s best to use either networks’ coverage maps below to check your local area.

In any case, 5G is still growing on every network and we could see Lebara’s hosts overtaking Lycamobile’s at some point. But for now Lycamobile are clearly ahead for 5G coverage.

Useful link: The best networks for 5G speeds and coverage

Lebara and Lycamobile network maps

Check signal everywhere you'll use your phone, not just at home

Lebara network map

Lebara's coverage checker

Check Lebara coverage

using their network map
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Lycamobile network map

Lycamobile's coverage checker

Check Lyca coverage

using their network map
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Other ways to check coverage

Independent coverage checkers

Use Ofcom checker
Use RootMetrics checker

Our verdict on coverage:

Basically a draw

“In terms of call signal coverage the two are essentially on par with each other. Your choice between them will come down to whether you want better rural 4G or better 5G coverage. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s a draw here.”

Compare pricing and deals

Do Lycamobile or Lebara have faster data speeds?

We’ll take a look at both networks’ 4G and 5G speeds

Lebara and Lycamobile logos with a speedometer

Lebara typically have faster 4G data speeds

Lebara mobile data speeds

Read their FAQs

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When it comes to data speeds, we put more importance on good 4G speeds rather than 5G speeds. This is because you’ll likely spend most of your time on 4G. So, which network offers the better 4G speeds?

According to results from independent network testers Opensignal, typical speeds on Lebara sit around 21.6 Mbps while Lycamobile’s typical speeds are about 17.1 Mbps. But those results don’t tell the whole story.

In real life testing we got a wide range of speeds on Lebara, from a sluggish 5 Mbps in rural areas to a blistering fast 110 Mbps in the city centre. On Lycamobile we got between 5 Mbps - 90 Mbps, so we can see how they average out.

Both networks can get you very fast and very slow speeds depending on your location. But we think if you want the fastest 4G speeds possible then Lebara will be the better network of the two.

Useful link: Our full Lebara network review

5G speeds aren’t massively different between the two

Best 5G networks banner

Our 5G networks guide

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In order to judge which networks have the fastest 5G speeds, we compare their speed results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla. However there was no clear winner between the two here.

Speeds on Lebara sit between an oddly slow 73.3 Mbps and a fast 133.54 Mbps. On the other hand Lycamobile’s typical 5G speeds are between 90.61 Mbps - 110.9 Mbps.

As you can see, there’s a massive variation in speeds on Lebara, whereas you’re less likely to slow down to a crawl or speed ahead on Lycamobile. We think this variation comes down to people using 5G on the edges of signal coverage.

We think if you’re using 5G in areas where signal is strong you’ll likely get better speeds on Lebara. But considering Lycamobile have better 5G coverage, we think you’re more likely to get consistent 5G speeds with them.

Useful link: The best UK networks for 5G speeds and coverage

Our verdict on data speeds:

Small win for Lebara

"While 5G speeds are a bit of a toss up between the two, you’ll likely spend most of your time on 4G anyway. And for that Lebara offer faster typical and peak speeds. It’s a close call, but Lebara just take this one."

Compare pricing and deals

Do Lebara or Lycamobile offer better WiFi calling?

We go over which network has the better WiFi calling scheme

WiFi calling symbol with Lebara and Lycamobile logos

Only Lebara offer WiFi/4G calling between the two

Lebara WiFi calling FAQs

Read their guide

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While both networks offer great call signal coverage, you can still run into indoor blackspots on either one. To help with this, Lebara offer WiFi/4G calling to let your phone make calls via WiFi/4G signal instead. Lycamobile don’t offer this.

In our Lebara review we said their scheme is likely very similar to Vodafone, so they support the same devices as Vodafone (see their list here), let you move from WiFi to 4G without your call dropping and send texts over WiFi/4G.

The biggest downside is that they don’t support as many Android devices as other networks, but most iPhone models should work. Other than that, it’s a fantastic scheme for keeping you connected.

While it shouldn’t be a death blow to Lycamobile that they don’t offer WiFi/4G calling, it can make connecting to calls difficult if you get poor call signal in your home.

Useful link: Our guide to the best WiFi calling networks

Our verdict on WiFi calling:

Win by default for Lebara

"Lebara offer a great WiFi calling scheme that helps you stay connected where call signal is poor. Lycamobile offer nothing of the sort. A win by default for Lebara here."

Compare pricing and deals

Added benefits on Lebara vs Lycamobile

Do Lycamobile or Lebara have better EU roaming?

We’ll go over which network is better for trips to the continent

Lebara roaming vs Lycamobile's

Lebara let you roam in lots of EU countries and India

Free EU roaming on Lebara

See all countries

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Lebara let you roam in these 42 EU/EEA countries at no extra cost. This means you can use your regular UK allowance like you would at home while you’re there without having to pay any more to do so.

That covers basically all of the most popular EU destinations and a few other ones. On top of that, Lebara actually let you roam in India at no extra cost, just like you would in the EU.

There are a few downsides to Lebara’s roaming, however. Firstly, you can only use 30GB of your data allowance while abroad. That’s a lot more than some networks let you use and it’s enough for a short trip, but it can still be restrictive.

And if you go over that amount, or travel beyond their covered destinations then you’ll have to top up and pay their steep roaming rates. But as it is, Lebara’s scheme is excellent and is one of the best of all UK networks in our eyes.

Useful link: Lebara’s guide to their roaming

Lycamobile also let you roam in the EU at no added cost

Lycamobile EU roaming is included

See roaming destinations

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Lycamobile also include EU roaming on every plan. That means you can use your regular UK allowance in these 32 EU/EEA destinations at no extra cost.

But unlike Lebara, Lycamobile impose a different fair usage limit on every one of their plans. That means your data usage is limited no matter which deal you’ve taken.

Their cap for unlimited data plans is 16.50GB. But the smaller your plan is, the smaller your cap is. You can see your plan’s cap in their checkout. Overall it’s a finickity policy that overcomplicates things.

Still, it is good that Lycamobile have kept their EU roaming in place while so many other networks have scrapped theirs. There’s no worldwide roaming, however, so you’ll have to top up and pay at these steep rates if you’re going beyond the EU.

Useful link: The best UK networks for roaming

Our verdict on roaming:

Win for Lebara

“Users on small and large data plans on Lebara will be able to use more of their regular UK allowance abroad than users on Lycamobile. While it’s good that Lycamobile offer EU roaming, their scheme is a step behind Lebara’s.”

Compare pricing and deals

International calling on Lebara vs Lycamobile

Which network is better for making calls abroad?

International calling on Lebara vs Lycamobile

Both networks include international minutes in your plan

Countries that Lebara's international minutes includes

See calling locations

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Lebara and Lycamobile both offer a different amount of inclusive international minutes on your plan, depending on which plan you take. You can see how many international minutes you’ll get when you take out your deal on either.

These deals include at least 500 international minutes. Click deal for destination:

Typically, the pricier your plan the more mins you’ll get with your plan. Both networks have a few plans that include unlimited international minutes. These tend to be pricey, but can work out to great value if you make a lot of calls abroad.

However, it’s worth noting that Lycamobile’s cheapest plan doesn’t include any international mins while every Lebara plan includes them. And Lebara include calls to 42 countries to Lycamobile’s 40 countries.

If you don’t mind missing out on a couple of extra countries and you’re not planning on taking Lycamobile’s smallest plan, then either network are a great choice for international calling.

Useful link: Lycamobile’s inclusive calling destinations

Paying as you go is cheapest on Lebara too

Globe with phone coming out of it

Read our guide

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Lebara are our favourite network for making calls to other countries for two main reasons. The first is their inclusive international calls mentioned above, but outside of that they also offer some of the cheapest international calls of all networks.

Calls to Europe, North America, China, New Zealand, Australia and India are only 1p per minute. Calls to Pakistan go up to 3p per min and up to 5p - 7p per min for South Africa and Nigeria, but those are still the cheapest rates of all networks for these countries.

Beyond those destinations calling rates can be between 15p - 99p per minute depending on where you're calling. While Lebara tend to offer the cheapest rates per country, it’s best to check the location you want to call here in any case.

So even if you get through your inclusive international minutes, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying a massive amount extra to keep making calls abroad.

Useful link: Lebara’s international calling rates

Our verdict on international calling:

Lebara win

"While both networks are basically equal in terms of the inclusive international mins you can get, once you’ve run out of inclusive international mins or the country’s not included, Lebara become the much better choice of the two.”

Compare pricing and deals

Other benefits on Lebara or Lycamobile

What benefits do you get on one network that you don’t on the other?

Benefits on Lebara vs Lycamobile

Lebara give you cashback for referring friends onto their network

Lebara refer a friend scheme

Read more

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If you’ve got friends or family who are looking to join on a new SIM only deal, Lebara will reward both you for referring them onto their network. Not only this but the person you referred also gets extra benefits for joining.

For getting your friend to join Lebara will give you up to £50 cashback depending on which plan they took. And your friend gets 50% off the cost of their plan for the first 3 months. So, how does it work?

Well, if you’re an existing Lebara customer all you do is send your friend a special link where they can sign up to Lebara. Bear in mind they’ll have to stay with Lebara for at least 3 months for you to get your cashback.

One drawback of the scheme is that there aren’t a lot of SIM only deals that are eligible for the benefit. If your friend chooses a different plan then neither of you will benefit. But overall it’s a great way of getting better value out of Lebara.

Useful link: Best customer loyalty programmes of all UK networks

Lycamobile offer extra rewards for your loyalty


How it works

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Lycamobile reward their customers’ loyalty with Lyca Rewards. These usually take the form of Amazon, Tesco or other gift cards, but sometimes include prize draws with the chance to win a new device.

You earn points towards these prizes by joining up and agreeing to let Lycamobile put ads on your lockscreen. In our eyes we think a lot of users won’t see the extra benefits as worth the inconvenience.

Lycamobile let you pause the scheme to stop the ads for a bit, but you’ll lose all your accumulated points if you leave it paused for 180 days in a row. And if you switch plans you’ll lose all your points as well.

Overall it’s a bit of an odd scheme. If you don’t mind the ads then this scheme can help you save a bit of money here and there, but otherwise we’re not sure it’s worth it.

Useful link: Best mobile customer rewards schemes

Our verdict on extra benefits:

Lebara win

"When it comes down to it we think the added inconvenience of Lyca Rewards means a lot of users won’t end up using it. But most customers will like Lebara’s refer-a-friend scheme to get better value out of their plan. So Lebara win this one.”

Compare pricing and deals

Deals and pricing on Lebara and Lycamobile

SIM only deals: Lebara and Lycamobile’s plans compared

Which network offer the cheaper SIM only deals?

Lebara and Lycamobile SIM only plans



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Added features

Special offers currently on Lycamobile and Lebara

We’ll go over the current special offers on both networks

Lebara and Lycamobile logos with a special offer ribbon

Phone contracts: do Lebara or Lycamobile have better deals?

We’ll now go over what sort of phone contracts each network offer

Lebara and Lycamobile phone contracts

Lycamobile offer decently flexible phone contracts, Lebara offer none

Screenshot of paying on Klarna

See all contracts

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Lycamobile offer a good range of newer and older phone models on decently flexible contracts. These are made as finance agreements and are handled by Klarna, a separate company who help you manage the payment of your loan.

You get the flexibility to spread the cost of your device over 6 months, 12 months, 24 months or 36 months depending on your budget. The longer your contract the less you’ll pay per month, but the more you’ll pay overall.

Alternatively you can pay for the whole cost of your phone upfront. You also get the freedom to switch your usage (mins, texts, data) plan whenever you want as it’s made as a separate payment from the cost of your device.

The biggest downsides are that your usage and device plans are harder to manage, considering they’re made separately. And Lycamobile’s prices aren’t as competitive as some networks. It’s a trade off of price for flexibility, but their contracts are decent overall.

Considering Lebara don’t offer phone contracts at all, it’s pretty plain to see which network wins this category.

Useful link: Lycamobile’s full range of phone contracts

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Lycamobile win by default

"Lebara don’t offer any phone contracts, so it’s an easy win for Lycamobile. But that doesn’t take away from the fact their phone contracts are quite decent. We just think you can find a more competitive deal elsewhere."

Compare phone deals

More Lycamobile guides

More Lebara guides

Individual network reviews