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Lebara vs Lyca Mobile: 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: 24th August 2023

Offer notifications on Lebara and Lyca Mobile

Mobile networks: Lebara vs Lyca Mobile

Do Lyca Mobile or Lebara have better coverage?

Which network have more widespread 2G/3G/4G/5G signal?

Lebara and Lycamobile's mobile networks

Lebara better for calls, Lyca better for 4G data signal

Lebara uses Vodafone network

Check signal coverage

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

Lyca Mobile and Lebara are both virtual providers (MVNOs) that use another network to provide signal. Lyca Mobile now use EE’s network and Lebara use Vodafone’s network. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Lebara hold the advantage for call signal (3G/2G), meaning you’re more likely to stay connected to calls and texts indoors and outdoors. And you’ll find fewer total signal blackspots on Lebara too.

There’s no clear winner for 4G data signal. Usually, networks on EE have the best 4G coverage but Lyca Mobile miss out on EE’s band 20 4G masts, meaning signal isn’t quite as widespread.

Still, it’s best to use either networks’ coverage maps 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

Lyca Mobile have 5G in more locations

Lycamobile 5G

See locations

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

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.

On Lyca Mobile you’ll get 5G in these 317+ UK towns and cities and in these 141+ locations on Lebara. There is some overlap between them, but it’s worth checking if your area is covered on one and not the other.

And Lyca’s hosts only claim a location as covered once 5G is available in 50% of its area, meaning you can get 5G in even more places. That also means Lyca are typically better at covering their locations.

But again it’s best to use either networks’ coverage maps below to check your local area. In any case, 5G is an ever-changing game and Lebara’s hosts could overtake Lyca’s in the future. For now, Lyca win this one.

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

Lebara and Lyca Mobile 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
(opens in new window)

Lyca Mobile network map

Lycamobile's coverage checker

Check Lyca coverage

using their network map
(opens in new window)

Other ways to check coverage

Independent coverage checkers

Use Ofcom checker
Use RootMetrics checker

Our verdict on coverage:

Slight win for Lyca Mobile

“It was tough to call a winner here as Lebara do provide noticeably better call signal, meaning total blackspots are rarer. But Lyca’s 5G is significantly better than Lebara’s, with 4G being about equal. We just called this one for Lyca, but it’s worth checking coverage before joining either.”

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Do Lebara or Lyca Mobile have faster data speeds?

Which network has faster typical 4G or 5G data speeds?

Lebara and Lycamobile logos with a speedometer

Lyca Mobile have faster typical and peak 4G data speeds

Lebara mobile data speeds

Read their FAQs

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

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?

Looking at results from independent network testers Opensignal, we can see typical 4G speeds sit around 25.9 Mbps on Lebara’s hosts compared to around 47.7 Mbps on Lyca’s hosts. But what does that mean in real life?

In our tests we got speeds as high as 130+ Mbps and as low as 12 Mbps in rural areas on Lyca. On Lebara the range was between a comparatively sluggish 5 Mbps in the sticks and a healthy 110+ Mbps in the city.

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 Lyca Mobile will be the better network of the two.

Useful link: Our full Lebara network review

Lyca Mobile provide faster 5G speeds too

Best 5G networks banner

Our 5G networks guide

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

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.

On Lebara’s hosts, typical 5G speeds sit between 100.6 Mbps - 146.19 Mbps with peak speeds up to 315.35 Mbps. Lyca’s hosts got between 108.91 Mbps - 122.3 Mbps, with peak speeds of 272.77 Mbps.

These results show you’ll get faster typical and peak 5G speeds on Lebara than on Lyca Mobile. So for data heavy activities like file-sharing or gaming, you’ll have a smoother experience on Lebara.

In real life, 5G speeds will depend heavily on signal strength and where you use your phone. But the results show that you’re more likely to get faster 5G on Lyca Mobile than on Lebara.

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

Our verdict on data speeds:

Slight win for Lyca Mobile

"For 5G, Lebara squeak out a win for their faster peak and more consistent speeds. But for 4G there’s no competition. Lyca are much faster. And since you’ll be on 4G more often than 5G, we give Lyca this one."

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Do Lebara or Lyca Mobile offer better WiFi calling?

We look at which network provides the better WiFi calling scheme

WiFi calling symbol with Lebara and Lycamobile logos

Only Lebara offer WiFi calling between them

Lebara WiFi calling FAQs

Read their guide

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

Lebara have generally better call signal than Lyca Mobile and they also include WiFi/4G calling if you run into indoor blackspots. These features let you make calls over WiFi/4G signal. Lyca don’t offer this at all.

We believe Lebara’s 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.

Most iPhone models should work with Lebara’s scheme, but there aren’t as many compatible Android devices on Lebara’s list as there are on other networks. But if yours works, it’s a good feature.

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’s WiFi calling scheme is great for keeping you connected to calls, if your phone is supported. Since Lyca Mobile don’t offer this feature at all, Lebara win by default."

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Added benefits on Lebara vs Lyca Mobile

Do Lyca Mobile or Lebara have better EU roaming?

Which network is better for taking your SIM abroad?

Lebara roaming vs Lycamobile's

Lebara offer inclusive roaming in the EU and India

Free EU roaming on Lebara

See all countries

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

You can roam in these 42 EU/EEA destinations at no added cost on every Lebara plan. So you can use your UK mins, texts and data in these locations like you would at home with nothing extra to pay.

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.

Lebara do have a 30GB data limit in place. But that’s more than most networks let you use while roaming. If you go over that, you’ll have to buy an extra data bolt-on or pay for data at Lebara’s roaming rates.

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 Lebara have the best EU roaming scheme in our eyes.

Useful link: Lebara’s guide to their roaming

Lyca Mobile also offer inclusive EU roaming on all plans

Lycamobile EU roaming is included

See roaming destinations

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Lyca Mobile 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 rather than having a single fair usage policy like Lebara, Lyca Mobile’s plans all have different usage limits abroad depending on which one you take. Even their smallest plans have limits.

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.

We like the fact that Lyca still offer inclusive EU roaming, as many networks don’t any more. But there’s no inclusive roaming beyond the EU, so you’ll have to pay these rates if you’re going further afield.

Useful link: The best UK networks for roaming

Our verdict on roaming:

Win for Lebara

“You’ll be able to use more of your data allowance whether you’re on a big or small plan with Lebara. Getting inclusive roaming in India is a nice cherry on top. It’s good that Lyca still offer inclusive EU roaming, but their scheme is just not as good as Lebara’s.”

Compare pricing and deals

International calling on Lebara vs Lyca Mobile

Which provider is better for calling other countries?

International calling on Lebara vs Lyca Mobile

Inclusive international minutes on both networks

Countries that Lebara's international minutes includes

See calling locations

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

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

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

As a general rule, the higher your plan’s price the more mins you get. And there are some plans with unlimited international mins on both. These are high in price but may be worth it if you call abroad often.

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

If those two missing countries aren’t ones you’d call anyway and you’re not thinking about joining on Lyca Mobile’s smallest deal, then both networks are great choices for calling abroad.

Useful link: Lyca Mobile’s inclusive calling destinations

Non-inclusive international calls are cheaper on Lebara

Globe with phone coming out of it

Read our guide

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

Lebara are our number one network for calling abroad for two reasons. Firstly, they offer inclusive international mins as mentioned above, but they also offer some low international calling rates outside of this.

Calls to Europe, North America, India and these countries are only 1p per minute. Calls to Pakistan are 3p per min and 5p per min for South Africa, but those are still the cheapest rates of all networks for these countries.

Beyond their cheapest calling countries, rates are between 15p - 99p. So while Lebara’s international rates are often the cheapest per country, check the places you want to call here before joining them.

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

"There’s not a massive difference in terms of the inclusive international minutes you get on either network, but Lebara’s rates once you’ve got through your inclusive mins are a lot cheaper. So Lebara take this one.”

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Other benefits on Lebara or Lyca Mobile

What else do Lyca Mobile or Lebara offer on their plans?

Benefits on Lebara vs Lycamobile

Lebara offer cashback for referring friends to them

Lebara refer a friend scheme

Read more

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

Lebara will give you rewards for bringing new people onto their network. So if you’ve got friends or family who want a new SIM only plan, you and the person can get some nice benefits if you get them to join.

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?

If you’re already on Lebara then all you do is send a special link to your friend where they can take their new plan. Once they’ve been on Lebara for 3 months you’ll both get your rewards.

One drawback is that there aren’t a lot of SIM only deals that are eligible for the benefit. If your friend switches plans then neither of you get rewards. But it’s a great way of getting better value out of Lebara.

Useful link: Best customer loyalty programmes of all UK networks

Our verdict on extra benefits:

Lebara win

"Lebara are the only one that offer any loyalty rewards for their customers. The cashback you get on Lebara can help offset the cost of your plan, while Lyca Mobile offer nothing like it. Lebara win by default.”

Compare pricing and deals

Deals and pricing on Lebara and Lyca Mobile

SIM only deals: Lebara and Lyca Mobile’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 Lyca Mobile 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 Lyca Mobile have better deals?

Which networks offer the better phone contracts and prices?

Lebara and Lycamobile phone contracts

Lyca offer flexible phone deals, Lebara don’t have any

Screenshot of paying on Klarna

See all contracts

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Lyca Mobile offer lots of phone models old and new on flexible finance agreements made via Klarna. They’re a third party service who help you manage the payment of the loan you get for your phone.

You can 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.

Or 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.

It is harder to manage your loan and usage plan as they are separate, and Lyca aren’t as competitive on price as some networks. But they offer great flexibility, and at least they offer phone deals unlike Lebara.

Useful link: Lyca Mobile’s full range of phone contracts

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Lyca Mobile win by default

"The fact that Lyca Mobile win this one by default doesn’t take away from the fact that their phone contracts are genuinely great. They offer better flexibility than some networks. But you might be able to find a better deal somewhere else."

Compare phone deals

More Lyca Mobile guides

More Lebara guides

Individual network reviews