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Lebara review: Cheap no-frills plans with an international twist

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £5
(/mth. Starting price)

Lebara is a decent no-frills network, and great if you make a lot of international calls


  • Low-cost 30-day plans
  • Bundled international minutes
  • Free roaming in the EU and India


  • Disappointing scores for customer service
  • Performance could be more consistent


Lebara is serving up 30GB of data for £13.50/mth on a 12-month contract at the moment, as well as 500 international minutes to 42 countries.

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Lebara made its name selling international calling cards, but it’s now a popular virtual network selling rolling 30-day SIM-only deals, combining low prices, inclusive international calls and affordable roaming, albeit with some caveats to watch out for. It’s one of the cheapest mobile networks with some very happy users, scooping the award for Value in last year’s Mobile Network Awards when an amazing 95% of users told us they would recommend it to a friend.

This year it hasn’t done quite so well, with Voxi taking home the Value award instead. Yet Lebara still had some good results in our 2023 survey, and an impressive 87% of users still told us they were likely to recommend it, with nearly half (49.6%) very likely.

Lebara review: What do you get?

If you’re after a new handset on a contract, Lebara isn’t the network for you. It specialises in 30-day commitment-free SIM-only plans, with the option to sign up for a year if you want to get 10% off the monthly charge. The deals start at £5/mth for 1,000 UK minutes and texts, plus 5GB of data, and rise to £10 for 20GB or £15 for 30GB, until you reach the £25/mth Unlimited data deal. You scoop up Unlimited UK minutes and texts once you’re paying £10 or more.

Lebara doesn’t go big on flashy extras or features, but instead offers bundled international call time for phoning outside of the UK: all the basic deals come with 100 to 500 international minutes, but Lebara also has special deals that add unlimited international minutes to the 30GB and unlimited data plans for just £5 extra. That’s good news for anyone with family or friends abroad, or who needs to make international calls for work.

Monthly fee12-month feeTextsMinutesExtras
5GB£5£4.5010001000100 international minutes
20GB£10£9UnlimitedUnlimited100 international minutes
30GB£15£13UnlimitedUnlimited500 international minutes
Unlimited£25£22UnlimitedUnlimited100 international minutes

This low-cost combo appears to be a hit with Lebara’s customers: 93% of those we spoke to for the Mobile Network Awards survey said they were satisfied with the network on value for money, with over 70% very satisfied.

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Lebara review: Customer service

If there’s cost-cutting going on anywhere at Lebara, you might find it in the customer service department. Only just over half of its users told us they were satisfied with the network’s customer service – one of the lowest scores of any network we’ve reviewed this year.

Ofcom’s 2023 customer service and satisfaction research doesn’t include any data from Lebara, so there’s no knowing how and where Lebara is failing in this area, but with worse customer service results this year than last, it could really do with turning things around.

Lebara review: Coverage, reliability and speed

Like Voxi, Lebara is a virtual network that runs on Vodafone’s core network though, unlike Voxi, it’s not owned in any part by Vodafone. The most recent figures from RootMetrics place Vodafone as third of the four major UK networks, with a UK-wide median download speed of 29.4Mbits/sec. That puts it just behind Three, with 34.7Mbits/sec, and even further behind EE, at 65.1Mbits.sec, but it’s far ahead of O2’s 15.5Mbits/sec.

What’s more, Vodafone’s 5G services are improving in both coverage and performance. Services extend to over 160 UK towns and cities, and RootMetrics found that Vodafone delivered median 5G download speeds of over 100MBits/sec in 15 of the 16 UK cities where it runs its most extensive 5G tests. That still leaves it lagging slightly behind EE and Three, but there’s potential for Vodafone’s prospective merger with Three to help – benefitting Lebara, too.

Performance is mixed for Lebara: 78% of users we spoke to said they often or always had a good enough connection speed for browsing the web. However, that figure drops to 47% with audio streaming, and just 38% with video streaming, so if you want entertainment on the move, you might want to think about choosing a network with higher scores, such as Voxi or Giffgaff. 5G performance appears to be fairly average, with 64% of Lebara customers who use a 5G connection reporting that they’re satisfied with it. Smarty, Giffgaff and Sky Mobile have higher levels of satisfaction here.

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Lebara review: Roaming

Lebara’s international focus seems to extend to its attitude to roaming. You can still use your plan’s data allowances in the EU at no extra charge – though subject to a 30GB/month cap on the Unlimited plan – and the same goes if you’re travelling in India. Costs aren’t exorbitant outside the EU, either, though you’ll need a pay-as-you-go data allowance on top of your usual monthly plan. It generally costs between £1.49 and £3.49 per minute to make calls and 99p to £1.49 to receive them, with texts usually costing 49p. Data is priced at 9p per minute, with a £42 spending cap to stop charges going sky-high.

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Lebara review: Other features, services and spending caps

Lebara has a built-in spending cap to prevent you from exceeding your plan’s allowances without buying an add-on. It’s also a barebones network, so don’t expect to receive any bonus benefits, rollover features or family plans.

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Lebara review: Verdict

Lebara gives you quite a lot of data for a relatively small monthly price, and it’s still one of the best networks for value – that goes double if you need to make a lot of international calls, as Lebara’s bundled international minutes could save you a fortune. If you’re looking for more from your plan, then Voxi offers more features and better value, while Smarty can give you more data at a wider range of price points. But as a cheap and cheerful mobile network, Lebara has a lot to give.

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