Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki
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Flag of Ireland.svg.png

This page covers the Republic of Ireland. For Northern Ireland, please see the United Kingdom page.

Basics[]

There are three physical mobile network operators in Ireland:

  • Vodafone (Ireland)
  • Three (Three Ireland (Hutchison) Limited)
  • eir (previously: Meteor)

Through a network sharing deal Three and eir share some sites and equipment in the country.

In 2021 Three surpassed Vodafone as market leader in Ireland by 39% share vs. 36% (including Mobile Broadband and M2M) according to local regulator ComReg. eir is in third place with 16% and Tesco is the biggest MVNO with 6%.

Each of the operators provide good quality signal and service across the country on 2G, 3G, 4G and starting up 5G. 4G/LTE is on 800 MHz (B20) and 1800 MHz (B3), added by 2100 MHz (B1). According to OpenSignal in 2020 all three carriers have a similar coverage at 70% and average download speeds of 20-25 Mbit/s. 5G started in 2019 on eir and Vodafone on n78 (3500 MHz) initially in very limited areas, followed by Three and eir in 2020 on n3 (1800 MHz) and n78 (3500 MHz). All three operators now offer 5G access on at least some of their prepaid plans. No specific shutdown dates for 2G and/or 3G have been announced by Irish operators so far.

Like in the UK, prepaid SIM cards in Ireland are often called Pay As You Go (PAYG) or prepay and are available without registration. eSIM is still rare for PAYG and only offered by Vodafone so far.

Although Northern Ireland is part of the UK, calls from Ireland to Northern Irish (+44 28 or 028) landlines may be dialled by replacing the 028 or +44 28 prefix of the Northern Irish number with 048. This way, the caller will be charged for a domestic call.

EU flag.png
Ireland is part of the EU, where from 2017 new international roaming rules have been enforced. In most European countries you can now 'roam like at home' at domestic rates rather than excessive roaming rates. Irish operators have applied the principles, but may cap some larger data packages for roaming. For specifics about the new regulation check European Union chapter and every provider below.

Unlike the UK, Ireland remains in the EU but all Irish operators have pledged to keep the UK in their surcharge-free roaming zone for the time being and UK operators did the same for Ireland.

So using Irish SIM cards you can be pretty sure to have UK roaming included without surcharges and vice versa for the foreseeable future.

Vodafone []

Vodafone.jpg

Vodafone had the most subscribers in the country until it was surpassed by Three in 2021. It still leads subscriber numbers when excluding Mobile Broadband and M2M with very good coverage and speeds on 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G: Vodafone Coverage. Vodafone claims to cover 99% of the population by 4G/LTE in 2020. 5G has started in 2019 on n78 (3500 MHz). In 2021 Vodafone’s 5G network covers Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway and the Aviva Stadium.

Availability[]

The pay-as-you-go SIM can be purchased at their stores (store locator) and other agents like Carphone Warehouse for €10 or some more, if you need a new number. All three SIM sizes are available.

In 2021 Vodafone Ireland was the first provider to launch eSIM support for all capable eSIM devices. This applies to their prepaid SIMs as well.

Top-ups can be made by vouchers or by any international credit card on their top-up site. When you top-up or activate, you can make calls for 6 months and receive calls for 8 months. After 8 months your call credit and your SIM will expire. Check balance by *174#.

Pay as you go []

Their prepaid SIMs are called pay-as-you-go or prepay and you can join one of their three base plans all valid for 28 days all including unlimited SMS:

Plan Voice Data Networks Price
Chat Extra unlimited 10 GB 2G 3G 4G €20
Chat Extra 5G unlimited 10 GB 2G 3G 4G 5G €25
Smart Extra on-net only 20 GB 2G 3G 4G €20
Smart Extra 5G on-net only 20 GB 2G 3G 4G 5G €25
Vodafone X only on

weekends

(*) unlimited at

max. 10 Mbps

2G 3G 4G €20
Vodafone X 5G only on

weekends

(^) unlimited at

max. 5G speed

2G 3G 4G 5G €30
Extra Unlimited 5G unlimited (^) unlimited at

max. 5G speed

2G 3G 4G 5G €35

(*) = there are reports that say that in practice, maximum possible 4G speeds (at least within the ROI) are obtainable on this plan and said speed cap is only sparingly enforced

(^) = these plans include a roaming cap of 30 GB to be used in the EU/EEA and UK

To join a plan first text plan name to 50222 and after confirmation top-up the exact amount for 28 days. Default rate is €1.99 for 100 MB and €0.01 per MB beyond. Check exceptions for roaming and tethering below. All of those plans include Vodafone's "data rollover", meaning unused data will be added to next months allowance.

For more data you can add these add-ons:

  • 5 GB for 28 days: €5, text '5DATA' to 50233
  • 20 GB for 30 days: €15, text 'DATA' to 50233

Note, that volumes from these add-ons can't be rolled over and can't be stacked. To buy another data add-on, they first must have either expired after 28 days, or have been fully used up - at which point you're charged €1.99 overage. Note there are high charges for voice calls when they are not included in the plan.

Check data balance by texting 'BAL' to 50233 or in their app.

Mobile Broadband Pay as you go[]

Vodafone also sells data-only prepaid Mobile Broadband SIMs which gives you 20 GB or 50 GB of data for 28 days.

  • 20 GB: €20
  • 50 GB: €30

Opt in to this plan, by texting text 'MBB' to 50222, then top-up by €20 or €30. Data is not on 5G networks, but EU/UK roaming is included. Overuse or out of bundle use will be charged with €0.19 per MB. There is no roll-over on broadband plans.

Tethering[]

Mobile hotspot data are only included in their plans when live.vodafone.com APN is selected, as stated in their T&Cs. Some phones will switch to hs.vodafone.com APN automatically instead, which will be charged at standard rates (€0.19 per MB). Vodafone support doesn't say whether on-plan tethering is supported or not, but will reiterate the APN restrictions. Affected Android users (Marshmallow and above) may be able to enable tethering by disabling the dial-up networking emulation.

International Roaming[]

You can use any plan in the EU just like you would at home without extra cost. Note that there is a FUP or cap of 30 GB on unlimited 5G plans. 5G roaming works on 5G plans on Vodafone networks in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany. For roaming outside their EU zone, their old RED roaming plans apply:

  • 200 MB per calendar day at €2.99 in Albania, Canada, Monaco, San Marino, Kosovo, Turkey, USA
  • 200 MB per calendar day at €4.99 in 50 countries mentioned here

More info[]

  • APN: live.vodafone.com for all prepay mobile plans
  • APN: hs.vodafone.ie for the mobile broadband add-on
  • long TCP connections have a tendency of being dropped
  • Website: http://www.vodafone.ie

Three (Three Ireland (Hutchison) Limited)[]

Group-three4.gif

After the acquisition of O2 Ireland by Three in 2014, Hutchison merged the two brands in 2015. This has been largely a re-branding exercise and the networks have been fully united in the following years. Customers of both networks experienced some problems during the merger, as it required Three to built some new base stations and all the associated back-haul capacity while they also consolidated some of their existing sites, although these problems have now mostly been solved. In 2021 Three Ireland managed to surpass Vodafone Ireland in total subscriber count.

Previous O2 customers were transferred to the Three brand in 2015, but legacy O2 prepaid accounts remain on legacy tariffs, which still cannot be easily converted to Three tariffs, even in 2022. Legacy O2 tariffs have more favourable expiry policies, but Three tariffs have better pricing, particularly for EU/EEA and UK data roaming.

3G coverage can be very good in very isolated and remote areas due to the (now defunct) NBS government subsidy to help serve these areas, but this coverage is in 3G only on 2100 MHz which gives poor indoor coverage: Three's 3G/4G Coverage Map. Three operates 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (B3) and 800 MHz (B20) added by 2100 MHz (B1) in some rural areas, and also launched 5G on 1800 MHz (n3) as DSS and 3500 MHz (n78) in 2020 primarily in urban areas. Some of their network is shared with eir. Three claims to cover 97% of the population by 4G in 2020. In 2022 5G is offered by Three at selected sites in all 26 counties with their network now live in 281 areas across Ireland.

Availability []

SIM cards can be purchased online, as either their prepay sim or mobile broadband sim in their stores (locator) or at outlets like Carphone Warehouse. The prepaid SIMs are free or €20 with the same amount of credit, the prepaid Broadband SIMs are for €30. Standard, micro and nano-SIMs are available for PAYG, standard and micro SIMs only for Prepay Broadband. No eSIM is offered yet. When buying the €20 prepaid SIM, it should activate after about 15 minutes after putting it into the phone, but it can also take up to a few hours in some cases.

Vouchers for top-ups are available in many stores nationwide. Have in mind that Three only accepts Irish- and UK-issued credit cards for top-ups online. As there are hardly any agencies to top-up Irish SIM cards, without vouchers available, it can be tricky to maintain a SIM from abroad.

To check balance, dial 1745 for free.

Every Three SIM card comes with a content lock activated similar to the UK. This filter blacks out all adult contents and sometimes even more. You can have it removed in the store at purchase (while some shops might not do this) or by sending an email to Three customer service with a scan of your ID document and the following reference <your phone no.> - Remove Adult Filter". Removing the adult filter via email support can take up to 5 days or use a VPN app just in case.

Prepaid SIM[]

The default pricing for data transfers is a horrendous €1.01 per MB in Ireland but only €0.49 per MB in the EEA and UK. The SIM remains active if some kind of chargeable call or SMS (i.e. not part of any bundle or allowance) or a new top-up is made every 6 months. Take care of the tethering restrictions mentioned below.

Three offers these 3 prepaid plans, all valid for 28 days:

  • 3 Pay 15: unlimited domestic calls, 60 SMS and 1 GB of data (both in IE and EU/UK): €15
  • 3 Pay 20: unlimited on-net calls, 60 mins domestic calls, unlimited SMS and data (14 GB EU/UK roaming cap): €20
  • 3 Pay 30: unlimited domestic calls and texts, 30 mins international calls and unlimited data (20 GB EU/UK roaming cap): €30

For Three's 5G network you must be on one of the three plans above and stay in a 5G coverage area and have a 5G device and buy the 5G €5 monthly booster add-on. You can cancel the 5G access any time you want but it will auto-renew every month. The 5G add-on can be bought from the My3 Account -> Addons tab -> €5 5G Booster.

Prepaid Broadband SIM[]

This SIM is data-only and is not always good-value, as it includes a €30 top-up with a data allowance of 30 GB for 28 days. Out of bundle data are charged at 6.15c per MB in Ireland and the EEA. All allowances are valid in Ireland and all over the EEA and UK.

EU roaming[]

You can get their "roam like home" EU rates on PAYG in the countries of the EU/EEA and UK. Most allowances are given out at the domestic rate; only Three's "unlimited" plans are limited abroad.

More info[]

  • Prepaid SIMs are opted into Three's Adult Content filter by default (see above)
  • Tethering is not restricted however Broadband micro-SIMs don't support personal hotspot use on iPads (3 or 4)
  • VoIP apps like Skype may be filtered out in some cases. Currently, it's free with the Three mobile Skype app on a compatible phone.

eir (previously: meteor)[]

new eir logo

Eir, a trading name of Eircom, is Ireland's largest fixed-line telecoms operator. Its mobile brand was meteor until 2017. Eir has the third-largest market share in the mobile market trialling Vodafone and Three. Its parent company has the advantage of owning a nationwide fibre backbone, enabling it to offer fast data speeds at a good coverage: Eir Coverage. It's now controlled by Xavier Niel's Iliad company in France.

Eir was the first operator to commercially launch 4G/LTE in Ireland in 2013. In 2020 Eir claims 99% of the population coverage by LTE. 5G started in 2019 and its 5G coverage extends in 2021 to over 70% of Ireland’s population and covers 322 towns and cities across the country on n78 (3500 MHz). Some prepaid plans have been opened for 5G, but no eSIM is given out so far.

Ireland’s Eir Group has discontinued the ‘meteor’ brand in 2017, with all of the company’s mobile offerings to be marketed under the ‘eir’ banner from that date. Be aware, that, when searching for networks manually, the network name can still be displayed as "meteor IE", but when connected, it's changing to EIR. So don't get confused by the different names.

Availability[]

Eir offers its pay-as-you-go SIM card for free in its shops when bought with a €10 or more top-up (see Eir store locator) and other outlets. Standard, micro and nano size SIMs are available.

Minimum top-up is €5. Top-up vouchers are widely available nationwide. SIM cards must be topped up every 150 days to maintain service for outbound calls and texts. They will be deactivated 30 days later. You can top-up online €5 - €60 using any international credit/debit card or vouchers sold at 7000 outlets in the country. Check balance by *#100#.

Base plans[]

You can opt in the following plans with renewal after 28 days, but don't need to:

Price Voice SMS Data EU/UK cap Activation
€10 unlimited - - - 10 calls
€20 unlimited - unlimited* 10.9 GB 20 calls and data
€20 - unlimited unlimited* 10.9 GB 20 texts and data
€30 unlimited unlimited unlimited* 16.3 GB 30 unlimited

(*) = Their plans come "unlimited" with a FUP of 80 GB data to use within Ireland marketed as "No Limits Data" where usage beyond 80 GB is not charged for, but may be speed or service restricted until the end of the billing cycle.

For activation top up and text code to 50104. All "unlimited" data plans include free access to their 5G network. Using their new "unlimited" model, eir has gone rid of all data packages in 2021. Be aware of a high default rate for non-included allowances: It starts at €1.99 per day for 100 MB to be added by €20.48 per GB thereafter.

Data-only SIM[]

Their Mobile Broadband prepay plans are on a different SIM card. It contains only data, no voice or texts and can be added by these passes:

Time Data EU/UK cap Price
1 day 1 GB included €2.99
7 days 2.5 GB inlcluded €7.99
30 days 15 GB 10.9 GB € 19.99
30 days 50 GB 16.3 GB €29.99

Data is only on 2-4G networks, no 5G access and remain rather expensive compared with their other plans. Out of bundle price is €0.02 per MB or €20.48 per GB.

EU roaming []

eir generally applies "Roam like at home" rules for roaming in EU/EEA and the UK, but caps data packages at the volumes indicated in the tables above.

More info[]

Tesco Mobile[]

Tesco.jpg

Tesco Mobile is the MVNO of the leading retailer in the country. It used to operate on O2 and migrated to the Three network. 4G/LTE has been enabled in 2018, but no 5G yet. It's the most popular MVNO in the country with a market share of about 6%. It's often chosen by tourists or immigrants for cheap calls abroad starting from €0.01 a minute

Availability[]

The SIM card can be bought online or offline at any Tesco outlet (Tesco store locator), especially these with a phone shop attached for €10. When purchased with €15 top-up the €10 cost of SIM is discounted giving effectively a starter SIM €15 with €15 credit.

All new customers are initially signed up to the basic plan. For a monthly minimum top-up of €10 you receive standard call rates, and free texts and calls among Tesco Mobile. When a top up of €15 is applied, unlimited free calls to all networks are enabled for 30 days, 10 GB 3G data and you keep your call credit. Tesco Mobile is one of the cheapest option for international calls when visiting Ireland.

Top up vouchers can be found at Tesco, Payzone, Paypoint, Postpoint and other stores for €5, €10, €15, €20, €25 or €30. Check balance check by *100#.

Simple plan offer[]

New prepaid users are opted in to the "Prepay 15" offer by default. As a bonus, a €15 top-up is added for 28 days:

  • 15 GB data (capped at 8.1 GB in EU/UK roaming), unlimited (FUP: 10,000 mins) domestic minutes valid for 28 days, unlimited (FUP: 3,000 SMS) on-net texts and the €15 credit on your account for extra volumes. You can double the 15 GB allowance with a Tesco Clubcard to 30 GB.

Switching to this plan for existing users: text "Join Prepay 15" to 1744. To activate the plan, top-up by €15 or more in one go as it's the only and default plan.

Data feature packs[]

The default pricing for data transfers is a low €0.02 per MB.The following bundles can be added:

Price Data Time Activation one-off Activation recurring
€0.79 50 MB 1 day "Data" to 174209 n./a.
€2.99 350 MB 7 days "Data" to 174210 n./a.
€5 1 GB 28 days "Data" to 174211 "OptIn DATA" to 1744
€10 5 GB 28 days "Data" to 174212 "OptIN DATA5" to 1744

The one-off bundles don't renew, you have to add them again after expiration. Recurring 1 GB data and 5 GB data are available too. No caps for EU roaming are applied.

EU roaming[]

You can use Tesco Mobile Prepay within the EU, EEA and the UK just like you would at home in Ireland. This means that if you’re travelling within the EU and UK, you’ll pay the same price as you would at home in Ireland. A FUP of 8.1 GB applies for the €15 base plan.

More info[]

Lyca Mobile Ireland[]

new logo

The leading UK-based ethno provider started in Ireland in 2012. It has good coverage and speeds in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE using the Three network.

Availability[]

As usual, their SIM card is free. It can be ordered online to be sent to an Irish postal address (hotel addresses are accepted). Or you can buy it in selected retailers: Centra, Spar, Supervalu, MACE, Costcutter, Londis, Gala, Eason. Please note that availability varies greatly. SIM packs come in many different configurations - some are free without credit, some come are paid for with pre-loaded credit, and some stores sell free SIMs for a fee without free credit. The front of the SIM pack shows the pre-loaded credit value, and lists the break-out size of SIM inside. Standard, micro and nano SIMs are available from their website. Larger Easons stores stock the free SIM in standard and micro sizes only, but charge a €0.50 surcharge for purchasing a top-up. Lyca Mobile will send you a text with your phone number after putting it into a phone for the first time. You can also check your number with *132#.

old logo

You can top-up online using credit or debit card or using vouchers sold through PayPoint or Payzone retailers (= most convenience stores in Ireland). Scratch card vouchers start at €5. To enter type *131*<voucher code>#. Check balance by *131#. There must be a billable charge on the SIM every 90 days to keep it active and all call credit now expires 90 days after it was topped up.

Data feature packages[]

The default rate for data outside of package is €0.09 per MB. Lyca Mobile sells monthly data packs valid for 30 days, which change quite often for data valid only in Ireland and partly in the EU plus UK:

IE Data EU/UK cap Price Activation
3 GB 3 GB €4.99 *139*90350#
5 GB 5 GB €6.99 *139*90500#
10 GB 6.5 GB €9.99 *139*91000#
20 GB 8.5 GB €13 *139*95000#

All packages auto-renew if there is enough credit. To stop, type *190# at least one day before the old bundle expires. For extra data, they offer a bolt-ons provided one of the above has already been purchased, valid for the rest period of the base package:

  • 500 MB: €2, activation: *139*601#
  • 1 GB: €3, activation: *139*602#

These combo packages are offered:

  • National S: 1 GB data, 300 mins, 300 SMS - €9, activation: *139*2001#
  • Ireland Plus: 25 GB IE data capped at 7 GB in the EU, unlimited mins and texts: €15, activation: *139*2015#
  • Go Unlimited: "unlimited" data (FUP: 60 GB at full speed, after speed may be throttled) in IE capped at 13.5 GB in the EU and UK, unlimited national mins and texts, 100 IDD mins: €20, activation: *139*2005#.

Data usage can be checked by dialling *137# for data add-on, and *147# for inclusive data.

As of 2019 Lyca Mobile intercepts web browsing to inject ads into un-encrypted HTTP web traffic, and additional measures that captures your browsing before redirecting to the HTTPS version of a site. This may temporarily break some apps and downloads unless you use a VPN.

EU roaming[]

Lyca Mobile applies roam like at home rules in the EU and UK to their data and combo packages up to the specified limit. All other EU/EEA/UK roaming is on the default rate of €0.09 per MB.

More info[]

  • APN: data.lycamobile.ie
  • Username: lmie (that's lowercase L, not capital i)
  • Password: plus
  • by default, some Android Phones configure the APN wrongly leaving Username & Password blank when activating the Sim
  • Lyca Mobile is known to block tethering and WiFi hotspots
  • Website: http://www.lycamobile.ie

An Post (formerly: Postfone)[]

An Post, the Irish postal system, launched Postfone as MVNO on the Vodafone network in 2010. In 2015 it was rebranded to Post Mobile and data services were added. Vodafone has a good coverage in the country in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE.

Availability and start-up[]

An Post (= Irish Mail) has the largest retail network in Ireland. The SIM card is sold at their branches (locator) all over the country for free, but you have to subscribe to one of their plans (see below).

You can top-up online or by vouchers from retailers displaying the Postpoint and Payzone signs. These retailers include Londis, Centra, Spar, Mace and Gala. Then you simply dial 1747 and follow the prompts to put in your credit. Check balance by *200#.

Data feature packages[]

The default rate for data outside of packages is €0.16 per MB. For data they offer their "unlimited" Prepay SIM. "Unlimited" means max. 3000 minutes and texts, 50 GB data for 28 days at €15. When using auto top-up by linking a credit card this period is extended to 31 days.

EU roaming[]

You can use up to 16 GB data and 250 minutes when roaming in the EU. Out-of-bundle calls, texts or data usage will be charged as per their standard home out-of-bundle rates. "Europe" consists of the EU, EEA, UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

More info[]

Rolling Contracts: GoMo, 48 and Clear Mobile[]

Rolling contracts on bill-pay have lowered the prices for mobile services considerably within the last couple of years in Ireland. We normally don't display these plans as they have proven to be inconvenient for many travellers. You need to order them online and have a postal address in Ireland where you can receive your SIM card. This SIM needs to be linked to a credit or debit card which is charged every month until you cancel your contract online, what you can do anytime.

It may still be a good option, if you stay for longer in Ireland. That's why we list them here in a special segment in a smaller form. Note that all brands below need be ordered online and you need to have a local address and a credit/debit card. All three network operators have launched these offer in recent times:

  • GoMo by eir
  • 48 by Three
  • Clear Mobile by Vodafone

For networks and coverage check the relevant sections above. The three brands only differ in detail:

Brand Network Calls & Texts IE Data (on 4G) EU/UK data Price
GoMo eir unlimited max. 120 GB

at full speed

10 GB €14.99
48 Three unlimited 100 GB 10 GB €10.99
Clear

Mobile

Vodafone unlimited unlimited at

max. 5 Mbit/s

10 GB €14.99
GoMo.png

GoMo (by eir)[]

In 2019 eir launched its budget brand GoMo for a discounted price and started a price war on the island. They have only one plan which is a rolling billpay contract that can be discontinued anytime. It includes "unlimited" data (first 120 GB at full 4G speed and above that throttled to 0.5 Mbit/s) and max. 10 GB in the EU and UK, unlimited domestic, EU and UK voice and texts at €14.99 plus an initial set-up charge of €10. For more information check: https://gomo.ie/

48 (by Three)[]

former logo

As a reaction to GoMo, Three revamped their 48 brand. The SIM needs to be ordered online. It's free and no minimum order is required. However, you need to buy a 'membership plan' in order to use it after having activated the SIM online. Credit or debit cards are accepted and international cards are supported up to €20 for one top-up. Only one plan is offered at €10.99 per month. It includes 100 GB in up to 4G (no 5G) in Ireland and up to 10 GB in the EU or UK and unlimited calls and texts. The SIM card may expire after 6 month period if you don't do chargeable activity, but often they don't disconnect their SIM cards at all. For more information check: https://48.ie/

Clear Mobile (by Vodafone)[]

Clear mobile.png

Finally in 2021 Vodafone joined the other two providers by launching Clear Mobile. It's a very similiar model with just one monthly plan. It has unlimited data capped at only 5 Mbit/s in Ireland and 10 GB in the EU and UK. Unlimited calls and texts are included for 30 days as well for €14.99 (or €12.99 when you port in from another Irish network). Like with GoMo and 48, the SIM needs to be ordered online to an Irish postal address and payed by credit or debit card. For more information check: https://clearmobile.ie/

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