Reduce your roaming bills by using a local SIM.
Germany is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations with a rich culture and deep-rooted history. Although it can be rather expensive to use your phone there, the country has some great SIM card deals that can reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Germany’s leading telco provider for as little as EUR5 ($7.20). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, a long stay or a tour around Europe, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
Telco providers in Germany
There are three main phone operators in Germany: Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2. All three operators have been tried and tested by both locals and travellers, and can be trusted, so you won’t go wrong with our picks. Germans call their SIM Cards “SIMs” or “Kartes”, and they can be purchased by using identification/passports and sometimes SIM registration. SIM cards and credit can be purchased from official stores, supermarkets and airports. Top-ups can also be done online through official websites.
About Germany’s telco providers
Germany’s operators offer great network coverage – some of the best in the world. They provide good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Roaming rates are among the best in Europe, and German providers offer EU roaming at the same rate in all other EU member states. All three operators sell prepaid credit that allows users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. According to OpenSignal, Germany has great all-over coverage and is extremely reliable. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what is being offered during your visit to Germany.
Deutsche Telekom is the largest provider in the country, previously named T-Mobile. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prices are the highest in the country but look out for data deals as there are often good offers available. There are two prepaid SIM cards: “MagentaMobil Start” for voice, SMS and data, and the “Data Start” SIM card for data only.
Both SIM cards can be purchased for EUR9.95, which comes with EUR10 credit. SIM cards come in standard, nano or micro sizes and can be purchased from official stores, approved resellers and some supermarkets. "Xtra Cash" recharge cards can be purchased from official stores, approved resellers, kiosks, supermarkets, service stations and ticket machines. Top-ups can be purchased from EUR15 upwards, and the SIM is valid for two years after purchase.
The “MagentaMobil Start” SIM card comes in the following options:
|XS||(No Data) Valid for 28 days||EUR2.95|
Extra data packs can be added for EUR0.99 which will give you 25MB for 24 hours.
|S||100MB for 28 days||EUR4.95|
|M||1GB for 28 days||EUR9.95|
|L||1.5GB for 28 days||EUR14.95|
Call 2202 and speak to the operator to book the relevant pack.
|Flat S||500MB for 24 hours||EUR2.95|
|Flat M||750MB for 7 days||EUR9.95|
|Flat L||1GB in for 30 days||EUR14.95|
Deutsche Telekom’s APN: internet.t-mobile, and website:http://www.t-mobile.de
Vodafone is the second largest provider in Germany. It offers 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores, approved resellers and some supermarkets. Credit can also be purchased from those same retailers, and online by using your credit card.
The "CallYa" Prepaid SIM card can be picked up for free from official stores, but credit must be purchased to use the card. Top-ups can be purchased in the following denominations:
- EUR9.95 which gives you EUR10 credit.
- EUR14.95 will give you EUR15 credit.
Additional credit can be purchased from most retailers throughout Germany, starting at EUR15. Dial *100# to check balance.
The following packages are available, and each is valid for 28 days:
- CallYa Talk&SMS – Free (credit, plans, data must be added to use)
- CallYa Special S* – 750MB (+ 100MB) LTE data, 200 min or SMS to all networks: EUR7.99
- CallYa Smartphone Special – 1GB (+ 100MB) LTE data, 200 mins or SMS to all networks: EUR9.99.
- CallYa Allnet-Flat – 2GB (+ 100MB) LTE data, unlimited texts and voice to all networks: EUR22.50.
The following data packs can also be added:
Text 70888 and chose the relevant pack to activate, or call 22044.
Vodafone also sells the “WebSessions” data-only SIM card. The following packages are available:
APN for Prepaid SIM cards: web.vodafone.de
APN for data-only SIM cards: event.vodafone.de
O2 is now the largest provider in the country after merging with E-Plus. O2 offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores, approved resellers, supermarkets and newsagents. The “Freikarte” SIM Cards are given out for free. One of the following packs must be added to activate:
- O2 Freikarte: Free.
- O2 Smart: with one of the Smart plans mentioned below: EUR9.99
- O2 All-in: with one of the All-in plans mentioned below: EUR19.99
Credit can be purchased via top-up vouchers in the following denominations: EUR15, EUR20 or EUR30. Dial *103*<voucher code># to add credit. Dial *101#to check balance and *102# for validity.The standard default data rate is charged at EUR0.99 per day.
The following data packs can be added:
- O2 Prepaid 9ct: Data at default rate.
- O2 Prepaid Smart: EUR9.99 for 28 days – 1GB data, 200 minutes/SMS to all networks and unlimited to O2
- O2 Prepaid All-in: EUR19.99 for 28 days – 1.5GB data, unlimited minutes/SMS
The following data add-ons are available. Each valid for 28 days:
|Data Pack S||150MB||EUR2.99|
|Data Pack M||500MB||EUR5.99|
|Data Pack L||1GB||EUR9.99|
|Data Pack XL||2GB||EUR19.99|
|Valid for 1 day||500MB||EUR2.99|
|Valid for 10 days||10 x 500MB||EUR19.99|
|Valid for 1 month||200MB||EUR4.99|
O2’s APN: any, website:http://www.o2-freikarte.de
- If you don’t know any German, you may want to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. Most people in Germany also speak English.
- Germans call a SIM card a “SIM” or “Karte”.
- Ask the retailer to set up the SIM card for you. This will save you a lot of time and trouble, but it’s also helpful to cover anything you might not understand.
- Make sure you get to the stores early before it gets busy.
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
While it’s well known for hotels, flights and holiday bookings, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through which SIM cards have been tried and tested in Germany.
“For cheap calling and data look for the Lebara Germany SIM card. They have cheap rates for both calling and data.”
“Just go to any Aldi or Lidl supermarket and buy a SIM card there... no questions and no problems and it is very cheap. You can also reload it via Aldi/Lidl by buying credit over the counter.”
“I'm in Germany at the moment, Vodafone have a prepaid tariff package called CallYa Smartphone Special. EUR9.99 with 1GB & 200 units of minutes or SMS, which can be used in Germany or EU countries.”
Pros and cons of Germany’s top telco providers
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Germany has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in stores
- EU roaming options on all networks
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Registration is sometimes needed which can be a hassle