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 EUR€5 ($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.
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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.
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Deutsche Telekom – previously named T-Mobile – 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.
To get started with Deutsche Telekom, you'll need to purchase a "MagentaMobil" SIM card for EUR€9.95, which comes with EUR€10 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 for EUR€15 upwards, and the SIM is valid for two years after purchase.
Once you've got a “MagentaMobil” SIM card, you can choose from the following prepaid recharge packages, all of which operate on a 28-day expiry period:
|Plan||Calls and SMS||Data||Price|
|S||Unlimited to Telekom numbers, pay-as-you-go to other German networks||No data||EUR€2.95|
|M||Unlimited to Telekom numbers, 100 mins to other German networks||1.5GB||EUR€9.95|
|L||Unlimited to Telekom numbers, 200 mins to other German networks||2GB||EUR€14.95|
|L||Unlimited to all German networks||3GB||EUR€24.95|
You can recharge your MagentaMobil SIM a number of ways. You can download the MeinMagenta app onto your phone and use it to recharge your service, recharge online through the Deutsche Telekom website, purchase top-ups from participating retailers or recharge at select ATMs.
Deutsche Telekom APN details
Visit the Deutsche Telekom website
Vodafone offers 2G, 3G and 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 5, 15, 25 and 50 euro denominations.
Additional credit can be purchased from most retailers throughout Germany. Dial *100# to check your balance.
Along with standard top-ups, the following prepaid packages are available. Each is valid for 28 days:
|Plan||Calls and SMS||Data||Price|
|CallYa Flex||50 "units" for calls and SMS||500MB||EUR€4.99|
|Smartphone Special||Unlimited to Vodafone numbers, 200 "units" for calls and SMS to German networks||2GB||EUR€9.99|
|Smartphone Allnet Flat||Unlimited to all German networks||4GB||EUR€22.50|
|CallYa International||Unlimited to Vodafone numbers, 200 "units" to German and EU networks||2GB||EUR€14.99|
The following data packs can also be added:
You can recharge your Vodafone SIM card online, by direct debit, by texting 70888 and choosing the relevant pack to activate, or by calling 22044.
Vodafone also sells a “WebSessions” data-only SIM card for use when you don't need to make or receive calls and texts. The following packages are available:
Vodafone APN details
APN for prepaid SIM cards: web.vodafone.de
APN for data-only SIM cards: event.vodafone.de
Visit the Vodafone Germany website
O2 offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores, approved resellers, supermarkets and newsagents. O2 SIM cards are available for free, but you'll need to add one of the following packs to start using it, each of which operates on a 28-day expiry:
|Plan||Calls and SMS||Data||Price|
|Basic||Pay-as-you-go calls and SMS to German networks||150MB||EUR€1.99|
|S||Unlimited to all German networks||1.5GB||EUR€9.99|
|M||Unlimited to all German networks||3GB||EUR€14.99|
|L||Unlimited to all German networks||5GB||EUR€24.99|
Additional data can be purchased for any of O2's SIM cards in the following allotments. All data add-ons operate on 28-day expiries.
|Data Pack S||400MB||EUR€2.99|
|Data Pack M||800MB||EUR€5.99|
|Data Pack L||2GB||EUR€9.99|
|Data Pack XL||4GB||EUR€19.99|
O2 prepaid SIM cards support plenty of recharge options. You can recharge by purchasing prepaid cards from participating retailers, by using the My 02 smartphone app, through eKiosk in select O2 shops and via bank transfer or direct deposit.
- 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 store 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. EUR€9.99 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