Reduce your roaming bills by using a local SIM.
Hungary is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations and also one of the more reasonably priced nations. It has some great SIM card deals that could reduce your phone bills while travelling around the country. You can buy 1GB of data from Hungary’s leading telco provider for as little as HUF1,845 (AU$8.87). So, whether you’re planning a short stay, a long trip or a tour around Europe, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
Telco providers in Hungary
There are three main operators in Hungary: Telekom, Telenor and Vodafone. All three operators have been tried and tested by both locals and travelers, so you won’t go wrong with any of them. Locals call SIM cards “SIM kártya”, and they can be purchased from the official outlets of the providers after you have shown your passport and registered. There is also a lot of paperwork to sign before the prepaid SIM card will be allocated to you. Credit can be added in official stores, corner stores, service stations, post offices or ABC supermarkets, where you will have to tell the cashiers your phone number so they can add credit onto your SIM card using an electronic card machine. Hungary is part of the EU, so the new European Union data caps will apply on all prepaid SIM cards. The good news is that you will be able to use them in other European countries at no extra cost.
Hungary’s network coverage
Hungary’s operators offer great coverage for a relatively small country, providing good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. All three operators sell prepaid credit, which allows users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Hungary has great country-wide network coverage. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer during your visit to Hungary.
Telekom is the largest provider in Hungary, with the fastest speeds and competitive prices. They offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services and network coverage is extremely strong throughout the whole country. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores by showing your passport as a valid form of identification. There will also be an application process where paperwork will have to be filled out and signed before the SIM card can be activated.
Prepaid SIM cards are called “Domino” and can be picked up for free. However, you must pay to add credit, or purchase a SIM package which comes with voice and data plans attached.
The “Domino Quick” starter packs can be picked up for just HUF900, including 500MB of data and local minutes, or HUF1,990 which comes with 1GB of data and 80 local mins. Some petrol stations can now sell you a SIM card package. However, you will still have to take it to the official store to register it with your passport before it will be activated, so it makes sense to purchase a SIM card from that official store in the first place.
Credit can be purchased at T-Points, ABC supermarkets or at corner stores, post offices and petrol stations. Top-up vouchers can be purchased in the following denominations: HUF3,000, HUF5,000 and HUF10,000.
There are also data packs which will stay valid until the data is used up:
If you want to continue using your SIM card around central and eastern Europe, Telekom offers some great “Travel&Surf” plans. The following SIM card packages are probably the best options for travelers:
- Travel&Surf S: 50MB, valid for 1 day – HUF730. To activate, text +EUS to 1430
- Travel&Surf M: 200MB, valid for 3 days – HUF1,840. To activate, text +EUM to 1430
- Travel&Surf L: 1GB, valid for 7 days – HUF2,790. To activate, text +EUL to 1430
Telekom’s APN: internet.telekom, and website: http://www.telekom.hu/lakossagi/english
Telenor is the second largest provider in Hungary, with good network coverage and competitive rates. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services, and speeds are relatively fast. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores by showing your passport as a valid form of identification. There will also be an application process where paperwork will have to be filled out and signed before the SIM card can be activated. Credit can be added in petrol stations, corner stores or some supermarkets using a top-up machine.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for HUF1,590 and come with HUF400 credit and 150MB of data. Additional credit can be purchased in the following denominations: HUF1,500, HUF3,000, HUF5,000, HUF10,000 and HUF15,000.
The following data amounts can be added as standard top-ups:
The following data packs can also be added:
To activate a pack, text the data amount to 1744.
The “Hipernet Praktikum” data-only SIM card offers good plans. The SIM card can be purchased for HUF3,990 and comes with a credit balance of HUF3,000. The following packs can also be added:
|HUF2,786||1GB||Valid for 45 days|
|HUF5,574||5GB||Valid for 45 days|
Telenor’s APN: online, and website: www.telenor.hu/en
Vodafone is the smallest telco provider in Hungary but offers good rates and coverage is extremely strong throughout the entire country. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services, and speeds are relatively fast. Prepaid SIM cards can be picked up from official stores by showing your passport as a valid form of identification. SIMs are free but plans will have to be added to use them. There will also be an application process where paperwork will have to be filled out and signed before the SIM card can be activated. Credit can be added in service stations, corner stores or some supermarkets by using a top-up machine.
Prepaid SIM cards can have one of the following plans added: S, M, L, Tuti, Max or Net+. The “MAX” plans are the best choice for prepaid SIM cards. The following options are available:
- MAX S: HUF2,000, no data included, 30 local minutes or SMS. Activation: TV MAX S
- MAX M: HUF3,000, 100MB, 50 local minutes or SMS. Activation: TV MAX M
- MAX L: HUF4,000, 1GB, 100 local minutes or SMS. Activation: TV MAX L
The following Net+ data plans are also a good option, which can be added to the above:
- HUF3,000: 500MB data, valid for 30 days
- HUF5,000: 1GB data, valid for 30 days
The following data packs can also be added to all prepaid SIM cards.
|30MB||Valid for 1 day||N/A||NAPI|
|100MB||Valid for 7 days||HUF325||HETI100E|
|100MB||Valid for 30 days||HUF696||HAVI100E|
There is also a data-only SIM card available called “Netjegy” that can be purchased for HUF2,990. The following packs can be added:
|HUF641||500MB||Valid for 24 hours|
|HUF2,313||1GB||Valid for 7 days|
|HUF3,707||3GB||Valid for 30 days|
Vodafone’s APN: vitamax.internet.vodafone.net, website: www.vodafone.hu/en (Select the English language at the top of the website if necessary.)
Tried and tested by finder.com.au
Our very own Nathan Kay, from the Publishing and Editorial team at finder.com.au, spends a lot of time in Budapest, Hungary, and has some top tips to share with those heading out in the very near future.
Nathan says that to avoid massive roaming bills, you should consider purchasing a local SIM card in Hungary.
“Using a local SIM card there is much easier and cheaper than using your home provider. Hungary’s call, SMS and data charges are among the lowest in the world and credit seems to last forever!,” Nathan explains.
“I use the Vodafone prepaid SIM card, and while doing research for this project, I quickly realised that the pointers and tips we provide are a great help for those who use local SIM cards when traveling abroad. For example, I didn’t know beforehand that I could just send a text to the provider to update my data credit. I always thought I had to go into the store to top up,” Nathan says.
Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:
- The official language in Hungary is Hungarian, but English is its main foreign language, so most people speak it.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM kártya” or “SIM”.
- Ask the sellers to set up the SIM for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to get advice.
- Get to the shops early to receive better assistance and to avoid the crowds.
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 what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Hungary.
“Vodafone is your best option, everyone speaks English and they have an EU Roaming Package for HUF1,000 per day which you can use in any EU country. It gives you 100MB of Internet and unlimited incoming calls.”
“Hungary requires registration of all SIM cards, even prepaid. Bring your passport to their store at Deak Ter (near Vaci Utca) or Arena Plaza. It takes about 20-30 minutes with a lot of signing. These two locations have a handful of English speakers.”
“The KoKi shopping mall rather near the airport has all three providers' shops I believe. The airport also has SIM cards and so do all the shopping malls.”
Pros and cons of Hungary’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
- Hungary has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- EU roaming options on all networks
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- ID and registration is required to use the SIM cards