You’re about to go on that great trip to Germany you’ve been planning for a long time. You’ve got your tickets, the hotels are booked, you’ve packed your bags, and it’s time to go.
But not so fast! Chances are, there are still a few details you’ve forgotten to consider — like choosing the right phone plan for your trip.
Thanks to roaming charges, you can rack up the euros if you use your U.S. plan while traveling in Germany. To avoid the shock of a major phone bill once you’re back home, we suggest buying a German SIM Card during your stay to call and surf like a local.
If you’ve never used a SIM Card overseas, read our guide to using a SIM Card in Europe before your trip. Just make sure to bring your phone along as well as an adapter for your charger!
This article was updated in November 2021 with new information and prices.
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Top Sim Cards for your trip to Germany
Although it’s still fairly easy to buy and use SIM Cards in Germany, it’s unfortunately gotten slightly more complicated. In July 2017, Germany passed an anti-terrorism law that requires all pre-paid SIM Cards to provide an address and ID. But no worries. You don’t have to be an EU citizen — the address of your hotel or hostel along with your passport should work just fine.
If possible, you may want to consider buying the SIM Card ahead of time by doing the ID check online and having the card shipped to your accommodations. If you wait until you arrive, make sure that you have your passport and proof of address ready to buy a card on the go.
Once you buy a SIM Card from a German carrier, you’ll get a little chip with a German phone number. Insert this chip into your phone, start the activation process, and soon you’ll be phoning and web-surfing with ease. That said, if you do have any difficulties activating the card, just head over to MediaMarkt or Saturn, Germany’s major electronic store chains, where someone can walk you through the process. But don’t forget to bring your ID and hotel information!
Four ways to activate SIM Cards in Germany:
• Present your ID (passport) online through a video verification process
• Go directly to a mobile (Handy) phone shop or electronics store (Saturn, MediaMarkt)
• Buy the SIM Card from Germany’s three major telco providers: O2, Vodafone, and Telekom
• Present a printed “Post Ident” document at any German post office (Again, to do this, you need your passport and a valid German address.)
Here are the two best deals we recommend for budget travelers:
Cost: €7.99 to €17.99, depending on the plan you choose
Pros: Good deal, easy to use, offers 4G/LTE
Cons: Uses the O2 network, which doesn’t always provide good coverage in rural areas
Aldi Talk is the best deal you’ll find for pre-paid SIM Cards in Germany. They offer many different plans, the cheapest being Paket S, which offers 3 GB data and unlimited telephoning and SMS at €7.99 for 4 weeks. A second option, Paket M, offers 6 GB data, unlimited calls and unlimited SMS for €12.99, valid for 4 weeks. You can also purchase internet access only, the cheapest plan starting at €3.99 for 4 weeks (Internet-Flatrate S, 1 GB data).
If you’re traveling to any other countries in the European Union, the Paket L rate is probably the most ideal. This plan gets you 12 GB data and unlimited calls and texts for €17.99 for 4 weeks and includes EU roaming.
An added bonus is that Aldi Talk is sold at Aldi discount grocery stores, which are very easy to find anywhere in the country. You can either top it off online or buy a recharge voucher at Aldi.
Cost: €9.99 for 4 weeks
Pros: Low-cost, includes €10 start credit
Cons: Charges for calls and SMS
Blau Surf M is also a great option for tourists. This plan offers 3 GB data with LTE for four weeks. Phone calls and SMS cost 9 cents (per minute/per text) within Germany and EU roaming is included. This pre-paid plan gets you a €10 start credit and can be easily topped off online.
Telekom, Vodafone, O2, oh my!
Although these two resellers will get you the best deals, going with one of the top guns also won’t break the bank. In most cases, their plans cost around the same price as Aldi’s Paket L, but you get less data or bang for your buck. To help you understand the difference, here’s a little run down.
Formerly the market leader, Deutsche Telekom (formerly called T-Mobile), Telekom still provides the best coverage in Germany, but it’s on the pricey side. If you plan to stay in major cities like Berlin and Munich, you can easily steer clear of the higher Telekom prices, but if you plan on visiting rural areas, you may want to opt for their plans to make sure you get the coverage you need. Telekom also has the fastest network and EU roaming. Resellers include congstar, ja!mobil, Penny Mobil, and Lebara Mobil.
Vodafone is exactly in the middle when it comes to price, coverage and speed. EU roaming is included, but rural reception can be spotty. Resellers on the Vodafone network include LIDL Connect, Otelo and Lycamobile.
O2 is the cheapest provider in Germany and has greatly improved since acquiring the E-Plus Network. They have great coverage, except in rural areas, and are the only network that has reception in the Berlin U-Bahn train system, which is a big plus if you’re spending a lot of time in the city. EU roaming is included. Resellers include the two we recommended, Aldi Talk and Blau, as well as Ortel Mobile and Ay Yildiz.
Cheapo food for thought
If you really want to save, you might want to consider whether you need a SIM Card at all. You could also just put your phone in flight mode and seek out Wi-Fi at hotspots. There are lots of free Wi-Fi spots all over the country. If it doesn’t work out, you can always hop over to Aldi for that trusty SIM Card.
Have you used SIM Cards in Germany or elsewhere in Europe? Tell us your strategies for saving on your phone bill!
The post The best Sim Cards in Germany to save on your phone bill appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.
Source: Euro Cheapo