How to dial a number
How to dial a phone number in Germany.
I review a selection of mobile phone data, flat rates and prepaid plans from Smartmobil, Telekom, Vodafone, Lebara and fraenk.
Short overview before getting into details: I recommend *Smartmobil or *fraenk if you need an affordable sim that includes mobile data. I personally use Smartmobil in Berlin and for traveling in Europe and never had any issues. It just works.
*Telekom plans are more expensive but offer more data and better coverage.
Costs for mobile phone plans are split among these lines in Germany:
I do NOT recommend buying a combined package of mobile phone and plan. The phone will be tied to your provider for a given time and in the end, it is usually more expensive than signing up for a mobile plan without a phone and buying a smartphone separately.
All these costs are usually paid each month or prepaid. Prepaid means you transfer money to your phone card and it stops working once all the money is used up. Prepaid is a good SIM card option for students as this is the fastest and easiest way to get a German phone number. *O2 is a popular prepaid provider.
Mobile phone contracts in Germany charge monthly and withdraw money directly from your bank account. You need a German bank account for this kind of contract.
You need to identify yourself with official documents to buy a German SIM card. These are the papers you need:
Besides the costs, you need to check for:
All prices and other data checked 23. July 2023. Prices are not guaranteed. Please check the providers' websites for prices.
|Provider||Fees||Type of contract||Data volume||Data speed||Network quality|
|*Telekom||Starting at 39.- EUR / month. Free calls and SMS to all German networks||24 months contract duration||10 GB||300 MB download speed||++ Telekom network|
|*Vodafone||Starting at 24.- EUR / month. Free calls to all German networks||24 months contract duration||5 GB. Unused data can be carried over into the next month.||500 MB download speed. Unlimited data plan available for 80.- EUR / month||+ Vodafone network|
|*fraenk||Starting at 10.- EUR / month. Free calls and SMS to all German networks, roaming for Switzerland included||Can be cancelled monthly||7 GB||22 MB download speed||++ Telekom network|
|*Smartmobil||Starting at 6.- EUR / month. Free calls and SMS to all German networks||Can be canceled anytime but the 24 months option saves you 30.-||6 GB||50 MB download speed||+/- O2 network|
|*O2||Starting at 10.- EUR / month plus a one-time fee of 50.- EUR. Free calls and SMS to all German networks||Prepaid||3 GB||225 MB download speed||+/- O2 network|
Freefunk is the only provider with unlimited data usage. The costs are 1.- Euro per day and you can cancel anytime source. However, there are reports that Freefunk terminates contracts with users with heavy bandwidth usage source.
*1&1 DSL plans combine internet at home and 2 SIM cards with a 500MB internet connection and an SMS/call flat rate in one contract.
I highly recommend NOT going to a shop unless you have issues with address verification as, in my experience, you might get talked into a less favorable contract.
I use the *Verivox website to compare plans. The advantages are:
Follow these steps to get the best mobile phone contract in Germany:
The German phone network is notoriously bad outside urban areas in my opinion. I live in Berlin and it works fine here, including most of the time on the U-Bahn (metro). Once I leave Berlin for more remote parts of Germany the connection often just stops working or the data connection becomes very slow. *Telekom is your best option if you need to stay connected outside of urban areas.
Navigating using Google maps on highways is usually never an issue. Make sure you use the map download option once you plan to drive to remote areas. Your phone connection can also be very spotty or not exist at all when using the train in Germany source.
You can easily compare mobile providers and their networks by checking the Netz label next to the provider name on *Verivox if connectivity is important for you.
Mobile phone data and call prices can become very expensive if you use your mobile phone plan in a country outside the EU. Please note that Switzerland is not part of the EU so you might want to disable data usage when visiting Switzerland, and also when using Google maps to drive through, as this can become very costly!
I am using *Smartmobil and experienced that the phone connection would just stop working in another EU country depending on the network. Buying a local SIM card might be the most reliable option when traveling abroad with your German SIM card.
Decide whether a prepaid or running contract is best for you. Use *Verivox to find the best offer or go to a local shop and bring ID and passport and anything which can verify your address in case that doesn't work for you.
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