Your mobile phone plan in Germany

While dancing at a super hip party, you met this super cute guy (or girl) and it clicked between the two of you.  However, you didn’t have any mobile phone plan in Germany and you couldn’t give your local number to stay in touch: bummer! You can’t even call home yet to tell all about your new adventures. Here is a little overview to get started.

mobile phone plan germany

German mobile phone plan : Prepaid or contract?

Very soon you will have to make a choice: do  you want to choose a prepaid plan or a contract.  If you are to stay for only a few months here, it might be wise to choose a prepaid one. It surely brings less perks but after all, all you really need is a mobile phone plan for Germany with which you can be reached.  Prepaid brings the basics like a phone number, calls and texts billed per min or per text.
On the other hand, if you staying for more than a year and you need mobile internet as well, you’d better go for a normal contract. If you are staying even longer, you could even get a new phone with that.

In all cases, in Germany, SIM cards are sold separately from the phone, so be sure to have your phone “unlocked” before you come here. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use it with a German mobile phone plan.

Mobile phone Germany prepaid plans overview:

Most of the SIM cards can be obtained in supermarkets, or local stores for around 10€. They come with no minimum costs and no minimum commitment. Most of them bill 9 cent per SMS and per minute.

  • Aldi Talk (by Eplus): to be purchased at Aldi only
  • O.Tel.O (Vodafone): to be purchased at  Media Markt, Saturn, Euronics
  • Congstar Prepaid (by Deutsche Telekom):  to be purchased in T-Stores , Kaufland,  Real and Netto
  • Lidl Mobile (Lidl): to be purchased at Lidl only
  • Blau (Eplus):  to be purchased at Aral,  Netto, Real, Rossmann
  • Edeka Mobile (by Vodafone): to be purchased at Edeka only
  • Tchibo Mobile (by O2): to be purchased at Tchibo only

 Have a look at tip 1 to compare all those plans.

Mobile phone Germany contract overview:

If you were good enough to go through your anmeldung and open a bank account before, you are then able to sign for a contract at one of the following German mobile phone contract providers. I have selected what I think is the fairest plan but feel to explore.

Those providers often provide a 1 or 2 year contract so be careful when you make up your mind. You might get stuck in a unwanted contract.  If you are unsure about what to pick, have a look at tip 1 to compare .

What if I only want a SIM card?

It is possible to take to SIM card only contracts in Germany. That is most suitable when you already have a phone and you just want the service (although not prepaid). All major providers do offer SIM only contracts but some are more specialized and can offer interesting deals too. It’s often a better value for the money and easier to cancel. Consider these ones :

  • Simply : from 12.99€/month (my recommendation)
  • Fyve : from 10€/month
  • Simfinity : from 14.90€/month
  • WhatsApp Sim by Eplus : from 10€/month (most flexible and recommended if you text more than you call)
  • McSim : 12,99€/month (also a good alternative)

 

What if i’m only staying temporarily in Germany?

In case you are only visiting the country for a few weeks, your needs are probably a little different as far as German mobile phone plans go. Although you can still go with prepaid options listed above, you might also consider Lycamobile which has the following advantages:

  • You can order your SIM card for free and have it sent wherever you want
  • No contracts attached
  • Customer service in many different languages
  • Good rates for national calls and data plans
  • International bundles so you can call back home for very cheap

 

Have a good flirt you <3

mobile phone plan germany

Tip 1: You might want to have a look at Preis24 for good deals. What this website is that they buy phones and mobile phone plans in bulk to all those providers to get a better price for you. It’s also a nice way to compare plans between providers. You can either choose a contract + phone bundle or a contract alone. They even have offers for pre-paid plans. DeinHandy is also a good alternative where you can also compare plans.

Tip 2: As a foreigner, it might not be possible to also buy a phone from on those providers. If you wish to buy a phone anyway, what you can do is to ask for a friend to subscribe to the contract while your bank details are provided to actually pay for it. This way, your friend with a hopefully clean SCHUFA score, will be allowed the contract. Et voila ! You have a phone. 🙂

You can also buy a second-hand phone for cheap from AsGoodAsNew.com or Rebuy.de which sell recent phones at really good rates, with a 30-months warranty on top. They are cheaper because they had minor defects and needed repair, but still works perfectly. Usually expect at least 30% rebate.

Tip 3: For all our friends coming from the US out there : If you were wondering about 4G bands, your mobile phone plan in Germany and compatibility issues, don’t worry about it. Europe has the same standards across all countries so no provider is really making a selling point with this. They are all using the same frequencies. Some offer the choice between “E-Netz” & “D-Netz” quality in their offers. D-Netz is the older spectrum of frequencies that usually reach further than the E-Netz while E-Netz has the advantage of being able to support a lot more calls at the same time on a given area. Prefer D-Netz if you are travelling a lot or living at the countryside, prefer E-Netz if you live in crowded areas.

44 Comments

  • Reply Lisa Huis 28/11/2017 at 11:13

    Adding to my last question:
    For the Simply Sim only, do I need to have the Anmeldung or a German bank account?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/11/2017 at 20:39

      Yes, a german bank account.

      • Reply Zaccharie Ramzi 04/12/2017 at 17:56

        Hi!
        Thank you for your article.
        Do you know if N26 is enough for a German bank account?
        I just got denied a Simply SIM card and I really don’t know why. I just got here so maybe it’s because I don’t have a Schufa, but they don’t talk about it in the website.
        They also said that their criteria for denial are secret …

        Cheers

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2017 at 20:39

          Hi Zach. I don’t think N26 is the issue here.

  • Reply Lisa Huis 28/11/2017 at 11:05

    Thank you for the very informative blog!
    I will be living in Berlin for 8 months probably. I need to have some calls/text/internet (2-3GB).
    Since I will be here for 8 months and I already have my own phone I want a contract that is SIM only and goes per month.
    You recommend Simply, which looks really good to me. My question is: how is their network and coverage? I guess it will be fine in Berlin, but do you know how it is in other places in Germany? And in other countries in Europe with the free roaming?
    Thank you so much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/11/2017 at 20:39

      Simply uses the same network than o2, so same excellent coverage. 🙂

  • Reply Tee 09/11/2017 at 22:06

    Hallo, I just arrived Hamburg by 31/10/2017, and the sales person(in Hamburg Airport) recommended me Lycamobile, with unlimited call and 5GB data usage with 40 Euro first buy and top up with 20 Euro monthly after this. I just check the rate today, I found that Lycamobile with my plan first buy only cost 9.99 Euro! I think I was cheated in the Hamburg Airport? However, Lycamobile did a good job. I have used google map go all over my small town to find a room, and the line is really fluent and smooth.

    I am a master student from Malaysia, is going to stay for 2 years here. Do you have any recommendations of data plan which provide 5 GB data plan monthly and usable in Europe countries as well? (personally I don’t mind it’s prepaid or with contract as long as low budget)

    Because I need to travel to other Europe countries sometimes for my studies or travel. Do you think Lycamobile still is the best for my current circumstances?

    P/S: I had always get lost and might need google map to bring me to all destination mostly. Thank you very much! and thank you for writing this website and I suppose red this early!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/11/2017 at 10:14

      Hi Tee, if you plan to move a lot Lycamobile is a great and flexible option. You pay a little bit more for the flexibility but it might be worth it in your case.

  • Reply Rubita 08/11/2017 at 04:33

    Hi there,

    I just moved to Germany and urgently needed a number so I took up O2 prepaid with 1GB. However, I need more data because I need to call Home frequently. How to I add on data because the website is in German and I am not able to find such info. Can I convert my prepaid number to contract ?

    Thanks.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/11/2017 at 18:06

      Hi Rubita. I can’t provide customer support for o2, try to google translate the website.

  • Reply Steve 18/09/2017 at 20:37

    I landed in Berlin yesterday and have been trying to get a prepaid sim card from Vodafone & 3 locations that I tried said that they will not sell to anyone without German address. Does O2 have the same issues in store or will I be able to purchase with my passport for ID?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2017 at 12:28

      Hi Steve, it will be the same issue with o2 yes. Have you had a look at Lycamobile?

  • Reply Sameh 14/09/2017 at 20:59

    Hello, I am arriving to Berlin soon.. I want to buy a sim card sim card immediately after I land. are there any shops I can get the Simply sim card?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/09/2017 at 16:04

      Yes, any o2 shops or any supermarkets mentioned in the post.

  • Reply Belbase 12/09/2017 at 08:25

    Hi
    I am a international student from Nepal coming to Germany for my higher studies ! i will live there for like 3 years ! Am i eligible to buy mobile phones
    in monthly installments along with the connection plan right after I come there ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/09/2017 at 09:28

      Hi Krishna. Buying a mobile phone with monthly installments will require you to have a good SCHUFA score, otherwise the operator will refuse your request. Find a cheap phone or find an offer with a one-off fee for the phone.

  • Reply Alex 02/09/2017 at 12:21

    If, like me, you’re in Germany for a short term, I wanted to share a solution that’s working well for me.

    With O2, after you use all your data, they only throttle you to 1 Mb/s, which is much faster than the 28 Kb/s offered by other providers, and honestly fast enough for everyday use. If 1MB/s sounds fast enough for you, you can get the O2 Free S on a monthly basis for €5 more, so a total of €25/month. This means you get 1GB of data at LTE speeds, and then infinite data at 1 Mb/s for only €25/month, with the ability to cancel any time.

    Pretty good if you ask me 🙂

  • Reply Claudia 05/07/2017 at 22:31

    Hello, I’ll be in Berlin for two weeks for work, and I need a prepaid SIM to be able to make and receive calls as well as some surfing (like to this very helpful site). Any suggestions?
    Thank you in advanced!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/07/2017 at 10:19

      Hi Claudia, any of the suggestions in the article work. Lyca mobile is also a good suggestion in your situation.

  • Reply Grace Burks 18/06/2017 at 18:46

    This is very helpful. But I have an interesting case. I will be in Germany for a year and I use a lot of data, and might make calls to the US. For these reasons I was looking at a contract. But I simply can’t find a contract that isn’t 24 months long. What can I do? If I can’t get a contract what month-to-month plan do you recommend? Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/06/2017 at 09:29

      Hi Grace. As mentioned in the post, a contract won’t work for you. You might want to go for prepaid or alternatively, go for Preis24 and compare month-to-month plans to be sure to get the best deals.

      • Reply Grace Burks 20/06/2017 at 04:19

        I’ve been looking at prepaid. The most GB I can find is 4. Am I looking in the wrong places?
        Sorry to bother again!

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/06/2017 at 10:10

          Prepaid plans are limited but you can buy additional data if needed.

    • Reply Cybil 22/06/2017 at 16:35

      I assume you will not only use a cell phone but also a laptop or tablet? Or do you want to use solely your cell phone?

      You could sign a 24 Months contract with a major provider like Telekom or Vodafone. According to my knowledge if people are relocating abroad they can cancel their 24 Months contract (Sonderkündigungsrecht) giving 3 Months notice https://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/topic/33510-ending-a-deutsche-telekom-contract/. Send registered letter!

      Telekom offers a phone flat rate for Europe, the US, Canada and Mexiko for 3.90 Euro/Months extra. So you could call the US from home (landline simply buy a cheap phone) and talk as long as you want and use your internet connection with unlimited data at home. I pay around 42 Euro/Month. Included in the 42 Euro is the unlimited data for internet (fast connection), the modem, a landline (flat rate for German landlines) and the international flat rate region one (as described above). Call my friends in the US all the time, even their cell phones, never paid an extra fee. If you intend to stream tv shows etc. this would be the best option as it is fast and reliable.

      If this is not an option, you can ask your friends and family in the US to download the Whats app app to their smart phones. Here you can send messages, pictures, videos and even call for free when connected to wifi.

  • Reply Ben Legg 01/06/2017 at 01:32

    Hi there,
    I’m a youtube vlogger who will be trying to upload videos daily. I will be touring Germany for 9 months, before settling in Berlin.
    Obviously, internet (lots) and uploading bandwith/limits are very important to me. Can you give any advice please?
    Thank you! Love the site – you are great! 🙂
    Ben.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/06/2017 at 10:04

      Hi Ben. If you are going to settle in Berlin after your tour anyway; i’d advise you to register right away with at the Bürgeramt (if you can) to sign up for unlimited plans (with 1&1 for example), which unfortunately often comes with a contract only. Otherwise, take a prepaid sim card for normal use and upload your videos at night, whenever you have wifi. What’s your YouTube channel out of curiosity?

  • Reply shelach vardi 28/05/2017 at 10:01

    Hi
    I am planning to be in Berlin for 3 months, looking for a phone plan which will allow me to also use GPS (google maps) and have internet connectivity for social media. do any of the prepaid plans have that?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/05/2017 at 11:56

      Hi Shelach. Yes, most of pre-paid plans have data included in them, which allows you to have Google Maps and Social Media.

  • Reply Frankfurt 11/05/2017 at 16:53

    Avoid mobilcom!
    I have had exceptionally bad experiences with mobilcom. I took mobilcom as a mobile carrier in 2012.
    Ater two years I started having serious problems with connection. Now that I recall, I dont know if the internet ever worked properly.
    I could not get online, which was the whole point of me taking this data connection. I tried to seek help from their shop in Bad Homburg. The shop said they could not help, the reason being, I guess they only sell new contracts. I decided to terminate the contract as the connection simply did not work. This was done in the same Bad Homburg shop. I even went back to their shop to doublecheck the termination was done as I still saw some mail from mobilcom. I thought this was the end of my bad experience. After over a year had passed I noticed in my bank statement that mobilcom is still withdrawing money from my account. I contacted mobilcom, and they said they never any termination of contract. As my mistake I should have saved and filed the termination paper. Now I have once more terminated the contract, but as expected in the fine print there is again a waiting period of 6moths or so… . On top of this mobilcom are uninterested and unwilling to help(no relies to my numerous contacts through their customerservice) with making my connection work. So I am again paying for absolutely nothing. Dont make the same mistake I made, avoid mobilcom

  • Reply ND 30/03/2017 at 21:53

    Hello, I am moving to Ravensburg in about a month for work and I’m having trouble deciding on what company to get a sim from. I will live there for 18 months and would like a plan that gives me somewhere around 10 gigs of data a month. Currently I’m looking at a 2 year plan from either Deutsche Telekom or O2 or a monthly plan from SimplyTel. I would prefer to go with a month to month service provider as I won’t be there for the full two years. SimplyTel seems to be significantly cheaper but I have no idea what their service is like (the cost is not super important). I also plan on doing a fair bit of traveling during my time there Do you have any advice for which provider I should choose? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/04/2017 at 15:53

      Hi Nico. In terms of network access, all companies are riding the same radio waves so quality is consistent across all providers. I have no particular tip for you; you know best what your needs are.

  • Reply Matteus Lauinger 14/02/2017 at 15:23

    Good day. I travel from the USA to Berlin and Hahnenklee every year for between three and six months. I am 65 years old and never have owned a television or Smart Phone, do not belong to any form of social media, have never sent a text, tweet, twang, toodle message. I am a widower and my mother-in-law is 90 years old in Florida and wants to hear from me while I am away. SO: 1) I must buy a phone which will work between the USA and Germany. ???Do you have a recommendation??? 2) I must buy some kind of plan which will allow me to call her daily for 10 – 15 minutes / day for 90 – 120 days. ??? Do you have a plan service to recommend ??? 3) I am used to reading maps and listening to weather forecasts but I understand that I can get GPS information and other helpful traveler’s information through a Smart Phone. ??? Do you have a plan that would give me FIRST the telephone service which I will need; and, SECOND, this sort of internet information. ??? Thank you; Matteus

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/02/2017 at 18:30

      Hi Matteus. 1) Most common smartphones can be used on European bands with no issues at all. When in doubt, ask a seller in the shop. If you only need GPS and weather forecasts function, you won’t need a high end phone. I’d recommend a Motorola G4 2016 or even a Motorola E3 (2016). The vast majority of plans include also internet access, as well a normal phone service. There are really no cheap plans to make calls to the US. You would need to commit to a yearly contract to have this option cheap. I would however recommended Lycamobile in your case with their International Bundles which includes free minutes to call the USA, normal phone service and internet service as well. Good luck.

  • Reply Douglas Gibbs 09/02/2017 at 10:38

    After you cell pone contract is up do they have to unlock your phone? I have a 2 year contract that is ending in April 2017 with mobilcom-debitel. I gave them more then 90 days notice, but i also asked to have the phone unlocked and they said i need to call them. I would like to skip the sales pitch if possible, but i would also like to sell the phone when the contract is done.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/02/2017 at 12:03

      Hi Douglas. I assume your contract is a standard phone + plan type contract. In this case, the phone will be yours at the end of the contract and you have every right to have it unlocked. You will need to enter a long series of numbers and characters to unlock it. They will give you that so that’s probably why they want you to call. Just be persistent.

  • Reply Fred Daniel 05/02/2017 at 08:51

    Much appreciated Bastien!

  • Reply Ron 01/02/2017 at 13:05

    ALDI
    I went for ALDI and it was cumbersome to set it up, especially since there is no in-person customer service and the phone customer service wait is interminable.
    You have to do so much more in setting up the account that I’ve never had to deal with before. Do one thing, wait for an email or SMS to confirm it and then go onto another step.
    Then at the end of the month when I needed to pay for the next month, I could not. You need a German bank account to do the payment. They do not accept debit or credit cards or bank transfer from a foreign account.

    I wrote to Aldi asking about using a foreign bank account and they never replied. Although they stated they would answer within 48 hours…it’s been a week.

    I assume this is the rule with all prepaid cards or even contracts? You must pay with a German bank account or the dreaded EC card! Germany needs to get with the program and accept any and all MasterCards and VISAs, credit or debit cards.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/02/2017 at 14:13

      Hi Ron. Thanks for the feedback. There was probably a mix up, you don’t need any bank account for prepaid cards, you buy credit at an Aldi supermarket or online. This is the case for all basic prepaid cards. If you go for any other plan with a contract (e.g with Aldi; Paket 300), you will need to have a German bank account indeed. That’s why i recommend the prepaid option if you haven’t opened one yet.

      • Reply Anon 04/10/2017 at 17:39

        Hi Bastien,

        Is the paket 300 not prepaid? I am thinking of getting an Aldi microSIM and either the Paket 300 or 600, which I understand can be paid for online with the credits on the microSIM added at an Aldi store. Is this not true, and if this is not true, does this basically mean any money on the card can only be used on a per SMS/minute/MB rate?

        Thanks

  • Reply Fred Daniel 29/01/2017 at 16:50

    My wife and I are going to be in Berlin in June for a month. I am going for work initiallyfor a few days but we are going to extend our stay to have a holiday. It seems we will not be able to buy a SIM at all- correct? Roaming is an alternative, but is quite expensive. Your advice will be appreciated.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/01/2017 at 09:22

      Hi Fred. It might be less hassle to book an international plan from your home provider. In your case, the most convenient option could be to go for a prepaid SIM option with no commitment so have a look at the prepaid plans options i have listed. Compare what would be the cheapest. good luck.

    • Reply Ram 11/02/2017 at 10:44

      Hi Fred,

      Go for an operator named Lebara with prepaid plan. You can activate FLEXI XL plan which gives you 500 minutes of calling which includes both local and international in addition to 1 GB of 3G data.

  • Reply LB 27/01/2017 at 05:47

    Thank you! Super helpful!

  • Reply ana cristina ussyk 17/11/2016 at 23:03

    Thank you! Very good tips!

  • Leave a Reply