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Best Prepaid SIM Card for Your Germany Trip In 2022

Traveling to Germany soon? Consider buying a prepaid SIM card for your trip! 

This guide shows you different kinds of SIM cards you can buy in Germany so you can choose the best option for staying connected while on your trip.

cell phone navigation

Do I Need A Pre-Paid SIM Card For My Trip To Germany?

Having a Germany SIM card while visiting is a helpful pro tip that most people overlook. Not only do you avoid a huge phone bill when you get back home but you’ll also have an internet connection wherever you go.

That can be super helpful when trying to navigate to your hotel (whether in a rental car or on foot), check train or metro times, make a dinner reservation, call your AirBnB host, book a last-minute tour or skip-the-line ticket, etc.

So, do you need a travel SIM card for your Germany trip? It depends.

Buying a pre-paid SIM card is one option. Let’s look at 3 ways you can use your phone while in Germany:

1. Airplane mode + WiFi.

If you’re super prepared and organized before flying to Germany, and leaving your hotel each day, and if you can make phone calls through Facetime, Skype, social media, or another service, you can probably get away with switching your phone to airplane mode and simply using WiFi at your hotel and here and there around the city.

The benefit of this option is that it’s free and easy. The downside is that it can be difficult to connect with WiFi outside of your hotel and you can’t make calls, get turn-by-turn directions or access any data.

2. International plan through your cell phone company.

Depending on your provider, you can often pay a little extra to use your phone in Germany. Usually you can pay only for the days you turn off airplane mode.

The benefit of this option is that you can use your phone off WiFi . The downside is that you could have to pay quite a bit per day or month, depending on your provider. If you forget to switch your phone back to airplane mode, the fees can quickly drain your bank account. And some providers limit the amount or speed of data you can use abroad.

3. Pre-paid SIM card in Germany.

This option gives you consistant access to data, texting, and phone all over Germany, which means you can use Google maps, text or call family at home, check museum opening times while out and about, and more.

The benefits are that it’s likely much cheaper than using your home cell service abroad and you won’t get stuck without an internet connection or ability to text or make calls on your phone. You don’t need to get a new phone, and can even get unlimited data for the time you’re in Germany without a long-term mobile phone contract. The downside is that you have to sign up for a SIM card when you arrive in Germany.

If you’re not sure which mobile internet option you want to use on your trip, join our Germany Travel Planning Facebook group (it’s free to join) so you can hear from us and other travelers about our experiences and recommendations!

And, by the way, the German word for cell phone is “Handy” – das Handy (the cell phone) or ein Handy (a cell phone). Yes, really!

cell phone while traveling

We’ve used all 3 options while in Germany and elsewhere in Europe (and the world).

When I travel solo I often just use WiFi because I’m super prepared and organized before going abroad and find I can get by with offline maps, prepared notes on my phone or in a notebook, and connecting to WiFi here and there when I’m away from my hotel or apartment. There have been a few times where I wished I’d had access to data or texting but I managed ok.

When Aaron and I are traveling by rental car we typically go off airplane mode for the day and just pay $10 or so to Verizon so we can use navigation on our phones and connect with our apartment hosts or hotel while on the road.

We also like being able to easily find gas stations, coffee shops, etc. Using the daily international option from Verizon has worked well for us most of the time. There have been a couple times where we followed the directions Verizon gave us for using our international plan and it just wouldn’t connect. On those days we were stuck with no internet access.

I’ve also gotten SIM cards a few times when I wanted to have consistent access to data but didn’t want to pay the expensive daily feels to Verizon. It took 10-15 minutes to sign up for the SIM card but after that, it was super easy!

There was no long-term mobile contract and it was cheap. On the cheapest plans you’ll likely pay less for a couple weeks worth of data than 1 day using your home cell provider’s international plan. I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d use the data so I kept my phone in airplane mode until I wanted to use data. It worked super well!

For our next trip to Germany we’ve decided to get SIM cards.

In this article we show you how to buy a prepaid SIM card in Germany and will break down the different options available. Keep reading to so you can choose the best SIM card for your needs and preferences while in Germany!

cell phone and maps

Why Buy A SIM Card For Germany?

There’s many benefits to buying a local SIM card while you’re visiting. 

First of all, it’ll save you so much money. If you choose to just stick with your American mobile phone plan while abroad, chances are you’ll come home to a high phone bill.

That’s because EU roaming charges add up quickly and can get quite expensive, especially for longer stays. Not to mention that most of these overseas data roaming plans come with a lot of limitations. Most of them are capped at a certain GB, have limited internet speed, and sometimes you just can’t connect (that’s happened to us a few times).

Second, using a SIM card is much more reliable! Yes, you can just connect to public WiFi whenever you’re out and about, but you’re not guaranteed to find WiFi widely available in all establishments, and there have been times where I just couldn’t connect or the connection was so slow it was unusable.

If you quickly need to search for a restaurant review or look up the train schedule, having mobile data is much more handy. Plus, connecting to public WiFi isn’t always the safest option.

After using just WiFi and the international plan through Verizon, and local SIM cards, we’ve decided to stick with SIM cards while in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

using cell phone

How To Buy A Pre-Paid SIM Card For Germany Before Your Trip

There are many ways to buy a prepaid SIM card once you arrive in Germany. But if you prefer to order it before your arrival, you can order them online from the mobile providers’ official websites.

Keep in mind that you need to provide a valid ID and a valid German address, which is the standard procedure for buying SIM cards in the country. For the address, you can list down your accommodation and have it delivered there as well. You’ll more than likely also get a German phone number with your SIM card.

What To Look For In A SIM Card Plan

There are three main mobile network providers in Germany: Telekom, Vodafone, and O2. There are also smaller mobile providers that use one of the main networks instead of having their own. 

Each offers their own prepaid SIM cards. Here are some things you should consider when deciding to buy a SIM card.

1. Coverage

This means 4G and 5G availability and coverage. Generally speaking, Telekom has the most extensive coverage and fastest network for both 4G and 5G. But the other two providers have good 4G/LTE availability as well so unless you’re staying in rural areas for long periods, you can’t go wrong with any.

2. Prepaid Plans

Each provider offers a variety of options and bundles that combine mobile data packages, text messages, and a certain number of free minutes for calls. Some include unlimited calls and/or texts. They come at different price points. It all really depends on your data usage and how long you’re staying.

3. Price

When you buy a prepaid SIM card, you’ll receive the card with a starting balance or credit. Once you activate the card, the balance is deducted according to the data package that you avail. For 3GB, you can expect to pay around 10 euros.

4. EU Roaming

If you’ll be traveling around Europe, make sure to check that your chosen SIM card offers EU roaming so you can still use it outside while traveling within the European Union or European Economic Area.

5. Mobile Reloading

Most networks should have an official app where you can top-up using international debit cards and credit cards. Aside from their stores, vouchers should be easily available in grocery stores, corner shops, and electronic shops.

cell phone

Best Pre-paid SIM Cards To Buy For Germany

1. Telekom (Deutsche Telekom)

Telekom or Deutsche Telekom (also formerly T-Mobile) is the largest German mobile operator. Because of this, it’s proven to offer the best network performance and speed. However, compared to the other main networks, the prices of the different data plans are a bit higher. 

If you’re mostly in major cities like Berlin or Munich, then you’re probably better off with another SIM card since you’ll still have access to good coverage at lower prices. But if you’ll find yourself traveling or staying frequently in more rural areas of Germany, then the Telekom network is the best option and the most reliable.

They have two types of prepaid SIM cards available: MagentaMobil Prepaid and Data Prepaid (data-only). We recommend the former since it includes data, calls and SMS. The starter SIM card for MagentaMobil is €9.95 and comes with €10 credit.

Here’s a list of Telekom’s prepaid plans:

PlanDataCalls and Texts (on-net)Price
Magenta Mobile Prepaid S500 MB Unlimited€4.95
Magenta Mobile Prepaid M3GB Unlimited€9.95
Magenta Mobile Prepaid L5GBUnlimited€14.95
Magenta Mobile Prepaid XL7GBUnlimited€24.95
Magenta Mobile Prepaid MaxUnlimitedUnlimited€99.95

All of the listed plans have a validity of 4 weeks. They all include EU roaming + data usage in Switzerland. 

Visit the official Telekom website for more information.

2. Vodafone Germany

Vodafone Germany is considered to be the mid-range option from the three main networks. They have pretty decent coverage throughout the country, though not to the same extent as Telekom. As a result, they do have data plans with similar amounts of GB of data as Telekom but at a better rate.

The Vodafone prepaid SIM card is called “CallYa” and the starter card goes for €9.95 with €10 credit. If you’re not ordering it online, it’s recommended that you go to their official stores or MediaMarkt. If you buy from other retailers, they might charge you a €10 registration fee.

Here is a list of Vodafone’s prepaid plans:

PlanDataCalls and Texts (on-net)Price
CallYa Start1GBUnlimited€4.99
CallYa Allnet Flat S3GB Unlimited€9.99
CallYa Allnet Flat M6GBUnlimited€14.99
CallYa Digital15GBUnlimited€20.00

All of the listed plans have a validity of 4 weeks. They all include EU roaming.

Visit the official Vodafone website for more information.

3. O2

O2 is a rapidly growing and improving network that provides competitive data plans. It has fairly good coverage though a bit lacking in the countryside and more remote areas. It can also be prone to overcrowding in city or event hotspots. But it’s also the only network that covers 4G/LTE for all tunnels and stations of the U-bahn in Berlin.

You can get the O2 starter SIM card (called O2 My Prepaid) for €10 with €9.99 credit. 

Here is a list of O2’s prepaid plans:

PlanDataCalls and Texts (on-net)Price
O2 My Prepaid Basic150MBN/A€1.99
O2 My Prepaid S3.5GB Unlimited€9.99
O2 My Prepaid M15GBUnlimited€14.99
O2 My Prepaid Max999GBUnlimited€69.99

All of the listed plans have a validity of 4 weeks. They all include EU roaming. Keep in mind that these plans only offer 4G/LTE Max.

Visit the official O2 website for more information.

4. Lidl Connect (on Vodafone)

Lidl is also another large supermarket chain and a competitor to Aldi. Their SIM starter card called Lidl Connect Talk is sold at €9.95 with €10 credit. They are powered by the Vodafone network so you can expect good coverage for budget-friendly prices.

Here is a list of Lidl Connect’s prepaid plans:

PlanDataCalls and Texts (on-net)Price
Smart XS1GB100 minutes / SMS€4.99
Smart S3GBUnlimited€7.99
Smart L6GBUnlimited€12.99
Smart XL12GBUnlimited€17.99

All of the listed plans have a validity of 4 weeks. They all include EU roaming. Keep in mind that these plans only offer 4G/LTE.

Similarly to Aldi Talk, you can reload at any Lidl chain nationwide or online. 

Visit the official Lidl Connect website for more information.

5. Aldi Talk (on O2)

Aldi is a major supermarket chain in Germany. Their SIM starter card Aldi Talk costs €9.99 with €10 credit. Keep in mind that they use O2 network so coverage is great in cities but not in rural areas. With all that being said, Aldi Talk has some of the best value plans in the market. 

Here is a list of Aldi Talk’s prepaid plans:

PlanDataCalls and Texts (on-net)Price
Paket S3GBUnlimited€7.99
Paket M6GB Unlimited€12.99
Paket L12GBUnlimited€17.99

All of the listed plans have a validity of 4 weeks. They all include EU roaming. Keep in mind that these plans only offer 4G/LTE.

Buying top-up credits is super convenient since you can do it in any Aldi supermarket nationwide or online.

Visit the official Aldi Talk website for more information.

arriving at airport

Where To Buy A SIM Card After Arriving In Germany

There are different places where you can buy a SIM card once you land in Germany.

The first option that commonly comes to mind is the airport. Whether you’re coming in from Frankfurt Airport or Berlin Airport or any other airport in Germany, we don’t recommend doing this without prior research! You’re likely to find that they’re selling the same packages as the city but for double the price or even more. You may also be faced with very limited options. 

We recommend saving your money and waiting to get a SIM card in the city. You can easily buy SIM cards in phone stores (Telekom, Vodafone, O2), electronic shops (Mediamarkt), grocery stores (Lidl, Aldi), gas stations, and kiosks.

Look ahead of time at prices and locations. That way, if you see a good price at the airport you’ll know it’s a good price. And if it’s not a good price, you’ll feel good about waiting until you get into the city to get your SIM.

After buying your SIM card, you’ll need to activate it. You need these two things:

  • A valid official ID with your name and photo on it, such as your passport or national ID card. 
  • A valid German address (street name, house number, post code). You can use your accommodation’s address.

There are also different ways to activate your SIM card:

1. Registration In Store

If you buy your SIM card from a physical store of any of the three main providers (Telekom, Vodafone, O2), the vendors will register it for you upon presenting your documents.

2. Video Verification

Follow the instructions that come with your SIM card. You’ll be directed to an online platform where you have to present your ID and address through a video call.

3. PostIdent (in post offices)

You can go to a nearby post office that offers PostIdent services to present your passport and a specific print out form that you can find in the website of the operator.

Can I Use A German SIM Card Outside Of Germany?

Yes, you can use a German SIM card outside of Germany. All of the ones listed in this article offer EU roaming. We recommend you read the fine print to see if each particular provider has different rates for Switzerland and the UK.

Can I Use A SIM Card From Elsewhere in Europe In Germany?

Yes, it goes both ways. If you bought your SIM card from another country in Europe but they offer EU roaming, then you won’t have a problem.

We’ll be sharing our current experiences with German SIM cards in our Germany Travel Planning Facebook group so be sure to join the conversation there (it’s free to join)!