Are you looking for a reliable mobile network provider in Germany? In general, for a network, you will have three options to choose from. On the other hand, Germany has tens of different SIM card providers operating on main mobile networks. So what do you need to know about local mobile providers to choose the optimal deal?
The fact is that you will need a German SIM card if you are coming to Germany. This article will help you to decide which network and SIM card providers to choose from. We give an overview of the mobile networks in Germany, mobile providers, and the best SIM cards and mobile plans for any situation.
Also, read our guide on the best SIM cards in Germany.
Mobile networks in Germany
Germany is quite a monopolistic country where one major telecommunication company Telekom has the most control over mobile networks and internet connections. It’s also the biggest problem in Germany because Telekom was slow in innovations and network development; hence, you can see that the internet is lacking and expensive.
Read more about why the internet is so bad in Germany in this post.
Overall, Germany has 3 main mobile networks:
- O2 (Telefónica)
All SIM card providers in Germany are using one of those mobile networks. O2 is the cheapest network in the country. This means that no matter which mobile contract you have, you always make calls and surf the internet on one of these three mobile networks.
All these mobile networks differ in some way and have different coverage. For example, Telekom operates the D1 network, Vodafone the D2 network, and the O2 network has an E network.
Usually, providers who use the O2 network tend to be the cheapest, and Vodafone will be slightly more expensive, the highest price you will pay for Telekom.
During the German mobile network test, all providers received a “very good” rate. All of them offer 4G internet, and sometimes you can even get a 5G.
O2 has a wide range of SIM cards that you can choose from. Additionally, many third-party companies provide SIM cards that use the O2 network, e.g., affordable WinSim.
German Telekom is probably the most common network you will come around. They are also ahead of the other operators in expanding the 5G network.
You can choose a contract with or without a new phone. They also have a line of prepaid SIM cards. However, Telekom charges higher prices than other network providers.
Vodafone is the second largest network provider in Germany. The company has a variety of mobile plans. The company has various mobile plans: with or without contact, with or without a new phone, and special prices for young people under 28 years.
They have good and stable coverage across the country.
O2 is originally a Spanish telecommunication company with a significant German market share. It’s the third-largest network provider and the most affordable option in Germany.
Mobile network coverage in Germany
Coverage isn’t equal in whole Germany. Overall, the network quality is very good in Germany. In the countryside, however, O2 is still lagging behind.
Even if the network operators receive good and very good overall ratings, this, unfortunately, doesn’t mean that Germany keeps up with other European countries in terms of network coverage. There are still many places lacking a 4G connection.
Problems while traveling by train
You might have noticed the disappearance of mobile connection or internet while taking intercity trains in Germany. Yes, the stability of the network is lacking behind.
If you have to take an intercity train regularly, Telekom was ranked the best (score of 1.53) in the connectivity in trains, in a second-place is Vodafone (1.76) and O2 (1.79) just showed slightly lower results.
However, Vodafone is the best if you need to make calls on long-distance trains, and Telekom is the best for surfing the web.
Best German prepaid SIM cards for mobile data
If you are looking for a prepaid SIM card just for internet usage, we recommend these providers.
- O2 Prepaid
- ALDI Talk
- Blau Allnet Smart
- Vodafone CallYa Allnet
- O2 Free M
1. Prepaid from O2
Price: 9,99 EUR/month (3,5 GB) to 19,99/month (12,5 GB)
O2 offers a wide range of prepaid SIM cards, where you pay 9 cents per minute of call and SMS. O2 packages have significant amounts of the internet; with Prepaid S, you get 3,5 GB, Prepaid M – 6,5, and Prepaid L – 12,5 GB. Sim cards will cost 9,99 EUR, 14,99 EUR and 19,99 EUR respectively.
The O2 reception in cities is excellent, whereas, if you spend a lot of time in rural areas, it’s not the best option out there.
Generally, prices vary from 0 EUR per month up to 20 EUR. Prepaid M costs 14,99 EUR and offers 6,5 GB of mobile data. L package is excellent for someone needing a large amount of internet. 19,99 EUR per month will get you 12,5 GB. All deals include unlimited calls and SMS.
Highlights of O2 prepaid SIM cards:
- No or short-term contract for 4 weeks
- Internet LTE 4G + EU roaming
- 25 EUR Bonus
- Free SIM card and shipping
2. ALDI Talk
Price: 7,99 EUR/month (3 GB) to 17,99/month (12 GB)
ALDI Talk has affordable prepaid SIM cards based on the O2 network. The S package offers 3 GB of data for 7,99 EUR, M has 6 GB, and L – 12 GB. The prices for SIM cards respectively: 7,99 EUR, 12,99 EUR, and 17,99 EUR.
ALDI talk SIM cards can be purchased in all ALDI supermarkets, which you will see everywhere in Germany.
- Prepaid SIM card
- 10 EUR starting credit
- Unlimited calls & SMS
- No contract
- 10 EUR basic fee
- No minimum turnover
If you opt for a free ALDI SIM card (no monthly fee), calls and SMS will cost you 0,11 EUR per min/SMS.
Price: 9,99 EUR/month (3 GB) to 29,99/month (15 GB)
Currently offering prepaid SIM card deal for 2,99 EUR per month and 3 GB data.
Lebara is the only telecommunication provider in Germany that offers an English website and customer service. It uses theTelekom network, which is overall more expensive (and higher quality!). Hence, their SIM cards are more pricey too.
With Lebara, you can get a starter SIM card for free or for 9,99 EUR per month, giving you 3 GB of 5G data.
You can also upgrade to 14,99 EUR per month and enjoy 10 GB of data plus 250 min of calls to 50 countries. The most expensive deal costs 29,99 EUR per month and includes:
- 15 GB of data
- Unlimited calls
- 1000 free minutes to 50 countries
You also don’t need to sign any contracts with this provider. Moreover, based on over 1,6k reviews, Lebara receives a rate of 4.41 out of 5. As a bonus, Lebara has its website and support in English in addition to German.
Order a Lebara SIM card online, and it will be sent to your address within 48 hours. Get your SIM card here.
Price: 4,99 EUR/month (2 GB) to 19,99/month (20 GB)
WinSim provides probably the cheapest deals for everyone in Germany. 2 GB data for just 4,99 EUR, I doubt if there are other companies offering these low rates. You can get 9 GB of data for as low as 8,99 EUR per month.
Generally, WinSim deals range from:
- 4,99 EUR – 2GB
- 8,99 EUR- 9 GB
- 11,11 EUR- 15 GB
- 19,99 EUR – 20 GB
WinSim uses O2 as a network provider. All SIM cards also include EU roaming, so you can surf the internet while traveling for free. A customer has an option to sign for a 24-month contract or get a SIM card with no commitment at the same price! Stay connected and flexible in Germany with WinSim.
5. Blau Allnet Smart
Price: 6,99 EUR/month (3 GB) to 14,99/month (15 GB)
Blau Allnet Smart is a prepaid SIM card hosted by the telecommunication company O2. It’s a good budget option for students: already for 7,99 EUR, you will get 3 GB of internet. The speed for all SIM cards is 25 MBit – download and 11,2 MBit/s – upload.
If you are willing to sign a contract, Blau ensures even lower prices. 6,99 EUR per month gets you 3 GB, including unlimited calls and SMS. Blau Allnet M gives you 6 GB of data, unlimited calls & SMS, and EU roaming for only 8,99 EUR per month. And for 9,99 EUR, you will get the entire 10 GB of data!
Lastly, Allnet Plus gets you 15 GB of data for 14,99 EUR per month. It’s a great deal.
All these deals are available if you are ready to sign a 24-month-long contract. For someone not willing to commit, the provider has prepaid SIMs:
- Free SIM and pay as you go
- 3 GB for 7,99 EUR
- 6 GB for 12,99 EUR
6. Vodafone CallYa Allnet
Price: 9,99 EUR/month (6 GB) to 20,00/month (18 GB)
Vodafone is one of the biggest network providers in Germany. They have many branches in Germany where you can get personal assistance if needed. With the package CallYa Allnet S you get 6 GB, 200 min of calls plus sms for 9,99 EUR per month.
You can get a SIM card with Vodafone Strat just for 4,99 EUR, 1 GB internet is included.
A more extensive package CallYa Digital costs 14,99 and 20 EUR per month and offers 8 GB and 18 GB of data plus calls & SMS.
- Free SIM card – pay as you go
- 4,99 EUR – 1 GB
- 9,99 EUR – 3 GB
- 14,99 EUR – 8 GB
- 20 EUR – 18 GB
7. O2 Free M
Price: 29,99 EUR/month (20 GB)
O2 also has SIM cards for someone looking for higher internet speed and more data for an affordable price. For example, you can get 20 GB, with speed up to 225 MBit/s for 29,99 EUR per month; all calls and SMS within Germany are included in the price!
- 20 GB internet
- Unlimited calls and SMS flat to all German networks
- Speed up to 225 Mbit/s with 4G and up to 300 Mbit/s with 5G network
The price of the sim card
For most mobile plans in Germany, you will need to pay a single fixed price just for the SIM card. It’s usually 9,99 EUR; only a few providers will issue a SIM card for free, for example, WinSim. For all SIM cards from Telekom, you must pay a single price of 9,95 EUR.
What are the best mobile deals for the internet in Germany?
Mobile plans in Germany differ between prepaid plans and plans with a contract. A prepaid option is more suitable for someone staying shorter than a 1-year period.
Moreover, German contracts can be pretty difficult to cancel. You can read in this post, how to cancel a mobile contract in Germany if you are in this situation.
With prepaid mobile plans, you need to top up credit to use data or do calls. You can choose from a few postpaid tariffs where the provider will invoice you at the end of the month for the used mobile service.
Before you get a German mobile number, it’s good to consider which option is more suitable: a mobile contract or a prepaid SIM card.
A prepaid SIM card must be topped up regularly, and with a signed mobile contract, you pay a fixed monthly fee each time.
|Mobile contract||Prepaid SIM Card|
|1. Great for long-term stay (>1 year)|
2. Includes fast internet, unlimited call, text
3. Has long cancellation notice
4. Requires German address and German bank account (IBAN)
|1. Best for a short-term stay|
2. Best for low budget
3. No contract and no cancelation period
4. Slow & expensive internet
Ultimately, in most cases, you will get more internet for a lower price with a contract. The unbeatable advantage of prepaid SIM is its flexibility – you can switch providers anytime or just stop using the card.
Prepaid/no contract SIM cards
Prepaid also means pay-as-you-go. Most of the mobile plans you will see in Germany are prepaid SIMs. In this case, you first purchase a SIM card and after activate it by top-up the balance.
Prepaid SIM cards are best suitable for people staying in Germany short term, less than a year.
The main benefit of a prepaid plan is no commitment to any contract. But once you run out of balance, you won’t be able to use it. Luckily, recharging credit is very easy in Germany. Usually, you can do it via your mobile app or by buying credit at any kiosk or supermarket.
Benefits prepaid mobile plans offer:
- No contract: you can quit anytime
- You pay only when using mobile services
- It’s cheap: prepaid rates can be used inexpensively, thanks to the special packages
- Flexibility: you can change your plan any time, book more/faster internet, etc.
Yet, prepaid deals have their negatives too:
- Slow internet: prepaid SIM cards are known to have very slow internet with limited speed.
- Expensive internet: in addition to the slow speed, the internet can be pretty expensive.
With a contract, you pay the bill for the used service at the end of the month. The amount is usually deducted from your banking account automatically. Whereas with prepaid, you must top up a credit yourself in advance.
A postpaid plan is more suitable for people who will stay a long time in Germany because you will commit to a 12 or 24 months contract. Postpaid deals are also called “Tariffe mit Vertrag” in Germany or tariffs with a contract.
Cell phone contract
Another option to get a mobile plan in Germany is together with a cell phone. This is pretty common in Germany and Austria. You will basically buy a phone which is accompanied by a mobile plan.
However, the payment for the phone is stretched over 24 month period. The mobile company will deduct money automatically by the end of every month for a phone and used mobile data.
The benefit of this option is that you are getting a new phone and at the same time having access to the bigger data plans.
Short-term SIM cards for internet in Germany
In general, you can cancel almost any prepaid SIM card in Germany at any time you want. Prepaid deals are also the cheapest option if you need a mobile network and data just for a limited time.
But even if you don’t cancel the SIM card, you won’t have to pay a monthly fee since you aren’t using the service. Some prepaid plans will require a cancellation period, but it’s usually no more than 1 month.
You can purchase a SIM card online or go to one of the offices of Telekom, Vodafone, or O2. Some of them can be purchased in supermarkets, like Aldi and Lidl.
When buying a SIM card online, it will be delivered to you to the address you have written in order. The process works very well; I have ordered one SIM card online too.
Cheapest SIM card for mobile data in Germany
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Will German internet be valid in the EU?
All German mobile plans will allow you to use the internet on the phone across the EU at no additional cost. However, be prepared to pay high prices for data when entering EEA countries and Switzerland. German SIM cards won’t cover the internet at German rates in that case.
Compare mobile plans and networks in Germany
You can also compare all existing SIM cards, providers, and rates in Germany via the platform Verivox.de. The search engine will give you information on:
- SIM cards with and without a phone contact
- Initial and monthly cost of the sim card
- Amount of mobile internet
- Contract duration
- Internet speed
- Price per call & SMS
How to get a mobile plan in Germany?
Firstly you can’t buy a SIM card in Germany without a valid ID. When ordering a SIM card online, you must leave the address where it will be delivered. This can be your address or the address of a friend in Germany. Yet, it must be a German address.
If you decide to sign a mobile contract, you will need to present your ID and proof of address. Again it can be your place or the place of your friend.
If you’re signing up for anything other than a prepaid plan, you’ll also be subjected to a credit check on top of this.
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