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There are MUCH cheaper options for your smartphone, iphone & ipad data in Germany!

I just had to write on this subject.  So many of us PCS (move) to Germany, and we assume our only choice for cell phone service is through contracts or EXPENSIVE pre-paid options hovering around 40-50 euros from the majors…Telekom,Vodafone and O2.  If you go through the contracted company at your nearest PX (such as TKS used to be), it may be even higher, or they will talk you into an expensive contract that is almost impossible to get out of.  Not all carriers reach every town, and things can change in your status where you’d like to change service.  I’m here to tell you there are MUCH cheaper and more flexible options.

I say flexible, because with prepaid, you can switch back and forth as often as you choose.  You can even port your number over.  It’s always cheaper to be on the same network as the people you call, and if your DH gets issued a work “handy” (this is what Germans call cell phones), you’ll want to be on the same network.

I’d like for you to compare the three companies below.  You can choose different levels of data.  You can get unlimited data for as low as 10 euro a month!  See below for details.  Always check directly at their sites for the latest, as deals do change! (on the Vodafone network)

Viel Surfer Paket, 5 euro a month

  • 150 MB Data volume
  • Speed max. 384 kbit/s
  • Daily ca. 30 E-Mails send/receive, 2 hours surfing and using Apps
  • You can use ipad, tether, surfstick and IM

Surf Flatrate, 10 euro a month

  • unlimited data volume
  • Speed 500 MB
  • Unlimited emails, web surfing, apps, etc

Surf Flatrate XL, 15 euro a month

  • step up from Surf Flatrate but speeds of 1 GB
  • Ideal for ipad, netbook and surfstick the E-Plus network)

Smart Option is 9,99 euro for 30 days

  • Internet-Flat (200 MB Highspeed)
  • 100 Minutes in all German networks (the other cell carriers, as well as landline)
  • 100 SMS in all German networks
  • Anything beyond that is under the 9 Cent Tariff
  •  25 € extra charge for number porting

Allnet Flat is 19,99 euro for 30 days (unfortunately, I just noticed this requires a 24 month contract)

  • Flat rate in all German cell phone networks
  • Flat rate in German landline network (this is called Festnetz)
  • Flat rate for Internet (500 MB Highspeed)
  • Option to port number
  • Optional upgrades such as SMS-Flatrate 5 €/Monat

There is also an option where you pay as you go for everything, 9 cents a minute. (on the O2 network)

Fonic Classic, 9,99 euro for the starter pack

  • 9 cents minute calls/SMS
  • 24 cents MB for internet and app usage

Fonic Classic Internet for 9,95 euro month

  • 9 cents minute calls/SMS
  • 500 MB a month internet and app usage

Fonic Smart for 16,95 euro month

  • 500 free minutes calls/SMS
  • 500 MB a month internet and app usage

To get these SIM cards, you can either order the SIMs plus pay postage directly from their sites to your German address OR you can visit your nearest Shell gas station locally.  The packets are usually hanging over by the magazines and will get activated after your purchase.  Once you put the SIM in your phone and follow the easy steps involved to set it up, you’ll have your connection in about an hour.  I believe Fonic has the only SIMs that are both regular sized and micro in one. You’ll need the micro SIM for your ipad or later model iphone.   For the other two providers, you have to specify if you need a regular SIM (like for an iphone 3) or a micro SIM when you order on their site.

The best part of these deals, is that they run on the same networks as the majors, so you are getting the same coverage and clarity as when you pay MORE!

Since I just moved from Belgium, I’m going to share my two cents there too.  Overwhelmingly, Mobile Vikings is the best and cheapest option for data for your smartphone or tablet!  Their website is also in English and is geared towards English speakers and expats.  I paid about 15 euro a month when we lived there.

A quick word about roaming outside of your home country.  I can say it’s not as expensive as you may think for occasional use.  I had to use internet and make phone calls in  Spain during an airline strike, and it only cost a few euros a few hours later.  Don’t be afraid to use it…just don’t overuse it!   As of right now, there is no cheap option to use data Europe-wide from any carrier.  When I get a chance, I’ll talk more about free wifi networks and other such goodies.

Oh, and before I end, I did take a poll to find out everyone’s favorite provider on the LLMW Facebook page….inconclusive!  Every carrier got similar votes.  I can tell you that Telekom is the oldest and most established and is the baby of the government-owned telephone company way back when.  I personally liked Vodafone when we were in Stuttgart, mostly because I could get connected in the building I worked in and the PX (Telekom could not). O2 is the newcomer and many swear by their customer service.  Here are the coverage maps where you can see what areas are covered by the different networks to help you make a decision.  Also be sure to talk to folks on your individual base or post, as each have different coverages.  Calling net = Sprachnet; Datennetz = Data:

If you have anything to add that may help others, please comment below!  I’d love to hear your experiences!




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13 Responses to “There are MUCH cheaper options for your smartphone, iphone & ipad data in Germany!”

  1. Crystal @ Little Sightseers says:

    This is interesting! I wonder how fast the data plans are for these cheaper plans? I’m starting my graduate program soon, and it would be nice to have my lap top and or iPad connected while I’m in classes. I’ll have to look over these and see if its a reasonable option for me. I went with TKS for my iPhone and have been pretty happy with the service and price so far. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Katie says:

    Yes, do check the amount of internet that comes with these plans. I currently have a vodaphone plan that is sold as “unlimited internet” but you only get the first 200MB at high speed….anything after that is throttled to incredibly slow speeds until your plan charges again the next month. Frequently it is so slow pages won’t load. I’m continuing to look around for the most data at high speed….I think that would be worth a few more Euro per month.

    This is a HUGE change in our lifestyle!

  3. Jerry says:

    Thanks for that information! I have noticed that mobile phone service is really expensive here in Europe and it is good to see that there are options. In the Balkan region even the insurance for expensive phones is cost prohibitive, let alone the service itself. Not to mention that data service often leads to unacceptably slow function. Thanks again…

  4. joseph says:

    Based on Katie’s comment above, it would be really really really cool if you added a spreadsheet depicting the information above and included a column that showed data speed over time. For example, Katie noted that the first 200 MB of data on vodaphone is high speed. How does the speed degrade over time? Do any of the other companies offer high speed data regardless of data usage? I would definitely pay more. I use about 2 GB a month in the US (skype video, map applications, photos, etc.) I’m PCSing to Deutchland in 3 weeks and I’d really appreciate the info!

  5. admin says:

    If you go to the sites, it’ll tell you when your data gets throttled. I leave that for you to find out! I’ve provided the links for you to research further! You can use a translator and if something doesn’t translate right, you can always ask me.

  6. Amy T says:

    I have a plan through LIDL mobile (fonic network). Flat-rate internet is 6.95 E a month. Calls to the states are 9c per minute as well as inside fonic, and outside the network is more (32 cents maybe?) with a 40 E cap for the month. I even have it set up online to automatically load more when my balance drops below a certain level. I have never reached my internet limit, (when the speed drops down) but I do have home internet as well. I have also never reached the 40E cap for the month for minutes, and I do not have a landline phone. Much cheaper than my friends with a contract phone. The cost initally was more because I needed an unlocked smartphone, but it has paid off since then.

  7. admin says:

    Here is a chart from the website that compares them to Vodafone, O2, Base and Simyo. Of course it only compares ONE of each plan from each company. In the end, it’ll depend how much you surf and how much you text and call to see which plan works best for you.

    For example, I use Fyve for my iphone, because I really don’t text as much since I use the free Textplus app which is covered by my unlimited flatrate internet rate, and I rarely make phone calls (but that’s just me).

    For my husband’s iphone, he uses the highest level at Fonic at 16,99 and it is a flat rate for ALL of the above. I ended up getting Fonic for my flatrate too because I don’t text or call on there at all…again, I use Textplus so I don’t use the regular texting app which would cost extra if I have one of their lower tiered plans.

    I think you get the idea:-)

  8. admin says:

    Amy, thanks for providing yet another option! I had forgotten all about the grocery store Lidl. I think there might be some other grocery chains that have service too…funny how they all go back to the same networks, so two people can be paying hugely different fees on the SAME network!

  9. Jessica K says:

    We live on Rose Barracks. My husband says that the guys in his unit get the best reception with T-mobile. Do you know what cheaper prepaids use T-Mobile towers and offer internet? TIA :)

  10. victa says:

    Has anybody used Media Markt to by smart phone and service? I was looking at there phones for 29.Euros and monthly service anywhere in Germany 100 minutes with free internet and texting. Are they just like the others trying to get a contract?

  11. s.bolton says:

    Any more information on media market?

  12. admin says:

    Media Markt is great for cheap prepaid and unlocked phones but not so good with prepaid providers. I think they only carry the major providers…or at least they did the last time I was in there…so no,,, etc.

  13. BradD says:

    Wish we had options like that over here in the US, although I haven’t really looked into our prepaid options much. Some of the big name providers (Verizon, ATT, etc) are finally getting competitive with the pricing fortunately though!

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