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Best Germany SIM Cards For Budget Travellers

Best Germany SIM cards and eSIM apps for 2024

If you're headed to Germany, don't overspend on a Germany SIM card. Here's how to get the best deals while staying connected!


Are you like me, someone who can’t stop connecting to the internet while travelling abroad? If you’re heading to Germany and worried about Germany SIM cards, let me help!

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, these e-SIM cards or traditional SIM cards will keep you connected. Just make sure you don’t get the wrong SIM card because you may end up calling a German Doner kebab shop instead of your mom 🙂

Don’t pay insane data roaming charges to your current carrier anymore! Choose the correct SIM card before your travel to save money. I’ll also explain where to buy these SIM cards, how to activate them, and how to top them up.

Stay connected to the world while you are enjoying the Brandenburg Gate! Just navigate Germany’s stunning cities and share your travel experiences.

Why do you need a Germany SIM card?

Berlin Spree River - © Photo: Patino / Shutterstock
Berlin Spree River – © Photo: Patino / Shutterstock

If you are heading to Germany, you need a local SIM card or e-SIM card for a few reasons. For one, it lets you keep in touch with your family and friends back home without getting charged for roaming by your own carrier. The SIM card lets you use data, make calls, and text at local rates, saving much cash.

The second reason is that you’ll get reliable and fast mobile internet with a German SIM card. An unlimited data plan lets you research local attractions, navigate the streets, and stay connected.

Lastly, having a German SIM card lets you communicate with locals and use local services. Your travel experience improves, and you get to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can make restaurant reservations, book tickets for attractions, and stay updated on local news and information.

If you consider these benefits, it’s clear that a German SIM card is a must-have.

E-SIM providers vs traditional German SIM cards

Berlin Museum Island (Museumsinsel) - © Photo: TTstudio / Shutterstock
Berlin Museum Island (Museumsinsel) – © Photo: TTstudio / Shutterstock

Staying connected while travelling comes in two forms: traditional SIM cards and e-SIM providers. Traditional SIM cards are physical cards you insert into your phone. However, e-SIMs are embedded directly into your smartphone. Let me explain what the difference is.

Traditional SIM cards are widely available and offer a variety of data packages and pricing options. You can choose from various providers and select a plan that suits your needs. However, you must ensure your phone is unlocked before using a new SIM card.

Travelers with e-SIM-compatible devices have a more accessible option with international e-SIM providers. You can switch between carriers with e-SIM, so you don’t have to carry a physical SIM card.

This can be handy if you travel to multiple countries or don’t like handling physical SIM cards. Moreover, an e-SIM card in Germany offers flexibility, so you can switch carriers whenever possible.

Here’s a list of the best e-sim providers. Compare different carriers’ plans and features to find the one that fits your needs best:

Comparison of Traditional Networks in Germany

Berlin Reichstag - © Fotoğraf: frank_peters / Shutterstock
Berlin Reichstag – © Fotoğraf: frank_peters / Shutterstock

Unless you want the miracle of e-SIM, you’re stuck buying a local SIM card then. However, choosing a SIM card provider isn’t easy. Each provider offers different plans, coverage, and pricing, so compare them before committing.

Here are some popular Germany SIM card providers to consider:

ProviderNetworkPriceCoverageSpeedData EU Roaming
Deutsche TelekomTelekom€20-€50BestExcellentYes
VodafoneVodafone€15-€40GoodGoodYes
O2O2€10-€30AverageGoodYes
CongstarTelekom€10-€40ExcellentGoodYes
BlauVodafone€10-€30GoodGoodNo
Aldi TalkVodafone€10-€30GoodGoodNo
Lidl ConnectTelekom€10-€20GoodGoodNo
Ortel MobileVodafone€10-€30GoodGoodNo
LebaraVodafone€10-€30GoodGoodNo

We’ve rounded up the best traditional SIM card options for different needs:

  • Best overall: Telekom (the best internet SIM card in Germany)
  • Best value for money: O2 or Congstar (the best sim card in Germany)
  • Best for travellers: Vodafone (the best prepaid SIM card Germany for tourists)
  • Best for students: Aldi Talk or Lidl Connect
  • Best for prepaid: Lycamobile or Ortel Mobile (cheap prepaid SIM card in Germany)

When choosing a traditional SIM card provider, consider these things:

  • Your usage: If you only use your phone for calls and texts, you can get away with a cheaper plan. If you use a lot of data, you’ll pay more.
  • Coverage needs: If you travel a lot, you’ll need a suitable SIM card everywhere in Germany, including rural areas.
  • Budget: Prices for SIM cards vary according to the provider and the plan you choose.

How to buy a SIM card for travelling Germany?

Berlin Brandenburg Gate - © Photo: TTstudio / Shutterstock
Berlin Brandenburg Gate – © Photo: TTstudio / Shutterstock

You can buy a SIM card using several options, depending on what you’re looking for and how convenient that is for you. Here’s how to do it:

  • SIM cards at airports: Most airports in Germany have kiosks or stores where you can buy them. This option is handy to get started right away. There might be some extra fees at airports compared to other places.
  • eSIM card apps: Select one of the e-SIM card apps we suggested. Use the discount codes we provided to save money.
  • Official Mobile phone stores: Germany has many stores where you can buy SIM cards. The store representatives let you talk to them and ask any questions you might have about their SIM cards. These stores are convenient when buying a SIM card in Germany.
  • Online purchase: If you prefer online shopping, you can buy SIM cards from online retailers. Compare prices and read customer reviews before making a purchase. Buy from a reputable website to ensure you get a genuine SIM card.

Have your passport or ID card with you, as you might need it to register your traditional SIM card. For e-SIM cards, this isn’t necessary.

How to activate your Germany SIM card

Berlin Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall Museum - © Photo: Yeo Khee / Unsplash
Berlin Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall Museum – © Photo: Yeo Khee / Unsplash

To use your mobile network in Germany, your SIM card must be activated. Buy a German SIM card after arriving in Germany. You can also download an e-SIM app to buy and activate an e-SIM card before travelling.

Here’s how to activate your Germany SIM card after you buy one. You can either activate an eSIM (embedded SIM) or a traditional SIM card. Just follow these steps:

e-SIMs (embedded SIMs)

  1. Check if your phone supports eSIM: eSIM isn’t supported by all phones. To check, go to the settings and look for a section called “SIM cards” or “cellular.” If you see an option to add an eSIM, your phone supports it.
  2. Choose an eSIM provider: Compare eSIM plans and choose the one that’s best for you. Some popular eSIM providers include Airalo, KiteMobile, and YohoMobile.
  3. Get an eSIM QR code: After you choose an eSIM provider, you’ll need to get an eSIM QR code from them. You can do this by purchasing an eSIM plan.
  4. Scan the QR code: When you scan the QR code, your phone will automatically detect the e-SIM profile. Using the eSIM app may not need to scan a QR code; it will be downloaded automatically.
  5. Activation: Once the eSIM is activated, you can start making calls, sending texts, and using data.

Traditional SIM card

  1. Get a traditional SIM card: You can get the best SIM card to use in Germany from most phone retailers. These retailers are official carrier stores, online retailers, airport kiosks, post offices and supermarkets.
  2. Find the SIM card slot: You’ll usually find the SIM card slot on the side or back of your phone.
  3. Insert the SIM card: Place the SIM card in the slot and gently push it in until it clicks into place. Make sure the gold contacts are facing up.
  4. Turn on your phone: You’ll see the SIM card, which will automatically activate.
  5. Configure your phone: When your SIM card is activated, you must set up your phone. Check cellular service by entering your account info, choosing a network, and setting up your APN (Access Point Name).
  6. Test your connection: Test your connection by calling or texting. If everything works, you should be able to make and receive calls, send and receive texts, and use data.

Activating your SIM card is easy and takes a few steps. You can activate your SIM card in Germany by following the instructions.

Here are some tips for using a SIM card

Berlin Wall Memorial - © Photo: struvictory / Shutterstock
Berlin Wall Memorial – © Photo: struvictory / Shutterstock

Tips to make the most of your SIM card and make sure you’re having a seamless experience:

  • Look at coverage maps: Check the coverage maps of different providers before your trip. So, you can pick one with reliable coverage where you’re going.
  • Monitor your data usage: Typically, Germany SIM cards come with data allowances. Keep track of your data usage to avoid incurring additional charges. Consider using Wi-Fi whenever you can.
  • Make a top-up: To avoid service interruptions, top up your prepaid SIM card regularly. Most providers offer convenient ways to top up, like through their mobile apps.
  • Save emergency numbers: Putting emergency numbers in your phone contacts is a good idea before a trip. This includes your hotel, local emergency services, and any other contacts you might need.
  • Take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots: You can save data and get faster internet speeds in Germany by using the many free. Wi-Fi hotspots are available in public areas, cafes, and hotels.

Make the most of your Germany prepaid SIM card for tourists and stay connected throughout your trip by following these tips.

If you would ask me,

I wouldn’t recommend you buy a physical SIM card since eSIMs are so easy to purchase and activate. Plus, you have to swap out cards when changing carriers or countries. This means you must manage your contacts, network, and message settings again.

Don’t forget to check out our Travel e-SIM card deals page for the latest eSIM discounts. Select a provider and use a promo code to get your discount.

You’re free to do it traditionally despite my suggestion of an e-SIM. In this case, don’t buy a local SIM card at the airport to avoid paying a high SIM card fee. Instead, use airport Wi-Fi or the airport transfer service’s Wi-Fi until you reach the city centre.

After arriving in the city centre, pop into supermarket chains, post offices or official mobile network stores. You should also stay away from small phone shops to avoid getting scammed. Always go to the official stores of the networks.

No matter what you choose, check coverage, data speeds, and pricing options before deciding. Keep an eye on your data usage to avoid overcharging. Connect free Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you can.

Most UK operators have started adding roaming fees after Brexit. So you’ll get cheap, quality service in Germany with these solutions.

Gute Reise!

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Fatih Ozdemir

Fatih Ozdemir

Fatih, a recent London arrival 🇬🇧 (cup of tea firmly in hand!), founded BudgetFitter ♥︎, a website brimming with tips and tricks to make your money go further. With a knack for web development and design, I craft beautiful and functional websites while my writing empowers folks to save their pennies. When I'm not glued to the keyboard, you might just catch a glimpse of a life less ordinary – perhaps a Eurovision anthem or two escapes every now and then.

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