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Old Oct 16, 12, 3:55 pm   #1
 
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Prepaid SIM - Germany

Picked up a blauworld.de SIM card at Frankfurt airport a few days ago.

Firstly, a hint - If you're buying from FRA airport, do NOT go to the electronics shops there - they will charge 40 Euro for the startup kit. Instead, go to the ReiseBank outlets at the airport who will sell you exactly the same thing for 10 euro!

The startup kit comes with 7.50 Euro credit, which is NOT enough to buy one of their data packs, so you'll need to top it up first which means buying a 15 euro top-up. In theory you can also do this on their website, where there's a minimum 10 euro top-up.

Registration involves going to their website and giving up some personal details, including an address which must be in Germany, however there's no verification of the address.

The website, which has a choice of languages including English pre-login, is German only post-login. Apparently you can use it to do credit card top-ups, but I'll be damned if I could work out how!

I was in Berlin/Frankfurt only, and has no issues with coverage.
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Old Feb 15, 13, 11:41 pm   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docbert View Post
Picked up a blauworld.de SIM card at Frankfurt airport a few days ago.
After a second trip back to Germany I'm going to change my recommendation on Blauworld to "avoid at all cost".

I attempted to top-up my account online with a 10 euro credit card top-up. No problems with the actual topup (despite the entire website being in German once you've logged in), the money was charged to my credit card, and the expiry date on my SIM was increased by another 6(?) months.

However no credit was actually added to my account - it's still sitting at the 4 Euro it was before the top-up. My account history shows no actual topup, although I can view the receipt for it on their website.

2 Emails to them have gone unanswered, and their phone support is charged per minute so by the time the issue was resolved I'd probably have ended up spending more than 10 euro on the call.

I've submitted a chargeback to Amex, so I'll have to see how that goes...
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Old Mar 14, 13, 5:48 am   #3
 
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Is there an acknowledged "best deal" for a mostly-German trip that may include day trips into France (Strasbourg) or Switzerland (Basel)? Something with reasonable costs back to the US or to the UK without absolutely GOUGING for a little bit of data? (We're going with our iPhone 4S handsets that will be unlocked).

If it matters, we're landing in Dusseldorf airport at the crack of dawn and will probably be taking a train to Berlin that day - in case there are convenient purchasing locations that might be more bsaed in reality pricing than an airport shop.
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Old Mar 14, 13, 1:46 pm   #4
 
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I would highly recommend an Aldi Talk prepaid sim if you plan on using prepaid talk/data. These can only be purchased at Aldi supermarkets and use the E-Plus network.
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Old Mar 15, 13, 10:43 am   #5
 
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Germany, like many countries in Europe has MVNO's with fairly decent prices directed at the local immigrant community(MVNO = Mobile Virtual Network Operator, the company has its own identity but the calls are actually carried by an existing large carrier.) Because the immigrants come from many countries, they frequently have websites in English as well as the local language. They also have customer service in English and also usually voice prompts in English.

(Someone mentione Aldi earlier in this thead, Aldi is also an MVNO but not one that caters to immigrants and its website (and presumably customer service) is in German only.)

Sometimes even if the MVNO does not have the very cheapest deal in the market (but frequently they do, particularly for international calls), it can be worth using because there is no language barrier.

In addition to being able to deal with them in English, they frequently have very cheap international rates - sometimes cheaper than their own domestic rates, and usually much cheaper than the non-MVNO carriers.

A few of these companies in Germany are www.lebara.de, http://www.lycamobile.de, http://www.ortelmobile.de/.

When looking at their prices, you need to take into account any bonus they may be offering on topups. In other words, sometimes as a bonus they have a promotion where they add to your topup - e.g., you pay 10 Euro and get 15 Euro of credit.

Some offer free SIM cards - you can order online and it will be sent to your hotel. It appears that in Germany you can activate the SIM online without the need to show up somewhere with your ID.

One thing to watch for when comparing mobile rates is that practically every MVNO carrier that caters to the immigrant communities has a per call connection charge. So, you may see a rate of 1 cent a minute, but there may also be a 15 cent or more connection charge. This is all usually disclosed on the website.
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Old Mar 16, 13, 10:18 pm   #6
 
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I use Fonic (which is the discount brand of O2).

I use their daily rate for data -- "unlimited" data for €2.50 day, tethering and VOIP explicitly allowed (so I mostly use Skype to call back to the US). They also have a smartphone option with is €9.95 for 500MB of data good for a month. Calls to the US, any German number or any EU landline are 9cents/min. Call from France would follow the Euro Tariff, don't know about Switzerland.

I actually bought mine at the Rossmann store on Flinger Strasse in the D-dorf Altstadt. Also available at some Müller and Phone House stores.

There is one kicker -- you have to register with a German address, to which they send a letter with all the legal details. If that gets returned, they suspend the account (can be re-activated with a phone call). Most people I know used their hotel address or a German friend.

Some more info here.
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Old Apr 8, 13, 10:34 am   #7
 
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E-plus

Two years ago I used E-plus (green awnings, all over Germany) for a two week visit from USA.

NOTES
Very helpful. No cost for the sim chip. Helped me activate it in the store.

Seemed to have two pricing plans, one had low cost German calls, high cost international. The other vice-versa. I went with the low cost international.

Was not interested in data, just voice, so can't comment on data rates.
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Old Apr 8, 13, 3:31 pm   #8
 
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I'd second using MVNOs-- especially in Germany. I use Lebara Mobile each time I'm there. The website and customer call centers are all in English and a couple other languages. 9.90EUR/month for 500MB data, then it switches back to 2G after that. Only 1ct/minute for calls back to the USA (landline or mobile), and it uses the T-Mo network so no issues with coverage.
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Old Apr 9, 13, 7:42 am   #9
 
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Any recommendations on vendors that would be available at the Dusseldorf airport or train station? We're landing early morning and taking the train from there to Berlin.
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Old Apr 9, 13, 9:37 am   #10
 
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I've been using a SIM from Vodafone.DE in my unlocked iPhone 4S (as well as in my Android phone) using the Prepaid CallYa Smartphone Fun S tariff while in Germany. I toggle on a flat rate data tariff when I'm there to get some fast data and then it slows down after some usage to slower data for the rest of a month. Easy to get top up codes at many places, only had to show my Passport when getting the SIM at the store the first time.
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Old Apr 9, 13, 11:29 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djplong View Post
Any recommendations on vendors that would be available at the Dusseldorf airport or train station? We're landing early morning and taking the train from there to Berlin.
How necessary is it for you to get your SIM card immediately upon arrival? I would suggest waiting to get it in Berlin as it will be much cheaper in some random store versus the airport.

The airport stores are known to charge more for those basic, cheap items-- especially SIM cards.
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Old Apr 9, 13, 1:08 pm   #12
 
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I never go bargain hunting when in Germany, and have always found the local Vodafone shops friendly and knowledgable. They're by no means the cheapest but last time I topped up, I was able to get the website to type English at me.
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Old Apr 10, 13, 9:25 am   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djplong View Post
Is there an acknowledged "best deal" for a mostly-German trip that may include day trips into France (Strasbourg) or Switzerland (Basel)? Something with reasonable costs back to the US or to the UK without absolutely GOUGING for a little bit of data? (We're going with our iPhone 4S handsets that will be unlocked).

If it matters, we're landing in Dusseldorf airport at the crack of dawn and will probably be taking a train to Berlin that day - in case there are convenient purchasing locations that might be more bsaed in reality pricing than an airport shop.
O2 Loop EU Day Pack is €1.99/day for 25MB. Probably the best prepaid deal for roaming.
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Old Apr 10, 13, 9:28 am   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PurduExpat37 View Post
How necessary is it for you to get your SIM card immediately upon arrival? I would suggest waiting to get it in Berlin as it will be much cheaper in some random store versus the airport.

The airport stores are known to charge more for those basic, cheap items-- especially SIM cards.
And there's no point in having it on the train to Berlin. 3G (and even Edge) coverage is awful on basically any DB route I've ever been on. You might be lucky to refresh your facebook news feed once, and it'll probably take you most of the trip to find those 15 seconds of good coverage.
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Old May 14, 13, 7:39 am   #15
 
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I've looked on Lycamobile's and Lebara's websites and it doesn't seem as if they have SIM cards compatible with the iPhone 5. What's my best bet there? All I'm really interested in is data and an occasional text message.
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