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Calling in Spain - providers, costs & tips

Are you in Spain for a longer period and do you need a local SIM card? We give you an overview of the best Spanish mobile and landline providers and many tips about the mobile Internet.
Prepaid SIM cards and mobile internet in Spain (© blackzheep - Fotolia.com)

Mobile internet in Spain

Since June 2017, no more roaming charges have been levied within the EU. This means that you can use your tariff - including free minutes and data volume - without restrictions in Spain. Surfing the Internet on the go is no problem anywhere in Spain.

This works wonderfully for one to two weeks vacation a year. However, if you plan to stay in Spain for a longer period of time, it is worth buying a Spanish SIM card and using the local tariffs. In the following we explain everything you need to know.

The Spanish mobile network providers at a glance

The competition in Spanish mobile communications is as tough as that in Germany. There are four major providers:

  • Movistar (also landline)
  • Orange (also landline)
  • Vodafone (also landline)
  • Yoigo

Movistar is the largest mobile operator, but Vodafone currently has the best 4G / LTE network coverage in Spain. The values ​​of the four providers do not differ too much from one another. However, if you travel a lot in rural areas, a SIM card from Yoigo is not recommended.

The large operators also rent out their networks to smaller providers. Here is a selection:

  • Movistar network: DIGI mobil, Lycamobile, Tuenti
  • Vodafone network: HITS mobile, Lebara móvil
  • Orange network: Happy Móvil, Llamaya móvil, MASmóvil, República Móvil, Simyo, Freedom Pop

There is also the independent British landline operator OliveNet and the British mobile operator Lobster on the Costa del Sol.

Buy a prepaid SIM card in Spain

A prepaid card is the fastest way for foreigners in Spain to get a local phone number. As in Germany, you have to identify yourself with an ID, passport or driver's license when purchasing. If you have your permanent residence in Spain, you will also be able to work after your N.I.E. (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) asked.

You can buy prepaid SIM cards in Spain over the Internet, in shops and supermarkets.

Tip: If you want to move to Spain, it is worth buying a new smartphone in Germany beforehand. The prices in Spain are more expensive for most models than in Germany.

Cost of a prepaid SIM card

The costs for a data volume are slightly lower than in Germany, but you get fewer free minutes. The cheapest prepaid tariffs at Orange start at 9.95 euros (Go Walk tariff) for 5 GB of data and 20 free minutes. For 19.95 euros (GO-Fly) you get 15 GB and 80 minutes included.

Vodafone has 25 GB of data and 150 minutes (tariff Traveler) 20 euros on offer. The tariff is valid for 4 weeks and is then renewed automatically.

Movistar is significantly more expensive. Here you get only 15 GB of data volume with 80 free minutes for 20 euros.

The British provider Lobster from Gibraltar with headquarters in Spain offers an annual SIM card with a monthly data volume of 25 MB for 24 euros. The best thing about Lobster is that you can take a break of up to 9 months. This is ideal if you are only occasionally on the Costa. It is also possible to cancel the SIM card on a monthly basis.

On the Lobster website there is a map with the shops on the Costa, where you can purchase the Lobster SIM card for a one-time fee of 5 euros. Before you go there, call ahead to see if the shop still exists and if the stated opening times are correct. The activation takes place after the usual identification documents have been sent online by telephone.

It takes getting used to that after sending an SMS you have to manually enter the detailed data for the Lobster Internet service into your smartphone. The lobster hotline is friendly and competent, but you have to wait a long time for a connection.

Costs for permanent internet via fiber optic lines

Vodafone and Movistar (O2) offer monthly tariffs that range from 33 to 50 euros. The subscription period is at least 1 year. This is uneconomical for tourists who only occasionally stay in their holiday home in Spain.

That is why the company OliveNet on the Costa del Sol offers a landline connection, with which you can also pause for up to 9 months. A minimum of three full monthly fees must be paid per year.

A 100 Mbit fiber optic connection costs 19.90 euros per month. There is also a one-time fee of 59 euros for the router. The one-time fee does not apply if you commit yourself for at least 18 months. 18 months means 18 paid months! You have to clarify by phone whether the fiber optic cable from OliveNet can even be connected in your house, you have to arrange an installation date and plan at least a waiting time of 14 days.

Since you install the connection permanently in your house / holiday apartment, OliveNet assumes that you have a Spanish NIE number and that you send a copy of the NIE certificate to OliveNet by email. The quickest way to find out for yourself whether OliveNet might be possible for you is to activate WLAN with your German mobile phone and see whether there is an Internet connection with the name Olive in your area. In addition, you have to print out a 9-page Spanish application form online, fill it out offline and sign it in 7 places, scan the whole thing again and send it to OliveNet by email.

Make sure that someone is available on the installation date who knows where the connections for telephone, cable TV and Internet are in your residential complex. From there, the OliveNet installer will have to lay fiber optic cables through what will hopefully be the empty conduits into your apartment.

After physically installing OliveNet's Huawei router, you should change your SSID and WiFi password. Otherwise the SSIDs are all called "WiFi_OliveNet_x.y" and it is difficult to find your SSID from the multitude of other similar SSIDs from OliveNet when establishing the connection. To change your SSID, you have to call the OliveNet hotline. To change your WiFi password, you have to overwrite the existing WiFi standard password with your own using the Huawei administration tool, whose IP address and login data can be found on the underside of the router. Since there is no control by entering it twice, you should write the new password in an editor so that you can read it yourself, and then copy / paste the field in which the old password appears as a sequence of dots with this new password , overwrite.

Remember that your router has two SSIDs, one for the 2.4G network and one for the 5G network. You have to change the WiFi password for both SSIDs! To ensure that nothing goes wrong, you should first change the WiFi password for 5G and then test whether you can use it to dial into your WiFi from your smartphone. If that works, you can then change the password for 2.4G. 2.4G is more important than 5G.

At the same time you can also change the root password for the Huawei admin tool. Entering it twice is mandatory here. The userid »root« cannot be changed.

The OliveNet telephone hotline, like all telephone hotlines in the world, is overloaded. Therefore, I recommend using the chat in case of technical problems. If you have typed your question there, nothing will happen at first. After 5 minutes you will receive an email asking you to continue with the chat. If you now click on the corresponding button, you will end up in nirvana. Instead, you should return to the chat, where a greeting is usually already waiting for you. Unfortunately, after each of your own entries, you will receive an email from OliveNet like the one just described. Don't let that stop you from continuing to use chat. You can also attach screenshots there.

Spanish phone numbers

The international code for Spain is 0034 / +34. Mobile phone numbers start with 6 or 7, followed by 8 digits (e.g. 612.345.678). Landline numbers always begin with a 9. All telephone numbers that begin with '900' are free.

Travel vouchers

Current vouchers and discounts for your Andalusia vacation: