Low-cost German cell service provider
July 16, 2010 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Germany filter: What is my best option for a low-priced cell phone plan that will ideally include cheap international calling? No data, contracts possible.

I'm about to set off to Germany for a few years of volunteer service, and am wondering what to do about my cell phone situation. I already have a European cell phone (from studying abroad in the UK, as well as travels in Germany), so won't need to purchase another one. I already have a German O2 prepaid sim, but would be fine buying a new one if necessary. Anyways, here are my requirements:

1) Cannot be ridiculously expensive. (This is relative... ideally, it would be under 40 EUR/month, extra points if it's less.)
2) Would be some sort of all-inclusive OR pay-as-you-go type thing -- basically, I don't want bills at the end of the month or to have to keep track of my minutes/texts past seeing how much money I have left on my phone.
3) I'd like to be able to place international calls relatively easily and cheaply, or to have a deal like I had when I was on O2 in the UK, where I got x number of free international minutes based on the amount I had topped up in the previous month. (The latter would be preferable, but I've been poking around German cell phone providers' websites and couldn't find anything.) If this won't work out, I'd be fine using Skype or GoogleVoice or whatever, but it would be nice to have it on my phone.
4) Would remain reasonably inexpensive when traveling outside of Germany, since I'll be traveling outside of Germany (but within the EU) as part of my job.

Relevant information:
1) I'll be there for at least two years, so would be down with getting a contract. I'll also have a German bank account.
2) I don't need data -- my phone is pretty basic.
3) I'm 20 and will possibly have Zivi status, so am eligible for a lot of the discount Tarifs.
4) I speak German fluently, so am fine navigating websites and such on my own.

I searched and read through past posts, but couldn't find anything super relevant. I've never shopped for a cell phone plan anywhere before, and so doing it in a nonnative language is a little more overwhelming.

Thanks for your help!
posted by naturalog to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ack, additional information that I meant to include but didn't:
By international calling, I really just mean calling the USA. Ideally, I'd be able to call landlines and mobile phones, but I know that a lot of places make calling cell phones a lot more expensive.
posted by naturalog at 11:27 PM on July 16, 2010

Explore Stiftung Warentest's website for comparisons of providers and plans. You can usually find old issues on bittorrent, but it's worth subscribing.
posted by stereo at 12:19 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought a prepaid SIM card from solomo.de - it was quite cheap for calling the US from Germany. I don't recall if there were contract options, but you could load it via bank account or credit card, with automatic refills if you wanted.

This has an overview of prepaid SIM cards for Germany that I found useful. I didn't do any comparison shopping for cell phone contracts, so I don't know the score there.
posted by that possible maker of pork sausages at 12:22 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Would be some sort of all-inclusive OR pay-as-you-go type thing -- basically, I don't want bills at the end of the month or to have to keep track of my minutes/texts past seeing how much money I have left on my phone."

The O2O tarrif is good for this. No contract, no flat fee per month, you just pay what you've used at the end of the month. As well as that your national calls/texts will never exceed €42,50 (though tbh I doubt you'd be spending that much anyway). I don't think the international calls are very cheap, but you'll have a tough time finding a service where they are. Much better to get a phone card as pointed out above. I looked for a phone with Skype (like the 3 Skype phone in the UK) and they just don't do it here. For roaming within Europe the EU has a set a maximum per minute and per text cost that is quite low, so almost all networks will be the same for that.
posted by tsh at 2:05 AM on July 17, 2010

google voice or equiavalent paired with the free incoming calls you can get in the EU.

Setup a dialin line, dial in with your cell, enter the number and it'll call you back, routing international over whatever voip setup you're using.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:33 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with simyo. International roaming wasn't too bad, and (though you mentioned it as not being important) they have really reasonable pay-as-you-go data.
posted by cmyr at 8:09 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For anyone who comes across this in the future, I'm having great luck with blau.de.

9c/min for all texts and calls within Germany, international calls to lots of countries, and 13c/text to other countries.
posted by naturalog at 12:49 PM on January 14, 2011

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