Getting a new mobile provider in Germany

BLUF: Do not buy even a pre-paid SIM card in-store, unless absolutely necessary. Best is to order online, because you can always return within 14 days and you get much better deals online.

Today, after over 3 months of roaming on my UK mobile contract I wrongly assumed that they cut off my mobile data access. I also planned a hiking weekend in just a few days so I frantically started searching for a good mobile provider. 

Firstly, I found it strange that all pay-as-you-go (or pre-pay) options are cheaper than a contract. I actually prefer pre-pay, because they don't tie you into long 12- or even 24-month contracts that you cannot get out of, all for the same quality of service.

Secondly, in-store pre-pay offers seem to be more expensive for less data and minutes. Online you can find much better deals even for the same operators.

Now what kind of contract am I looking for? Nothing special, I mostly use data with my phone, probably up to 5GB but I always like to have the option to use a lot more if needed, especially for tethering. I call or text not much at all, maybe up to 100 minutes a month. Seems like a pretty easy requirements list, but data appears to be still very expensive in Germany.

So far the best I found were the following two options:
  • Simply. They seem to have very low prices for a lot of data: €8 for 5GB + unlimited minutes or €15 for 10GB. The cool thing is that you can choose your own new phone number for €19. So even if in the end you decide the network quality is bad, you can just take the number with you to a different network (and they will even give you a bonus welcome rewards for that!)
  • Vodafone. They are a bit on the pricey side, but they also offer a bit better coverage than O2. Mostly I liked their offer of €20 for 10GB, but unsure about the minutes that are included. Compared to simply they have a nice app and great customer service over WhatsApp.
I am trying out both of these SIMs and I can report later which one I will end up sticking to. Curious what other people's experiences are, especially navigating the terminology like "Flat" referring to minutes and texts. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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