Barcelona by night
Heading to the land of fiestas and siestas? If you are staying longer than a few days, it might be worth picking up a local SIM. So which is the best SIM card for Spain? And where should you buy it?
First you will need to ensure that your phone is unlocked, and then have a look through here at this brief comparison of the main operators in Spain. I will then suggest the most appropriate deal for your needs.
The main four operators in Spain are:
Numerous smaller outfits exist that repackage access to the infrastructure provided by these four, including Lebara which runs on the Vodafone network.
Where to Buy?
SIM cards are generally available from small corner type shops, often called ‘chino stores’, that are peppered throughout most Spanish towns, and from and from larger branded mobile phone stores, to be found in town centres. You can also buy SIMs from stands in major airports, but they are often overpriced for the sake of convenience.
Bear in mind that when buying a SIM card in Spain you need to provide photo ID in the form of a passport, as all SIM cards need to be registered by law.
By law, you cannot buy SIM cards outside of Spain.
Topup at local newsagents, using the number provided by the network, or through Mobilerecharge.com
‘Our top pick for it’s clear website and understandable rates’
Awarded the Best Virtual Mobile Operator of the year 2014, Masmovil’s ‘Zero Plan’ is a good option for those visiting Spain for a short period. This plan offers some of the cheapest rates on the market, and comes in a very understandable and user-friendly package.
There is a customer service team that speak six languages (English, German, Spanish, Scandinavian, Russian and Finnish) and a multilingual website.
The Zero Plan allows you to choose the internet and voice combination that best suits your requirements, from a range of bundles for data and voice calls.
Combine a data bundle:
With a call bundle:
Can’t be bothered with buying a local SIM in Italy? Want to buy before you fly?
OneSIM offer an international SIM card that lets you save up to 85% in roaming fees in 200+ countries.
It can be sent out ahead of time so you hit the ground running. Find out more here.
‘Not recommended except as a last resort’
Movistar are the former market leader and have the most extensive coverage throughout the country. As they are so ubiquitous, top up facilities can be found everywhere, in kiosks, supermarkets, and service stations.
However, FACUA consumer action group has awarded this telecommunications giant the dubious honour of ‘worst business in Spain’ on several occasions.This reputation isn’t helped by their website – which is available only in Spanish and as such not helpful to potential visitors.
- Plentiful top up facilities
- Extensive coverage
- Poor value Pay as You Go rates
- If you are from the UK or US and want to call home, they have quite expensive rates for calls and texts out of Spain
- Poor reputation
||EUR0.10 per min
||EUR0.18 per min
||EUR5 per month = 400MB
Vodafone do not have a great reputation, but a better one than Movistar!
The Vodafone Tourist Sim is a 30 day sim designed for tourists that includes 60 minutes for calls, either national or international, and 3 GB internet, at a cost of 15 euros. This is also available as a data only sim, but at the same cost oddly.
If you use up the initial allocation of data, you will be able to continue browsing, albeit at the very slow speed of 16kbps. If you use up your 60 minutes or equivalent texts, it will cost you this much:
||EUR0.25 per min
||EUR0.12 per min
||EUR15 per month = 3GB
Short for ‘yo oigo’ (I hear in Spanish), this company focus on simplicity, with the idea that customers should be able to understand what they are paying for.
Despite this noble aim, it is still difficult to find exactly what rates they charge for Pay as You Go use, which isn’t aided by the fact that their website is only in Spanish.
For twenty euros you can buy a Yoigo sim card which will provide the equivalent credit. This can be discounted to fifteen if you transfer your number from another provider, and still provide twenty euros credit.
As a provider they have a reasonable reputation and supposedly attractive rates.
If you desire, you can add to your initial credit ‘data feature packs’, to get data at a lower price. When you reach the data limit, you can still access data with maximum rate of 128kbps at a cost of 1.45 euros a day, or you can extend the current package by 200mb for an extra 2 euros.
Decent coverage, which you can check here.
Blocks the use of VOIP services, so you won’t be able to use Skype or Viber on mobile data, which might be an issue for you.
- Call: 622 from your Vodafone number or 622 622 622 from another operator
So Which is the Best Spanish SIM card for Visitors?
For most travelers, we would recommend buying a Masmovil SIM on the Zero Plan. If you are unable to get this, or require perhaps more data, then you could consider offerings by Vodafone.
Spanish Phone Numbers
Spanish mobile phone numbers are ten digits long and start with 06. The country code for Spain is +34.
To call your mobile in Spain from abroad, callers will need to dial the 0034 and then your number. 00 is the International Access Code and 34 is the country code for Spain.
Local police: 092
Ambulance and Rescue: 061
Calls to European Emergency number 112 are free from mobiles and landlines.
Useful Spanish Phrases
Do you speak English? Hablas ingles?
I do not speak Spanish: No hablo español
I don’t understand: No entiendo
Where are the SIM cards: Donde esta los tarjetas de SIM?
Thank you: Gracias
If you have recently been to Spain and used some of these SIMs, please share your experiences with us in the comments.