cell phones in germany

My mom and I are travelling to germany in may. We would like to both have cell phones to call in germany, back to the us, and to eachother. We currently have tracfones, which mostly likely will not work in germany...so. what would you recommend? should we rent phones or buy them there?
thanks!

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9076 posts

It's not the best method for calling the US, but a basic Vodafone costs less than €25 + minutes. I would only consider renting if you want mobile internet.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17713 posts

lizzy, I wouldn't suggest renting phones, as that's often the most expensive method. In your particular situation, there are two easy choices: > Purchase two "basic" Cellphones when you arrive in Germany. The menus will likely be in German, but the sales staff can help you get it set-up. > Purchase two "basic" Cellphones from one of the "travel phone" firms such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Call In Europe, Telestial or Mobal. The main differences between these two options are: > Cellphones purchased in Germany will provide the cheapest rates for calls placed in Germany (rates will be subject to which calling plan you choose). If you venture outside of Germany, the rates will increase as you'll be "roaming". These will be on a PAYG basis, so will have to be "topped-up" when you deplete your minutes. > Cellphones purchased from a "travel phone" firm will have slightly higher rates, and will often use a U.K. SIM card. If you venture outside Germany, the rates will be the same (unless you go to some eastern European countries). These will often use a post-paid billing, with calls charged to a credit card so you won't have to worry about topping-up. Also, these phones may have be supplied with a North American Charger, so you'd have to be sure to pack appropriate Plug Adapters. Happy travels!

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
1832 posts

Have you checked out "Graffiti Wall > Money/Communications > Cell Phone Tips" yet? Lots of stored information.

Posted by Paul
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA
42 posts

Hi Lizzy: We recently returned from spending 3 weeks in Germany. I took my old quad band cell phone that I was no longer using and unlocked it so I could install a different company's SIM card. It was an AT&T phone and their customer service representative was quite helpful in the unlocking procedure. It took about 5 minutes. In a drug store in Berlin I purchased a Congstar SIM card and installed it in my unlocked phone. I belive it cost 10 euros but it included 10 euros of time. I think about 100 minutes. Activating it was a bit difficult as I needed to do it online and the web site was in German. I had student help me with the activation and things worked very well. We were able to call within Germany very easily. We did not come close to using all the minutes. I thought it was a good deal. I would not use it to call back to the US. For that, I would use Skype and my computer. I do not know if Congstar is the most reasonable plan, but it worked for me. It seemed cheap enough. In sum, an old quad band phone and 10 euros can solve your problem for calling in Germany. Have a good trip.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Lizzy, unfortunately Tracfones won't work. They are thoroughly locked, too, so you can't even use them with another carrier. I know it is hard to say in advance, but how often do you think you'll be separated from your mom? If it is just a little, then you don't need to do anything elaborate or expensive. If you think you'll be calling each other a lot, my advice is the same: Buy two cheap German prepaid phones when you are there. To call the U.S., get a prepaid phone card from a German equivalent of a convenience store and use payphones. Tell friends to text your prepaid phones to contact you. Tell them to do that sparingly. It will cost them the cost of sending an international text message (cost varies by carrier), but I'm not sure if it costs you anything. Incoming calls from one European cell to another are free to the recipient. That may apply to texts, too. Never rent a phone. You can buy for less.

Posted by lizzy
portland
12 posts

thanks all for your advice...has anybody had experience with phones from 'Eurobuzz'? what did you think?

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

For what it is worth, here is a message thread from a year ago with some Eurobuzz users' comments. Some were happy; some were definitely not. Eurobuzz phone

Posted by Petra
Hastings, Nebraska, USA
2 posts

There is a new company that offers prepaid plans for Germany that contain exactly what you need. Their store can be found at www.travel-n-call.com.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

The poster before me has 2 posts, this one and a 2 or 3 year old post that Petra went to the trouble to dig up. Hmmm...maybe Petra has something to do with that website...