When moving to a new country, a mobile network connection is one of the most important things you need to know about the new country. In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know to get a Spanish SIM card.
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Like other European countries, Spain uses GSM network connections for mobile communications. Therefore, if you come from a country with GSM mobile connections, you will have connections upon your arrival. Even if you come from a country with a CDMA network, you might still have connections. There are also many public Wi-Fi options available.
If you are from another EU country, you might benefit from an EU-wide agreement on international roaming fees. Arrivals from EU countries can enjoy free roaming when spending time in Spain.
Therefore, a Spanish SIM card might not be necessary for everyone.
However, if you plan to stay for the long term or if you want to save on roaming fees, you might need to get a Spanish SIM card.
2. How many types of SIM cards can I choose from?
In most mobile communication companies, you are provided two options to get a SIM card: a prepaid (prepago) SIM card or a mobile phonecontract (contrato).
Prepaid SIM card:
A more flexible option and simpler option
Suitable for expats that do not want to commit to long-term contracts and only want to make phone calls and go online
Many are pay-as-you-go options: They usually contain a bundle of calls and internet data per month. You need to top up if you go beyond the limits.
Mobile phone contract:
A good option for expats that want to stay for a longer term because the contract lasts for 18-24 months.
Contact is usually cheaper than prepaid options, a good deal for those that use a lot of data
Good choice for you if you think about getting the latest smartphone: Many operators have offers of “mobile phone plus mobile phone contract”, which can help to finance the mobile phone you want
You might also get discount bundles including your mobile phone, home phone, home internet, and TV connections.
3. What are trustworthy mobile network companies?
Currently, in Spain, there are some traditional operators to choose from: Movistar, Orange, Vodafone, and MÁSMÓVIL/Yoigo.
According to Statcounter, Movistar is the leading telecommunication company with 30% of the market share. Other providers are also keeping up, such as Orange (25%) and Vodafone (23%). MÁSMÓVIL/Yoigo (14%). In addition, the rest of the pie is covered by smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).
It's hard to say which is the best provider because all the companies mentioned had the best offers for a certain group of people. It's better to keep up with the newest offers and compare them before deciding.
4. How to get a SIM card?
After comparing the offers, it´s time to start with the steps of getting a SIM card.
If you want to get a prepaid SIM card:
Where: you can go to the nearest office
What documents: only your passport and sufficient money/bank account (visa). You don't need to have your NIE card ready, and neither do you need a Spanish bank account at this point.
If you want to get a mobile phone contract: Since this is a long-term commitment, more documentation is necessary for the application.
Where: Online or in the nearest office. It’s recommended to call the office to confirm if they can help you with the mobile phone contract before.
Spanish bank account details: Unlike the prepaid choice, the contract option charges the user each month a fixed amount automatically from their bank account. You can get to know more about how to open a bank account and online bank options.
5. Some tips about Spanish SIM card
Reload tips for prepaid SIM card users: Unlike contract option users, users that have opted for prepaid options need to reload their phone regularly and manually. If not, they will not have communication services and their number might be even disabled. You can go to the following places to reload your phone:
The official website or app of your mobile operator: When you get your SIM card, you will s get a personal account to view and manage your consumption. You can recharge your Spanish phone number by accessing your account.
Local supermarkets, electronic repair shops, and other unexpected shops: Yes! You can recharge your phone in some local supermarkets when you finish your purchase. Try asking them next time when you buy groceries.
Calling the operator: This is an old-school but still effective practice. Most operators facilitate a number for you to call every time you need to reload.
Rent contract: Remember that before that there might be all-in-one discount bundles. Therefore, it’s important to confirm whether you need to contact a home Wi-Fi buy yourself. If that’s the case, you might save money by going for the all-in-one option.
Portability (Portabilidad): With Spanish mobile communication companies, you can enjoy the portability service, meaning that you can keep your number when switching to any of the other mobile phone companies. This right gives you high flexibility and the possibility to switch among the best rates and services without the annoyance of changing your number. You can simply contact your current company and the company that you are going to contract for more information.