Planning to visit Spain on your holidays? Find out the best value Pay As You Go SIM card for your smartphone.

Spanish FlagSpain is one of the top destinations for British holidaymakers every year. Some 12 million Brits visit each year with key destinations including the Canary Islands, Catalonia and Andalusia.

Whether you’re planning a trip to historical Barcelona or the beaches of Fuerteventura, you’ll need to have a suitable SIM card for your smartphone if you want to access maps, social networks and e-mail. You’ll also want a suitable SIM card for staying in touch with your friends in the UK.

In this article, we investigate the costs of using your smartphone in Spain. We’ll compare the costs of using a UK-based SIM card to the costs of using a local SIM card from Spanish networks. We’ll then help you to find the best value deal regardless of how long your trip to Spain is.

Using Your Smartphone In Spain

Park GuellIn Spain, there are four mobile networks operators: Movistar, Vodafone, Orange and Yoigo. There are also a number of virtual network operators using coverage from these networks.

A visitor from the UK to Spain doesn’t need to worry about handset compatibility. The mobile networks operating in Spain use the exact same frequencies we use in the UK. Hence, any smartphone that’s compatible with UK networks will also be compatible with the networks in Spain.

For visitors travelling to Spain but originating from another country, you’ll need to make sure your handset supports one of the following bands or frequencies:

Network 2G bands 3G bands 4G bands
Movistar GSM 900/1800 WCDMA 2100 LTE bands 3 (1800MHz), 7 (2600MHz), 20 (800MHz)
Vodafone GSM 900/1800 WCDMA 2100 LTE bands 3 (1800MHz), 7 (2600MHz), 20 (800MHz)
Orange GSM 900/1800 WCDMA 2100 LTE bands 3 (1800MHz), 7 (2600MHz), 20 (800MHz)
Yoigo WCDMA 2100 LTE band 3 (1800MHz)

Supported frequencies and bands used by mobile networks in Spain. Your handset needs to be compatible with one of the frequencies or bands listed in the table. Smartphones purchased in the UK should work in Spain without any problems.

There are two ways of using your smartphone in Spain:

  • You can roam on your UK-based SIM card. If you’re visiting Spain for a fairly short time, you’d probably be better off with a UK-based SIM card. Your UK network operator will have a commercial roaming agreement in place with the Spanish networks. This allows you to use your normal UK SIM card through international roaming. The costs of roaming on a UK-based SIM card will often be slightly higher than using a local Spanish SIM card. However, it’s much less hassle (there’s no need to visit a phone store on arrival in Spain). With Feel At Home, a UK-based SIM card can sometimes even be cheaper than a local Spanish SIM card.
  • You can buy a new SIM card locally in Spain. For longer-term visits and for frequent trips to Spain, you might be better off buying a SIM card locally in Spain. The SIM card will slot inside of your existing unlocked smartphone. You’ll get a phone number in Spain and you’ll be charged the same rates as a local resident.

In the rest of this article, we’ll explore the two options in greater depth.

Roaming on Your UK SIM Card

Going Abroad
Because of EU legislation, there’s a maximum amount the networks are allowed to charge when you’re roaming in Spain.

For occasional calling and texting, the costs of using a UK-based SIM card are fairly reasonable in Spain. This is because EU legislation has set a maximum cost on using your smartphone in Europe. Typically, you’ll be charged 18.8p/minute to make a phone call in Spain. It’s 4.9p/minute to receive an incoming call and around 5.9p to send a text message.

Unfortunately, the costs of using mobile internet abroad are still fairly substantial (you’ll need mobile internet to access social media, e-mail and maps on the go). On most mobile networks, you can expect to pay around £2/day to £3/day. For a one-week holiday, the data roaming costs can easily add up to more than £20.

Roaming Charges By Home Network Operator

The cost of roaming in Spain depends on your home network operator.

The following table shows the cost of using a UK-based SIM card whilst abroad in Spain:

Network Making a Phone Call Receiving a Phone Call Sending a Text Accessing the Internet
EE 18.8p/minute* 4.9p/minute* 5.9p/text* £3/day for 50MB
giffgaff 18p/minute 4p/minute 5p/text 19p per MB
O2 18p/minute 4.8p/minute 5p/text £1.99/day for 50MB
Orange UK 18.8p/minute 4.9p/minute 5.9p/text £3/day for 50MB
T-Mobile 18.8p/minute 4.9p/minute 5.9p/text £3/day for 50MB
Three Included Included Included Included
Vodafone UK 18.7p/minute 4.9p/minute 5.8p/text £3/day for EuroTraveller

Roaming charges on a UK-based SIM card when abroad in Spain. Costs are shown for calling and texting a number in the EU (includes both UK and Spanish numbers). It’s always free to receive an incoming text message anywhere in the world. * Calling and texting is free in Spain on 4GEE Extra.

Various offers are currently available for cheaper roaming in Spain. For instance, Vodafone has a £3/day EuroTraveller offer where you’re able to use your normal UK allowances. However, for any trip longer than a couple of days, the best option is Three’s Feel At Home offer. With a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three, you can use your smartphone in Spain for up to 30 days for only £10.

Three’s Feel At Home Offer

ThreeAmongst the UK network operators, Three is by far the cheapest network for roaming in Spain. This is due to the Feel At Home offer: you can use your normal UK allowances when abroad in Spain at no extra cost. The offer is available to both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers.

If you’re not currently a customer of Three, you can still benefit from the offer by signing up for a Three Pay As You Go SIM card. A £10 top-up will give you 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB of internet (all available to be used when in Spain). A £20 top-up gives you 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 12GB of internet.

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Three 100
to UK
3,000
to UK
1GB £10.00
Three 300
to UK
3,000
to UK
12GB £20.00

The “All in One” Pay As You Go bundles can be used on Three’s Feel At Home offer. The inclusive minutes, texts and internet can be used abroad in a Feel At Home country. The £20 bundle has a fair usage policy of 12GB/month when travelling abroad.

With a SIM card from Three, you’ll still have a UK-based phone number (so your friends pay the normal rate to call you when you’re abroad). You can also order and set up the Three SIM card before you leave home (no need to visit a phone store on arrival in Spain).

Order Three All In One SIM card (£10 for 30 days) →

A SIM card from Three gives you coverage from Movistar, Orange and Yoigo (your phone automatically selects the network with the best coverage). You might need to unlock your handset before using it on Three.

The Feel At Home offer is designed for short-term visitors to Spain. If you’re planning to live in Spain for an extended amount of time (more than 2 months per year), it may not be possible to use the Feel At Home offer. For more information, see the Feel At Home fair usage policy.

Spanish SIM Cards by Network

For longer trips, the cheapest way to use your smartphone in Spain is sometimes to buy a local SIM card on arrival. You can buy a Pay As You Go SIM card from one of Spain’s major networks (Movistar, Vodafone, Orange and Yoigo).

Tree in SpainFor the SIM card to work in your phone, your smartphone needs to be unlocked before you leave the UK. For more information, see our in-depth guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy handset. It’s worth noting that Spanish mobile networks are treated separately to UK networks for the purposes of locking. For instance, a Vodafone UK handset must still be unlocked before it’ll accept a SIM card from Vodafone in Spain. The same goes for other UK networks (e.g. handsets on O2 or Orange in the UK).

When buying your SIM card in Spain, you’ll need to visit a mobile network store. By law, you must provide photo identification when buying a SIM card (for this reason, you should bring your passport). It’s also worth being aware you may need to converse in Spanish when doing this.

N.B. In Spain, a sales tax of 21% is charged on the Spanish Peninsula and on the Balearic Islands (the tax is known locally as IVA). In this article, we’ve assumed you’re visiting a place where IVA is charged. If you’re visiting the Canaries Islands, a local sales tax of 7% is charged instead of IVA (the local sales tax there is known as IGIC). Hence, if you’re visiting the Canaries, the actual price you’ll pay for the SIM cards will be slightly lower than is shown in this article.

Movistar

Movistar LogoIn Spain, Movistar is the largest network operator. It’s part of the Telefónica group (the same company that owns O2 and giffgaff in the UK).

Because Movistar is the largest network operator, it has the widest mobile coverage of all networks in Spain. You can use their online coverage map to check the coverage where you’re staying. Movistar also has a large number of retail stores all across the country: use the store locator on their website to find the nearest branch to your hotel or resort.

Unfortunately, a downside is that Movistar provides poor value on Pay As You Go. Furthermore, it’s often difficult to actually get a Pay As You Go SIM card from their stores (most retail stores will prefer selling you a Pay Monthly contract).

If you’re able to obtain a Pay As You Go SIM card from Movistar, there’s a minimum top-up of €10 (the SIM card itself is provided for free). It’s then €5 for 400MB of 3G internet (the data lasts for a maximum of 30 days).

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Movistar 400MB €5.00

In order to access the internet, you’ll need to text ALTATARIFA5 to 1200. The €5 add-on gives you 400MB of data for up to 30 days. If you need extra data beyond the initial 400MB, it’s €1 for 75MB of additional data (text ALTABONO to 1200 to get this extra data). Further information can be found in the tariff FAQ (available only in Spanish).

It’s worth noting that calls and texts made back to the UK are incredibly expensive (it’s €4.56 for a 5 minute call back to the UK).

Setup Fee Rate Typical Cost for Comparison
Call to UK: €0.6050/call €0.79/minute €4.56 for 5 minute call to UK
Text to UK: €0.726/message €0.726/message
Call to Spain: €0.1815/call €0.10/minute €0.68 for 5 minute call within Spain
Text to Spain: €0.15/message €0.15/message
Mobile Internet: €5 for 400MB data bundle (3G speeds)

Full tariff details can be found on the Movistar website (available only in Spanish: click Tarjeta on the left-hand column for Pay As You Go).

Due to difficulties obtaining a SIM card from Movistar and comparatively high costs compared to other networks, we’d recommend readers against choosing a Movistar SIM card.

Vodafone

Vodafone

Vodafone is the second largest network operator in Spain. The sister network of Vodafone in the UK, Vodafone also has extensive coverage across the whole of Spain (check their online coverage map for the place where you’re staying).

Vodafone currently offers two different types of Pay As You Go SIM card: Vodafone Yu and Vodafone Tourist. Both can easily be obtained in any Vodafone retail store – use the store locator to find the nearest one to your hotel.

Vodafone yu

The first type of Pay As You Go SIM card is Vodafone yu (where yu means “youth”). Vodafone yu is fairly good value for calling locally and for browsing the internet. You get 800MB of 4G data for €10/month on the “Yuser” bundle. There are also 20 domestic minutes and 20 domestic texts included every month (perfect for calling a taxi or for booking a restaurant).

There’s a choice of three bundles on Vodafone yu:

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Vodafone 20
to Spain
20
to Spain
800MB €10.00
Vodafone 60
to Spain
60
to Spain
1.2GB €15.00
Vodafone 100
to Spain
Unlimited
to Spain
1.6GB €20.00

Unfortunately, calling and texting a number in the UK is exceptionally expensive on the Vodafone yu tariff. For calls, there is a €0.593 set-up fee. There’s also a per-minute rate of €0.605 (reduced to €0.424/minute if you’re calling from 10pm to 8am). This means a 5-minute phone call back to the UK could cost you up to €3.62.

Setup Fee Rate Typical Cost for Comparison
Call to UK: €0.5930/call €0.605/minute (peak)
€0.424/minute (10pm-8am)
€3.62 for 5 minute call to UK
(€2.71 between 10pm-8am)
Text to UK: €0.726/message €0.726/message
Call to Spain*: €0.1815/call €0.242/minute €1.39 for 5 minute call within Spain
Text to Spain*: €0.1815/message €0.1815/message
Mobile Internet: From €10 for 800MB with a Vodafone yu bundle (4G speeds)

* The rates shown here will only apply once you’ve used the allowances in your Vodafone yu bundle.

Vodafone yuTo buy one of the Vodafone yu bundles, you’ll need to top-up your SIM card with the relevant amount of credit. You should then call the relevant phone number to activate your bundle:

  • Yuser (€10 bundle): Call *525*51#
  • Superyuser (€15 bundle): Call *525*52#
  • Megayuser (€20 bundle): Call *525*53#

For more information, see the Vodafone yu webpage and the Vodafone yu help article (both are available only in Spanish).

Vodafone Tourist SIM Card

For a short-term visit to Spain, Vodafone Tourist probably offers better value. For €15, you can get a prepaid SIM card with 1GB of 4G internet and 60 minutes of calling. Notably, the 60 minutes of included calling can either be to Spain or to the UK. This makes it a great value option for staying in touch with friends at home.

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Vodafone 60
to UK & Spain
1GB €15.00

Your allowances will last for up to 30 days. If you use up the inclusive allowances on your plan, you’ll be charged the following for out-of-bundle usage:

Setup Fee Rate Typical Cost for Comparison
Call to UK: €0.3025/call €0.10/minute €0.80 for 5 minute call to UK
Text to UK: €0.726/message €0.726/message
Call to Spain: €0.1815/call €0.242/minute €1.39 for 5 minute call within Spain
Text to Spain: €0.1815/message €0.1815/message
Mobile Internet: N/A, speeds are reduced to 32kbps after the first 1GB of data

More information can be seen on the Vodafone website (the details for Vodafone Tourist are available in English as well as in Spanish).

Orange

OrangeOrange is another major network operator in Spain. Unlike rival companies, Orange has a full website available in English (this makes it much easier to research the available options). You can check for coverage in the area where you’re staying and you can also search for a store with English-speaking staff.

Orange has a number of Pay As You Go tariffs you can choose from in Spain. Their SIM cards are free when obtained from an Orange store but you’ll need to make a minimum top-up of at least €10.

SIM Mundo

For visitors, the SIM Mundo tariff will offer the best value for short-term trips. You can buy a package of mobile data from €6 for 500MB (the data allowance lasts for up to 30 days). Any calls made to other SIM Mundo customer are absolutely free (ideal for staying in touch with your family providing everyone has their own SIM card from Orange).

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Orange 500MB €6.00
Orange 1GB €9.00
Orange 2GB €15.00

You can buy the relevant data pack by texting Alta Mundo 500Mb, Alta Mundo 1GB or Alta Mundo 2GB to 1470.

For seven days after each top-up, domestic phone calls have a flat-rate of €0.18 per call. For calls to the UK, there’s a €0.30 connection charge followed by €0.11/minute for UK mobiles and €0.01/minute for UK landlines.

Setup Fee Rate Typical Cost for Comparison
Call to UK: €0.30/call €0.11/minute (UK mobile)
€0.01/minute (UK landline)
€0.85 for 5 minute call to UK
(€0.35 to UK landline)
Call to Spain: €0.18/call Free (7 days after top-up)
€0.08/minute (after)
€0.18-€0.58 for 5 minute call within Spain
Mobile Internet: €0.50/day for 10MB (or buy a new data bundle early)

For more information regarding SIM Mundo, please see the Orange website (available in English and in Spanish).

Ballena & Ardilla

Orange Ballena and ArdillaOrange also has a number of other tariffs including Ballena (Whale) and Ardilla (Squirrel).

On Ballena, you’ll pay €8.95 for 1GB of data (lasts for up to one month). Domestic calls have a flat rate of €0.18 and domestic text messages are €0.12 each.

On Ardilla, data will cost you €3/month for 200MB. You’ll pay €0.18/call plus €0.06/minute when calling domestically inside of Spain. Text messages are €0.12 each.

Unfortunately, it’s fairly expensive to call the UK on both of the tariffs. There’s a €0.54 set-up fee followed by a €0.57 per-minute charge (this is reduced to €0.50/minute between 10pm and 8am). For a 5-minute phone call to the UK, expect to pay around €3.39. It also costs €0.72/message to send a text to the UK. Given the difference in price for calling the UK, we strongly recommend choosing SIM Mundo whenever it is possible.

Yoigo

Yoigo LogoYoigo is Spain’s fourth network operator. Having launched only in 2006, they still have limited coverage compared to other networks. At present, Yoigo is estimated to have 80% coverage. Where coverage isn’t available, it will sometimes be possible to roam on Movistar. Yoigo only provides 3G and 4G coverage. As such, it’s not possible to use a 2G-only handset on the Yoigo network.

You can get a Yoigo Pay As You Go SIM card from any of their stores (find the nearest store to your hotel). The SIM card will cost you €20 but this is returned to you in the form of credit.

La del uno

To use your smartphone on Yoigo, you’ll need to buy the La del uno bundle. With this, it’s €7.26 for 600MB of 4G internet (your allowance will last for up to 30 days):

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Yoigo 600MB €7.26

Phone calls and text messages will be charged additionally on Yoigo:

Setup Fee Rate Typical Cost for Comparison
Call to UK: €0.3630/minute €1.82 for 5 minute call to UK
Text to UK: €0.1210/message €0.1210/message
Call to Spain: €0.1815/call €0.0121/minute €0.24 for 5 minute call within Spain
Text to Spain: €0.1210/message €0.1210/message
Mobile Internet: €1.45/day (up to 384kbps)

For full details on all applicable charges, please see the Yoigo website (available only in Spanish).

Other Networks

Masmovil and SimyoAs well as the big four networks, Spain also has a number of virtual network operators (MVNOs). They include Másmóvil and Simyo. Unlike the four major networks, MVNOs don’t have their own network infrastructure. Instead, they piggyback on one of the four network operators to provide the coverage for their service (it works in a similar way to MVNOs in the UK).

As a visitor in Spain, it may be possible to obtain a SIM card from a virtual network operator. However, it can be more difficult to actually find a store where you’re able to get a SIM card (you might need to find a local kiosk or newsagent). The options for topping up may also be limited. For a short-term trip, you’d probably be better off either choosing a major network or roaming on your UK SIM card.

Our Recommended Deal

SIM cardFor short trips (around 2 to 3 days), the best value option is probably to roam on your normal UK SIM card. Expect to pay around £2/day to £3/day to access the internet when you’re out in Spain. You’ll also need to pay around 18.8p/minute to call the UK and around 5.9p/message for texts to the UK. This can approximately be budgeted as £1 for a 5-minute phone call.

For longer trips, a SIM card from Three may offer better value. You get lots of minutes and texts for contacting the UK. There’s also a decent allowance of mobile internet. A major advantage when choosing Three is you’re able to set up your SIM card before you even leave home (that’s one less thing to do when you’re out there in Spain). A £10 top-up gives you 1GB of internet for up to 30 days. Meanwhile, a £20 top-up gives you 12GB of data in Spain.

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Three 100
to UK
3,000
to UK
1GB £10.00
Three 300
to UK
3,000
to UK
12GB £20.00

The “All in One” Pay As You Go tariffs can be used with Three’s Feel At Home offer. The inclusive minutes, texts and internet can be used abroad in any Feel At Home country. The £20 bundle has a fair usage policy of 12GB/month when travelling abroad.

Order Three All In One SIM card (£10 for 30 days) →

If you’re planning to stay in Spain for a longer period of time, Vodafone Tourist and Orange SIM Mundo are also worth a look.

With Vodafone Tourist, you get inclusive phone calls to both Spain and the UK. It’s €15/month for 60 minutes and 1GB of internet. Phone calls back to the UK are also fairly reasonably priced outside your allowances: it’s around €0.80 for a 5-minute call.

With SIM Mundo, you’ll get 500MB of 3G internet for only €6/month on the Orange network. A 5-minute phone call back to the UK will cost you €0.85 (€0.35 if you’re calling a UK landline).

More Information

For more information about using a UK SIM card abroad in Spain, please see the EE, O2, Three and Vodafone UK websites. For general information about using your smartphone in another country, see our guides to using your smartphone abroad and using your smartphone in the EU.

For more information about SIM cards in Spain, please see the Movistar, Vodafone Spain, Orange Spain and Yoigo websites. Most of these websites are only available in Spanish.

Your Comments 111 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 111 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Ken
    At the moment l use mas movil but it seems expensive. I require a Spanish service whilst I’m here which is usually 3 to 4 weeks at a time about 5 times a year not specifically to call the uk as l have an english phone as well
    When l am in the uk l leave the spanish phone on in case lreceive any calls
    So what sevice would you recommend inthe marbella area
    Thanks
    Richard

    • Dario R Melkuhn replied:

      Try Lebara, I am surprised that they are not mentioned in this article. They have some good pay as you go plans such as All in one 10, 10 euros gets you 3gb data and 500 mins national and international calls. Lasts for 30 days and life is very simple if you download their app. Web site in English and Spanish

  • Ken
    I have a holiday home in Spain & am now looking at getting a 4G Mobile wifi hotspot. We will be over 7-8 times a year, ranging from short weekend breaks to longer vacations of 3-4 weeks. I don’t really need a phone – but will need lots of data for family to keep in contact via social media & for me to be able to do some office-based work. It feels like Pay-as-you-go is the best bet, but who offers best data only tarrif? Any recommendations for hardware?

    • Hi Gordon,
      Thanks for your comment. Were you hoping to use mobile broadband whilst you were in the UK as well, or will it simply be whilst you’re over in Spain? If you prefer, a UK provider will allow you to use mobile broadband at no extra cost whilst you’re travelling in Spain (see my recent guide to UK mobile broadband providers & options).
      If it’s purely for usage whilst you’re over in Spain, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know enough to be able to recommend a provider. However, someone else reading this article might be able to provide a recommendation?
      Ken

  • I plan to be in Spain for around two months. In the UK I use 1p mobile which allows roaming in Spain at 1p per minute for voice, 1p for messages and 1p for data. The only commitment is to spend £10 each 4 months. It seems to me that this is the cheaest way to keep in touch with the UK from Spain but not particularly useful for Spain where the charge, f I’ve understood roming corretly, would by the UK international calling charge of 9p per minute.

    If I understand Tuenti correctly I could use it in my seconds sim slot to allow Spanish sim card users to contact me as they may be put of by the cost of dialling a UK mobile number. For €21 I can buy 20Gb data which would be more than adequate to handle correspondence and property searching for to months and with a Spanish number I overcome the problem of local calls being routed through UK. What I’m not clear on is whether the data package really gives free Spanish calls?

    • Hi Will,
      Many thanks for your comment! Regarding 1pMobile, the requirement is to top-up your phone with at least £10 of credit every 120 days (this is subtly different from actually having to spend it, though of course you will need to spend the credit eventually!). I believe you’ll also pay the 1p rate when calling other Spanish phone numbers whilst you’re Spain (this is because EU legislation requires these calls to be charged at the normal UK rate).
      Regarding the question about Tuenti, I’ll leave this to someone who knows more about their offering, assuming of course it still makes sense to use it given 1pMobile’s rates in Spain.
      Ken

  • I am now living in Spain but have to call the UK every day. I am looking for a unlimited calls and text any ideas what is option is. Thankyou

  • Digi mobil is the best PAYG that I can find for Spain. It uses the Movistar network.
    There is a low 12c set-up fee for local or UK calls, plus 2c/min to Spanish or UK landlines, 5c/min to Spanish mobiles and 6c/min to UK mobiles:

    https://www.digimobil.es/tarifas.php?act=tarife-nationale
    https://www.digimobil.es/tarifas.php?act=tarife-internationale

    Data starts at 2GB/month for 5 euros and features data rollover. There are also combo tariffs which include data and UK/local calls.

    https://www.digimobil.es/tarifa-diginavega.php
    https://www.digimobil.es/tarifa-digicombo.php

    It must be topped up at least once every 6 months and this can be done online from the UK using a UK credit card.

  • Doug Clarke said:

    Ken, I live in Dubai and my daughter has just moved to Minorca with her mum. I need to get a SIM card in order for her to set up whatsapp so we can chat (Skype is Banned in UAE). What’s the best and most cost effective way to get a SIM card – is there a pay as you go option. Thanks for your feed back.

  • Donald Bryce said:

    Hi, I am moving to Spain and would like some info on how to move my current number to a Spanish sim card, if that is possible.
    I am not techy in any way, so an answer in plain language , poo bear can understand would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Hi Donald,
      Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, you can only transfer your UK phone number to other UK-based SIM cards. For this reason, it won’t be possible to transfer it over to your Spanish SIM. You can get around this a number of ways e.g. leaving your UK SIM card active and using it whilst you’re over in Spain, having a message on the voicemail to tell people you’ve changed number, or using the call forwarding feature to re-direct your calls to a Spanish number (though this is likely to be fairly expensive).
      Ken

      • Donald. I’ve been living in Spain for almost two years. I’m still using my Giffgaff card from the UK. If you buy a basic “goodybag” online (£5 p/m) you can call anywhere in the EU for around 3p/p/m. Texts costs around 1p. Most of my UK-based family and friends use Giffgaff… and they can call me, UK to Spain, for free. No Spanish networks come close to these prices. The catch(s) is/are that your Spanish friends might not want to call/text you on a UK number and Giffgaff roaming data is expensive. So, get a Spanish PAYG sim (Tuenti is a good option) and, like me, a dual sim phone (or just use two phones) and you’re covered. P

  • The best deal is digimobile 20e gives you 2000 mins international calls landline or mobile ,500 texts,free digi to digi ,and 10 gb of data…..

  • Not sure if anyone knows, can I use my monthly data allowance to tether / create a hot spot on my phone while in Spain?

    Thanks

  • Thanks ken for this amazing post

    I’ll stay in spain for 7 days and i only need a good internet network for using the maps and social networks, so which network do you recommend for me ??

    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Sarah,
      Are you travelling from the UK? If so, you can now use your normal UK SIM card at no extra cost when travelling to Spain which will save you the hassle of getting a SIM card when you’re there.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, what about Lebara in Spain? Does lebara cover all of Europe? I’m traveling from Australia and very expensive fees from our service providers. I do have a giffgaff sim when in the U.K., but given I plan to be in Spain for several weeks, I’m thinking a local sim the only way to go.

    • Hi Jane,
      Many thanks for your comment. Are you talking about Lebara Spain or Lebara UK? Unfortunately, I don’t know that much about Lebara Spain, but if they offer a roaming service then it should cover the whole of Europe. SIM cards from Lebara UK should work abroad, including in Spain and across the rest of the EU.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • David C King replied:

        Hi Ken

        A very useful article, thanks! My experience of using a Lebara Pay As You Go Spanish SIM has been dreadful. Just about everything that can go wrong does go wrong. First, I couldn’t top-up on-line before a return visit to Spain (I visit Spain often, and when there I often need to be contacted on a Spanish number, but not often enough to warrant a contract). Later I signed-up for automatic top-up, but that didn’t work. Once again I’m unable to top-up on-line. Customer “service” is just awful. Personally, I would never recommend using Lebara to anyone. Interestingly, there’s quite a voluble debate about just how bad Lebara SIMs are on Trip Advisor.

  • Hi Ken.

    I am heading to France and Spain for 7 weeks to do the Camino de Santiago. My carrier (Freedom Mobile Canada) has a world traveller option. That is $8 per month, plus $.25cdn to call per minute, $.20 to text and data $.25 per megabyte. Here to jail break my phone would be $30 cdn then buy a SIM card and two months of service. I will only turn data on say if I am lost and need a map… the odd text, as my friends will think I cannot be reached, a call ahead to an albuergue once a day, maybe one to book a train and Air B&B in Madrid and a couple to change my flight home. Calls home to Canada are at the same rate as the others. Seems like it is not worth it at all to buy a SIM card? I have no idea how big a meg of data is but that will be used sparingly… wait for wi-fi. So Ken do you imagine at all that I am barking up the right tree here?

    • Hi Grant,
      For a 7-week trip, I’d personally try to get a European SIM card. This will potentially give you lots more flexibility, and should cost you in the region of €10 to €15 per month. If you think you can get the required service & flexibility from using a Canadian SIM card then this should be the benchmark against which you compare the cost (if the charges on your Canadian SIM card will still be lower than using a European SIM card, then it may not be worthwhile getting another SIM card).
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

    • Thank you Ken for a most informative article.
      I am from Canada & will be spending a week in Spain followed by a week in London,
      my question is, can a Vodafone Tourist SIM card purchased in Spain function in the UK?

      • Hi Shane,
        Many thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I don’t have a definitive answer to your question! I believe it should probably work in the UK (I’m assuming this because most UK-based Pay As You Go services will allow you to roam when abroad). For a definitive answer, it might be worth checking with Vodafone directly (e.g. when buying their SIM card after your arrival in Spain). Alternatively, someone else reading this article might have the answer to this?
        Ken

        • The Tourist Card I acquired from Vodafone in Puerta del Sol/Madrid functioned flawlessly in Spain. I didn’t realize that the card I purchased allowed phone calls to Spanish numbers only. Regardless, in London it provided steady 4G signal for internet access/surfing, Facebook, Messenger etc. In Kent the signal was much weaker, video chat was not possible.
          So, the take-away message is verify all chip characteristics before you purchase.

  • Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the informative site.

    I live in the USA and will be traveling to Spain and other EU countries.

    Do you happen to know if I purchased a Vodafone SIM card which would make more sense for return trips?… i.e. do the “Yu” SIMS make more sense (as compared to the Tourist SIM) if the card will sit dormant for a bit? Or is it necessary to pay a monthly fee for each of these?

    I’m accustomed to in the past needing to merely recharge the card every few months, but that was a few years ago.

    Any tips appreciated.

    — madison

    • Hi Madison,
      Many thanks for your comment. I’d recommend confirming the details with the local Vodafone store, but I believe it is also possible to top-up and recharge a Vodafone Tourist SIM card. I think, therefore, it’s simply a matter of which tariff is better for you (though of course, there could be additional terms that I’m not aware of).
      Ken

      • Thanks again, Ken.

        I’ll check with Vodafone when I get to Spain, and if I have anything interested to report back later, I’ll post here again.

        Regards,

        — madison

  • i have an unlocked mobil and i’m with Three in UK. I’m in Spain for 2 weeks this July. I want to use the net on my laptop by tethering to my mobile. I dont think this in included on Three’s Free to Roam? please confirm? also, if not, which prepaid deal ca i buy and take with me which will allow tethering? thanks, will need to do some work whilst im there..

    • Hi Dom,
      Many thanks for your comment. As of June 2017, it’s possible to tether in Europe if you have an Advanced Pay Monthly plan on Three (just like as if you were using the handset in the UK). If you’re a customer on Pay As You Go, tethering is available for 1p/MB. My review of Feel At Home here has a summary of the latest tethering policy post-June 2017.
      With regards to tethering on the Spanish mobile networks, unfortunately I’m not an expert on this topic (probably best to ask on an online forum for people living in Spain!)
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • Hi, Ken,
    I’m not from the (from the US), would some of your tips apply to my sister and I? We will be in Spain for almost 17 days this fall.
    Thank you in advance for your response.
    Tala

    • Hi Tala,
      Absolutely! You can pick up a SIM card when you arrive in Spain (I’d just compare the cost of doing this to the cost of roaming on your normal US SIM card). The bit that won’t really apply to you in this article is the discussion of using a UK mobile network when abroad in Spain.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Kat Aspridi said:

    Hi Ken

    is there a spanish sim card that can provide unlimited data for at least 2 weeks (or more)?

    I am currently in the UK and use the ‘all in one 25’ add on from three that offers unlimited internet usage but I am not sure if I will still have unlimited data while in spain.

    Many thanks
    Kat

    • Hi Kat,
      Many thanks for your comment. Yes, unfortunately, I think Three will only allow you to use up to 9GB/month of data in another country if you’re a Pay As You Go customer (this used to be 12GB but changed very recently). I’m not aware of any SIM cards providing unlimited data in Spain, though perhaps someone else reading this might know of a solution?
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    I posted a comment recently in your Roam Like Home section saying how I now use Digi Mobil in Spain for their low call establishment fee and good data and combo packages. I also gave the following link:

    http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/Spain

    This may answer some of the other questions here, such as which networks do the Spanish MVNOs use, how to set APN for Spanish networks and where to find places which stock their SIM cards.

    It is easy to buy unlocked smartphones in Spain (they are called ‘libre’) and a good source is ThePhoneHouse:

    http://www.phonehouse.es/moviles/moviles-libres.html

    Hope this is useful

    Regards

    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      Many thanks for your contribution & the super helpful links – this is very much appreciated by everyone here!
      Ken

  • HI Ken,

    My daughter is in Spain for a week and needs a decent wifi service to access some online training for herself and a colleague.

    Not sure how many gig they will require.

    Have you any suggestions.

    Many thanks,

    Malcolm

  • Paul Darling said:

    Hi Ken. Great article and very useful. I’m an O2 customer in the UK with ‘unlimited everything’ and, with ‘O2 Travel’, I was expecting unlimited data usage in Spain for our 2 week holiday in Murcia so I was looking forward to using Google Maps on Movistar and surfing the web freely. On the very first day, I discovered that the ‘unlimited data’ is anything but, due to the speed being “throttled” after just 30 minutes 3G use, making it virtually unusable on Movistar. Do you possibly have any input or suggestions on how I can improve this? This seems completely unfair and I feel misled by O2, having just renewed my contract with them for this very reason, being unaware of this awful and frustrating policy. I’m now stuck with an O2 locked iphone 7 plus which I can’t use. If you were me, what would you do? Thank you in advance. Paul

  • Hi, you may need to review Movistar. It is a bit different from your review nowadays. Recently they have changed to tarifa 1 first €9 a month with 1gb 4g data and $15 a more than for 2gb data. Calls to UK are now 6.05cents per min (to landline and mobile I think) with 36.30cents establishment charge. This is a lot better value than what Movistar prepaid used to be. Orange mundo seem to have increased per min to UK landline slightly, I think it’s now 5cents per min which is more than a year or two ago I believe. Orange is good for validity though as you can keep it active by only topping up once a year whereas most others are 6 months. I have used all three networks and all have been good, Movistar tends to have less English assistance but since they have restructured their pay as you go tariffs i think they are a good option now in line with the other networks.

  • ken i have to say how much i have learnt from reading the comments & your reply’s to them
    we are off to tenerife next january for 6 weeks ,the apartment has only complex internet available so i have been looking at a pre paid data sim for my mifi dongle ,i have found a 120gb card on a Spanish site costing 99 euro it is they tell me using Vodafone network
    i know that you have said you are not as informed regarding data as voice call but maybe others have used his card ,we only require data do not need voice calls as these are free on the internet
    thanks pat

  • Hi Ken

    You have an extensive knowledge of how sims operate in Spain, I’m hoping you can help me with my question.

    I live in Spain but travel back to the UK regularly. At present I have a Spanish Vodafone PASYG sim and I still have my EE monthly sim (low cost). I need one sim so that can make calls and have internet access here in Spain and the same when I go to the UK. I also need my UK family to make calls to me in Spain without them being charged a ridiculous amount of money.

    Is there one sim that fits this scenario?

    Thanks
    Dee

    • Hi Dee,
      Thanks for your comment. For the time being, you’re probably best off staying put on your two separate SIM cards. The reason being that everything will change on the 15th June 2017 (basically, all EU-based mobile networks will need to scrap roaming charges in the EU). The details are still being finalised, but you can expect to see a lot of changes in the next half year. For instance, you should in theory, be able to use either your UK or Spain-based SIM card.
      Ken

  • Nancy B. mentioned using lebara.es in a message dated back in September 12, 2016.

    Thank you for this information.

    I’m heading to Spain end of February 2017 from the US and have checked out lebara.es. I’ll be staying in Barcelona and Alicante for 12 days. Lebara’s plans look like the best option.

    How far in advance can I purchase the sim card? They’re having a promotion right now till the end of January.

    Kind regards,

    Robin

  • Stephen Ellerington said:

    If I buy a Three mobile sim for £10 do I need to top up by a further £10 to get 1GB of data to use in Spain?

    • Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for your comment. Did your SIM card come with £10 of credit, or did the SIM card cost £10 with no inclusive credit? Basically, you’ll need to convert £10 of credit into an ‘All in One 10’ bundle to use the Feel At Home offer. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to use the allowances abroad in Spain.
      If you’re not sure how much credit you have, you can find out by calling 444 on your Three device.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi – We have a holiday home in Spain, and so use a Movistar pay as you go sim whilst there.

    Which is the best value where the SIM lasts as long as possible (not 30 days only) as we don’t always use up the whole amount each holiday.

    Also we’ve been using an old Nokia up to now, but have now an unlocked iPhone 5 ready to use ? How do we get our existing number (if possible) linked and working to the best Pay as you go tariff ??

    thanks – helen

  • Hi Ken, I’m from the UK and going to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in 3 weeks and will be there for about 3 months. I currently have a basic monthly contract with EE. I am not so bothered about contact with the UK as I use email on my laptop for this. My main usage is for calls and texts to friends living in Las Palmas. I’d prefer not to change my UK number but this is not essential. I also do not want any incoming caller/texter to be charged for contacting me. Please advise the best option for me on my 4G Smartphone.
    Also, I take my laptop with me but the apartment I am renting does not have wi-fi. What is the best, (ie least hassle) way of getting wi-fi for my laptop, and are there package options which could include both Smartphone and Internet connections for my laptop?
    Very many thanx for your assistance.
    Joyce

    • Hi Joyce,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you by any chance able to have two handsets whilst you’re out in Spain? (You could consider a dual-SIM handset like my highly recommended Moto G4). I think the best option is probably to get a Spanish SIM card for your everyday usage there, and then keeping your UK SIM card for incoming calls from people in the UK (EE will charge you 1p/minute for this whilst you’re in Spain).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    I am looking to move to Spain and was wondering if you knew of a good local Spanish SIM deal (pay as you go or contract) either through an MNVO or a more established provider. I will be making a lot of overseas calls so either a Lebara or Lyca equivalent in Spain OR a call plan that has a lot of data (e.g. 8gb per month) so that I can call on the go either via whatsapp or through Skype. Have you got any recommendations? Is there a Lebara or Lyca equivalent in Spain? Looking forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your advice.

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe Lebara Mobile and Lycamobile are also available in Spain, but I haven’t spent long enough there to give you any feedback on them (also on whether there are other networks that might be a better deal). Perhaps someone else reading this article might be able to help with your question?
      Ken

  • Hi,

    I am planing to travel to Madrid and Barcelona from Dec 22nd to Jan 1st, 2017. I currently live in the US and hoping to use my unlock Iphone 7 plus for mostly data usage and my ipad for the same purpose.
    I have a skype plan called : spain unlimited min mobile and landlines for 12.99 a month to call anyone in spain if i need to and also i will use my Skype North America Unlimited mins mobiles and landlines for $6.99 just in case i need to call the USA.
    Like i said, mostly I am looking to buy a sim card with min of 2gb or more for data usage. Any recommendations? Thanks

    Hugo

  • Hi Ken
    Am planning to visit Spain next year to do the Camino and will need 4G data only (6 weeks usage) as i don’t know a single soul in Spain n very unlikely need to make calls. any recommendendation… much appreciated

    • Hi Terry,
      You can either use a local SIM card from Spain or you can get a Feel At Home SIM card from Three in the UK. If you need 4GB of data, Three’s £20 deal is a pretty good choice (it comes with 12GB of data). However, if you need 4G data speeds, I’d recommend going for one of the Spanish networks.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • We recently booked with Internet in Spain and they have a fantastic service. Extremely easy to book, get set up and use. With their SIM card you get 2 GB/day (which is more than enough) with 4G connection. It was delivered to our apartment and was easy to return. We would recommend it to anyone!
    Just to add that the website is http://www.spaininternet.net

  • Ramsay Smitj said:

    Hi
    I am moving to Tenerife next month what would be the best contract or sim only dealer to keep in touch with the UK
    Thanks
    Ramsay

  • Hi Ken,

    I live in the United States, planning a trip to Spain. Is it possible for me (a resident of the U.S.A.) to purchase a sim card from “Three” with the “Feel at Home” for use in Spain?

    Also, could I pick-up this at London Gatwick airport? We have a 5 hour layover there on our way to Spain.

    Thanks for your input.

    Gary

    • Hi Gary,
      Yes – you can indeed pick up a Feel At Home SIM card from Three. However, I’m not totally sure whether are retailers at Gatwick that stock this (you might want to try Boots and Dixons). If you aren’t really planning to spend very much time in the UK and if most of your trip will be spent in Spain instead, it might instead be easier to use a local Spanish SIM card?
      Ken

        • Hi Gary, you may also want to check out lebara.es
          I’ve been using them for a year now and they offer extremely good rates, like €15/month for 500 minutes, which includes 50 or so countries, U.S. and Canada for example, and 2gb. You can also just go with their regular rates which are dirt cheap ( if you opt in for Lebara Plus ) and the transmission quality is excellent. Just my 2cents. In fact, I recently got Movistar for my home internet and it came with mobile lines but when I need to call the U.S., I switch back to my Lebara sim 🙂

          • Suman Chatterjee replied:

            Hi Nancy – Is it easy to pickup a Lebara PASYG SIM in Spain?

            I use a Lebara UK SIM and will be in Barcelona for 4 days on vacation and primarily need data to check maps, restaurants etc. – would you by any chance know Lebera’s data roaming charges?

  • David Ian Cotterill said:

    Problem with Three as I found out from my holiday to Spain is Three slow your data speeds right down to a point most pagers not load

  • I have Three PAYGO sim in the UK and there are roaming restrictions for Europe that aren’t compatible with longer trips abroad.
    “Three says it reserves the right to cut off the service if you use your allowance abroad for a total of more than two months within a 12-month period, or for more than one month continuously”.
    No use if you are travelling to Spain for the winter.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. Just wondering where you saw the above information about use of the Feel At Home offer? The restrictions are detailed here and more precisely, it’s a maximum of 2 complete months during a rolling 12 month period. Providing you use your phone at least once in a non-Feel At Home country during a given month, it will not count towards your allowance of 2 months per year.
      Ken

      • Dapper Dave replied:

        I saw the information on a recent Moneysavingsexpert newsletter and confirmed it myself via the Three website.
        I’ve also raised a “Resolver” case here: Resolver Case Reference: RES429228
        http://www.resolver.co.uk/
        However, via new EU legislation, it looks like all roaming charges will be abolished next year anyway (June 15th 2017)

  • Hi Ken,

    Do you know which of the primary networks each of the virtual providers piggyback off? In particular, whether any piggyback off Movistar. Unfortunately my parents house only gets a signal with Movistar and so I am looking at whether there are any other options.

    Cheers
    Steve

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I’m not an expert on Spanish MVNOs so I’m not able to answer this question. Perhaps someone else reading this article might be able to shed some more light?
      Ken

  • Hi Ken, the information you have provided is very helpful for short stays in Spain, do you know where I might be able to get some advice about pay as you go tariffs for those who are relocating? I bought a pay as you go sim with Orange when I arrived and seem to be spending quite a bit topping-up in 2 weeks. One sim to use for mobile internet device (20 euro) and another for my mobile (10 euro). I have since had to top up (5 euros) three or four times for my mobile phone pay as you go sim. Any advice/help you or anyone can provide would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Evie,
      Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to discuss the best deals for staying in Spain for the long-term (I think the longest I’ve ever been there is probably 2 weeks!). Perhaps other readers of this web page might be able to suggest some deals?
      Ken

  • I am heading to the Costa Del Sol in a few days for some weeks. I have a new mifi device which is network unlocked and which I hope to purchase a prepaid data SIM out there for, I can then use this for (wifi) internet access on my ipad, iphone etc.

    My question is, which of the operators out there offer the most data for reasonable €€€? I work in IT so require a lot of data as I will be using online services heavily – so 3gb at least, preferably 4b or 5gb+. Coverage for all the main operators is good in the area I will be in, so my main factor will be the data allowance.

  • Hi Ken,

    We have just purchased an apartment in Spain and I would like to be able to access the Internet each time I go (every six to 8 weeks). The orange deal looks good although my only concern is that it says it has automatic renewal. I though the whole idea of pay as you go was that you could top up when you needed to. I don’t want to come back to the uk only to be topped up automatically for a Spanish sim that I can’t use in the uk

    • Hi Tony, Our friends who have had a holiday home in Torrevieja Alicante for 14 years use DVBLAB for their apartment internet and TV and only have it connected when they go out, it costs 5 euros per month when they are not there, they go online in the UK before they go out and give a switch on date, then they use that while in apartment, they use messenger and watsapp to phone home and just buy a basic Spanish sim card for when they are out and about as most bars and restaurants have WIFI. Hope this helps.

  • Hi ken
    Just been reading your phone tariff anticle of which I found interesting,I travel to Spain and stay 5 months in the summer,so having a local sim is a must,I have been using happly movil and find that they are excellent ,and now I have bought a dual sim huawei p8 light with the intention of using a hits sim along side happy, I would appreciate your knowledge on my thoughts
    Cheers
    Keith

    • I just saw an advert on ee Web site £21.99 a 12 month contract sim only deal 4gb data unlimited text and minutes with unlimited calls and text in the EU

  • Three’s feel at home does have its limitations. 2 months roaming before it needs to log back on to the UK network, then it is reset, so another 2 months can be achieved.

    if you were wondering, no the feel at home feature cant be turned off.

    • Hi Glen,
      Thanks for your comment about this limitation of Three’s Feel At Home offer! I believe the way they phrase it in their T&C is you can’t use “your allowances exclusively in a Feel At Home destination for any 2 complete months in a rolling 12 month period”. So you should be OK as long as you spend part of the month in the UK or another country (if you spend the whole month abroad in another country then this will count towards your limit). It doesn’t reset when you come back to the UK (so if you’ve already used it for 2 months abroad, you’ll need to wait another year before using it again).
      Ken

  • Hello Ken,
    I have retired to Spain and just bought a Camper Van. I use “hits” in my mobile, which you haven’t mentioned, and I have a windows surface laptop which I want to use on the internet. I have been told I can use a dongle for my laptop and keep my mobile using the hits SIM card but I would be very interested to receive your recommendation.
    Kind Regards,
    Nick

    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, I’ve only researched the SIM card options for visitors making a short trip to Spain, so sorry I don’t have any knowledge regarding mobile broadband packs! Perhaps somebody else reading this article might have a better idea of the possible options?
      Thanks,
      Ken

      • Hi Ken,
        I have suddenly learnt about tethering instead of dongles and WiFi instead of Bluetooth so I am well on the way to having my question answered which quite simply means either sticking to “hits” or changing.
        Thank you.
        Nick.

        • Gazzaman22 replied:

          Hi Ken/Nick

          I’m off to spain next week, Do any of you know if tethering is allowed, on any network?
          I have an unlocked mobile Android that i would like to act as a hotspot fo other devices, Have any of you any information on any of the networks allowing tethering?

  • Big thumbs up for bringing Three ‘feel at home’ package to my attention. Was just about to buy a new SIM card and saw this. Hope this works in Canary Islands

    • I have it free as I am a 3 contract holder. It works a dream. Been here 2 months use Internet and phone every day. Even use it to tether my other phones and tablets to give them unlimited Internet and calls. Hasn’t cost me a penny. There are no restrictions despite 3 saying so.

      • Hi Alan
        I’m interested to know how you tether your Three data? I tried this back in February and it’s something Three don’t allow.

  • Hi, Is there any Spanish SIM provider that doesn’t have a cut off time. I was with Movistar Spain for many years and managed to always top up within the 6mths. Unfortunately last year my husband was very ill and passed away so I didn’t want to go out to Tenerife. My sister went instead and went to an internet cafe in Los Gigantes and topped up my spanish mobile with 5Euros. The sim still had 20Euros credit on. Unfortunately when I came to top up again I discovered that the top up had not worked and my phone was locked. Lots of people in Tenerife have my movistar mobile number so it is a pain. To avoid this happening again I would like a payg sim that does not expire with credit on it. Is there such a thing?

    • Hello Maggie,

      I think you can still get Llamaya mobile SIM cards where the credit lasts indefinitely. This is very useful if you have to away from Spain for long periods as you only pay for what you use. Unfortunately, they are rather low tech so don’t provide nano sim size cards if you have a handset that requires one. Internet is 5 Euros for 500 MB and call rates are reasonable.

      I hope that helps.

  • Hi Ken. Thanks for the Blog. Perhaps you have some advice for me.

    I am working on a project in El Hierro, Canary islands and will be there for a few months and am seeking the best GB date plan for my time there. The only power is a generator so I will be charging a MIFI device and my laptop periodically but generally running off batteries. I am looking for a sim card to run 3g/4g from the MIFI device. Movistar has the best Data coverage in the area, Vodafone is unknown. Orange os very poor.

    Questions…

    How does roaming Data work? For example, do you automatically connect to the strongest foreign network in the area you are in? Or are there deals behind the scenes which determine who you connect to?

    Eg. if I were to buy a Three PAYG sim topping up 20pounds and receiving 25 gb of Data, would I have access to Movistar’s 4g coverage from where the property is?

    The dilemma I am in is the Spanish Data allowance is currently very limited. Movistar which offers the best coverage in my rural area only has a 3g connection of 10g speed, for 30 euros plus line rental and a year contract. Vodafone offers a good deal of 50 gb limit, 4g, but from what I know coverage is poor.. and agin – a year contract.

    From what your article suggests it looks like a three card might be the best option.

    Are you aware if you can use roaming on a PAYG Three sim indefinitely?

    Thanks again

    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for your comment. The short answer is I’d probably recommend using a local SIM card from one of the Spanish networks. You can’t use a normal SIM card from Three in a Mi-Fi device – you’ll need to use a mobile broadband SIM card instead which will almost certainly be more expensive than a local Spanish SIM. To try and answer your questions in more detail:
      1) To be honest, I’m not 100% sure about how it chooses which network to use. It could either be based on the strongest coverage, or it might preferentially connect to one network based on Three’s roaming agreements. So sorry – I don’t know the answer!
      2) Unfortunately, the 25GB fair usage policy has now been reduced down to 12GB per month. Also, Three doesn’t have any 4G roaming agreements abroad (you’re restricted to only 2G and 3G coverage).
      3) There’s a fair usage policy on the Feel At Home offer: you can’t spend any more than 2 complete months abroad every year in a Feel At Home country. For a long-term trip, you’ll almost certainly be better served by a local SIM card from a Spanish network.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      • Thank you, Ken.

        Appreciate it. I think i’m going to have to wait for some better deals to be neighbour.

        “1) To be honest, I’m not 100% sure about how it chooses which network to use. It could either be based on the strongest coverage, or it might preferentially connect to one network based on Three’s roaming agreements. So sorry – I don’t know the answer!”

        This is an interesting one though. – Let me know if you ever come across the answer!

    • I don’t know if this is helpful at all. When we are in Spain we have our two I-phones. We also have two basic phones that have been opened for use in Spain, approx €5.00 in most markets. You could use a couple of old I-Phones if you have them We use two Lebara Spanish sims bought in Spain. Depending where you buy, €5.00 per sim but they give€ 5.00 credit. So the sim is free. We can then talk to each other for free. Lebara–Lebara.
      They often then text with offers , top up €10.00 get €20.00 credit .for calls and often web use.
      You can top up in England via their website and you can also ensure the numbers are activated by switching on, calling one Spanish phone to the other and vice versa but not answering. This keeps the number activated. When in Spain and you call the help desk you are asked what language ? When you reply English you are transferred to London which is the head office and you speak to an English speaker.
      Go to Lebara.es on a web page ,there’s an automatic translation . You can check the website for costs .
      We have found their service to be really good,as to the data info I’m not very tecky but I’m sure you can sus this out .

  • Hi Ken,

    I will be going to Spain to work for 6 months and wondered what the best sim card option would be? After reading this article, I was thinking that Three’s option would be best but then someone wrote that it’s only valid for two months? Any help would be fantastic 🙂

    Thanks a bunch,

    Sonny

    • Hi Sonny,
      Thanks for your comment. As you’re going for a fairly long amount of time, I’d almost certainly get a SIM card from one of the local Spanish networks. In the long run, this will definitely be cheaper than roaming on a UK-based SIM card. Also, you’ll have a local Spanish number which will be much more convenient for contacting local businesses there. In the short term, you can definitely get away with using a UK-based SIM card like Feel At Home – this will give you a little bit of time to find a SIM card whilst you’re there in Spain.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi , I’ve moved to Spain this week and have an EE pay as you go , iPhone 5. It’s really eating away at the credit . I am fine connecting to wifi in apartment but making and receiving calls is just a ridiculous cost. Would I be better switching to 3 and how would I go about this now I’m here ? Thanks

  • Samantha Calvert said:

    Hi Ken
    I am moving to Spain permanently and I have a iPhone 6 I am wanting to use there, my contract will be cancelled here so I was wanting a sim only contract with a Spanish phone number, could you recommend any network that would be good for doing this also whilst giving me internet access and a good rate for calling back to the uk?
    Many Thanks
    Sam

  • Hello Ken. What an amazing article. Thank you for the research. When I arrived at Barcelona airport with my unlocked iPhone a few months ago, I found just two sellers – Vodaphone and Lebara. Lebara uses the Vodaphone network. Both sellers seemed to offer much the same deal, but I went with Lebara as their on-site service was better than Vodaphone’s. It was mostly a staffing issue – 3 Lebara staff to Vodaphone’s 1. Lebara set me up quickly and I was on my way. In the event it’s useful, here’s a report on my experience and plan details:
    http://packinglighttravel.com/travel-tech/buying-sim-card-spain/

  • Hi Ken very good article! Just not sure what to get. I travel frequently to Spain and I used once a lebara sim and the data finished too quick. last summer I bought a “three” sim card, was not bad spent £15 but noticed that it was very slow and I was not able to load a lot of pictures or videos. I usually use my phone to just go on Twitter or Snapchat, sometimes for youtube. So what sim would you suggest?

    Thanks,

    Youcef

    • Simon Jones replied:

      Although Three won’t admit it, data is throttled. You will find that data usage is fine for messging, Facebook, pics etc – you won’t be able to watch YouTube, download podcasts or even stream music. For example, a podcast that should take less than 1 minute to download will take approx 10 hours.

  • Hi Ken, thanks for your info.
    We are intending to spend at least 4 weeks at a time in the Canaries several times a year. We have a full English contract with Three which allows us to call home. We also have wifi separately. We just need a payg phone and sim for contacting and being in contact with friends in the Canaries. We could bring an unlocked phone from uk, but not sure if vodaphone is best for us? Any comments please.

    • Hi Robin,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry – I wasn’t quite clear: are you talking about the best value network for usage in Spain? Also, I assume you’re talking about Vodafone in Spain as opposed to Vodafone in the UK? Assuming the former, I think the Vodafone Tourist SIM is a pretty good offer and will probably suit you well for frequent trips to the Canaries.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    Very interesting article. I’m off to Spain and the Canaries in a few day’s time with some friends for 2 weeks. They have a UK sim in their phone. We tend to keep in touch when wandering round town by text. I am on an EE contract in the UK. Would it be cheaper to get a Spanish pays sim to text them or stick with my roaming uk sim. Usage would probably be up to 5 texts per day.
    Kind regards
    Bob

    • Hi Bob,
      Thanks for your comment. If your usage in Spain is solely restricted to sending a few text messages, it’ll most certainly be cheaper to use your normal UK SIM card. If you’re on an EE Extra contract, calls & texts will already be included at no extra charge. Otherwise, on a regular EE plan, it’s 5.2p to send a text message in Spain (so you’d probably in the region of 25p/day).
      Ken

  • The data SIM option from 3 is not as straightforward as it might seem. We have had different explanations of terms from members of staff both in their shops and Customer Service.
    The current 20GB SIM only allows 12GB use in Spain and is limited to 2months which is no good for working there for longer. In the shop they said we could with Direct Debit, pay monthly on a rolling programme but that’s not the case when its limited to 2 months!

    Resigned to getting one from Orange when we get there.

  • We purchased a Vodafone Sim 4g card in Madrid August 2015 and went to Vodafone shop in Madrid to purchase and have Sim card installed. It took the English speaking clerk forever to load our cards into our unlocked phones. Our card cost 15 euros each and would lasted one month. Immediately we started getting text messages from Vodafone and all in Spanish. These text messages were constant and became quite annoying. A Vodaphone clerk said the messages couldn’t be put into English only Spanish. So we never understood what messages Vodaphone was sending us. We could not call outside of Spain with this card and therefore the card was extremely limiting. The data component worked well. To call the USA, we got a UZO card at a tavern/bar which worked fabulous for 10 euros. We could make calls to other countries and text each other. However, there was no Internet connection on this Sim card but we used wifi at hotels or in restaurants, etc.

  • Good day,

    Organising a family trip to Spain – I followed your article carefully and decided that the 3 ‘feel at home’ sim was what I wanted, notwithstanding my experience of very poor/indifferent service from 3 in the past. Looked at the website which is completely incomprehensible; so arranged a call-back to discuss. This is the result:
    Contract sim only – the ‘roll-over’ monthly contract – actually means that the minimum duration is two months, as they require 1 month’s notice for cancellation.
    PAYG sim only – the ‘feel at home’ bonus is not part of this package, but can only be added as a ‘bolt on’ at an additional cost of £5.

    It is worth noting that during the call-back, I had to ask several times before the operator would tell me the actual additional costs/contract terms. Definitely not impressed with the 3 offerings!! Will probably buy from Orange.es on arrival for my 12 day trip.

    Regards

    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right: the Pay Monthly SIM card has a rolling contract so isn’t ideal for very short term usage. With regards to Pay As You Go, you can access Feel At Home with any All-in-One bundle (e.g. £10 for 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of internet). There’s no need to buy an additional bundles beyond this.
      Anyway: as you say, a local SIM card from the Spanish networks will probably work out cheaper especially as you’re travelling for ~12 days. The only other thing you might want to consider is the cost of calling back to the UK (this will sometimes make it cheaper to get the SIM card from Three).
      Thanks,
      Ken

  • Fiona Duckworth said:

    Hi Ken

    I appreciated your article as I head off to Spain tomorrow and want a Spanish SIM for a month. I am a New Zealander, so don’t have a UK plan to lever off.

    I am interested in the Vodafone Tourist SIM that you discuss above, but when I followed the link from your page to the Vodafone Spain website, the terms and conditions spoke about a automatic renewal of the package every month. Do you know if it is possible to buy this package for JUST one month?

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge,
    Kind regards
    Fiona

    • Hola Fiona,
      Thanks for your comment. The Vodafone Spain Tourist SIM Card is a Pay As You Go product: as such, you just top it up with some money and the charges for your €15 bundle are taken from the SIM card. If you want to use it for one month or less, just top it up by €15 and you’re good to go. If you want to use it for two months, then you can top up the SIM card with €30 of credit. The SIM card isn’t linked to your credit card so there’s no way for Vodafone to automatically take further payments.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

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