Prepaid SIM card in Switzerland and Germany

Travel Tip to Switzerland and Germany

Just came back from Zurich-Munich trip. I’ve the habit of reading online news (via Flipboard) and playing mobile games that require internet connection during travel. Especially if I need to travel a lot locally from places to places. So whenever I visit a country, I’ll always look for their prepaid SIM card with data connection options.

For Switzerland, it seems like an easy option, because Swisscom is everywhere, somewhat like our Singtel in Singapore. I had signed up for their NATEL easy smart prepaid SIM card. It costs CHF19.90, including CHF20 credit. They charge CHF2 per day for unlimited data access. This is the default option so no need to activate data plan. Essentially the card can last up to 10 days of unlimited data access. My friend and I used Whatsapp to communicate so we didn’t need to call each other at all. Like I’d said, Swisscom is everywhere. You can find their store in Zurich airport and the central train station. The staffs were friendly but it took them about 30 to 45 mins to help you register your card, allow some time for this before you plan anything else. Passport or identity card is required for registration. The connection was generally good, even in areas such as Lauterbrunnen and Jungfraujoch. By the way, most stores in Zurich open at 8am, so if you arrive early, you may need to wait till then. They provide nano SIM card, so remember to ask for it if you’re using iPhone 5. The settings are done automatically when you insert the card.

As for Germany, it took me quite a while to understand the “big” and “small” providers. If you read up the internet, you’ll see a long list of mobile plan providers in Germany. In short, the smaller providers tag on to the bigger providers’ network and provide services to their own customers.

After a long search, I found in a forum this Blau.de which offers a cheaper option and it’s available in an electronic shop in the Munich airport. It tags on to the E-plus network. Unfortunately, they don’t have an English website, but fortunately we have Google Chrome to help do the translation. So I got this Blau.de 9-cent Tarif plan for Germany. You can get it from Munich airport Electronic store or any E-Plus stores. It costs 20 Euro (includes 10 Euro credit). You can ask the staff to help activate the 9.90 Euro plan for 1GB data for 1 month (the staff in the Electronic store told me it’s actually unlimited, but first 1GB at high speed). It will use up all the credits you have but again, my friend and I used Whatsapp to communicate so we didn’t need any credit for phone calls. If you need nano SIM card, the staff at the Munich airport electronic shop will help to cut it for you. Make sure you ask the staff to set up the data internet settings, it can be quite complicated. And to be very sure, remember to update and backup your iPhone before you travel. There was this girl with iPhone 4 or 4S at the counter when I was there. She couldn’t connect to the internet because she was using a very old version of iOS, which didn’t support Germany network. The overall data connection was generally good but patchy at some places. I had experienced good and poor connection just within 2 streets. But the network was fine in most popular attractions.

I hope this is useful for people who are planning to travel to Switzerland or Germany.


16 Comments

  • lyn

    September 5, 2013

    hi,
    i found your page while googling on swiss pass and sim cards for iphone 5 data usage in switzerland.

    would like to check with you: is a swiss pass advisable if i’m planning to travel out to geneva, lucerne, interlaken etc. i plan to fully utilise the swiss transport when i’m there to avoid the crazily expensive taxi/cab fares and i like visiting museums and art galleries hence, getting a swiss pass will be feasible as it allows entries to some 400++ museums and some additional discounts for the payable ones. there’s also a half-fare pass which after counter-checking on various sources, it’s somehow similar to a swiss pass but doesn’t come packed with benefits unlike the swiss pass. whatever the case, is it advisable to pre-purchase a swiss pass before touching in zurich OR getting it in zurich would save me some costs? my partner is travelling on business and he wouldn’t have the time to join me on my virgin swiss experience.

    am planning to visit the UN, red cross and some museums in geneva in a day.

    Reply
    • Andrews Ang

      January 13, 2014

      Hi Lyn, sorry for the delay, this comment went to the spam folder and I only saw it today. I hope it’s not too late.

      I didn’t get the Swiss pass because I had spent most of the time in Lauterbrunnen and didn’t plan to visit any museums or art galleries. I’m afraid I can’t provide any tip here.

      But I met this young student travelling alone during my stay in Lauterbrunnen. She was using the Swiss pass for unlimited free train rides and even ferry rides. Sounded like a good deal to me because those fares added up to quite a large amount of money when I bought them separately.

      Reply
  • Joe

    September 19, 2013

    This is absolutely the info I was looking for – I’m flying into Munich in 5 days and traveling for two weeks before I settle into Mainz for a year. It sounds like the blau.de option is exactly what I need for the short term. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Andrews Ang

      January 13, 2014

      I hope it went well. 🙂

      Reply
  • Vivek Shroff

    April 13, 2014

    Very nice helpful post. Thanks.

    Reply
  • Tyler B

    August 6, 2014

    If you’re using Blau, it may be limited to Edge speeds on Apple products. Apple’s website only lists three carriers that work with 3G speeds on Germany’s 2100mhz networks. I had Blau last year on an iPhone 4S and couldn’t get it to connect until I turned 3G off, then it worked like a charm (albeit slowly) on Edge. I believe the three that work at full speed are Vodaphone, T-Mobile and O2, but I haven’t tried them yet.

    As for Switzerland, I will be trying it in a couple weeks if I can find a prepaid data SIM at the Geneva airport. Any suggestions that will work well with either iPhone 4S or iPad Mini?

    Reply
  • Winny

    August 29, 2014

    Hi Andrews,

    May I know the name of the electronic shop at Munich Airport where you get Blau sim card? Is it CAPI?
    http://www.munich-airport.de/en/consumer/shops/a-z/C/capi/index.jsp

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Norm Yip

    September 24, 2014

    Thank you for this information. I’m heading to Zurich in several days from now, having bought a Huawei mifi devise to connect to wifi service more economically and conveniently.

    Reply
  • Felix

    November 28, 2014

    Hi there,

    we are planning to visit Lucerne for 1 day and go to Munich for next 3 days afterwards. my question is, is it possible to use Swisscom at Munich?

    cheers

    Reply
  • Miel

    June 2, 2015

    Thanks for the wonderful information. It is really helpful.

    Reply
  • Paul

    June 14, 2015

    Hi,

    Is there an online store selling swisscom pre-paid sim?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • George Mandis

    October 18, 2015

    Hey! Thanks for sharing your experience!
    I also found this website that explains the gist about German SIM cards and carriers. It’s even possible to request free SIM cards!
    http://www.mygermanphone.de/free-sim-cards/

    Reply
  • tan

    April 21, 2017

    do you mind sharing with me your itinerary?

    Reply

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