There are four mobile operators in Hungary.:
- Magyar Telekom (a.k.a Telekom, formerly T-Mobile/Westel)
- Telenor Hungary (formerly Pannon, partly state-owned)
- Vodafone Hungary
- [DIGIMobil (limited coverage, postpaid only)]
For the three major providers Telekom, Telenor and Vodafone 2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G is on 900 and 2100 MHz, while Digi works only on 1800 MHz with 2G/4G.
The big three carriers are offering 4G/LTE services since 2015 on 800, 1800 and partly 2100, 2600 MHz (bands 1, 3, 7 and 20). LTE-A is available by big three providers in bigger cities in up to 300 Mbit/s. Telekom and Telenor have network sharing agreement for 4G on 800 MHz (B20) outside of Budapest and have therefore almost the same coverage on 4G/LTE. Generally Hungary has a quite good coverage with 4G/LTE networks and high speeds in most areas except Digi.
SIM cards are available in shops of the providers. Bring your photo ID for registering and some time as you have to give a lot of signatures and paperwork for prepaid cards too. Prepaid SIM cards are also sold in big supermarkets like Tesco and Auchan or service stations. But buying it there, you still need to go to a store of the provider to register. For foreigners, this is the only way. So it's recommended to buy your SIM there in the first place.
Topping up prepaid SIM cards in Hungary always works by giving the phone number while buying it, so keep your Hungarian mobile number at hand.
Two MVNOs operate on Telekom network: blue mobile sold in Lidl supermarkets and MOL Mobile of the fuel station chain. The problem for foreigners is that MVNO registration is so far possible only over the phone in Hungarian only for Hungarian citizens. That's why purchase and registration in the stores of the providers are highly recommended instead and the MVNOs are not listed as long as this procedure is so unappealing to foreigners.
Hungary is one of the most complicated and time-consuming country in the EU to buy a prepaid SIM card as a non-citizen right now. So you might think of bringing an EU-issued SIM card from a different country and use it according to roam like at home rules in Hungary instead.
In 2016 parliament passed stricter rules on the use of prepaid SIM cards. According to the new law, subscription for prepaid mobile phone services must not be passed onto a third party without informing the service provider. In addition, the identity of customers has to be checked by service providers before signing up. Existing subscriptions have to be closed, if the identity of the customers is not checked by July 2017. Furthermore, operators must report any suspected criminal activity to the authorities.
Rules have been again tightened in 2017 after thousands of SIM cards registered on a dead person turned up in an anti-terrorist raid. Now, additionally the number of SIM cards registered to one person is limited to 10 SIM cards per individual subscriber and 50 SIMs for business subscribers. Customers who currently have prepaid subscriptions in excess of these limits must declare which ones they intend to keep; prepaid cards in excess of these limits will be terminated as of July 2017 (more info for affected customers see here).
In 2017 the regulator has announced that 68% of the country’s prepaid mobile SIM cards were verified by the legal deadline. Of the remaining 32% of prepaid SIMs, which have now had their network services suspended, a significant number were assumed to be inactive or unwanted cards, but users who missed the deadline can still re-activate any unverified SIM and recover any credit balance on the account by providing their ID data and signing an agreement with their network operator, with no time limit set for doing so.
Data verification or reconciliation (effective 2018) Edit
In 2017 a data verification or reconciliation (in Hungarian: adategyeztetés) became mandatory for all prepaid subscribers. All operators are now required to verify the identity of their prepaid customers on a yearly basis. The deadline of this check is the anniversary of the prepaid subscription. Some days before this date, customers are notified by text messages. Hungarian citizens can re-register online. All foreigners who don't have an ID card issued by the Hungarian authorities must visit a branded store of the provider as an ID card or passport issued by another country can't be verified online, you have to show it in a store. This procedure is unique in Europe and possibly worldwide and makes it almost impossible to maintain an Hungarian SIM card from abroad.
EU roaming Edit
Magyar Telekom (Telekom, formerly T-Mobile/Westel)EditMagyar Telekom Nyrt., often simply called Telekom, is the largest Hungarian telecommunications company. The former monopolist is now a subsidiary of (German) Deutsche Telekom.
It has the best and fastest network with best coverage on 2G and 4G, but the worst 3G coverage on 2100 MHz up to 42 Mbit/s. 4G/LTE is available on 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz and covers 98% of the population coverage map in up to 150 Mbit/s.
The prepaid SIM cards are called Domino and come in different varieties sold at their stores called T-Pont (Store locator (hungarian)), online and other outlets:
Starter packs called Domino Quick are sold for 990 HUF with 500 MB and 40 domestic minutes and 1990 HUF with 1 GB and 80 domestic mins at some petrol stations like OMV and MOL, MediaMarkt, Tesco, Auchan, Edigital, Telekom stores and newspaper kiosks. Be aware that, when you buy a starter pack as a foreigner, you have to go to a T-Point (= Telekom) store for registration showing your photo ID or it will be shut off soon. So it's recommended to buy it there right away. All three SIM card sizes are sold.
Top-ups can be made at T-Points or at newsagents, post offices and service stations. Vouchers of 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 HUF are available. You can also refill via the internet using a credit card. This online procedure is Hungarian only, but is workable using a translator.
To find out your own number, type *121#. To check your credit balance type *102#. To check remaining data balance, there's no code, but see the comments below to discover how to check via their website.
Domino data packages Edit
The default tariff for data on all Domino cards is 181 HUF per calendar day for 10 MB.
Internet can be added by these packages which can be used in Hungary and all over the EU up to 300 Mbit/s:
|1 GB||700 MB||24 hours||525 HUF|
|unlimited||1.5 GB||990 HUF|
|unlimited||3 GB||3 days||1990 HUF|
|unlimited||20 GB||30 days||9900 HUF|
Activation is by app or online. You will not be able to activate the same option (unlimited for 1 or 3 days) immediately after expiration. You will need to wait until the morning hours if the next day or choose a different option.
Furthermore, they sell "Maraton" packages that are valid indefinitely without expiration (except of the SIM card) or until used up in Hungary and the EU without a cap:
|500 MB||unlimited||1000 HUF||by app
|1 GB||1640 HUF|
|4 GB||3550 HUF|
Packages can be activated online on your account, by Telekom app, by calling 1777 or some by texting code to 1777. Check data balance by *102. For technical reasons, the same package can't be renewed ahead of time.
For Maraton users the validity of credit and SIM card needs to be shown as their data packages don't expire. The validity depends on the time and the amount of the last top-up: up to 2400 HUF for 180 days, up to 15,000 HUF for a year and beyond for 488 days. Then the SIM falls into passive mode for 90 days, when it can be revived by any top-up before it's finally terminated.
EU roaming Edit
All domestic allowances like daily or monthly data packages shown above can be used for roaming in the EU too without surcharges, in some cases limited by the specified cap.
- Website: http://www.telekom.hu (English site is not updated, use Hungarian site and a translator)
- Call 1777 (for free) and press 9 for an English speaking support agent
- APN: internet.telekom
Telenor (formerly Pannon) Edit
Telenor in Hungary was sold by Telenor to the Czech PPF Group in 2018, and since 2019 25% of it is owned by the state. It has pretty good coverage throughout the country. Their 3G is on 900 and 2100 MHz up to 42 Mbit/s and their 4G/LTE is available on 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz covering 99% of the population up to 150 Mbit/s: coverage map at the end of 2017.
The starter pack comes Hello Kartyras for 450 HUF without any included volumes.
Refill cards of 1,500, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 HUF are available at their stores (locator) and many more locations.
On the prepaid SIM they offer these monthly combo plan for 30 days:
- Hello Chat: 2000 HUF with 1 GB data and unlimited zero-rated data (EU cap: 3.4 GB) for Facebook, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter
Data feature packsEdit
The following data packs for 30 days can be activated for more data on all plans:
|500 MB||750 HUF||HELLO500MB|
|1 GB||1100 HUF||HELLO1GB|
|3 GB||2500 HUF||HELLO3GB|
|5 GB||3500 HUF||HELLO5GB|
For activation, text code to 1744. Packages can be used in EU roaming too without surcharges. All packages auto-renew. To stop enter code preceded by X. Weekly and daily packs are only available for old plans.
Hello 2in1 is a combo plan with domestic minutes and data included:
|Week||200 MB||20 mins||7 days||500 HUF||2IN1HETI|
|S||500 MB||25 mins||30 days||1000 HUF||2IN1S|
|M||1.5 GB||50 mins||30 days||2500 HUF||2IN1M|
|L||3 GB||100 mins||30 days||3800 HUF||2IN1L|
Activation is by texting code to 1744. All packages auto-renew.
Data-only SIM: Hipernet PraktikumEdit
Their prepaid data-only SIM is called Hipernet Praktikum. It costs 990 HUF in their stores. Data default rate is at 7 HUF per MB. These two packages are available:
|2,479.06 HUF||1 GB||45 days|
|4,959.91 HUF||5 GB||45 days|
Data package can be used within the 45 days following activation. If you do not use it during this time, the balance of the data volume is lost. If you order a new data package prior to the expiration of the 45-day period, you will lose the remaining data quota in your previously ordered data package.
When you have used up 80% and 100% of the data quota, they will send you an SMS reminder, so you can always keep track of your current data traffic. Hipernet Praktikum does not support voice calls, but it can be used to send SMS messages and works in EU roaming too.
EU roaming Edit
Telenor is giving out all their data packages at domestic rates for roaming in the EU.
- Website in English: https://www.telenor.hu/en
- APN: online
Vodafone is the smallest provider in Hungary what the number of customers is concerned. It covers about 98% of the population on 2G and 3G and about 95% on 4G.
For 3G your device should be capable of the 900 MHz frequency, because most of its 3G antennas are based on it up to 21 Mbit/s. 4G/LTE network started in 2015 on 800 MHz and now available on 1800 and additionally on 2100 and 2600 MHz available for prepaid users in up to 75 Mbit/s: Coverage map
Their prepaid SIM has different plans and are called Tuti or Max. You can change plans when you text 'TV' followed by the name of the plan to 1270.
Top-ups can be made by vouchers or online on the "top-up centre" using international credit cards.
To find out your own number text SZAM to 1270.
TUTI is the name of their new base plan without any included allowances or as combo plan. You can add any of the data packages mentioned further below. These plans are given out for 30 days:
- TUTI+: free, no data included, 300 HUF credit, activation: TV TUTI+
- TUTI+ NET1GB: 1,245 HUF with 1 GB data and 300 HUF credit, activation: TV TUTI+NET1
- TUTI+ NET5GB: 3,559 HUF with 5 GB data and 300 HUF credit, activation: TV TUTI+NET5
Data feature packages Edit
For more data, they offer these packages to all Tuti and Max plans:
|150 MB||7 days||n./a.||n./a.||266 HUF||HETI150|
|300 MB||30 days||667 HUF||HAVI300E||444 HUF||HAVI300|
|1 GB||1601 HUF||HAVI1000E||1245 HUF||HAVI1000|
|5 GB||5338 HUF||HAVI5000E||3559 HUF||HAVI5000|
Activation is by texting code to 1270. To stop recurring packages text activation code preceded by "X" like "XHAVI300" to 1270. To renew ahead of time text "UJRARENDEL" (which means reorder) to 1270 free of charge. In case you still have leftover minutes, texts or data on your current balance, they will be added to your new one. Package balance can be checked for free on your online account or by texting ‘IEGYENLEG' to 171 (SMS costs 49 HUF).
EU roaming Edit
From 2017 all domestic allowances and add-on packs on the Tuti plans can be used in EU roaming too without surcharges.
- APN: vitamax.internet.vodafone.net
- Website in English: https://www.vodafone.hu/english not showing all offers
- Website in Hungarian: https://www.vodafone.hu/ showing all offers
A 4th LTE license to Romanian-backed RCS & RDS company (brand name: 'DIGI') was given out in 2014. They started their own 2G and 4G network on 1800 MHz (band 3) in May 2019
Their coverage is very limited (check map) and there is no domestic roaming on other networks. They sell only postpaid packets. These are reasons why they are still not an option for travellers!
- more info in Hungarian: http://digi.hu/mobil