VodafoneVodafone is considered the number two network in Germany which has become the biggest market of the UK-based provider. They cover almost 98% of the population by 4G/LTE in 2019.
Meanwhile their 3G network has been partly refarmed to 4G with only one remaining UMTS carrier (formerly three) in most cities. That is why Vodafone without 4G/LTE can't be recommended for heavy data users, because data speeds are often less than 1 Mbit/s in crowded areas on 3G.
Vodafone mostly uses 800 MHz (B20) frequency band for 4G/LTE away from large cities. Additionally, 700 MHz (B28), 900 MHz (B8), 1800 MHz (B3), 2100 MHz (B1) and 2600 MHz (B7) are employed.
5G has been started in a few places in 2019. All own branded Vodafone prepaid SIM cards can use it, but only a few handsets are so far capable of 3500 MHz (n78).
Their prepaid card is called "CallYa" and available at their stores (store locator) and many more outlets for 9.95 € with 10 € credit or 14.95 € with 15 € credit. If you have a German postal address, you can order a free unregistered Freikarte online to be delivered by mail within a few days.
Note that certain stores (Saturn/MediaMarkt, for instance) and some merchants on eBay don't sell actual Vodafone starter packs, but Mobilcom-Debitel starter packs instead. The outer packs look very similar to Vodafone starter packs, but have a Mobilcom-Debitel brand on the upper left of the packet. They offer the exact same tariffs as a regular Vodafone SIM, can be topped up with the exact same vouchers as a regular Vodafone SIMs, but don't participate in Vodafone promotions.
Actually CallYa cards are valid for an indefinite period. The CallYa prepaid contract ends only with a notice. Your credit balance will not be forfeited.
If you do not use your prepaid card for a long time (problably more than 9-12 months) they may terminate your CallYa contract. You will receive a German SMS asking if you want to keep your CallYa card. Then you have 4 weeks to make a rechargeable activity to your card (making a call, sending SMS or do a top-up) to keep it stay active. When the deadline expires, your CallYa shall be blocked and inactive accordingly.
SIM card registration
All SIM cards need to be registered and verified, before you can use them. This can be done in their branded stores at purchase. That's why it's recommended to buy them there (click here to search for a list of stores in your area). Vodafone is not so strict as Telekom when it comes to an address. They take hotel or B&B addresses too. Keep yours handy.
Unfortunately, some Vodafone stores follow an unofficial policy of charging 10 € for the registration or apply a 55 € minimum balance to the CallYa plans. So stay polite, shop around or use other ways like WebID or PostIdent. There you do the verification through a video chat. But be aware that only ID documents of about 100 countries can be registered this way so far (for list check here) every day 7am-11pm.
Recharge vouchers are for sale all over the country in supermarkets, service stations and kiosks among others starting at 15 € or online through their website using a credit card for as low as 5 €.
To check your balance, dial *100#.
Starter and base plans
These voice plans with data up to 5G are valid for 4 weeks (= 28 days):
- CallYa Talk&SMS: no included volumes, data must be added (see below) - free
- CallYa Smartphone Special: 2.5 GB data, 200 mins or SMS to all networks in the EU: 9.99 €
- CallYa Digital: the best plan for data with 10 GB and unlimited domestic voice: 20 €
- CallYa Allnet-Flat: 5 GB data, unlimited texts and voice to all domestic networks and 500 mins to all networks in the EU: 22.50 €
Unlimited domestic on-net calls on the Vodafone network are included for free to all options. Speed is a max. of 500 Mbit/s on 4G/LTE or 5G. When volume is used up, it will be reduced to 32 kbit/s.
Data feature packages
To all plans these data add-ons valid for 4 weeks (full 28 days with auto-renewal, regardless of base plan) can be added:
- 400 MB: 2.99 €
- 800 MB: 5.99 €
- 2 GB: 9.99 €
- 5 GB: 19.99 €
- 7.5 GB: 29.99 €
- and a day "flat" of 10 GB for 24 hours: 4.99 €
To all CallYa plans a "dayflat" option can be added: it gives you up to 10 GB data for 24 hours at 4.99 €. Activation is by texting 'DAY' to 80808.
To activate go online or text the data size of the pack (e.g. '2 GB' or 'Day') to 80808 or use the Tarifmanager by calling 22044. To cancel any of the data packages, use their Mein Vodafone app or your personal account before the renewal date.
In 2017 Vodafone issued a new fully customizable plan by app called Vodafone Flex. You need to transfer a regular Vodafone SIM card using their special app called CallYa Flex available in Play Store for Android and AppStore for iOS. The advantage this plan is that you can adjust every 28 days according to your needs by app:
|Data||+ 50 mins/SMS||+ 150 mins/SMS||+ 400 mins/SMS|
|1 GB||4.99 €||5.99 €||7.99 €|
|1.5 GB||6.99 €||7.99 €||9.99 €|
|3 GB||9.99 €||10.99 €||12.99 €|
You can reset data and mins/SMS anytime ahead of the renewal. 4.99 € are charged for any data reset and 1.49 € for voice/SMS reset. All other add-ons from regular plans can't be used. All allowances are valid in the EU/EEA too and voice allowance for calls out of Germany to EU countries, which is rare.
This plan gives good data rates for big volumes with the reset like 6 GB for 14.98 €. But be aware that you can only pause this plan by being low on credit or changing back to a regular Talk&SMS plan (see above) as there is no free base plan on Flex.
Vodafone CallYa Black
Vodafone launched another new prepaid plan called CallYa Black in 2019. It includes unlimited calls and SMS to all numbers in Germany and 50 GB data on 4G/LTE for 79.99 € for 4 weeks. 38 GB can be used for toaming in the EU. On top of that it contains 500 mins to all networks in the EU. It´s promoted as a plan especially for tourists and fair visitors and can be only bought in some Vodafone flagship stores.
Restrictions (VoIP, Tethering)
There are no restrictions using VoIP services like Facetime or Skype (effective 2015) anymore. The same applies to mobile hotspot use aka tethering.
Vodafone was the first provider in Germany that allowed allowances of all prepaid plans and top-ups to be used without surcharges in all over the EU/EEA, mostly using 4G/LTE Vodafone and partner networks. Note, that roaming in Switzerland is charged extra at very high 4 € per MB. For roaming in Turkey they offer a special package with 500 MB at 10 €. 5G roaming is offered in the UK, Spain, Italy and Ireland.
- APN for CallYa voice & data SIM: web.vodafone.de
- Website in German only: http://www.vodafone.de/
Otelo is a subsidiary of Vodafone and uses its network on 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE up to 21 Mbit/s.
Their starter packs are available online on their website to be sent to a German postal adress or offline in the electronic stores of EP: Electronic Parter, Euronics and other places like some service stations.
The prepaid starter pack is called Handy-Karte for 4.95 € with 5 € credit on it.
Top-ups can be made with cash cards sold at the shops mentioned above or by Vodafone CallNow vouchers, even more widely available. Check balance by *100#.
SIM card registration
Registration is made online here by entering your personal data. Verification is through Online ID of WebID every day 7am-11pm over a video chat. It's only available for about 120 countries so far. So if your country is not on this list , better stay away.
Data feature packages
There is no base rate as you need to activate a plan with data to access internet. This is their prepaid tariff including voice, text and data or data-only for 28 days:
|Smart S||450 MB||100 units||4.95 €|
|Smart M||600 MB||200 units||6.95 €|
|Smart XL||1.5 GB||300 units||9.95 €|
|Smart XXL||4 GB||300 units||14.95 €|
|Internet XS||300 MB||3.95 €|
|Internet S||600 MB||4.95 €|
|Internet M||2 GB||9.95 €|
|Internet L||5 GB||19.95 €|
Units are minutes or SMS. Activation is by app, online account "mein otelo" or account server 12430. These add-on packages can be added for extra data valid for 14 days:
- 250 MB: 1.95 €
- 750 MB: 5.95 €
- 1.5 GB: 9.95 €
Data is up to 21 Mbit/s on 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE and will be throttled for overuse to 64 kbit/s.
otelo Surf Stick
The Surf Stick plan can not be recommended anymore as it's only on 2G and 3G networks without access to 4G/LTE. The 3G network is winding down and has become quite slow for data.
The included allowances can be used for roaming in the EU/EEA without surcharges at domestic rates.
- APN for Handy Karte talk & data SIM: data.otelo.de
- APN for Surf SIM data-only SIM: event.otelo.de
- Website in German only: http://www.otelo.de
In 2015 LIDL changed network partners: Now LIDL exclusively sells their starter packs under the label of LIDL Connect as a MVNO on the Vodafone network in 2G, 3G and new on 4G/LTE (capped at 21.6 Mbit/s, see coverage above).
This section only applies to SIM cards purchased after October 2015 at Lidl's. Lidl Connect can be considered as the cheapest way to access Vodafone's 4G network at the moment.
Since 2015 their new starter packs are available exclusively in all Lidl discounter stores (store locator). They are not on display, but have to be asked for at the checkout desk. They are sold at 9.95 € starter price containing a 10 € credit. A triple-size SIM card is given out. Try to get the "Classic" line that is their default rate that can later be switched to any other line (but the "Internet stick" tariff).
Top-up by credit card online (but some foreign cards may not be accepted) or vouchers sold at Lidl discounter stores starting from 5 € or any Vodafone cash card called 'Call now' (for min. 15 €). To top-up by voucher, type *100*<voucher PIN>#. To check credit of your account, type *100#.
SIM card registration
Your SIM needs to be registered, before it connects to the network. Registration is made online here by entering your personal data. Verification is through Online ID of WebID every day 7am-11pm over a video chat or PostIdent in post offices. It's only available for about 120 countries so far. Better check their list at "Welche Ausweisdokumente sind erlaubt" in their FAQ when you come from an unusual country as there is no other way to register.
Data feature packages
There is no data use outside of packages. So get one of their monthly bundles, either as combo pack or a data-only bundle, all valid for 28 days:
|Package||Price||Data||Calls / SMS||Refills (for 14 days)|
Combo packs: Data & Calls & SMS bundles
|Smart XS||4.99 €||1 GB||100 mins/SMS||500 MB: 0.99 €|
|Smart S||7.99 €||3 GB||unlimited||1 GB: 2.99 €|
|Smart L||12.99 €||5 GB||unlimited||2 GB: 4.99 €|
|Smart XL||17.99 €||7 GB||unlimited||3 GB: 8.99 €|
|3.99 €||500 MB||-|
|6.99 €||1 GB||-|
To activate a package, go to your personal account called "Mein Kundenkonto", use their app or call customer service at 0172 22220 (at 0.49 € per call). The combo and data-only packages auto-renew after 30 days, if you have enough credit. Add-ons stop when depleted or their base pack has run out and won't auto-renew. When having reached the included data volume, speed will be throttled to 64 kbit/s otherwise.
For more data after combo pack is used up, so-called Speed Buckets"data refills (see table right column) can be activated on every running plan. Note, that they are valid for 14 days only.
Data-only SIM (Surf-Karte)
Lidl offers two more data-only packages on a special SIM called Surf Karte. You need to get this very SIM at Lidl's and can't change from another. It's available:
- as SIM-only: Surf-Karte for 9.99 € with 10 € credit prel-oaded
- with a 4G USB dongle: Internet-Stick for 39.99 € with 10 € credit
These two data-only plans are offered for this SIM:
- daily rate: 24 hours, 1 GB - 1.99 €
- monthly rate: 30 days: 6 GB - 14.99 €
The daily rate is not charged, on days when no data are used, the monthly rate will not auto-renew. Note, that the on the data-only SIM international roaming is blocked. It will only work in Germany.
EU roaming (except Surf Karte)
All allowances of Lidl Connect SIMs can be used for roaming in the EU/EEA without surcharges. This doesn't apply to their data-only SIM Surf Karte on which international roaming remains blocked.
- APN: web.vodafone.de
- Tethering is banned, but works anyway
- VoIP is banned, but works anyway on all devices
- Website: http://www.lidl-connect.de
Fyve is another provider powered by otelo and uses the Vodafone network on 2G, 3G and now on 4G/LTE too, capped at 21 Mbit/s.
Online orders (http://www.fyve.de) are only delivered to a German postal address for a 2.50 € fee. Starter packs are offline available at service stations (like Shell, Esso, Agip, Jet). It costs 10 €, this includes 10 € credit.
To top-up any Vodafone refill voucher (so-called CallNow cash card) can be used. They are widely available in kiosks, supermarkets or service stations all over Germany. Check balance by *100#.
SIM card registration
Your SIM needs to be registered before it connects to the network. Registration is made online here by entering your personal data. Verification is through Online ID of WebID every day 7am-11pm over a video chat. It's only available for about 120 countries so far. So if your country is not on this list, better stay away as it's the only way.
Data feature packs
Online or by app you can customize your plan and add domestic voice, SMS or data. It's valid for 28 days and can be changed every month. The is no base rate as you need to activate a package for data:
|Package||Data||Calls / SMS||Price|
|Smart XS||250 MB||200 units||6.95 €|
|Smart S||1.5 GB||200 units||8.95 €|
|Smart L||3 GB||300 units||14.95 €|
|Surf-Flatrate M||500 MB||3 GB||5 €|
Units are minutes for domestic calls or SMS. All packages automatically renew, if there is a sufficient balance on the account. The packages can be cancelled or changed every month online, by calling 22922 or by app.
After using up all high-speed data volume, speed is reduced to 64 kbit/s. For more data you can add valid for 30 days Surf-on packs:
- 150 MB: 1.95 €
- 500 MB: 5.95 €
- 1 GB: 9.95 €
To activate text "SURFON" followed by 150, 500 or 1000 to 80808.
The included domestic allowances of all packages can be used for roaming in the EU/EEA countries without surcharges.
- Tethering is allowed (at least you are allowed to use a 3G stick)
- APN: web.vodafone.de
- Website (in German only): http://www.fyve.de
Lycamobile from the UK is the main competitor of Lebara mobile on the so-called ethno market. In Germany it's operating as a MVNO on the Vodafone network in 2G, 3G only and since Feb. 2020 on 4G/LTE. Max. speed remains slow 7.2 Mbit/s.
Their SIM card is sold online to be sent to a German postal address or offline at many outlets (store locator) for free without credit. Registration and verification is done in their stores by showing your ID document.
There and at service stations, supermarkets and kiosks, you can find Lyca's reload vouchers. You can try to top-up online on your account by credit card, because some (but not all) international cards are accepted. As a last resort you can also use PayPal or PaySafeCards or swap credit from other Lycamobile SIM cards even of a different country for a surcharge. Balance check is by *131#.
SIM card registration
Your SIM needs to be registered before it connects to the network. Registration is made at their points of purchase in their stores. Lycamobile is known to accept almost all countries and valid passports. For points of registration check their shop locator.
Data feature packs
0.19 € per MB is charged as default rate, if no data bundle is booked or all data used up.
These data bundles valid for 28 days are offered for up to 4G/LTE:
|500 MB||500 MB||7.99 €||*139*11500#|
|2.5 GB||2.5 GB||9.99 €||*139*11000#|
|5 GB||5 GB||14.99 €||*139*13000#|
|7.5 GB||7.5 GB||19.99 €||*139*15000#|
|14 GB||14 GB||29.99 €||*139*15100#|
|25 GB||19.5 GB||39.99 €||*139*25100#|
|50 GB||38.5 GB||79.99 €||*139*50100#|
Lycamobile will automatically renew your bundle once it expires. To cancel the auto-renewal dial *190# before the expiry date and follow the instructions or call Customer Service for free on 322 before the expiry date. Be aware that data packages can't be used for EU roaming which is unusual for German providers. The 10 GB is discounted to 19.99 € for its first purchase.
Speed is up to 7.2 Mbps and throttled after having reached the quota to 56 kbit/s. Only one of the bundles above can be activated per month. For more data, they offer add-on packages, which can be added to the running packages above. Note that extra volume is only valid for the running time of the base package and won't roll over:
- 500 MB: 6 €, activation: *139*115002#
- 1 GB: 9 € , activation: *139*110002#
- 3 GB: 14.99 €, activation: *139*130002#
- 5 GB: 19.99 €, activation: *139*150002#
For activation of the add-on packages text number to 3535. A new base bundle can only be activated 30 days past the old one.
Lycamobile customers can now use their bundle allowances while roaming in EE/EEA. Unlike other providers in Germany, these are governed by a Fair Use Policy (FUP). You can only use up to the limit shown as EU cap in the table in big packs, while smaller packs, add-on packs and the default rate give all their volume without surcharges in EU countries.
- APN: data.lycamobile.de
- Username: lmde (lowercase L, not capital i)
- Password: plus
- Website in English
- Lycamobile's website claims they will keep a number active 180 days, since it was last used and credit stays valid for 90 days.
- VoIP is allowed except using the Lebara Talk app
- Tethering seems not to be allowed and effectively blocked. They are known to sniff and kill tethering connections.