SIM Card or Europe - ALDI TALK

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by lhendrik, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. lhendrik

    lhendrik Putins Puppet

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    I wanted to share my experience getting a SIM card in Europe to use in my smartphone.

    I travel to Europe annually for a few weeks, always starting in Germany (Heidelberg/Stefan Knopf's)

    I use an iPhone that has been unlocked so I can install a SIM from another carrier. These comments will also apply to other phones (Android, etc)

    Before you leave home, download the APP called "ALDI TALK" for your phone (APP or Play Store) and install it. Easy

    I went to the ALDI supermarket (a huge chain all over the world), and purchased an ALDI TALK SIM card starter package. It costs EUR12.99, and includes a EUR10 credit, so cheap. You get it at the checkout counter. Easy

    Because I was in Germany, where they have rules regarding cell phone registration, the activation and registration process gets messy. Using the ALDI TALK App, which is in Germany (!) enter the information for your SIM that comes on the cardboard id card included in the starter package. There is a SIM number, your new phone number, and several PIN and PUK (unlock) codes on the card. Not so Easy, used google translate to read all the mumbo-jumbo.

    You can punch out the size SIM you need from the id card (SIM, Micro, Nano).

    With the SIM installed in your phone, you now need to Register yourself. You will need an address in Germany, any address thats real, but they will not check to see if you live there. This requires your passport and a strong WIFI internet connection. You will be going online to an ALDI website and will enter some identifying info and then you will initiate a video connection to ALDI's agent (English speaking requestable). The agent will direct you to hold up you passport to the smartphone camera and will capture your id. Amazingly, this works. I was standing in my hotel bathroom with a strong light source. Not too horrible

    Once the registration is complete, you wait for 24-48 hours for your SIM to start working. You will receive an email (German) saying it's working. Until then you get NO SERVICE on phone.

    Magically it all works. You now have a EUR10 credit on your account and can talk, text and even do some internet.

    I then added a BIG 5.5 GB data flat rate package to my account for EUR14.99. To do that you can buy credit at ALDI, or get E-Plus credit at many outlets in Europe. You cannot use your non-German credit card.

    So, after two days, I now have internet access so I can use google maps and call hotels and get in touch with whoever I need if the bike breaks, etc. All this is good for one month.

    Note: All of this is much easier if you have a patient, German speaking friend nearby. I did not, so I spent an hour or two in my hotel one evening......

    Alternative is to go into a major player phone company shop (O2, Vodaphone, etc) and pay a bit more for their flat rate prepaid package, some will help you, some will say NO.

    Another alternative is to go into any of those immigrant focused little phone shops and tell them to set you up with a SIM. They mostly use one of the phone reseller companies (MVNO's). They will make it happen. Not sure about the legality.

    All of these options are better than using your USA based carriers international plans. Mine was ATT and their Passport Plan is pretty expensive for very little data. I hear T-Mobile is better.

    Good luck.
    #1
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  2. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Note that the T-Mobile "Simple Choice" plans have unlimited data and text pretty much throughout western Europe and talk is US$ 0.20/minute.

    The "free" data rate is 2 or 3G, but you can up that to 4G for $15/month. I've been using it for the past couple of years with no issues. The low data rate isn't much for watching video, but is more than enough to hit booking.com or similar - and of course I switch to wifi in the hotel. I also don't talk a whole lot.
    #2
  3. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    In the UK there are phone shops down every street. Usually one from each major player. Go in and buy a card - there are often offers like I got - put on £10 credit, get £10 free, card is free. Maybe not always the same, but cheaper than above, #1.
    The big plus is that although you need to register the card, you can write/tell them anything. The card is immediately activated too.
    So lots of cut price offers, no fees, and immediate activation - available in most places in the UK.

    The EU forced all Euro based service providers to drop roaming charges as from last April (?), so for a while that will apply to your UK bought card.

    I'm not a big user, and I lost my phone, still with most of the original £20 on it. After 3 years, I was persuaded to go in to the service provider (EE, was T mobile, was Orange, was Wanadoo, was FreeServe - EE now owned by BT). They found my number and the amount of credit left, gave me a new SIM and installed it the cheapest (£5) phone they sold.

    My previous provider, O2, stole my credit and discontinued my number because they said I didn't use it enough. Just because I have no friends does not mean I should be excommunicated!
    #3
  4. lhendrik

    lhendrik Putins Puppet

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    Thanks MJ and NG, I knew I'd be hearing from you two!

    Yes, of course you can always go into a store and have someone do it all for you.

    Myself, I dislike the dodgy little resellers shops almost as much as I dislike the over-decorated phone boutique shops of the majors

    In the part of Heidelberg I was starting my tour there were neither available. Aldi was on the corner and it was very satisfying to buy groceries and a SIM !

    I'm getting 4G speed in small town France (on Orange network now) and all you can eat data for a month.

    I'm happy. Happy trails guys!
    #4
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  5. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    I don't know much about Aldi in Germany except they sell some killer Schnapps at a good price, "Vieux Prune" but here they mostly have special offers available "until they are gone" which for desirable stuff may not be long - and I've never seen them here in UK. Perhaps a local can enlighten us.

    In the UK most sellers are no more dodgy than any other large capitalistic enterprise. There are small scale vendors who work out of trailers on market days, but the headline ones which are interspersed with the nail bars and hairsalons along the high streets are big business.
    Normally you just get the sealed card. I (OK, they) only had to faff around because I had lost mine.

    In the end it comes down to where you are - no point Aldi.De having the best deal in the world if they are not available where you are. And ditto the ones I have mentioned.
    #5
  6. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

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    Just to reinforce Nick’s point above. It’s a lot easier to fix up a phone deal in the UK than the ALDI.de palaver.

    In addition to the big companies - O2, Vodaphone, EE and the like there’s always Tesco (national supermarket chain). Free SIM as long as you’re buying £10 credit, on the O2 network, lots of upgrade packs for data, etc. I took my in-laws down there to get hooked up; the staff did all the work and they walked out of the store with working phones in less time than it took my better half to buy a few groceries!

    There are some advantages to living in the UK then! Still wish we weren’t divorcing Europe though :(
    #6
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  7. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Tesco also have super cheap own brand smartphones from £35. If you are staying around long enough, they have domestic broadband and phones too.

    Most providers have some scheme running for "free SIM" usually with the requirement to purchase £ 5 - 10 credit.

    I almost succumbed and bought a secondhand rugged smart phone for gps on the bike, and looked into a data/calls/text package, the cheapest was around £5 monthly.
    No roaming charges until Brexit.
    #7
  8. GvG

    GvG Been here awhile

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    As far as I know it's getting harder and harder to get a SIM in the EU, because more and more countries are getting laws that require you to have a local address.

    Is this not the case in Germany and the UK?
    I do have to say that in my experience in Germany even 3G coverage isn't that great and coverage in the UK is just appalling in general.
    #8
  9. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I didn't realise that Europe was going the way of phone/sim registration.

    Dead easy in the UK. I bought my first ever mobile phone recently in a second hand shop, went down the road to a Three shop and bought a pay-as-you-go sim. No registration at all. (Had to charge up the phone, though).
    #9
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  10. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    UK coverage is rather patchy. The bottom end of our village is really bad, despite having a tower about 1/4 mile away, yet we can go out in the wilds of Fenland - no notable habitation for miles - and get 4G.
    Privatised infrastructure. The providers only do the minimum, and play the blame game - and there is little difference between them. One location may favour one company over another, but out of cities, as GVG says crap.

    The same is true for broadband. Many of the new - last couple of years - fibre cabinets installed to service the domestic local loops are now over subscribed with waiting lists.
    The company with responsibility since BT/Openreach was forced to split is rolling out Gfast with more addresses having the possibility of Fibre/cable like speeds. Until then we in the countryside are limited by the crap antediluvian local loops dating from the mid 20thC.
    #10
  11. Learres

    Learres Adventurer

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    Haha, our German rules are really quite complicated when it comes so SIM card registration...
    Actually, everything is more complicated in Germany :D
    #11
  12. beebeer54

    beebeer54 Adventurer

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  13. Global Rider

    Global Rider Alps Adventurer

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    I've been using Aldi Talk for years and their service has been great and ultra reasonable (compared to North America).

    Plus before heading back, I'll stick €15 on my card and my phone is active for a whopping two years. Greedy providers on this side of the pond could learn a lot.
    #13
  14. Global Rider

    Global Rider Alps Adventurer

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    I never had to register anything. I went to Aldi, picked up a starter pack and was up and running in under an hour.
    #14
  15. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    Perhaps we can all sign affidavits stating that you have so many friends, good friends, important friends on ADV, and a huge number of likes, and demand that your credit be returned? :D
    #15
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