If you’re staying in Barcelona for any length of time, one of the first things to do is to buy a Spanish SIM card and get yourself a local phone number, avoiding exorbitant charges for using your usual phone overseas.
- Note that, for your new Spanish SIM to work properly, your handset needs to be unlocked for all operators. You may need to have this done in a shop.
Pay-as-you-go SIMs in Barcelona
The simplest option if you’ve just arrived is pay-as-you-go, as you’ll just be asked for ID (and not even that in some cases). For contracts, however, you’ll need an NIE number, which can take several weeks to obtain.
Prices for pay-as-you-go cards start from €10, so it’s well worth buying one straight away, even if you plan to get a contract later once you have an NIE. It’s a practical solution which works out cheaper than using a foreign phone in Spain.
Where to buy
- Pay-as-you-go cards can be bought from mobile phone shops and from some newsagents.
- They can also be found in certain grocery stores in the Raval and Gòtic quarters. They’re easy to spot from the Lebara and Lycamobile ads on display (these operators specialise in PAYG).
Budget-friendly phone contracts in Barcelona
Several operators offer cheap phone contracts:
- Yoigo: the “sinfín” contract is particularly good, giving unlimited calls and data for around €30/month.
- Más Movil: for example, this operator offers a package 2 GB of data and unlimited calls for about €17/month.
- Pepephone: an operator which offers similar products to Más Movil.
- Tuenti: a competitor of Más Movil and Pepephone which also offers good deals.
Note that “budget” operators generally don’t have actual stores – your contract will be managed by phone or online.
- Warning: in Spain, a fixed call connection fee (establecimiento de llamada) of a few cents is often charged for every outgoing call. Check the conditions of your chosen tariff carefully.
“Classic” phone contracts in Barcelona
Besides the “budget” mobile operators, the giants of the mobile industry are also present in Spain. Their products are more expensive, but there are stores where you can go if you have a problem.
The “big three” operators in Barcelona are Movistar, Vodafone and Orange. They offer a variety of fairly conventional plans, similar to those found elsewhere in Europe and across the globe. The Phone House stores are handy for comparing offers and choosing your plan from a wide range of options.
Free roaming for all the inhabitants of the countries of the European Union
Good news! Since June 15, 2017, users of the European Union (except the Swiss people) do not need to buy SIM card because the package of their country of residence cover their calls in Barcelona.
They just need to activate roaming and data abroad on their mobile phone!
List of countries with free roaming
- Czech Republic
- Finland (including the Aland Islands)
- France (including Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, French Guyana, Reunion and Mayotte)
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom (including Gibraltar)
- San Marino
International phone plans
If you’re looking for a Spanish SIM card as a frequent visitor to the country, without actually living there, consult your existing phone operator. Many operators now offer European or Worldwide plans at attractive prices. This is increasingly common, and well worth checking out.