Mobile Phone Contracts in Spain
If you are going to be a regular visitor to Spain or Andalucia, you may want to buy a SIM card and a Spanish mobile phone rather than rely on the roaming service provided by your home providor.
Spain has one of the lowest number of land line telephones per capita in Europe, it makes up for it when it comes to mobile phone ownership.
If you shop around, you can get a contract phone for as little as 9 euros on a monthly minimum contract as low as 6 euros. Offers like these are obviously based on the fact that you commit to sign up for a minimum period of 18 months. Many new contracts with 'permanencia' include a new smartphone.
Contract or Pre-paid?
If you are resident in Spain and have an NIE (Foreign Residency Identification Number) then you can buy a phone with a contract (contrato), which offers cheaper call rates, equalling an average saving of 30%, compared to pre-paid. The contract bill is paid monthly through your Spanish bank account by Direct Debit. If you are non-resident in Spain and have no NIE number, ask if your passport number and Spanish bank account details will suffice.
The alternative is to buy a phone with a pre-paid card (tarjeta pre pago). To top up credit (recargar) on the tarjeta you can go to one of the many mobile phone stores if you are in a major town or city. Also many shops, supermarkets, newsagents and tobacconists (estancos) offer this service. If you go well off the beaten track its best to make sure you have topped up your credit.
The coverage on your mobile phone in Andalucia is good in all but the most remote areas.
If you are buying a house in the country, check the coverage in that area with your home country mobile before investing in Spanish SIM card or signing up for a mobile contract. By selecting ‘network’ manually, your mobile phone will automatically come up with the main providers, Movistar, Vodafone and Orange. Simply click individually on each one and check out the level of coverage from where you are.
Where to Buy a Mobile Phone
When buying your Spanish mobile, the three main providers are Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange. General phone shops will no doubt bombard you with current offers which change so often that it’s hard to keep track. Which one you go for will depend where, when, and how often you use the phone. There are many dedicated provider shops.
If you would rather compare the deals, then its best to go to a large independent electronics retails outlet in a town or a shopping mall. Carrefour stores also carry a good selection of mobile phones in their electrical departments. The Phone House also has over 160 shops in Andalucia and runs interesting offers on many makes and packages. The large department store, El Corte Inglés usually has a good selection of phones, with interesting offers, both contract and pre-paid. Large, reputable stores are also more likely to be helpful if you are unlucky enough to purchase a phone which later proves to be faulty.
In June 2019 Vodafone launched 5G in a handful of cities across Spain while Movistar, Orange, and Yoigo following.
Spanish Mobile Telephone Operators
An overview of the Spanish Mobile Telephone Operators. From Movistar the state incumbant to Vodafone, Orange, Mas Mobile and the many others. More>