Thursday, June 2, 2011
Question of the month: Cell Phone & Money in Germany
Today we received the following question from a loyal client and we thought we publish this, as many clients do have questions about these topics:
I can't believe it's one month away...I am preparing now so I have a few Qs.
In the past, my parents had a rented cell phone sent to them prior to their departure and activated with their current number. I read that cell phones can be rented at major airports and prepaid. What have people done? I'd like a phone for emergencies and for use in Germany to contact family and friends for planning purposes, not chitchatting. Can you recommend something?
Last time we went two years ago we had trouble using a Visa card or getting cash from ATMs. I found most places in smaller cities didn't take US cards and most preferred cash or only took cash ie-Gasthauser. Are traveler's checks still used? Should we purchase Euros before we leave? Pleases advise.
My recommendation in regards of the cell phone rental is getting one upon touchdown. Either a sim card or a phone including sim card. Both options are available for prepay, so there are no contracts or anything binding involved. Obviously they would get a phone number for Germany. They can pick up one of those packages at any phone provider’s store and they can conveniently recharged (money) at any gas station. T-Mobile, Vodafone and O2 are the main player in Germany.
If you need a data-plan while travelling in Germany you have the choice of an internet stick for your laptop, which will cost you about € 60 plus a daily usage fee of approximately €4 on the days you are using the internet. The data-plan for your phone can also be added. Simyo offers no contract plans for as low as €10 per month, which allows to surf the web on your smart phone. You will need to pre-order the sim card and pay before arrival in Germany. Both alternatives do not have any binding contracts, so you only pay as you go.
Traveler’s checks are not a very common way to get money any longer, although banks and the postal offices still exchange them for cash, you will find it hard to use them in stores or restaurants. The most common way to get cash over there is using your debit card with your pin. Any ATM will take your card and allow withdraws of up to € 300 daily. There is a nominal fee from your US Bank, but it’s somewhere between $2 and $5 for each withdrawal, which is by far less expensive than using your credit card for cash withdrawal. Your credit card will be excepted in major restaurants, gas stations and some larger department stores, but you are right, Germany prefers CASH.