In modern time it is a must to have a SIM card when traveling. Having mobile data and able to communicate makes everything so much easier. International mobile packages are very expensive, or even over priced, so finding the best and affordable prepaid SIM card when traveling to Amsterdam is a must.
At the airport there are kiosks that sell SIM cards. Outside the airport, most supermarkets, tourist shops, convenient stores sell SIM cards. There are also options to buy online before coming to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
As a local, helping friends and family with getting a SIM card on their vacation in The Netherlands, I have done research for the best options. The most important thing is to have much mobile data rather than minutes.
How do prepaid SIM cards work?
Basically, with a prepaid SIM card you are able to use he mobile services and get a phone number in the country you are visiting. Important is in order for using a local SIM card, you phone must be SIM lock free (unlocked).
Unlocking you phone is usually done in the dashboard of your account if you have a subscription. Otherwise you can always let your phone be unlocked at a mobile shop. If you have an American phone, you might first have to go through with this process when unlocking your phone.
Of course, if you switch SIM cards you will not be reachable via your own number. On the other hand, your number will remain in your WhatsApp and will you be able to receive calls and messages on your own number via WhatsApp.
But if you also want to be reachable on your own phone number you might want to consider a second phone or a phone with a dual SIM card option.
Can I buy a SIM card at the Amsterdam Airport?
There are shops and kiosks that sell SIM cards at the airport. Keep in mind that any shop in the airport is marketed towards tourists and therefore not cheap.
The most obvious SIM card to buy will be Lebara. In the main hall you will find a Lebara kiosk. They focus on making many sales, what makes them pushy, rather than service and are overpriced.
Not far from the mobile kiosk you have a book kiosk called AKO book store. They also sell an overpriced Lebara SIM card. Trust me, when you walk in a small shopping centers at the edge of Amsterdam, these cards are handed out for free!
Not long ago the Airport Telecom Shop opened its doors. The Airport Telecom store is located between Arrivals 1 and 2. Although it has a wide range of mobile products and services, like most shops it is not cheap.
In my experience the most convenient is to have a SIM card before you reach your travel destination. One time I landed at the Miami airport, I needed to call the person picking me up. Not being able to communicate was very frustrating. The only way was to call was with my own number, thus paying way too much for that 5 minute phone call. Buying a prepaid SIM card online in advance is recommended.
Do I need a SIM card from The Netherlands as a European citizen?
If you are a citizen from Europe or from the UK and you already have a local SIM card, then you don’t need to buy one from The Netherlands.
You can use your own plan to make phone calls and use data with no extra charge. There are no roaming charges anymore in Europe and the UK (despite Brexit).
Do I need a SIM card from The Netherlands as a non-European citizen?
You do not necessarily need a SIM card from The Netherlands. It al depends on your budget and how often you will need your phone. Most shops have Free WiFi and if you need to navigate you can also use the offline Google maps or some other (free) offline map.
1. Use your home provider
In general it is possible use your home carrier when traveling. When you will use your home subscription without any upgrades it will become very expensive. Fees can be up to $2.05 per minute,MB or text for calls and data usage overseas
Carriers often offer international travel plans. AT&T, for example, has a AT&T International Day Pass for $10 a day to use your home plan overseas. The AT&T Passport is also an option at $70 a month per device. A con is that it is limited to 2GB which is not that much for that price.
The only plus side is that you are reachable on your own telephone number when traveling. Of course, you will still be reachable via WhatsApp if you would use a SIM card from The Netherlands.
2. Get a Global SIM
There are many options when it comes to Global SIM cards. The benefit rubout these cards that you have one SIM which you can use all over the world. You don’t need to search for local options any more when traveling to a specific destination.
The rates may be higher as you pay for the convenience. In my research I came across Drimsim. Drimsim is the first universal SIM card and free app for travelers. Drimsim is a real SIM card. It’s a plastic card with a chip, just like any other, which you can insert into your phone, tablet, or router.
Drimsim operates in 229 countries, provides stable communication, a fast Internet connection, and prices similar to those of local operators.
You can call your friends and they can call you. You can chat, post photos, and make routes without being afraid of spending all your money on roaming. Drimsim negotiates directly with the operators. Therefore, Drimsim is cheaper than roaming and SIM cards from other providers.
Drimsim has an app to help you keep track of your expenses. The balance can be refilled manually or via auto-payment. Money is written off in seconds and megabytes, but not for packages or subscribers.
3. Get a Local SIM card
Where to get a SIM card and the costs
SIM cards are available in many shops. You can get them at supermarkets (e.g. Albert Hein), Media Markt (not far from Amsterdam Centraal), convenience stores (e.g. AKO book store), tourist shops and of course mobile shops.
Lycamobile and Lebara are relatively cheaper when it comes to prepaid SIM cards compared to other local operators such as KPN, t-Mobole, Tele2 etc. I have used them both and basically for me they are just the same. They take over each other with offers. One month Lebara has a discount offer, the next month Lycamobile has good discount as well.
If you want to top-up, you can buy credits at many stores but for your convenience you can always buy online at opwaarderen.nl (this link will only open in the Netherlands). I have always used them without any problems.
In the table below I will sort out the popular providers with their cheapest or profitable plan.
|€15 (30 days)
– Unlimited calls/txt
|€10 (30 days)
– Unlimited calls/txt
|– 1,5 GB
– 150 minutes
– 150 txt
– € 10 call credit
|– Unlimited internet (128 Kbit/s)
– € 10 call credit
– € 10 call credit
|€ 7 (7 days)
|– 2 GB
– 100 minutes
– 100 txt
So what is the best prepaid SIM card in The Netherlands for tourists?
I have summed up the options for you. What you choose depends on your budget and the level of convenience you want.