Best Mobile Network in Spain: Expat Guide

Are you looking for a reliable mobile network provider for your trip or day-to-day life in Spain? Having a Spanish number is essential if you are an expat and need internet to navigate around. Fortunately, everyone can get a mobile plan for Spain as long as they have a valid ID. So you don’t need to spend a lot on roaming while using your home’s mobile.

According to the latest in-depth study across the entire country, Vodafone is the best mobile network provider in Spain for internet and phone reception in terms of availability, performance, and reliability. Movistar comes in second and Orange third.

In this article, we break down the best mobile network in Spain, the best SIM cards for your phone, and much more.

What is the best mobile network in Spain?

Source: umlaut.com

There are 4 main mobile networks in Spain, all of which have good coverage:

  1. Movistar
  2. Vodafone
  3. Orange
  4. Yoigo

However, Vodafone wins in the test for best Spain’s mobile network for the sixth time in a row. Movistar is in second place.

Orange ranks third with a good result and Yoigo fourth with the grade “satisfactory.“

Consequently, Vodafone has the best coverage in Spain. Its 4G/LTE network covers 96.5% of the country. Orange’s network covers 91.7% of the country. Movistar and Yoigo cover 89% of the country.

All SIM cards providers in Spain are using one of those mobile networks. This means that no matter which mobile contract you have, you always make calls and surf the internet on one of these four mobile networks. Yoigo is the cheapest network in the country.

1. Vodafone (Vodafone España)

Vodafone España is the third largest Spanish mobile network and has been on the market since 2000. With about 14 million customers, Vodafone has a share of about 23% of the Spanish mobile market.

Vodafone is a large telecommunications company known worldwide with a base in the UK. It’s active in Spain since 2001. Vodafone provides excellent mobile, internet, and television networks, making it one of the most well-rounded providers in the country.

Moreover, it has English-speaking customer service, which is pretty uncommon in Spain. When it comes to speed, the Vodafone 4G network has a maximum speed of 1 Gbps.

2. Movistar

Movistar is the brand name of the Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica. Telefónica S.A. is one of the largest telco companies in the world. The operator is present in 17 countries.

Today, Movistar is the largest mobile operator in Spain with approx. 19 million customers and a market share of over 30%. Movistar is supporting 4G+ with maximum speeds reaching up to 1 Gbps. It also provides 5G coverage.

3. Orange España

Orange is the third-best mobile network in Spain and the second-largest mobile operator in the country, with a market share of about 25%.

Currently, Orange has about 16 million customers in Spain.

4. Yoigo

Yoigo is a relatively new mobile network provider in Spain. They offer great coverage in cities and are cheaper than the other 3 leading network providers.

So it’s a good budget option for someone living in the city, but their coverage isn’t great in remote areas.

Currently, Yoigo has about 7.4 million customers and a market share of approx. 14%.

Best voice quality

Source: umlaut.com

According to the tests, Vodafone provides the best quality for calls within Spain. Movistar is in the second spot, Orange is third, and Yoigo is last when it comes to the voice calls.

Both Vodafone and Movistar offer excellent speech quality to their customers.

Internet coverage

Source: umlaut.com

All Spanish mobile network operators have improved their internet coverage in recent years. All providers offer 5G speeds. Yet, Yoigo has the worst 4G coverage in Spain.

Download speeds

Movistar has the highest download speeds on average, followed by Orange.

  • 32,5 Mbps – Movistar
  • 28,9 Mbps – Orange
  • 22,1 Mbps – Vodafone
  • 23,4 Mbps – Yoigo

Upload speeds

Source: opensignal.com

It also has the best upload speeds:

  • 12 Mbps – Movistar
  • 8,9 Mbps – Orange
  • 9,4 Mbps – Vodafone
  • 7,3 Mbps – Yoigo

Results were measured in July 2021.

Mobile network operators in Spain

There are 4 leading mobile network operators or mobile providers in Spain:

  • Movistar
  • Orange
  • Vodafone
  • Yoigo

In addition, Spain has many SIM card providers, also known as MVNOs (Mobile virtual network operators), operating on one of those networks, including Lebara, Lycamobile, PepePhone, etc.

The biggest mobile network provider in Spain is Movistar, followed by Orange and Vodafone.

When it comes to popularity, Movistar leads the way with around 30% of the market share in 2019. However, other operators aren’t far behind, with Orange (25%) and Vodafone (23%) closing the gap. This is followed by Yoigo (14%) and many smaller MVNOs (Mobile virtual network operator) providers.

Some facts about mobile network operators in Spain:

  1. Movistar doesn’t offer customer service in English.
  2. Orange has great, cheap offers on both phones and calling plans.
  3. Vodafone is best for travellers since they provide excellent coverage not only in Spain but in most EU countries and the UK. Additionally, you get cheaper roaming charges, English customer service and they generally offer reasonable rates across the board.
  4. Vodafone is the most popular network among expats in Spain.
  5. Yoigo offers some of the cheapest mobile plans. Yet, their coverage is less comprehensive.

Things to consider when choosing your mobile network in Spain

Before signing for a mobile plan in Spain, you want to consider several essential aspects.

1. English-speaking service

Does the network provider offer support and service in English so you can call them any time in case of some problem? English-speaking services can be hard to find in Spain.

For example, the first popular mobile network Movistar isn’t a common choice among expats since they don’t provide services in English.

If you want English-speaking customer service, we recommend Vodafone or Orange.

2. Roaming fees

If you are planning to leave Spain often and use your phone abroad, don’t forget to check the prices and conditions for roaming. Some providers might charge hefty fees.

3. Mobile data

If you like to surf the web or need the internet for work, you want to pick a provider with enough mobile data for a reasonable price too. Fortunately, the internet in Spain is pretty inexpensive so you can get 10-25 GB of data for as low as 10-15 EUR per month.

Network with the best mobile coverage in Spain

If you are looking for a provider with the best coverage in Spain, Vodafone and Movistar will have your back. In fact, Movistar offers 4G and LTE speeds in most areas throughout the country and 5G in large cities.

They offer the best speed for downloads, video calls, video streaming, or gaming.

However, for expats and people who often travel, Vodafone will be a better network operator in Spain. It has better International coverage that includes all EU countries and other parts of the world.

Hence, with Vodafone, you 100% won’t have issues while traveling but also living in Spain.

Besides, Vodafone secures reliable 4G/5G connection in major cities and cheaper roaming charges for phone calls or texts.

Best SIM cards for Spain

Everyone who lives in Spain needs a local SIM card. In some cases, Spanish SIM cards make sense also for tourists visiting the country.

Indeed, you surely don’t want to spend money on roaming fees while navigating around. As a customer, you have a wide range of choices when shopping for a Spanish SIM card. A prepaid SIM card, also known as Pay As You Go, is the best option for Spain, whether you are visiting or living there.

Some of the best SIM Cards in Spain are:

  • Movistar prepaid
  • Lycamobile
  • Yoigo
  • Orange Go Walk
  • Vodafone
SIM cardMonthly priceDataMinutes
Movistar8,50€5 GB50
Lycamobile10€20 GB400
Yoigo12€20 GBUnlimited
Orange Go Walk10€25 GBUnlimited
Vodafone Prepaid10€25 GB300

Movistar

Provider Movistar has some of the broadest coverage in Spain. If you plan to travel to villages or nature spots, Movistar will secure your connection.

Their lowest price starts at 8,50 EUR and includes:

  • 5 GB of data
  • 50 minutes of calls

Yoigo

Yoigo is one of the most affordable providers in Spain, with decent coverage. Generally, you will be safe in all major cities.

Their best deal costs 12 EUR and includes:

  • 20 GB of data
  • Unlimited calls

Orange Go Walk

Orange is the second largest Spanish network provider with some good prepaid SIM card packages. Many expats use their services. Our recommendation is the Go Walk plan which costs 10 EUR per month and includes:

  • 25 GB of data
  • Unlimited calls

Lycamobile

Lycamobile is an international SIM card provider. They provide excellent pay as you go packages for Spain and the whole of Europe. In Spain, Lycamobile uses the Movistar network. Furthermore, their mobile plans are also cheaper than most other mobile networks in Spain.

Since Lycamobile speaks English, it has become popular among expats and foreigners living in Spain. SIM cards start as low as 5 EUR and give you 6 GB of data. If you need more data, plans with 50 GB are available for just 15 EUR.

At the same time, for 10 EUR per month, Lycamobile offers:

  • 20 GB of data
  • 400 minutes of international calls and unlimited local

Moreover, their SIM cards are great for international calls and data. Another good thing about Lycamobile is that you don’t need to pay any additional fees to activate your SIM card or provide an NIE number or Spanish bank account number to get a Spanish phone number.

Lycamobile SIM cards are available and can be used in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Hong Kong, the UK, the USA, Ukraine, and South Africa.

Vodafone

As one of the largest world providers, Vodafone has a wide range of prepaid SIM cards for Spain. Our pick costs 10 EUR per month and includes:

  • 25 GB of data
  • 300 minutes of calls

Vodafone is the best network carrier for travelers since it provides excellent coverage in Spain, most EU countries, and the UK. Additionally, you get cheaper roaming charges and English customer service, and they generally offer reasonable rates across the board.

Consequently, Vodafone is the most popular network among expats in Spain.

Other SIM card options from Vodafone:

PricePlanDataEU/EEA RoamingMinutes
10 EURVodafone Prepaid S12 GB7 GBUnlimited
15 EURVodafone Prepago M20 GB10 GBUnlimited
20 EURVodafone Prepago L35 GB13 GBUnlimited
30 EURVodafone Prepago Xl45 GB20 GBUnlimited
40 EURVodafone Prepago XXL55 GB25 GBUnlimited

Requirements for a Spanish SIM card

To purchase a SIM card in Spain, you mainly need a valid ID. It can be a passport or other type of ID.

Best SIM card with unlimited data for Spain

There are a few SIM card options with unlimited internet in Spain. The rates are pretty affordable, thanks to the cheap Spanish internet. Here are the most popular mobile plans, which include unlimited data and calls:

Vodafone17,49€
Movistar19,98€
Digi Mobil25€
Orange28,76€
Yoigo33€

Movistar

Plan: Contrato Infinito from Movistar: 29,95 EUR per month

This SIM card includes unlimited data at maximum speed plus unlimited calls and SMS.

Furthermore, you can call and use the internet for free in all EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and the United Kingdom. However, internet usage outside of Spain is limited to 50GB.

Lycamobile

Plan: Lyca Globe 20 from Lycamobile: 20,00 EUR per month

Lycamobile is a British mobile virtual network operator operating in 60 countries, including Spain.

Lyca Globe 20 plan includes 100 GB of data that you can use in Spain and all of the EU for 20 EUR per month. In addition, they provide unlimited local calls and 1,000 international minutes.

Contract vs Pay As You Go phone plans in Spain

When choosing a mobile plan in Spain, it’s crucial to decide which option is best for you: long-term contract or prepaid.

If you sign a contract, you commit to paying a monthly bill, but you often can get cheaper rates and a new mobile phone in installments.

To get a mobile contract, you must have a Spanish NIE or even a TIE. With a prepaid plan, requirements are minimal – you only need an ID and Spanish address in some cases.

Can you use UK mobile in Spain?

You can use your UK mobile in Spain; however, you might have to pay for roaming. Depending on your mobile provider, you should be able to use a UK SIM card with no problem in Spain.

Always check what your phone operator is likely to charge you beforehand. Some providers offer additional data roaming as part of their contract deals – and not just for the EU. You may have to change or update your settings in the UK before you travel.

After the UK left the EU, many mobile providers reintroduced roaming fees for customers traveling to the EU.

Since January 2021, UK operators have been allowed to reintroduce so-called roaming charges for UK customers willing to use their SIM cards abroad.

For instance, Vodafone has implemented various regulations depending on the tariff:

  • Cheapest SIM-only deals don’t allow any use abroad apart from emergency calls outside the UK and Ireland
  • Some of its more expensive Xtra plans include free roaming
  • All other Vodafone’s mobile plans offer roaming in Spain for £2 a day. You can buy 8 and 15 day passes which include roaming for £1 a day.

Similarly, data limits are also subject to fair use restrictions. Customers of O2 have a monthly data limit of 25 GB and will be charged £3.50 for each GB after that. Vodafone’s limit is also 25 GB with a £3.13 charge per GB after that.

Three has cut its fair use limit from 20 GB a month to 12GB and will charge £3 per GB above that.

Rules of mobile provider “Three

Here is an example of additional charges of 3 (Three) mobile provider in the UK. When using a Three SIM card in Spain, customers should keep the following conditions in mind.

Customers with monthly plans

If your current mobile plan started before 1 October 2021, calls and texts to the UK and Spain are included in your coverage. You can use up to 12GB as part of the selected plan, which are calculated at UK rates.

If you have a Three SIM card from 1 October 2021 and later, you must pay a daily charge of £2 to unlock your UK mobile in Spain. This fee applies from 23 May 2022.

Consequently, to use a UK mobile in Spain will cost you £2 per day.

The government has also regulated maximum spending to protect consumers from unexpected charges. The limit has been set at £45 per month.

Means to spend further, you will need actively agree on this. Additionally, consumers receive alerts when they are at 80% and 100% data usage.

Customers with pay as you go plans

With Three’s pay as you go plans, calls, and texts between UK and Spain are included in the package. Spain is also a Go Roam in Europe destination which means you can use your data in Spain at no extra cost.

How much will it cost?

None of the networks will be charging for roaming in the Republic of Ireland.

From 23 May 2022, UK customers with SIM cards plans issued after October 2021 will have to pay £2 a day to use the minutes and data in Spain.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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