If you're looking to purchase a SIM only deal, explore our top three recommendations.
What is a Sim Only deal?
The Dutch market offers various Sim Only deals (SIM only aanbiedingen). But that isn't helpful for those who struggle to understand which Sim Only subscription is right for them. This complete guide defines the essentials you need to make the right choice.
However, don't let the name confuse you - a Sim Only deal is much more than a standalone Sim card. It is a dynamic monthly subscription that often surpasses the value of a cheap prepaid solution. And yes, we're talking about those irritating salesmen that continuously push you their prepaid plans in some of the Netherlands' busiest public spaces.
Take a deep breath, sit down and relax. No one will put you under pressure to purchase the best Sim Only deal within the next 30 seconds. We are here to help you find the perfect solution by fully understanding all options you can select from. After all, College Life's mission is to make your life easier.
Benefits of a Sim Only deal
Sim Only deals pack a lot of value. Your preferences between the various options will determine what aspects of the subscription are most valuable to you.
Getting started with a Sim Only deal is simple. It generally takes less than 5 minutes to compare deals, select, and purchase a Sim Only deal. But if you find it hard to choose from the several available options, here's College Life's selection of the three most popular mobile subscriptions (mobiel abonnementen) for different types of users.
This great option allows you to purchase a sim card even if you do not buy any other product or service. So you can start calling, texting, and surfing at an unbelievable price.
It is a common misconception that Sim Only subscriptions are available only for 1 to 2 years. Telecom companies provide flexible contracts allowing you to subscribe to monthly plans. If you opt for a month-to-month (maandelijks opzegbare) Sim Only deal, you won't have any additional commitments once you decide to stop your subscription. Just remember the cancellation period, which is usually 30 days.
Do you enjoy tailoring everything to your needs? With a Sim Only mobile subscription, you can adjust everything, including your contract duration, amount of data, number of minutes, and texts. Here are a couple of combinations you an consider, depending on your needs:
- Affordable & Flexible: 1GB + 150 min. + 150 sms @ €5 per month
- Most Popular: 5GB + 150 min. + 150 sms @ €7,5 per month
- The Ultimate: 20GB + 150 min. + 150 sms @ €16 per month
Ask yourself the following questions to create the perfect plan for yourself:
- How often do I stream movies using data every month?
- How often do I text my loved ones every month?
- How often do I call my friends per month?
Functionalities of a Sim Only deal
There are a few core functionalities that you can make use of with a Sim Only deal. Some of these will vary from provider to provider, so spend time researching and looking into the specifics of your preferred subscription.
New Number vs Number Transfer
As a newcomer to the Netherlands, you'll probably request a new phone number. The telecom provider will generate a random phone number for you, and you only have to activate it.
If you've had a mobile number for a long time and aren't in the mood to notify your friends and family through every single social media channel, you can have your number transferred. Usually, this is a simple process, and the telecom provider takes care of it entirely. One of the only prerequisites is you stop your existing contract – if you have one. It is also possible to transfer a prepaid number.
Calling and Texting
Depending on the Sim Only subscription you select, there will be a limit on the number of minutes and texts you can use per month. Nowadays, you can easily track your usage via your provider's website to ensure you don't exceed your limit. And if you have unlimited calls and texts, go wild.
Similarly to calling and texting, you will likely have a limit on how much data you can use each month. The telecom provider tracks the number of megabytes (MBs) you download to assess your data usage. So it's essential that you only use those apps that don't juice out all of it within seconds (*cough* Instagram *cough*). Keep an eye on your data usage to have a few spare MBs left in the last days of the month.
International Calls, Texts, and Data
Since June 2017, there's been a ban on roaming charges in the EU. So you can use your subscription in any EU country just as you would in the Netherlands. You may also call other Dutch numbers while travelling in the EU. However, if you'd like to call a non-Dutch EU number, there is an additional cost.
Using data, texts, and minutes outside of the EU is not included in the bundle (buiten je bundel). Make sure to ask your provider if you're still not clear to prevent any unforeseen expenses.
SIM Card Fundamentals
This guide wouldn't be complete without diving into SIM card essentials. Although telecom companies aim to automate everything so that you don't have to drop a sweat when making your SIM card work, it'll be handy to know a few pointers once your SIM card arrives in the mailbox.
Activating the SIM Card
If you purchased a new phone number, you might need to activate it through the dashboard provided by your telecom operator. On the other hand, if you are transferring your existing number, the SIM card should be activated automatically. Most of the time, this happens as soon as your number gets converted at the starting date of your subscription. You can always contact Customer Service if you get lost in the process.
Setting up the Internet Connection
The telecom provider will likely forward the internet settings to you via text or email. The most vital information you need is the access point (APN). On an Android device, you can change your APN by navigating to your Wireless and Networks settings. For help setting up your Apple device, read this article.
Requesting a new SIM Card
Did your SIM card fall out of your hand and vanish from the surface of the earth? Probably not, but there are multiple reasons why you might need a new one. Depending on your provider, you might need to pay a fee for a new SIM card. In the meantime, don't forget to block your previous SIM card to protect against misuse.
Preventing Extra Costs
Waking up in the morning to realise that your telecom provider deducted 10x the amount you initially subscribed for from your bank account can be painful. And although a few of us at College Life had this unpleasant experienced, we feel that it isn't the telecom provider's goal to overcharge you (and make you cry). To avoid this from happening again, you must take the proper measures ahead of time.
Monitoring via the Dashboard
Most telecom providers will have a real-time dashboard allowing you to monitor your data, call, and text usage. Open this dashboard at least 2-3x per month to better understand how close you are to your limit.
Activating Usage Ceilings
The safest solution is to set data and call/text ceilings that will prevent you from incurring any additional costs ever again. Although some companies charge a small fee for this ceiling, we strongly recommend activating it. It will insure you against unforeseen expenses in the future. For more information on usage ceilings, contact your provider.
Alternatives to Sim Only deals
If Sim Only deals aren't the home run you were looking for, there are alternative solutions you may explore that could be more suitable for you. Each alternative has a list of common scenarios that might fit your situation to help you understand the choices better.
You might have never heard of the term, but you might have heard of Skype. VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol. This solution allows you to make calls using any internet connection available. Since free WiFi is now available almost everywhere, you may consider this solution as allowing 'free calls.' And that includes Facetime with your childhood pet back in your home country.
You may also use VoIP via your mobile data. If you choose this option, you can cut costs by subscribing to a Sim Only plan with minimal monthly minutes and texts.
Suitable for those:
- Planning to call their family only 1-2x per month
- On a low monthly budget
Subscribing to a phone bundle allows you to use a new or refurbished phone with a SIM card subscription. When purchasing phone bundles, you commit to a longer term of 1 to 2 years, during which you'll be paying off the phone's cost.
Suitable for those:
- Planning to purchase a new phone and get a SIM card at once
- Interested in having their monthly phone payments distributed across a period
The fastest option is getting a prepaid card. It's usually a short-term solution for those planning to call, text, and use data (mobiel internetten) for only 1 to 2 months. If you plan to visit the Netherlands as a tourist, this is one of the best options. Go to the nearest (super)market and select your desired prepaid card.
Suitable for those:
- Wanting a SIM card immediately
- Without a Dutch bank account
- Without a Dutch Address
- Without a BSN