Choose The Best Amsterdam SIM Card

Last Updated: October 2, 2023

Gerrit Vandenberg

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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Hi, I'm Gerrit

I enjoy sharing useful tips about the beauty of this county.

When you want to use your cell phone in Amsterdam, the rest of the Netherlands, and Europe without paying a fortune, this post is for you because a local Amsterdam SIM card is usually the best option for most visitors.

In this post, Iโ€™ll tell you how to get the best Netherlands SIM card for your European trip.

I always get an eSIM card when I travel outside of Europe. I never use my plan from home (use-like-as-at-home). This is always more expensive than getting a temporary travel sim card.

Using a cell phone is super handy for directions, buying (entrance) tickets, and showing your e-tickets on trains and at museums. But also for things like making restaurant reservations.

A cheap EU data bundle will save you significant money, and a SIM card solution is less cumbersome than a pocket Wi-Fi device.

My Top Picks: Best Amsterdam SIM Card

Here are my top picks for an Amsterdam eSIM card to save moneyโ€”no more enormous roaming bills after a trip abroad.

But continue reading to learn more about all the different options to connect while in Amsterdam, why some are better than others, and how an eSIM works.

#1 TOP PICK

eSIM card for Europe and UK.

โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

All Of Europe eSIM

From $5

Pros
โœ” Valid in the entire EU & UK ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง
โœ” Top Up From Website Or App
โœ” I Recommend 10GB ($37)
โœ” Works separate from your number

Cons
๐—ซ Phone must support eSIM (list)
๐—ซ No physical card
๐—ซ Works only with unlocked phones

The main benefit of eSIM is that you don’t have to replace a SIM card, and you can optionally keep your original number active.

Button

#2 PICK

eSIM card for the Netherlands.

โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Netherlands Only eSIM

From $4.50

Pros
โœ” Cheapest SIM card for Netherlands only
โœ” Top Up From Website Or App
โœ” I Recommend 20GB ($30)
โœ” Works separate from your number

Cons
๐—ซ Phone must support eSIM (list)
๐—ซ No physical card
๐—ซ Works only with unlocked phones

The main benefit of eSIM is that you don’t have to replace a SIM card, and you can optionally keep your original number active.

Button

Ready to jump straight to the best SIM card deal for the Netherlands? Click here.

Is it worth it to get an Amsterdam SIM card in 2023? Can’t I use free Public WIFI?

You can find WIFI hotspots anywhere in Holland, from hotels to trains. Most often, they’re free to use as well.

However, there are drawbacks. First, you need to connect to each of them, accept policies, et cetera. That takes time and becomes cumbersome quickly.

Some require personal information. And some networks might not be as fast as you need. There is also a safety concern when using public systems.

And apart from all thatโ€ฆ If you’re on the go and need immediate directions on Google Maps, a public WIFI hotspot doesn’t help you.

I strongly advise getting a SIM Card for the Netherlands only or Europe. Youโ€™ll always have data available, and it is much safer.

My Favorite Travel Books

My Favorite Travel Guide
Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands
$21.59

I love how Rick Steves' guidebooks offer a traveler's perspective. This is my favorite Amsterdam guidebook by far! Rating 4.8/5 on Amazon.

03/03/2024 11:49 am GMT
A Classic
Lonely Planet Amsterdam
$16.75

Lonely Planet guides have changed but I still enjoy this book, it's pretty and up to date though it's not as hands-on as Rick Steves'.Rating 4.6/5.

03/03/2024 07:25 pm GMT

Click here for more Netherlands book recommendations.
(travel books, art books, language books, and maps)

How Good Is Mobile Phone Coverage in the Netherlands?

Extremely good, and this is not an understatement. Holland ranks in the top 10 countries with the best mobile coverage in the world.

You’re in for a treat if you come from a country like the US, Canada, the UK, or Germany. Your phone will keep working even outside of built-up areas.

5G is available nationwide at an average speed of 40 Mbps, faster than most home connections, and 4G is also widely available for phones not yet ready for 5G.

Finding a location with poor reception in this country is challenging, except maybe in the middle of a forest or a National park.

But still, you probably will be able to pick up a signal just strong enough to support a call or to use the internet at a slower speed.

How Much Does Mobile Internet In The Netherlands Cost?

If you’re doing it wrong, A LOT! (That is using your home plan if you travel from outside of Europe). But if you’re smart about this, it can be affordable!

Bundles start from $5 or less, depending on whether you stay in the Netherlands/ Amsterdam only or you also travel to other European countries (then you can get a card that covers all)

I recommend a minimum bundle of 10GB because mobile data goes much faster than you think. Get at least 20GB if you plan to watch video on the road.

But more about that later. Let’s first cover how it can quickly go very wrong:

Telecom providers grossly overcharge for international roaming. When I travel to the US, I am hit with a $2-a-minute charge to make a phone call, even within the US! And Iโ€™d also need to pay $2 for every MB I use. That is not a typo: MB, not GB. There are 1024 MBs in a GB. Yes, that much!

That comes down to over $2000 per GB! Yikesโ€ฆ A GB should never cost more than $10 and can easily be purchased for $2-$3 if you get the proper travel SIM card.

When you don’t, you’ll likely face similar roaming charges from your home carrier while visiting Europe.

Thankfully, there are better options. (Click here to go directly to my best solution for a European SIM card.)

3-1 Sim Card to use in Amsterdam, Holland, and the rest of Europe.
3-1 SIM Card to use in Amsterdam, Holland, and Europe – Photo: Tom Kwalecki

Do You Need A Travel SIM Card If You’re From the EU or the UK?

You don’t need to change anything if you’re from the EU. There are no roaming charges for EU sim card owners. You can use your plan just as you can at home.

This is NOT the case for UK SIM card holders. Since the UK is no longer part of the European Union, roaming charges will most likely be added to your bill. Check with your provider before you travel.

Find A Place To Stay In Amsterdam

Find accommodation in Amsterdam for the lowest prices on your favorite platform. What's great about this map is that it shows both Hotels, as VRBO rentals (AirBNB but then cheaper).

Update your (intended) travel dates for accurate prices. TIP: Zoom out on the map (-) in the bottom right corner. This will show more options and availability.

I’m Traveling From Outside Of Europe. What Options Do I Have?

You have multiple options when you travel from outside of Europe, like from the United States, Canada, Australia, or any other non-European country. But not all of them are created equal. Let’s break them down (from expensive to cheap):

  1. Use your home carrier (with a travel plan)
  2. Get a Global SIM
  3. Get a Local / European SIM card (best option)

Option 1: Using Your Home Carrier (Travel) Plan in Europe

Using your home carrier while traveling in Europe, including the Netherlands, is possible. If you don’t take any additional upgrades to your plan, this will be a very costly option, as you read in my example above.

For example, in the US, AT&T will charge just over $2 per minute/MB/text for calls and data usage overseas. That gets VERY expensive VERY quickly!

Most carriers, however, offer international travel add-ons for your plan. This will reduce the cost a bit, but still, it’s expensive.

For example, Verizon and AT&T (in the US) charge you $10 daily to use your home plan overseas. If you’re on a 10-day trip, that’s a $100 charge. Are you going away for three weeks? That’s a whopping $210 added to your phone bill per phone!

You can also buy international bundles. AT&T, for example, has a $70 30-day travel plan, limiting you to 2GB of dataโ€”a limit you reach much quicker than you might think. Plus, $70 for 2GB is still 35 dollars per GB. You can do much better than that.

The travel SIM card I recommend charges $37 (half) for 10GB (you get 5x as much) in Europe. And if you need a SIM card for the Netherlands only, you can get 20GB (10x as much) for only $30.

PS: You can still keep your phone number (I explain the how-to below)

Option 2: Get a Global SIM card

Often, in airline magazines (or while doing a Google search), you’ll find Global SIM cards. The benefit of these is that you’ll have one card for all your international travel. But rates are higher than buying a local SIM card.

I wouldn’t buy a global SIM.

Option 3: Get a Local / European SIM Card

As you might have guessed, this is the best option for most people (by far). If you buy a local Amsterdam SIM card, you often get the lowest rates plus the most data for your money.

However, there is a catch in Holland:

In most countries, it’s as simple as buying a local SIM card at the airport or a store. But not here. Most local SIM cards you buy in a store or at the airport are a hassle to activate as a foreigner. There is a better option.

Let’s dig in (from expensive to cheap):

  1. Buying a card when you arrive at Schiphol Airport from a kiosk
  2. Buying a SIM Card in the Netherlands, like in a supermarket
  3. Buy a European prepaid SIM card online before arriving in Amsterdam (the best choice).

1. Buy a SIM Card at Schiphol Airport

Many tourists (including me) buy a local SIM card immediately after arrival in the country we’re traveling to.

Doing that here in the Netherlands is not such a good idea. The Dutch are very good at creating a system that is only easy to use for locals.

For example, you must register with a Dutch address to receive the credit promised with your card. And sometimes, you even need to provide a Dutch bank account number. It’s not very helpful if you’re visiting.

Save yourself the trouble and get a European SIM card before leaving home (option three below).

Here are some example prices for physical cards in stores, but note you need a Dutch address and bank account to claim these bundles. Great if you’re an expat settling in the Netherlands, but not when you’re just visiting. You also need to be aware your number will change to a local number:

  • Vodafone prepaid: 2GB โ‚ฌ9 or 10 GB โ‚ฌ29 (cheapest option for a local Dutch SIM card)
  • KPN prepaid: 1GB โ‚ฌ9.99
  • Odido prepaid: 1GB + 10 minutes โ‚ฌ10

WARNING: Whatever you do. Do not fall for the Lebara SIM card stands at the airport. They’re everywhere in the arrival areas. This company does not offer good value for money, and the salespeople at these booths are pushy. Ignore them.

I noticed other blogs (they are not local) advising these SIM cards. It is not a good deal. They will charge you a ridiculous โ‚ฌ24.95 for 1 GB of data or โ‚ฌ34.95 for 2 GB.

Compare that to $37 for 10GB in the EU or $30 for 20 GB in the Netherlands-Only in the below-mentioned deal.

2. Buying a SIM Card in the Netherlands in a Supermarket

You can also buy a Dutch SIM card at most supermarkets. But you would get the same deal as at the airport in a kiosk. That is not a good deal, plus the same hassle to activate if you’re not a local.

The other downside of getting a Dutch prepaid SIM card is that you’re tied to one provider. Sometimes, coverage can be spotty with one provider but good with another. With the options below, you can roam on different Dutch networks.

3. Buy a Prepaid European SIM card for Holland Online (best choice)

You can also purchase a European eSIM card before you leave home. This will give you the best price and is the best option! You load it to your phone and activate it when you get here. Easy as that!

Check here if your phone is capable of eSIM, most modern phones are.

What Is The Best Prepaid SIM Card In Holland For Tourists?

I just updated my recommendation on October 2, 2023, because the plans I recommend now include Personal Hotspot sharing. And that is a big deal.

Most other providers for mobile SIM cards, like SimOptions (which I recommended before) and Holafly, which you see recommended on other sites, offer great deals at first sight. But there is a catch.

They don’t allow Hotspot sharing, also known as tethering. And that is important. Because what if you want to go online with your tablet or laptop? Or share your connections with other people in your family or travel partners. Well, with those cards, you’re out of luck.

But the provider I recommendAiralo – is well established and offers Personal Hotspot sharing (tethering) at no extra charge!

You can get bundles from 1GB (for $5 or less) that you can easily top up in their app (download the app here). But I recommend getting a bundle of AT LEAST 10GB for a comfortable surfing experience and the best price per GB.

The cheaper low-data bundles are relatively expensive per GB, run out of data quickly, and are valid only for seven days. The larger-sized bundles (10, 20, or 30GB) are valid for 30 days and allow for normal surfing, just like you do at home.

If you’re traveling to more than one EU country or the UK (for example, you combine a trip to Amsterdam with Paris or London), or you have an airport transfer in another EU country, I recommend getting an eSIM card that works across the EU.

Otherwise, the NL-only card is just as good and more affordable.

  1. EU eSIM that works in all EU countries and the UK
  2. NL eSIM for the Netherlands only, and cheaper!

Important: this option is only for phones that support eSIM (get the list of eSIM-ready devices here). Your phone must also be unlocked (if you’re not sure if your phone is locked, contact your carrier first).

Is There A Drawback To Getting A European SIM Card in Holland?

With eSIM, not so much. Most modern phones support eSIM, which doesn’t require changing your physical card.

You can still use your original phone number (see below) if you want to.

An eSIM acts as a secondary SIM card. You can use both simultaneously for different tasks (like voice and internet).

How Does An Amsterdam eSIM card work

  • After your purchase, you can follow easy-to-follow instructions to load it to your phone.
  • Usually, it’s as simple as scanning a QR code in your confirmation.
  • Your card is then added to your phone as a 2nd sim card
  • In your phone’s settings under Celluar, you can change which SIM card to use when. (instructions are provided)

How About Using My Phone Number?

There is a simple solution to this “problem”:

  1. Once you arrive, you can activate your eSIM card in your phone’s (mobile network) settings.
  2. You then set which SIM card and number you want to use for calls and which one for data usage (internet)
  3. Set your original SIM to voice if you want to continue receiving voice calls on that number. And the travel SIM card to Data for browsing the web.

You save most if you turn your original SIM card off and use voice over the internet to call for free with your travel eSIM card, for example, by using Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype, or Google Meet.

You can also get a Google or Skype phone number and forward your number to this number before you leave home. This way, you don’t have to tell people to call you on WhatsApp. Instead, you can accept incoming calls via Google Voice or Skype app on your European SIM data connection.

This last solution allows you to stay available on your original number without expensive roaming charges.

How Much Data Do You Need While Traveling?

Answering this question is not easy because, of course, it’s very personal. If you use your phone to check your email, send a social media post, and use Google Maps regularly, you will be okay with a 10GB plan. You can always top up when needed (get the app here).

If you want to use social media like you’re used to, send photos to your loved ones every day to multiple people, use Google Maps all the time, and listen to music or watch a video on Youtube or Netflix, you can better get a plan of 20GB (at least).

Do I Need an eSIM For Every Person (Phone) In Our Travel Party?

Theoretically, you don’t because tethering (mobile hotspot sharing) is allowed. However, I recommend you do.

If you don’t, the person who has the travel eSIM card activated must allow the connection every time. That person must also always be present.

The connection will be broken if one person wants to stay in the hotel and the other wants to go out.

With all these incoming connections, it will also be tough on the host’s phone’s battery. You better always have a battery pack connected when you do this.

A better option is that everyone has their own data bundle and surfs the web freely without depending on another person’s phone. And with data prices much lower than travel plans at home, it’s still affordable.

More Frequently Asked Questions About Travel SIM Cards

Where can I buy a local SIM card in the Netherlands?

You can purchase a local SIM card at the airport, supermarkets, and convenience stores. They offer all mobile service providers like Vodafone, KPN, and Odido. But I would advise against this. Registration is complicated, with a need for a local address and often a personal identification number. Thatโ€™s why itโ€™s better often to get a SIM card before your trip.

What are the primary mobile service providers in the Netherlands?

The primary mobile service providers are KPN, Vodafone, and Odido. KPN is generally considered to have the best network in terms of speed and coverage. KPN is usually a little more expensive. As I recommend in this article, you can roam on the KPN network without extra costs if you have purchased a European travel SIM card. Just select it from your phone’s network settings.

Is my smartphone compatible with Dutch networks?

Networks in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe primarily use theย 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2600MHz wavelengths. For 5G, this is primarily 700MHz and 1800MHz. Most modern phones are compatible with these frequencies. Ensure that your phone is unlocked or can add an eSIM.

Can I use my local Amsterdam SIM card to roam in other European countries?

It depends! When you buy a European eSIM card, you can travel across Europe and the UK and use the internet the same. If you go to Paris or Venice or on a River cruise, you can still use your card precisely the same for the entire trip. If you stay in Amsterdam (or the Netherlands only), you can save some money if you buy an NL-only eSIM card.

The Lowest Priced Debit Card For Travelers

Save Money
Wise Debit Card

One of my travel hacks is the WISE borderless debit card. This is the most international debit card in the world. Spend abroad with the real exchange rate. I use this card myself for all my overseas trips and saves a lot of money!

Every Coffee โ˜•๏ธ Counts!

Do you appreciate this article? Consider a coffee donation โ˜•๏ธ to support this website’s upkeep. Every contribution matters and is deeply appreciated. Thank you for your generosity!

Does All Of This Feel Overwhelming?

Planning a trip well is a lot of work and can feel overwhelming. Know I’m here to help when you need assistance with your Netherlands vacation.

I offer Itinerary Consultations where I help you with ideas to improve your itinerary and make your trip planning much faster and less stressful. I also have local insights you don’t get from a guidebook.

Are You Getting a European Sim Card?

Iโ€™d love your thoughts: If so, what package did you choose and why?. Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation ๐Ÿ’ฌ.

Save the article (#20) (#31)

WANT TO SAVE THIS ARTICLE?

Enter your email below & I'll send it straight to your inbox!

And each week, I'll send you new tips to plan your Netherlands vacation. If you decide it's not for you (any longer), unsubscribing is always just a click away.

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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