Prague city view

Buying a SIM Card in Czechia

By Ken Weary Get Connected4 Comments


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Whether you call the country Czechia or the Czech Republic, you’re right either way. In 2016 the country’s government decided it would be good to have a one-word name for the country, and officially changed the “short” name of the country to Czechia.

It hasn’t really caught on yet, though, and many locals and tourists still call it the Czech Republic, at least in English.

I spent a month in Prague, the country’s capital and largest city. It’s full of amazing food, incredible architecture, great co-working spaces, and solid, if not particularly cheap, mobile providers.


Note: Czechia is part of the European Union, which introduced new roaming regulations in June 2017. These “roam like at home” rules effectively ended roaming charges across much of Europe, meaning you’ll usually pay no more for calls, texts, and data in other EU countries than you would in the country of purchase.

There are some exceptions and limits, however, so be sure double-check the details at time of purchase if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region.


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Companies


  • We recommend Vodafone for most travelers

Unlike many other European countries, you won’t be bombarded with tons of marketing from carriers when you land, or even as you walk the streets of Prague.

Sure, there are stores and kiosks everywhere throughout the city but it’s refreshing not to be overwhelmed by them all telling you they are the biggest, faster, best value, etc. as you wander around.

There are three big players in Czechia, Vodafone, T-Mobile, and O2, and I initially wasn’t sure which to go with. All three offer LTE coverage on pre-paid plans, but my research as to the best option gave mixed results.

I started by asking other digital nomads at the co-working space I favored, but learned nothing conclusive. Everyone had a different favorite, mostly based on which company had the best special when they first landed in town.

I also checked their phones, but all had strong signal and good speeds in the city center regardless of network.

Additional online research turned up the same thing, with several people suggesting the providers were all comparable. Finally, I decided to just go into the stores and get more info firsthand.

Staff at both O2 and T-Mobile told me they had the best network, just because “they were the best”. They offered no differentiation or explanation as to why, and seemed to think it was an odd question.

I then visited the Vodafone shop, and was impressed. Not only was there no wait to talk to someone, but the salesperson explained his answer very articulately by showing me a map of all of the countries in Europe where Vodafone operates, and how their ‘roaming free’ packages have better pricing and coverage.

He then ran a speed test on his phone to show me the lightning-fast LTE speeds of the network (more below). Lastly, he showed me the prepaid package options, which were more numerous than either of the other two carriers. I was sold.

Vodafone was the clear winner for me, and after using it for a few weeks, I wasn’t disappointed.

How


As mentioned, I visited all three carriers. O2 and T-Mobile used a touchscreen ticket system, with a 15-minute wait in both cases. When I finally did get to talk with someone, I felt more like an annoyance than a customer.

O2 and T-Mobile kiosks, PragueVodafone had no visible ticket system, with plenty of knowledgeable staff on hand to answer my questions right away. Even with the carrier overview and package selection, the entire process took only 15 minutes.

Vodafone kiosk, Prague

No passport was even required for the transaction. I just had to select my plan, sign a form written in Czech that said I wouldn’t do anything illegal with my SIM, and pay.

The representative installed the card for me, and made sure it was working before I left. It was a breeze.

Prefer to spend your vacation sightseeing instead of buying SIM cards? Grab one in advance to stay connected in Czechia and across Europe.

This Orange SIM includes 20GB of data, 1000 international texts, and two hours of international calls. The price includes US delivery, and it's valid for two weeks in 30 European countries. Use the code EUCPO10 at checkout to get 10% off!

Other options are available if you're traveling for longer, need a portable hotspot, or want a different mix of calls, texts, and data. Either way, you'll be connected with a minimum of fuss before you've left the airport.

Costs


O2 was running a special at the time, making it slightly cheaper than the other providers, while T-Mobile had a different but comparable offering to Vodafone.

All three companies matched each other well on prices, and I was told they all tweak their plans a little each month to stay competitive. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, none had printed price sheets.

The Vodafone SIM card was free with the purchase of a plan, and I went for a 10GB data plan for 800 Czech Koruna (~36 USD / 31 EUR), good for 30 days. This also included unlimited Vodafone-to-Vodafone calls.

Topping Up


With 10 Gigs to use in a month and a fast Wi-Fi connection at my co-working spot, I never had to top up, but it’s easy enough to do.

Vodafone store, Prague

Options include the Vodafone app (Můj Vodafone), the company website, or any place around town that has a Vodafone sticker in the window (and there are a lot of them).

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Coverage and Data Speeds


As soon as I bought my SIM card, I noticed how fast web browsing and Internet-based apps seemed to be… and then I tested the speed.

Vodafone LTE speed in Prague

Vodafone LTE speed in Prague

126Mbps down / 42Mbps up! Those speeds remained consistent during my entire trip, and I had no issues with the service anywhere I used my phone.

Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.

About the Author
Ken Weary

Ken Weary

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Ken is a vagabond business and technology geek, endurance runner, and digital nomad. He's been on the road with his wife and two kids since 2014. Follow their adventures at www.SunglassesRequired.com.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    I will be studying abroad in Prague in September and this article was very helpful! Did you happen to travel outside the Czech Republic? I’ll be visiting lots of Eastern European countries during my weekends and I was curious how roaming worked for you (if you did travel).

  2. Avatar

    From what I understand buying a sim card in Prague will not require registration. However, the rest of the cities we will be going to (Vienna, Budapest & Bratislava) do require registration upon purchase. Since Prague is our first stop, how do we handle using that same sim card in the other countries. Or will we have to buy a separate card for the rest of the trip. Thanks

    1. Dave Dean

      Those cities are all in EU countries, so you can use the same SIM across all of them at no extra charge. There can be some limits on large data packages, but that’s about it. Check out the link in the italicised section near the top of the article for more details.

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