No matter if you come to Austria via ERASMUS 🎓 or just for a semester abroad: Welcome to the Austrian mobile phone market! We’ll give you a quick overview of the Austrian providers.
We will help you to find the ideal tariff and tell you what you should pay special attention to. Because we know, to enjoy your abroad experience in Austria the most, you will need a good tariff with a lot of data volume and fast internet access. After all, you need your mobile phone to keep in touch with old and new friends, to check your emails, to look something up quickly, to post on Facebook and Instagram, to order books at the university library – these activities may quickly become very, very expensive without the right tariff.
If you also need internet access for your stay in Austria, you can find all the important information in our guide Internet for foreign students & expats.
Austrian telecommunication market
There are only three major mobile network operators in Austria (A1 Telekom Austria, Magenta Telekom and Hutchison Drei Austria), but there are still many different providers of mobile communications. Austria is a country strongly influenced by MVNOs, so-called virtual mobile operators, which do not operate their own mobile network, but rent into one of the three existing ones. There are currently over 30 mobile phone providers in Austria, which means you can choose from over 300 mobile phone tariffs!
One of the reasons why there are so few mobile phone network operators in Austria is that the state monopoly for the telecommunications market only ended in 1996. Previously, the PVT (Austrian Post and Telegraph Administration)📯 was exclusively responsible for this market, which ended up becoming A1 Telekom Austria after privatisation.
The networks are all excellently developed, even though Austria’s topography as the land of mountains ⛰️ is anything but easy for this task. Especially A1 and Magenta (a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom) score particularly well in independent tests. Not only in the cities where you will probably spend most of your time, but also in more remote areas, reception is usually good.
Pricing pressure is high, as almost everyone in Austria has at least one mobile phone; many also have a second one. This leads to relatively low tariff prices in the EU average.
Milk, eggs and SIM cards 🛒
Where can I buy SIM cards in Austria? The good news: Almost everywhere. Of course from the mobile phone providers themselves, in the shops of A1, Magenta and Drei. But also in supermarkets, tobacconists, mobile phone shops, electronics stores and petrol stations you can buy SIM cards and charging slips.
✈️ However, it does not make sense to buy a SIM card at the airport. Additional charges are often levied here. We therefore advise you to not buy it there.
Many supermarkets have their own range of mobile phone tariffs, for example Hofer offers HOT, the Spar group (Spar, Interspar, Eurospar) offers S-Budget, the Rewe group (Billa, Merkur, Penny and ADEG) sells a lot of Yesss! products and at Lidl there is Lidl Connect. You can’t buy only SIM cards, but even mobile phones in most supermarkets, electronics stores (for example Saturn and Media Markt) and stationery shops (for example Libro and Pagro).
The range of products offered by mobile phone providers is available both in shops and online. However, most of them are only available within Austria.
No anonymous cell phones in Austria 🚫
You can buy SIM cards and mobile phones not only from the providers directly, but also in many other shops (for example, grocery stores, mobile phone shops and electronics stores) and of course online. In Austria every SIM card must be registered, anonymous registrations are not possible anymore. If you have a fixed contract, you need an account at an Austrian bank and are registered through this. You can also use your account at an Austrian bank to register a prepaid card or you can register via mobile phone signature, at an Austrian post office, in the shop of your provider, in Austrian tobacconists, at specialist shops or wherever you see the sign “Hier Wertkarte registrieren” (for register prepaid card here). To do so, you need an official photo ID (e.g. passport, identity card, driving licence) and the PUK of the SIM card.
If you now think that you better continue to use your own tariff in Austria, this is a bad idea. If you are a non-EU or EEA student, it costs a lot of money. 📈 But even as a student from EU countries you will fall out of the fair use rule if you stay here for several months. Your provider is still allowed to charge you roaming fees, because every tariff must be bought in the country where it is mainly used.
In addition, you have very limited data volume available when roaming and your internet connection is much slower 🐢. You can also stay in touch less easily, because if your fellow students wanted to call you, they would call a foreign area code at your old rate and that would be very expensive.
Step by step to the tariff
Our mobile phone tariff comparison is in German, but not complicated. Even if you do not speak a word of German, you can master it without any problems. We will give you step-by-step instructions and use our rate comparison to list the most important points that you should pay attention to, especially as a foreign student 👽.
Under "Handytarife“ (mobile phone tariffs) on the top left under our logo you will find all the cheap mobile phone tariffs. In the mobile view it is the first point, if you have clicked on the three lines in the upper right corner for a further selection.
We also list other tariffs that are not explicitly designed for students, if they are cheaper. The most important thing is that you pay as little as possible for your fare, but get all the services you want.
Your desired rate
The three controls “Minuten”, "SMS“ and "Datenvolumen“ stand for minutes, SMS and data volume. Here you can set how your tariff should look like. Are you a frequent caller or do you need a lot of data volume? You decide!
A heart for students 👨🎓 👩🎓
Put on the tab “Jugend- & Studententarife” (for Youth & Student Tariffs). This activates the selection for the special tariff offers for students and everyone under 27 years of age. If you do not activate this slider, you could miss the best offers.
If you are over 27 years old, activate it anyway, because with some providers such as educom the age does not matter, but only whether you are a student 👩🎓. If the text field of your tariff shows for example "Jugendtarif - Bis maximal 26 (for Youth tariff - Up to a maximum of 26) and a yellow call sign, you will be shown an age limit: You must not be older than 26 years to purchase this tariff. If this is not displayed, there is no age limit.
If you are mobile surfing, you will find further settings under "Weitere Einstellungen" (further settings) which will be particularly important for you. If you sit in front of a large screen, you will see it automatically.
Would you like a cell phone with that? 📱
“Handy inklusive” (for Mobile phone included) means that you don’t only want a new tariff, but also a new mobile phone. We have a list of mobile phones to choose from. With the tab "SIM-Only & Einzelhandel“ (for SIM-Only & Retail) we will show you if it is cheaper for you to buy the phone in retail or linked with your contract. If you do not activate this tab, you will see offers with mobile phones and mobile phone tariffs from the provider. If you activate it, we’ll show you where you can buy the phone at your tariff.
Don't be puzzled about the term "handy", this is what mobile phones in Austria are called.
E.T. home phone
If you get homesick, the only thing that helps is a phone call home 👪. Also, haven’t you promised to call your mom regularly? With the tab "Telefonie ins Ausland“ (for telephony abroad) you can select with controls whether and how many units of international telephony your tariff should have included. Remember that only calls to the EU are meant here.
However, international telephony is a costly matter. We would like to recommend that you use online calls in particular. If you make video calls home, you will only use your normal data volume or the internet in your dormitory or flat share. This is usually much cheaper than calling your mobile phone provider. If you are looking for fast internet, we can also help you to find a cheap internet tariff.
Accounting according to plan 📋
Under “Verrechnung” (for billing) we show you the options how your mobile phone tariff should be charged.
- “Wertkarte” (prepaid card) is for a phone with a prepaid card. The advantage is the complete cost control, because you can not be charged more than you have uploaded.
- With "Vertrag“ (contract) a mobile phone with a fixed mobile phone contract is meant. Here the fees are debited from your account on a monthly basis.
- If you have a “Jahresvertrag” (yearly contract), the billing is done in advance for a whole year, additional fees are debited from your account monthly. These rates are usually a bit cheaper compared to monthly payings. Your free minutes, SMS and your data volume will still be replenished every month!
How long does the stay last?
Under “Bindung” (binding) you can choose how long the minimum binding should last. This is the time in which you are contractually bound to your provider 📅. “Ohne Bindung” (without binding) means that your mobile phone contract can be cancelled at any time. “1 Jahr” and “2 Jahre” mean that you are bound for one or two years. You should only consider this if you plan to stay here longer than one semester.
Perfect rate found
So there it is, your perfect tariff. But you’re feeling insecure because you don’t know exactly what it says? We’d be happy to explain it to you in detail. Since our rates are listed by price, the cheapest is at the top.
The first thing in the box is the name of the provider and the name of your tariff. It also shows in which mobile network the provider operates, whether there is a minimum commitment and whether it is a contract or a prepaid card tariff.
Next in line is the description of your tariff and the monthly effective price. This is the price that includes all costs, fees, special offers and discounts. In the normal view it is shown to the right of the tariff name, in the mobile view it follows the description.
Then follows a narrow blue bar with the word “Details”. Here you can see the exact breakdown of your tariff. Below the blue bar, the hard facts of your tariff are clearly arranged once again: minutes, SMS, data volume and download speed.
Take another look at the name of your tariff. If you now click on the green button, you will be taken directly to your desired tariff. Take the deal and stay in touch!