Spanish cell phone plans are set up a little differently than they are in the United States. Most people here don’t use contracts for their phone. Pay as you go is a lot more popular and pretty much all cellphone companies have this option. Contracts are available, but are for one year or more, so it depends on how long you are staying, but pay as you go will most likely be easier for you.
There are many online phone companies that advertise to people who are studying abroad. I don’t recommend these, because you can only recharge through that company online and you wont know how good the coverage is until you get here.
Cell phone numbers in Spain start with 6 (7 is starting to appear, but is very unusual) and land line phones start with a 9. It costs a lot of money to call a land line phone from a cell phone, and depending on what internet service provider you have, it might cost a lot to call a cell phone from a land line. Many people here will give with is called a “Toque” which is when they call and let the phone ring once or twice and hang up so you can call them back.
I’m going to try to give a simple overview of the major cell companies in Spain and what their plans are. Keep in mind as you read, that things might change price wise once you get here, so this is just a guide. If you notice something that needs to be updated please leave me a comment so I can try to keep this as useful as possible.
This is the company I have, so I will start with this one. Note: even in Spain it is pronounced in English. Orange offers a variety of pay as you go plans for smart phones and regular phones.
Ballena: This is the most expensive plan for those smart phone addicts. With this you get 1GB a month for 12 euros (14.52 with tax). Calls will cost you 1 cent a minute plus 18 cents to establish the call and you get 1,000 SMS messages.
Delfin: This is the plan I have. It recently changed to not include any text messages for free. 100MB a week. Calls cost 1cent a minute and 18 cents to establish the call and tests are 1 cent each. This plan costs 2 euros a week (2.42 with tax).
Ardilla: This is the plan for those of you without a smart phone. Calls are 1 cent a minute and 18 cents to establish the call and SMS messages are 1 cent each. This plan will only cost you 1 euro a week (1.21 with tax)
Vodafone is broken down into groups and prices within the groups.
Hablar y navegar: For 8 euros a month you get 500MB, 20 minutes for calls and 20 SMS. For 12 euros a month you get 1GB, 60 minutes and 60 messages
Tarifa XS8: This is a true pay as you go plan. Calls are 8 cents a minute, SMS 8 cents a minute and 15 cents to establish the call. You don’t have to pay a monthly or weekly fee for this plan, unlike Orange’s Ardilla.
Tarifa Internacional: This is the plan for people who use their cell phone to call home. As long as you have money on your sim card your national calls will only cost you 15 cents to establish the call and 15 cents for each SMS. For international calls it depends on where you are calling check here for the full list. USA and Canada: 4.8 cents with tax and 30.3 cents to establish the call. All international SMS cost 60 cents each. With the plan you can also add 150MB of internet for 4 euros.
La del Ocho: National calls are 8 cents a minute and 15 cents a minute to establish the call. National and International SMS are 8 cents a message. This will cost you 6 euros a month. Also, you can add internet to this plan. 8 euros a month for 500MB, they also have an offer now which is half price the first month.
La del Cinco: National calls are 5 cents a minute, 15 cents to establish the call. SMS costs 10 cents national and international. Internet with this plan costs 35 cents a day with a max of 35MB a day equaling 1GB per month.
Habla Movistar: This is a good option if you find that your friends and coworkers all have movistar. 0 cents a minute calls to Movistar landlines and cell phones with a 15 cent charge to establish the call. Calls to other operators cost 25 cents a minute.
Habla Ocio: This is the “nights and weekends” option. 3 cents a minute and 15 cents to establish between 4pm-8am Monday through Friday and 24 hours Saturday and Sunday. Other calls cost 25 cents a minute.
Habla 24h: 8 cents a minute to all cell phone companies with 15 cents to establish the call.
Tarifa Internet 3: 100MB a week for 3 euros.
Habla Internacional: 1 euro a month. 30 cents to establish the call. Here is the list to see the prices by country. For USA it’s 5 cents a minute for Canada it's 85 cents a minute.
Hopefully that can help you try to decide which plan will work for you! Of course, this isn’t the complete list of phone companies, there are a lot of smaller companies as well. But, these are the main ones that you will encounter the most.