Sim-only contracts: which Dutch mobile operator offers the best plans? Either that you have just arrived in the Netherlands, or you live here already for long, you will surely face (again) the choice of the best mobile telephone provider. Rounding the sixth year in the Netherlands now, it’s time for me to make the choice (after my third biannual contract) for the upcoming years. Here you can find an overview of what I’ve learnt and my personal considerations.
Types of plans
Let me start introducing the basic: in the Netherlands there are three main types of service, that is prepaid, sim-only contracts and contracts with phone
prepaid: you get a sim and a telephone number. You are not involved in a contract and you pay what you use.
sim-only contracts: you get a sim card and a telephone number at the first contract (later you can normally migrate the same sim card and telephone number to any provider). You get involved in a contract of fixed length
contracts with phone: when signing a contract, you get a smartphone, a sim card and a telephone number. Again, you get involved in a contract of fixed length.
The first one is definitely the more flexible, but it comes with higher costs (on use), while the second and the third are increasingly more strict, but come with some economical advantages. Which one should you get? My short advice is to get a contract if you are staying semi-temporarily, and a prepaid sim if you are coming to the Netherlands for tourism.
Mobile Virtual Network Operators in the Netherlands
There are three main mobile network operators, namely KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile. You can find multiple Mobile Virtual Network Operator, that make use of one of the three mobile networks and offer different types of service and contract
The sim-only option is called AH Slim Only startpakket. You can buy it in the supermarkets, or order it via Bol.com. When you buy it, you directly receive a sim with 5€ credit, and you can transfer your current telephone number by filling in a form.
for getting your first contract, you will need an identity document (identiteitbewijs) and bank statement
setting up contracts online can be more convenient than doing that in the shop (plus you’ll have more time and resources for comparisons)
after signing a contract, you still have a time for reflection (bedenktijd) in which you can unsubscribe without costs
by signing one of the contracts above, you agree to certain length (e.g. one, two years). This means that you will have to pay until the end of the contract – also if, for example, you decide to change provider or to move out of the country.
in many cases you can set up a contract that can be broken monthly. This will cost you something extra, but it might be the optimal choice if you are visiting the Netherlands for a limited amount of time or you are not sure about the quality of the provider
also when your contract is ending, you still have to terminate the contract. Normally companies have a term of notice of one month (look for opzegtermijn in your contract). Without giving notice, the contract will continue existing (with annex costs)
changing provider or setting up a contract for the first time will have some fixed costs (aansluitingkosten) varying between 15 and 25 euro in most of the cases
for sim-only and prepaid options, be sure that you have a phone that is not provider-locked
related to the above: it’s possible that contracts with phones give you a device at an advantageous price, but possibly bound to the provider (this means, you can’t use the sim you want with that phone)
keep your number option is available with all providers I believe
prices are intended in the Netherlands (although the roaming regulations allow you to use the phone in Europe), and for calling Dutch numbers
to be on the safe side, always check contract conditions and all those small notes!
Belsimpel offers you an interactive method to compare prices
it’s also possible that plans differ between clients and new clients
NB prices are updated at 1/09/2019 and may include discounts. Before making the final decision check if the prices are still the same on the official website of the company.
My personal choice (updated!)
After having been loyal client of T-Mobile for the last six years, I’ve noticed an increasing difference in prices with other companies. I’ve thus decided to try a new one. I’ve first made this comparison, then checked the outcome of Belsimple, and finally decided to step into Hollandsnieuwe Ben. Let’s see how it is! (NB. for what concerns quality of the mobile network and customer service, I can really not complain about T-Mobile – I must say I am quite satisfied with the service!) * after writing the post, I’ve still checked the reviews of the service online and I got a bit discouraged. Thus I officially stepped into Ben now [4 October 2019]. Prices are good and it’s under T-mobile network (plus now it’s temporarily without costs for setting up the contract!)
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