National Park of Plivitce Lakes, photo courtesy Ignacio García
Following up on my guest post on how to get affordable mobile Internet access in Croatia I’d like to expand on how to configure a BonBon SIM card for data access. BonBon is a virtual mobile carrier using the T-Mobile network and offers good coverage throughout Croatia at competitive rates.

BonbonHowever, activating a BonBon prepaid SIM card and booking a data plan on it is a bit complicated since it involves Croatian-only text messages. For those of you not fluent in Croatian, this guide might be helpful.

How to activate a BonBon SIM card?

You need a BonBon SIM card and a prepaid voucher (I recommend an 80 kn voucher: “bon 80”) that can be purchased in various shops and newsstands or ordered from the bonbon website (they ship to Croatian addresses). To order a BonBon SIM card ahead of time before traveling to Croatia there are offers on ebay.

  1. Send a text message with broj to the number 13977.
  2. You’ll receive a text message. Reply to it by typing 2.
  3. You’ll receive another message. Reply to it by typing DA.
  4. Now you should activate your SIM card by calling someone (preferably a Croatian number).
  5. Now redeem your voucher. The easiest way to do this: dial
    *123* <14 digit Cash-Code> #

    then press green button.

  6. Now to order a data plan, you can either call 097 0700 or use the following instructions to order via text message.

How to order the data option?

  1. Send a text message with HOCU to 13977
  2. Reply with 3 to order a data plan
  3. With the next text message we select the data plan:
    Odgovori na ovu poruku brojem velicine paketa koji zelis aktivirati: 1. Mali 2. Srednji 3. Veliki 4. Jako Veliki

    • reply 1 for 120 MB valid for 30 days
    • reply 2 for 800 MB valid for 30 days
    • reply 3 for 2.5 GB valid for 30 days
    • reply 4 for 5 GB valid for 30 days

    I recommend option 4 with 5 GB for 45 kn.

  4. Confirm the option by replying with DA:


Now your data option is booked und Internet should work.

Trazeno - ucinjeno! Aktivirao si paket Jako veliki internet, a naplaceno ti je 45 kn :). Paket ti vrijedi do 9.9.2014..

By the way: by texting STANJE to 13977 you can check your current data plan usage:

STANJE Nemas aktiviran paket razgovora. Nemas aktiviran SMS paket. Imas jos 5102,969MB. Nemas aktiviranu opciju 1000 bonbon minuta i SMS-ova :(

Thanks to Kristijan for helping me with instructions how to book the options. Since it’s all Croatian, it’s not that easy to find out!

Note by Ortwin: My thanks to Arnaud for sharing his experience about Croatian SIM cards. This is part of our ongoing series how to get 3G data access internationally. The original German version of this post appeared first on Arnaud’s blog.

Ortwin asked me to write this guest post, a translated version of my original post in German. Since I’ll visit Croatia this summer, I looked for prepaid SIM cards with mobile 3G/4G Internet.

The following selection came together because I looked for a vendor with good network coverage in the area (near Donji Miholjac) where I’m staying.

I have found the following vendors:

I linked to the English pages where possible to make your life easier. 🙂

To make the different offers comparable, I did a calculation for a 2 week vacation with maximum Internet volume.

T-Hrvatski Telecom (formerly T-Mobile)

As a Telekom user in Germany my eyes fell on the Croatian colleagues there – Deutsche Telekom owns a majority stake in T-Hrvatski Telecom. In the package you have a Micro SIM. If you need a Nano SIM, the easiest way is to exchange it in a local Telekom shop.

One time Options Total
SIM-Card 20 kn 0 kn
Internet XL 2GB 0 kn 75 kn option for 30 days
MMS/SMS-Flat HR 0 kn 20 kn 10 kn each week
Total Kuna 20 kn 95 kn 115 kn
Total € 2.65 € 12.58 € 15.23 €
KUNA/€ exchange rate 7.55

Update 11.09.2015: If you travel to Croatia for just one week or if you need a lot of data they have a new offer. For 11 € (85 kn) you get a 7-day flat without limitation and 75 Mbit/s. Their Twitter support told me you can reactivate it after you have topped up your SIM card again. You can buy this card in a local Telekom shop. More information on their Visiting Croatia page.

Vipnet (own network)

The second vendor I found is However, the information on the page was not easy to find. If you need a Nano SIM you can get it directly at purchase. VIP offers complete packages that strike me as very balanced.

One time Options Total
SIM-Card-Package 50 kn 0 kn for 50 kn you get:
1500 minutes/SMS budget in Croatia
1500 MB
Total Kuna 50 kn 0 kn 50 kn
Total € 6.62 € 0 € 6.62 €
KUNA/€ exchange rate 7.55 (uses T-Mobile network)

A Croatian friend of mine recommended bonbon. As far as I found out, it’s in fact part of the T-Hrvatski Telekom group, similar to Congstar in Germany. bonbon currently has a nice bonbon for tourists: “Upload your credit with 80 kn and you get a discount of 50% on a package of your choice” (extract from ). Even if this offer expires sometime, it’s a really fair offer for this price (5 GB for 90 kn). Update 11.09.2015: The Price of 45 kn is now the regular Price for 5 GB of data volume.

However, bonbon doesn’t have Nano SIMs in their starter pack. After an exchange with their Twitter support (very friendly & fast) you get it as a replacement card but they send it only to Croatian addresses. The card arrives in 2-3 days, sometimes even faster.

One time Options Total

20 kn 0 kn
Internet 5GB

0 kn 45 kn current offer: 50% for the first package
1200 SMS in HR

0 kn 60 kn
Total Kuna

20 kn 105 kn 125 kn
Total €

2.65 € 13.91 € 16.56 €
KUNA/€ exchange rate 7.55

I decided to go for bonbon. Part of the reason was their friendly support.

That’s it with my short overview of mobile Internet in Croatia. If there are changes, I’ll update this post. Also, please post your feedback in the comments.

Note by Ortwin: My thanks to Arnaud for adding his experience about Croatia to our ongoing series of how to get 3G data access internationally. If you want to support his blog, he’s happy to receive some Flattrs.

Update 21.08.2015: Oftentimes it’s convenient to order a SIM card in advance. This saves you from finding and going to a local store. ebay seller crotopbrands offers Croatian SIM cards from bonbon, VIPnet and Tele2 (Croatia’s smallest mobile network but with free roaming with
Update 29.02.2016: I’ve posted a follow-up on how to activate mobile 3G/LTE with BonBon.

spain.pngHello, this is StuFF mc from Alarm. Ortwin invited me to write about my experience getting 3G internet access in Spain. I recently spent a few days in the original village of my mum, and so, as any “professional geek” like me, I needed to be sure I had an Internet connection.

I recommend using Vodafone. Actually, I tried Movistar (by market leading Telefónica) first – they offer a €10, 100 MB for 30 days prepaid tariff (translated) – but my experience with Movistar/Telefónica was not ideal, to say the least. Internet access was blocked on my SIM card and it took 5 (!) calls to their hotline until they finally found that out – even though the SMS message said I was good to go.

vodafone.pngSo I went to a Vodafone store. Vodafone offers a prepaid Internet tariff for €3.50 per week. Traffic is unlimited but you’ll be throttled to 128 kbps after 20 MB/day. First, I had to buy a SIM card (XS8 pack) for €9 which basically gives you credit for 2 weeks of Internet usage (that would be €7). The SIM card also has voice calling enabled with 8 cents per minute/SMS.

However, there’s one major catch: You have to activate the Internet option first by texting TPTarjeta to 22521. If you forget this, you’ll surf at a ridiculously expensive tariff. I actually sent the activation SMS but never received a confirmation message ruining my €9 credit in only half a day… (and don’t even try to get a reimbursement for that!). So my advice is to let the sales rep activate the Internet option for you right at the shop.

For larger downloads or if you’re mainly staying at a single place, it makes sense to resort to a café or pub with Wi-Fi which is very common in Spain. Usually you’ll get the (static) Wi-Fi password at your first order and are able to use it later on if you walk by again 😉

Update: Florian Albrecht wrote about his experience with the carrier Yoigo. A bit more expensive but more inclusive traffic.

All articles how to get 3G data access internationally

Greek FlagIn the past, I described how to get affordable 3G access when traveling to Italy or Switzerland. Today, we’re continuing our little series with a tip how to get prepaid mobile Internet in Greece.

In Greece, there’re three carriers, Cosmote (coverage map), Vodafone (coverage map) and Wind (coverage map). The standard Internet access charge is 1 € per day (at all three carriers), plus the cost of the SIM card.

Foreigners can buy SIM cards in local stores, just bring your passport or ID. Be aware that many shops prefer to sell you more expensive bundles (e.g. with 3G USB sticks) stating they ran out of stock of naked prepaid SIM cards.

I went for a 20 € KartoInternet pack from a local Vodafone Store that includes 10 days of Internet access (so the SIM card runs at 10 €). The card is valid for 12 months after the last refill. It comes in standard SIM Connection Managerformat. If you plan to use it in an iPhone 4 or iPad, cut it down to Micro SIM format (either manually, or using a Micro SIM cutter).

The maximum data volume for the 10 days is 3 GB. Check the online status page (link only working when logged on) to see how much data volume you’ve left. To fill up the account, you can purchase top-up vouchers in many supermarkets (they don’t offer the SIM cards!).

APN: web.session (blank username and password)

Update 03.08.2015: Oftentimes, e.g. when traveling to Greek islands, it’s convenient to order a SIM card in advance. This saves you from finding and going to a local store. I had good experience with ebay seller vasileios-gr. He offers SIM cards for both Vodafone and Cosmote.

All articles how to get 3G data access internationally

SwitzerlandA while ago we described how to get affordable 3G access when traveling to Italy. Today, we continue this series with a report on Swiss prepaid data tariffs. In Switzerland there are three providers, Swisscom, Orange and sunrise. Swisscom has by far the best 3G coverage covering 93% of the population.

Luckily Swisscom also offers the most attractive prepaid card with data tariff. There are plenty of different prepaid options available. Two options are interesting for travelers who want to avoid monthly charges:

  NATEL easy liberty uno NATEL Easy BeFree
Data usage CHF 1.–/MB, CHF 5.–/day max. CHF 4.–/day flat when used
National calls: CHF 0.80/h CHF 3.–/day flat when used
SIM card (valid 24 months): CHF 40.– CHF 40.–

There’s a “fair” use policy on data usage: After more than 2 GB/month the bandwidth will be throttled.
Incoming calls and SMS while logged into the home network are free as usual in Europe.

More details on the Swisscom website.

Getting the SIM card

swisscom-logo.pngSIM cards can’t be ordered online in advance so make your plans to visit a Swisscom store. Swisscom stores can be found in every major city. Use Where To? (Shopping:Mobile Phones:Swisscom) or the Swisscom store finder to find the next one. To create the account, bring your passport or ID. The SIM card will be CHF 49.– including a CHF 9 .– prepaid credit. Even though it’s just a prepaid card, calculate 30 minutes for the paperwork. You’re essentially signing for a 24 months contract (without ongoing fees). So if you come back to Switzerland in less than 2 years, you can still use the account and save the CHF 40.– per SIM card.

When the credit is eaten up, you’ll be notified via SMS and you can top up the account online via credit card.

iPad packages

For iPad, Swisscom offers similarly priced data-only packages:

Data usage: 100 MB 300 MB 2 GB
Costs: CHF 5.–/day CHF 19.–/30 days CHF 39.–/30 days
SIM card:
CHF 19.90 (includes CHF 20.- credit)

Although iPad SIM cards can be purchased online, due to legal reasons, registration and activation of the SIM card has to be done in a Swisscom store.

APN settings

Usually, the iPhone is auto-configured for the Swisscom network, so you don’t have to enter any APN settings. If the connection doesn’t come up, you can enter these manual settings:

Username gprs
Password gprs

All articles how to get 3G data access internationally

When traveling internationally with your iPhone you want to avoid the exorbitant roaming charges using a local SIM card. First, you’ve to make sure, your iPhone is not SIM-locked – either factory SIM-lock-free or unlocked manually (no, I won’t go into the details).

Here is my experience how to get 3G data access in Italy. In Italy, there are four major operators: TIM, Vodafone, Wind and Three. Depending on your destination you might want to check the coverage first:

While Wind and Tre are a bit cheaper, I found TIM has the best 3G coverage. Getting a TIM SIM card is rather easy: TIM Stores are in every larger city.

The prepaid SIM card with 5€ credit costs 10€. National voice calls cost 30 cent/minute, SMS 15 cent, incoming calls are free. To buy the SIM card, TIM requires your ID or passport and an Italian postal address (just use an arbitrary address, they promised not to send mail to it).
On top of that a data option is needed, in this case Maxxi Internet 10 that gives you 50 MB/day at 10€/month. You receive an SMS if the 50 MB are reached. If you’re using more than 50 MB, you get another 30 MB for 1€/day. After this, traffic will be billed with 6€/MB!

Total investment: 20€

So the total investment is 20€ for the prepaid card including Internet access. Activation takes only a few minutes. To enable Internet access, open Settings > General > Network > Cellular Data Network and enter in the APN field. Leave user and password blank.

Extra tip: If you happen to swap SIM cards you have to enter the APN again.

The connection was rather reliable and fast. There’s only one caveat: If the maximum volume is reached, the warning SMS is not received instantaneously but with a 1-2 hours delay. So you can easily produce expensive overtraffic and eat up all the prepaid credit. When the credit is used up, the Internet access is disconnected and you’ll get a message that you’re not a subscriber of the data network. Internet access is restored the next day even if all the credit is used up.

Status Check

To check the balance and the activated plan, I found it useful to create a web password that still allows you to access the status when you’re back from the trip. To activate the web password, send a free SMS with TIM XXXXXXXXX to 49001 where the X are your new 8 digit (only numbers, no letters!) password. Then go to and login with your phone number and password.

Other countries?

This blog post was inspired by Till Schadde’s coverage on US prepaid data access using T-Mobile. If you figured out how to get access in other countries, please let us know.

Update 10.03.2011: For our German readers: Claus Wolf hat gute Erfahrungen mit Vodafone gemacht.
Update 03.08.2011: Vodafone Italia offers the Internet Sempre Smart (translated) prepaid tariff for 9€ per month with unlimited traffic. Bandwidth is throttled to 64 kbps after 1 GB. It’s available as SIM and micro SIM card.

All articles how to get 3G data access internationally

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