Readers’ tips: What’s the best mobile phone company to use in Spain?

Each week, The Local asks its readers to share their tips about various aspects of living in Spain. This week, we asked their opinion on which mobile phone provider in Spain offers the best experience, and why.

Readers' tips: What's the best mobile phone company to use in Spain?
Photo: Depositphotos

Here's how they responded:

Which mobile phone carrier in Spain is best?

After surveying our readers, we’ve been able to conclude that… there’s absolutely no consensus in answer to this question. There are nine different providers that we’ve received feedback on, and none is the clear winner. The most voted for? Vodafone. The most voted against? Also Vodafone. So, apologies, but we can’t say without a doubt which mobile phone company is best.

What we can do is pass on the advice of our readers, who certainly had plenty to say about mobile phone service in Spain. Fast internet? Low prices? Customer service? That varies from carrier to carrier…


The British telecom giant (and third largest provider in Spain) attracted the most attention, good or bad, from the Local readers. To generalize, they tend to laud the quality of the coverage, but raise some doubts regarding the customer service. 

Sarah Mooring was unequivocal in her analysis: ‘Vodafone are the best, we find’, adding that they offer ‘excellent customer service, and good, reliable, fast internet.’

Vodafone’s solid LTE/4G coverage attributed by is Eugene Bogorad in Barcelona to what he believes to be the ‘least populated network, ‘ with the ‘fastest speeds, always’ – though he recognizes that this doesn’t come cheap.

Linda Harris, near Valencia, agrees, writing, ‘we have found Vodafone to be best so far.’ She adds that the ‘shop in Miramar always has English speaking reps and [we’ve] always found them to be very helpful.’

Several readers, however, were very critical of Vodafone – like Hassan Sarwar in Málaga. He cautions, ‘don't sign any contract with Vodafone. Many of my friends, once signed, get extra charges for no reasons.’


Formerly France Télécom, Orange is the second largest mobile phone service provider on the Spanish market.* Again, reader reactions were mixed. Those who were pro-Orange cited its good coverage, but cost can be an issue.

Anthony Sanders sums up the advantages and disadvantages when he explains which provider her prefers: ‘Orange by far… you only get what you pay for!’

Orange also owns two economy carriers: Jazztel and Simyo.

Of these, Simyo was preferred by readers like Peter Moody, who likes that the brand is ‘cheap and straightforward'. He finds it ‘easy to keep real time track of usage,’ and likes being able to accumulate date and specify cost limits for features like roaming.


The international carrier headquartered in the UK attracted some positive feedback.

Hassan Sarwar cites Lycamobile as his preferred alternative to Vodafone, thanks to their flexibility: ‘they have so many plans and offers for everyone.’

Another advantage he cites is the brand’s affordability. ‘Lycamobile deals are very cheap compared to rest of the market, plus they are using the same platform for coverage that Telefonica is using.’ he writes. ‘It’s very affordable for everyone.’

That opinion is seconded by Roger Rosedale in Cádiz province, who calls it a ‘great value’. And as an added bonus for those with friends and family abroad, he notes that ‘most of the world is included in my bundle.’

Grupo Más Móvil (including Yoigo, Pepephone, and Lebara)

Spain’s fastest growing telecommunications conglomerate is made up of a number of smaller providers, including the three above, mentioned positively by The Local readers. 

Kris Hurman in Montroy (Valencia) says that with Vodafone, “I could not get reception on one side of my house. Now I never have a blind spot’ – thanks to Yoigo, which seems to be more effective in the countryside.

A ‘no-nonsense company with crystal clear tariffs and no strings attached’ is how James Oakwood, Seville resident, described Pepephone, which describes itself on its website as ‘a small group of normal people.’

And Richard Lewington of Madrid praised Lebara for ‘cheap, great coverage’ with ‘no commitment’. Like other Local readers, he had nothing bad to say about the Más Móvil companies. 

The Rest

Strangely enough, readers had very little to say about Movistar, the top brand for Spain’s largest phone service provider and global telecom giant Telefónica. We’ll have to suppose that the company is more popular among locals than among expats.

Many, if not all, advised caution when it comes to signing a contract, especially with one of the big three (Movistar, Orange, Vodafone) that control 80 percent of Spain’s mobile phone service market. James Oakwood advises those considering a contract to ask themselves, ‘How easy will it be to leave if I’m not satisfied with the service?’

So, while there was no clear winner when it came to best mobile phone company, a couple general conclusions have emerged: 

  • The largest providers, like Vodafone and Orange, may have the best coverage and the fastest internet, but clients should be careful about signing a contract that they may not completely understand.
  • Readers who have tried out the small or ‘economy’ carriers like Pepephone, Yoigo, Lebara, and Simyo seem to be mostly pleased with the prices, simplicity, and lack of commitment.

Or, you could take the advice provided by Local reader Anthony Stephen: ‘I would recommend just sticking to carrier pigeon or smoke signals while living in Spain. Much better customer service.’ 

By Edward O'Reilly

Member comments

  1. I’ve been using Lobster mobile which runs on the movistar network. If you make calls to the UK it’s very good value. All calls to the UK and some other countries are included in the plan. The cheapest plan is 12 euros per month and you get unlimited calls and texts to the UK plus 6gb of data.

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Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.


Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 


Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.


Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.


The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.