I’m putting this here simply so that future versions of myself – or other English-speaking travelers in Germany – can refer to it.
So you’ve got yourself a Vodafone CallYa pre-paid SIM card in Germany – easy and cheap to pick up at any Vodafone outlet in the country (when I went looking for one last March they were having a 5-for-1 sale, so I have five German mobile numbers working in rotation for a time). And you need to recharge your account now that you’ve extinguished its initial value. But how?
I tried many times, in vain, to recharge online at Vodafone.de – it seems like it’s actually not possible. In theory you can buy a CallNow scratch card from kiosks, but that’s not always convenient or lingually possible.
Fortunately there’s a solution: aufladen.de. From that site you can purchase online, in English, a 15 or 30 Euro “top up code” by credit card that gets delivered to you by email and can then be entered on the phone by calling Vodafone’s 22922 line.
I did this today, and it worked as expected, with the following caveats:
- I appeared to need a German address, at least when paying by credit card: I kept getting an error message about a missing postal code when I used my Canadian address. I ended up using the address of my temporary Berlin apartment and the transaction processed without further problems.
- It’s possible that when you dial 22922 you’ll get messaging only in German. To switch your Vodafone language to English. press 4 and then 2; all future calls will then be in English.
- The code took about 3 minutes to arrive by email; be patient.
I still haven’t quite figured out how to tell what CallYa plan I’m signed up for and what the rates are: all I know is that an afternoon of occasional data and SMS use comes out to about 1 EUR of charges, which seems reasonable to me.