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Cell phone use in Switzerland and Italy - SIM card?


10+ Posts
So.....I want to take my iPhone (I phone 10) to Switzerland and Italy in Sept. I will be there a month.

I just today went to the AT&T store (my carrier) and got some rather vague answers to my questions about phone use in Switzerland and Italy. The only clear answers I got were the following:
a) Will cost me 10.00 US a day to use my phone as is via At&T but it must be unlocked upon arrival in Europe.
b) There are plans in Switzerland / Italy where I would need to get a SIM card for the phone

Given the vague info, I am not sure of the best plan available in those two countries
Years ago I had to get a separate SIM card for a Nokia phone I had back I the day - I suspect the same would be true for use in Switzerland and Italy today?

What I am looking for is an economical way to use my phone to text, call back to the States and use for google maps etc.

Thoughts on the best way to go that is economical without alot of gymnastics to use my current phone?

Thanks in advance.
Rea Jackson
Denver area


500+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
My understanding (although I don't see much current discussion of the topic) is that for $10 a day you can use your phone as if at home and it can stay locked to AT&T. If you can unlock your phone you can get a plan and use a SIM card from a local provider. I've bookmarked this Fandom page on services in Italy, including some that allow roaming in other countries without surcharges. Since you list Switzerland first, if that's where you're going first you'd need to get a plan offered there, so here is that country's Fandom page.

If you stay with AT&T and their $10 plan, as I understand but may not have it right, if you're in a place with Wi-Fi you can stay in airplane mode, not pay the $10 for that day, and use services including Wi-Fi voice calling. You could choose to go off airplane mode and owe the $10 only on days when you need to use services while away from Wi-Fi. You can also use Google Voice where phone calls cost pennies, although something needs to be done in Settings to get the calls to work at the low cost.


100+ Posts
You first need to make sure your phone is unlocked. If you've had it with AT&T for 2 years or more, you've likely paid it off so they should unlock it for you.

What are you main uses, voice calls and texts?

You might see if there are cheap international voice and text plans.

It's data which is expensive.

If you anticipate using a lot of data, better to go with a local SIM. No international plan on a US carrier with the possible exception of T-Mobile is going to be worth it.

There are different rules about roaming data costs, depending on where you buy the prepaid SIM and which carrier.

In general you would get much better deals in Italy than in Switzerland and have a chance to use that Italian SIM in Switzerland.

However with a local SIM, you get a different phone number so people back home trying to call you would have to dial a foreign number.

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