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Mobile phones: The best deals for foreigners in Switzerland

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Mobile phones: The best deals for foreigners in Switzerland
File photo: Depositphotos
20:44 CEST+02:00
When it comes to choosing a mobile phone provider in Switzerland, there is no single answer.

Should you go for the cheapest option? Do some offer better data rates? Is there a good all-in-one service? And what about the thorny issue of roaming?

If you want safety in numbers and close to guaranteed connectivity, then you might want to stick with Swisscom – the country’s largest telecommunications provider.

Read also: Not so 'handy' - Switzerland left out as EU scraps roaming charges

Swisscom is also the operator of the largest mobile network in Switzerland and has already started rolling out its 5G network. However, it has a reputation for being more expensive.

The other large options are Salt (formerly Orange) and Sunrise. Their rates are more competitive – depending on how you use your phone – but they also offer slightly more patchy coverage, especially in more out-of-the-way parts of the country.

Then there are dozens of smaller providers such as M-Budget Mobile (a rebranded Swisscom service available through the Migros supermarket chain), Sunrise subsidiary yallo, Swisscom subsidiary wingo and Lebara, all of which can be very good value depending on what you are looking for.

Here is what are readers told us about what provider to go with, and what you need to know before signing on the dotted line.

Generally positive reviews for Sunrise

The most commented on provider among our readers was Sunrise, with people generally giving the company positive reviews.

Joan Bourbon told us she has the basic Sunrise Freedom package (swiss start), which starts at 25 Swiss francs (€22.40) a month, or 20 francs if you are under the age of 30.

Read also: So what is actually cheap in Switzerland

She explained that it only includes 500MB of data, but then once you are over, you pay one franc a day for unlimited data, meaning you are up for a maximum for 55 francs a month for data usage. Data roaming rates are 1.90 a day for 100MB.

But Joan said there was a downside: “If you are a caller, this plan is not for you.” While the swiss start package offers unlimited calls to Sunrise customers, you only get free calls to three users of other networks.

At the other end of the Sunrise spectrum, Myrtle Webb said she has the Sunrise Freedom europe and US package.

“This is expensive but includes roaming and it is a good network,” she said.

The package comes in at 130 francs a month but includes unlimited calls, texts and data usage in 46 countries.

Another reader noted that Sunrise is far cheaper than Swisscom, especially if you combine mobile services with home internet or other products using the Sunrise One option.

Swisscom good for customer service

Swisscom was praised by our readers for its customer service, which is in line with the results of a Moneyland survey from last year in which the company received a 7.7 out of 10 approval rating among users – third behind wingo (8.3 out of 10) and M-Budget mobile 7.9 out of ten).

However, Kate Bradford reflected the general consensus among our readers by saying the mobile provider “feels expensive”.

The cheapest Swisscom package (inOne mobile basic) costs 45 francs a month, if you don’t factor in a handset. For this, you get unlimited calls and texts within Switzerland as well as 2GB of data. Calls to Western Europe/the EU cost 60 cents a minute, but for an extra 20 francs a month, you can get unlimited calls to countries in this group.

Mixed reviews for Salt

Salt was less popular among our readers, with some readers citing high costs and high charges for ending contracts prematurely. More on that below.

However, one reader said they had a Das Abo contract, which is available from Swiss Post and is essentially Salt under another name. 

“With this, you get unlimited free calls and texts within Switzerland and to all EU and many countries including the US. I have family in Australia and can talk for hours completely free,” this reader told us.

The cheapest Salt package (Start) has a price tag of 19.95 francs a month if you have a phone already. For this you get 1.5GB data, free calls to other Salt users and 30 minutes in free calls to people on other networks. The subscription also comes with unlimited texts.

Thumbs up for yallo

Among the smaller providers yallo got good reviews.

Sarah Stephen told us she switched from to yallo from Salt. “My current plan includes unlimited calls and texts in Switzerland and unlimited calls and texts to European countries (including the UK),” she said.

“I got the handset separately and in total, it costs me a quarter of what I was paying Salt. It is also relatively easy to register and relatively easy to get out from the deal,” she added.

Meanwhile The Local reader Marcin recommended both yallo and Salt for their low basic cost and the range of services included in the basic package compared to Swisscom.

The cheapest yallo package (yallo slim) is 19 francs a month for which you get generally get 500MB of data, unlimited calls to other yallo users and 30 minutes of calls to other networks. You also get unlimited texts.

The roaming trap

In terms of what to look out for, the most common piece of advice among our readers was to carefully check roaming rates. These can mount up pretty quickly in Switzerland as there is a good chance you will be both calling overseas quite often and leaving the country frequently as well – especially if you live in a border area.

The issue of roaming is also something noted by the Swiss telecommunications ombudsman, which is the body charged with resolving disputes between consumers and telecommunications service providers.

In its report for 2018, the ombudsman noted that most complaints about roaming were about data usage charges and not phone calls. Specifically, people said they had been charged higher rates than expected when they felt they had either switched off mobile roaming options or had signed on to a certain data package when this was not the case.

The ombudsman noted that in most cases, companies had provided “generous credit”.

Long notification period before terminating contracts

Several of our readers also warned us about the notification period required by Swiss mobile providers before ending a contract.

This notification period is generally two months, although you will need to check the general terms and conditions of the mobile provider you choose to go with. If you don’t give this notice, you will likely be up for a fee.

In a similar vein, you can also be charged a SIM activation fee when you sign on to a contract. For Swisscom's most basic contract, there is a one-off fee of 40 francs while this is 49 francs for the same products from Salt and Sunrise.

On the topic of hidden costs, readers also noted that many mobile service providers charge you to have bills sent to your home, while this is often more expensive if you receive an itemized bill. It is worth thinking about whether you need a paper bill, as it can costs a few francs a month.

Read also: What you need to know before you take out health insurance in Switzerland

 
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