Money For Members

How you can avoid huge 'roaming' phone bills while visiting Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How you can avoid huge 'roaming' phone bills while visiting Switzerland
3G is being shut off in Austria in January to make way for more 5G infrastructure. Photo: Pixabay

If you're visiting Switzerland with a foreign mobile phone, you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges. But there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.


There used be a time when people travelled without mobile phones, using telephone booths for calls and cameras to take photos.

‘Roaming’ was not even a word then, except when referring to tigers or wild horses.

But if you live in the second decade of the 21st century, your smartphone probably never leaves your side.

The more frugal people turn off their phones while traveling abroad to avoid extra charges, but most tourists want to have full use of their devices.

However, in Switzerland roaming fees can add up to quite a bundle.

‘Lucrative business’

Roaming charges within the EU ended in 2017, but not in Switzerland

Even though some MPs said at the time that “if the EU can stop roaming then it must be possible for Switzerland too,” telecom operators didn’t see it this way.

That’s because roaming is “a lucrative business" for Swiss  companies, so they had “little interest” in joining the EU deal, online consumer site Comparis said at the time.

According to the Federal Office of Communications, “compared to the European Union, prices for data roaming services in Switzerland are high. On average, they amount to around 0.008 francs per megabyte,” while in the EU a megabyte costs 0.0035 euros.   


How can you  save money on your roaming charges while visiting Switzerland?

The best way to cut the cost is to buy a Swiss prepaid SIM card, according to Moneyland consumer platform.

SIMs are generally quite affordable for tourists.

For instance, "Vodafone users in Germany have to pay 15 euros to use up to 50 megabytes of roaming data for Switzerland per day. For the equivalent of around 17 euros, a Swiss SIM can give you 5 gigabytes of data – around 100 times as much."

If, however, your mobile plan from your country includes roaming allowances for Switzerland, there may be no benefit to using a Swiss SIM card instead.  Moneyland cites the example Deutsche Telekom customers, who benefit from the same conditions when roaming in Switzerland as they do in Germany.

Where can tourists purchase a Swiss SIM cards?

They are widely available at various retailers, such as:

  • Swiss supermarkets like Migros and Coop (which sell their own M-Budget and Coop Mobile SIMs, respectively)
  • Discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl, which also sell their own SIMs
  • The branch stores of Swiss telecom companies like Salt, Sunrise, and Swisscom
  • Electronics stores like those run by Fust, Interdiscount, Media Market and Melectronics
  • Post offices

In all of these venues, you will have to present your passport or ID card, and fill out the registration form before purchasing a SIM card.


Are there any other options as well?

If you don’t want to use prepaid SIM cards, then Moneyland suggests purchasing regular prepaid bundles which the Swiss use but which are available to foreign tourist as well.

One of the best, according to consumer experts is, Digital Republic, which “has an interesting offer for tourists traveling to Switzerland".

This mobile service provider offers several different packages, all of which include unlimited data for a flat fee. The only difference between them is the Internet speed. An unlimited data bundle with a speed of 50 Mbps costs 20 Swiss francs.The SIM is complimentary and you do not pay any activation fees.


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