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Italy is one of Europe’s finest tourist destinations, with lots to see and do. A trip there can leave you with much to talk about, but calling home can work out to be expensive. Fortunately, Italy has some great prepaid SIM card deals that can reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Italy’s leading telco provider for as little €5 (less than $6). So, whether you’re planning a short trip or a lengthy tour, check out the best SIM card options on finder.com.
There are four main operators in Italy: TIM, Vodafone, Wind and 3 (Tre). All four operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate in the country, and each one competes with the others to offer the best deals. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Italy has great coverage in the main cities and along the highways, while the signal can weaken along the shoreline, countryside and mountain regions. Italy is part of the new European Union (EU) roaming pact, which means you can “roam-like-at-home” in all EU member states at the same rate.
Italy’s operators offer great coverage for a country that has a mountainous terrain, providing good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Locals call their SIM cards “SIMs” or “Chips”, and they can be purchased from official stores. You must show your passport or some form of ID to purchase and use the SIM card, and it will only be activated once the SIM card has been officially registered. The retailer might ask you for your tax code, which is mandatory for locals or residents to purchase SIM cards in Italy. However, if you explain that you’re a visitor and only wish to purchase a prepaid SIM card for a short period of time, then it’s usually fine. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your visit to Italy.
TIM is the largest operator in Italy and offers good rates and deals. Internet speeds are fast and network coverage is widely accepted as being the best. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and must be registered properly by showing your passport before they can be activated by the store assistant. Credit can be purchased from most retailers in Italy, including supermarkets, small stores, service stations and post offices. Credit can be added by entering a 16-digit PIN code into your device or by sending an SMS to 40916. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for EUR10, which comes with EUR5 credit.
The following “Piani Base” prepaid SIM card packages are available:
The following combination packs are available, and each one is valid for 28 days:
The following data-only SIM cards can be purchased for tablets, modems or laptops:
|Internet Start||EUR10||2GB||Valid for 28 days|
|Internet Large||EUR20||5GB||Valid for 28 days|
|Internet XL||EUR30||10GB||Valid for 28 days|
TIM International plans are only available for tourists visiting Italy. Local Italians are not allowed to purchase these deals. You must show your passport to get this prepaid SIM card. The base rate is EUR10, which comes with EUR5 worth of credit. The following packs can also be added:
There is also a Tourist SIM card available for travelers, which can be purchased for EUR20 and comes with EUR5 of credit, 100 minutes for calls and 4GB of data, valid for 30 days.
The following roaming offers are available too:
Vodafone is the second-largest operator in Italy and offers good rates and deals. Internet speeds are faster than TIM, and its network coverage is good. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and must be registered by showing your passport before they can be activated by the store assistant. Credit can be purchased from most places in Italy, including supermarkets, small stores, service stations and post offices.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for EUR10, but packages must be added to get the full benefit. Credit vouchers can be purchased in many different amounts from EUR5 to EUR100. Dial 414 to check your balance.
The following basic SIM card packs are available:
The following combo plans can also be added, and each is valid for 28 days:
|Vodafone Start||400 minutes||100 SMS||100MB||EUR10|
|Vodafone Digital||400 minutes||100 SMS||2GB||EUR15|
|Vodafone Super||400 minutes||100 SMS||3GB||EUR18|
In addition, other data packages can be purchased using the Vodafone app:
Vodafone’s famous RED plans are also available in Italy:
|RED Start||EUR39||4GB||Unlimited calls and SMS|
|RED Maxi||EUR49||8GB||Unlimited calls and SMS|
If you prefer, there’s a data-only SIM card available for tablets, modems and laptops:
|Giga Start||EUR10||2.5GB||Valid for 28 days|
|Giga Extra||EUR20||5GB||Valid for 28 days|
|Giga Maxi||EUR30||10GB||Valid for 28 days|
|Internet 1 anno||EUR149||15GB per month||Valid for 1 year|
Vodafone offers roaming deals in several countries around the world, plus tourist SIM cards. Check with the retailer at time of purchase as these deals change from time to time.
Wind is the third-largest operator in Italy and offers good rates and deals. Internet speeds are fast and network coverage is good. Wind will soon merge with 3 (Tre) Italy, which will create the biggest Italian provider. Wind customers will still be able to use their packages during the merger and can get 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and must be registered by showing your passport before they can be activated by the store assistant. Credit can be purchased from most places in Italy, including supermarkets, small stores, service stations and post offices.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for EUR10, and you can buy credit in the following denominations: EUR5, EUR10, EUR15, EUR20, EUR30, EUR40, EUR50, EUR75, EUR100. The following base SIM cards are available:
Call 155 and select the relevant pack to activate.
In addition, the following data packs can be added to any existing plan:
|Internet No Stop||1GB||28 days||EUR5|
|Internet No Stop Large||2GB||28 days||EUR7.50|
As well, there are tourist SIM cards and roaming packages on sale. Check offers at the time of purchase for the best deals.
3 (Tre) is Italy’s smallest provider, but once it fully merges with Wind, it will become the largest operator in the country. Although the two companies have already officially merged, they will be slowly combining their services over the next couple of years. Customers on Tre can still use their services. Internet speeds are fast and the network coverage is good. Tre offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and must be registered by showing your passport before they can be activated by the store assistant. Credit can be purchased from most places in Italy, including supermarkets, small stores, service stations and post offices.
Tre’s prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for EUR10, but plans will have to be added for them to work. Tre’s “Power29” prepaid SIM card is probably the best option for tourists because it comes with a number of different voice and data combinations. Check in store for the latest offers.
There is also a data-only SIM card available which offers the following packages:
|SuperInternet Play||EUR10||10GB||30 days|
|SuperInternet 5GB||EUR5||3GB||30 days|
|SuperInternet 10GB||EUR10||10GB||30 days|
|SuperInternet 30GB||EUR15||30GB||30 days|
|SuperInternet Express||EUR20||20GB||90 days|
|SuperInternet Express||EUR40||50GB||180 days|
Tre’s customers can use Wind’s packages until the merger has fully taken effect. See Wind’s deals above for more details.
While it’s well known for reviews, booking hotels, flights and vacations, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through which SIM cards have been tried and tested in Italy.
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
“All the phone stores are in the domestic departure terminal, behind security. You can’t get there if you arrive on a flight from outside the Schengen area, unless you’re transferring to an inter-Schengen flight. There are lots of phone stores in central Rome.”
“These days if you buy at a TIM/Vodafone or Wind shop 24 hours is unusual for activation. I guess it could still happen with a third party store if you bought during the weekend. But I’d expect a TIM SIM to work basically before you leave the shop.”
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you leave.
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