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Where to find the best prepaid SIM cards in Italy

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Reduce your roaming bills by using a local SIM card.

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.

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Details Features
Flexiroam Sim Card
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Prices last updated 18 Sep 2017

Telco providers in Italy

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.

About Italy’s operators

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

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:

  • One Prime Go – EUR0.49 per week which includes data-free access to the TIM app, free calls and SMS to one desired number on the same network, and two-for-one cinema tickets.
  • TIM Base New – a basic plan which includes slightly higher base rates on calls and data. The SIM card is free, and if you add packages to this SIM card, then calls and data rates are lower.

The following combination packs are available, and each one is valid for 28 days:

  • TIM Special Voice: 500 local minutes, no data – EUR10
  • TIM Special Voice+Data: 500 local minutes, 2GB data, TIMmusic free for 6 months – EUR15
  • TIM Special Start: 1,000 local minutes, 2GB data, TIMmusic free for 6 months – EUR20
  • TIM Special Large: 3,000 local minutes, 3GB data, TIMmusic free for 6 months – EUR30
  • TIM Special Unlimited: Unlimited local voice and SMS, 1,500 minutes call time to Europe and the US from Italy, Europe and US, 1,500 minutes incoming calls when roaming in Europe/US, 6GB data – EUR40
  • TIM Special Pack: 2,000 local minutes and 20GB valid for 6 months – EUR49

The following data-only SIM cards can be purchased for tablets, modems or laptops:

Internet StartEUR102GBValid for 28 days
Internet LargeEUR205GBValid for 28 days
Internet XLEUR3010GBValid 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:

  • TIM International 1000 Super: EUR9.99 which comes with 1,000 local minutes and 300 international minutes, 10GB of data – valid for 28 days.
  • TIM International Pass: EUR15 which comes with 500 minutes, 500 SMS, 2GB of data and roaming in the EU and US – valid for 10 days.
  • TIM International 2GB: EUR3 which comes with 2GB of data – valid for 28 days.
  • Internet 3GB: EUR5 which comes with 3GB of data – valid for 30 days.
  • TIM International 10GB: EUR15 which comes with 10GB of data – valid for 30 days.
  • TIM International 30GB: EUR9.99 which comes with 15GB plus 15GB at night – valid for 28 days.

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:

  • TIM in Viaggio Pass: EUR20 – 500 minutes voice, 500 SMS and 10GB data valid for 10 days in all countries in Europe and USA.
  • TIM in Viaggio Internet: EUR25 – 4GB for 10 days in the EU, Switzerland and USA.

TIM’s APN: ibox.tim.it or wap.tim.it, and website: www.tim.it

Vodafone

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:

  • Tutto Facile Basic: EUR4 per day for up to 500MB of data.
  • Vodafone 19: EUR6 per day for 1GB of data, 2GB on Sundays.

The following combo plans can also be added, and each is valid for 28 days:

Vodafone Start400 minutes100 SMS100MBEUR10
Vodafone Digital400 minutes100 SMS2GBEUR15
Vodafone Super400 minutes100 SMS3GBEUR18

In addition, other data packages can be purchased using the Vodafone app:

1GBEUR5
3GBEUR14
5GBEUR19
10GBEUR29

Vodafone’s famous RED plans are also available in Italy:

RED StartEUR394GBUnlimited calls and SMS
RED MaxiEUR498GBUnlimited calls and SMS

If you prefer, there’s a data-only SIM card available for tablets, modems and laptops:

Giga StartEUR102.5GBValid for 28 days
Giga ExtraEUR205GBValid for 28 days
Giga MaxiEUR3010GBValid for 28 days
Internet 1 annoEUR14915GB per monthValid 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.

Vodafone’s APN: mobile.vodafone.it, and website: http://www.vodafone.it

Wind

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:

  • Wind 1: Standard SIM card – no packages are added.
  • Wind senza scatto: EUR0.19 per week for lower calling and SMS rates

The following combo plans can also be added:

  • All Inclusive Unlimited: 500 minutes, 500 SMS, 5GB – EUR12
  • All Digital: 500 local minutes, unlimited local SMS, 5GB – EUR10
  • Noi Tutti: Voice-only bundle, which offers 400 local minutes – EUR7

Call 155 and select the relevant pack to activate.

In addition, the following data packs can be added to any existing plan:

Internet No Stop1GB28 daysEUR5
Internet No Stop Large2GB28 daysEUR7.50

As well, there are tourist SIM cards and roaming packages on sale. Check offers at the time of purchase for the best deals.

Wind’s APN: internet.wind, and website: http://www.wind.it/it/privati/

3 (Tre)

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 PlayEUR1010GB30 days
SuperInternet 5GBEUR53GB30 days
SuperInternet 10GBEUR1010GB30 days
SuperInternet 30GBEUR1530GB30 days
SuperInternet ExpressEUR2020GB90 days
EUR4050GB180 days

Tre’s customers can use Wind’s packages until the merger has fully taken effect. See Wind’s deals above for more details.

Tre’s APN: tre.it, website: http://www.tre.it/

Some top tips from finder.com staff

  • If you don’t know the Italian language, you may want to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. Note that English is taught in most schools and is spoken by many Italians in the main tourist areas.
  • Ask the retailers to set up the SIM cards for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to get advice.

TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them

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.”

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Pros and cons of Italy’s top telco providers

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.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Italy has good coverage
  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current phone
  • Cheap handsets are sold in stores

Cons:

  • No devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
  • Signal can suffer in some parts

Another question about finding the best SIM?

Q: What about other SIM card providers in Italy?

A: There are many mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) providing SIM cards in Italy, like CoopVoce, PosteMobile, FastWeb, Lycamobile, Ringo Mobile, Tiscali, 1Mobile and Digi Mobil. Although they may offer slightly different packages, the prices are not any lower than the three main operators we have highlighted above, and it’s always better to stick with the main providers.

Switch to a cell phone plan with international calling

Details Features
SIMPLE Mobile
SIMPLE Mobile
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FreedomPop
FreedomPop
  • Plans: Individual, Family, Business
  • From: $0/month
  • Min. contract: None
  • The Basic 500 Plan gives you
    200 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB data for $0/month
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  • Call other FreedomPop users for free
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NET10 Wireless
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  • Plans: Data, Pay-As-You-Go, Home, Business, International
  • From: $20/month
  • Min. contract: None if you choose a Pay-As-You-Go
  • The Mega Data User Plan gives you
    Unlimited nationwide talk and text plus 10GB high-speed data for $60/mo
  • Nationwide coverage with flexible prepaid plans for talk, text & data.
  • Unlimited international talk for $65 a month.
  • No credit checks, no activation fees.
    Go to site More info
    Straight Talk Wireless
    Straight Talk Wireless
    • Plans: Individual, Family, Business & International
    • From: $30/month
    • Min. contract: None - Pay as you go
    • The Unlimited 5G Plan gives you
      Unlimited Talk, Text and Data for just $45/month
    • No contract option for nationwide coverage.
    • Unlimited international plan for $60 a month.
    • Bring your own phone.
      Go to site More info
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      4 Responses

      1. Default Gravatar
        GraceSeptember 4, 2018

        does it allow tethering/hotspot with other devices?

        • finder Customer Care
          joelmarceloSeptember 5, 2018Staff

          Hi Grace,

          Most recent Android and iOS devices allow mobile hotspot/tethering. This is not a limitation in whatever phone you are getting but more of a “data limitation”. If you share your internet with other devices, it will de deducted against the data cap you will be signing up for and your provider may charge you for data used in excess over your data cap.

          Cheers,
          Joel

      2. Default Gravatar
        DJJuly 13, 2018

        Does vodaphone provide international calling plans for tourists like TIM does?

        • finder Customer Care
          nikkiangcoJuly 22, 2018Staff

          Hi DJ!

          Thanks for your message and for contacting finder.

          Yes, Vodaphone has prepaid plans for international calls such as Vodaphone 19 or Tutto Facile Basic.
          For more information, you may go to this page.

          Hope this helps!

          Nikki

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