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Does the TIM Tourist SIM include SMS in what you get for "free"?

I'm considering buying the voucher online and presenting it at a TIM store when I get to Italy. I can't be sure from the TIM website whether SMS messages cost extra or are included in the E 30 "total cost". I'll only use the SIM in Italy for 12 days and won't use close to 200 minutes of calls, but I'd like to be able to send and receive occasional texts with locals, probably fewer than 50 or 60 total.

The website includes this language in details about TIM Tourist - I've deleted some language about international calls that's not relevant to my question:

"TIM TOURIST can be used in Italy and in roaming in EU countries.
The national traffic minutes included in the offer are valid to all Italian and EU mobile and fixed numbers...

The active profile on the TIM Card is called TIM BASE and chat: after 200 minutes of traffic, calls towards all national mobile and
fixed numbers cost 19 cents per minute and each SMS costs 29 cents. Call set up fee response is 20 cent. Calls are paid in
advance each 60 seconds."

To me it sounds like the 29 cent charge per SMS kicks in only after 200 "minutes of traffic", but I don't know if or how SMS texts sent or received prior to 200 minutes of phone calls would be counted. Andrew H had some good insights into a TIM Tourist question earlier this month and I hope he'll see this. Insights from him or anyone would be much appreciated.

Posted by
7696 posts

The SIM I bought in Italy from TIM at their store was 25-30€ lady year and included texts. It was good for a month .

Posted by
4931 posts

Bill, I have plenty of experience with SIM cards but have never actually used the TiM Tourist SIM (I bought a TIM SIM a long time ago for my old flip phone). I am going by what I've read recently from other TIM SIM users here in on the forums.

Yes, it does sound like the TIM SIM does not include SMS, at least the Tourist SIM.

Can we back up a second? Exactly how do you plan to use your TIM SIM? To whom will you be sending text messages? To locals in Europe or to folks back home? If you only plan to text people at home, I'd set up some alternate texting app before you leave the US and just use that while in Italy. Then it doesn't matter whether the TIM SIM includes SMS or not.

I use Google Voice for calls and texting. You can set that up now at home and play with it. It is probably a little confusing at first. Google gives you a free US phone number, but what they provide is not exactly phone service. Google Voice will forward incoming calls to your new Google number to your existing cell number. (You can turn that off after you sign up if you like.) You can make free voice calls with the Google Voice app to US numbers while in Italy (even to landlines), and you can text people (and receive texts) with this new Google US phone number, using the Google Voice app. Again, this has nothing to do with a SIM card SMS. You would need either WiFi or mobile data from a SIM card to use Google Voice in Italy.

If you want to SMS with locals? Then I'd get an Italian SIM that supports SMS. What about the Vodafone SIM instead? I am pretty sure their SIM card plans include some SMS messages. I use a Dutch Vodafone SIM, which has different features.

If you want to communicate with locals in Europe, the first thing I'd do is install Whatsapp on your phone now - assuming it is a smart phone not a flip phone. Whatsapp is very popular in Europe (though I've never used it), and other than hotels, many locals are likely to use it. You can send text messages or make voice calls with Whatsapp - assuming the other person is signed up to it too. That may be all you need for communicating with most locals - again, without worrying about whether the SIM includes SMS or not. You can install both Whatsapp and Google Voice if you want.

Posted by
4690 posts

Thanks to Andrew’s advise, I downloaded the Google Voice app and was able to communicate with my family back home on my most recent trip this Spring. I even called my mom on her landline, and it’s free!
There was a recent post regarding the TIM SIM ( visitors’) card and the inability to send SMS texts as I recall.
I’ve only bought Vodafone SIM cards on my last two trips to Italy (2017 & 2018), and it has worked great, however it didn’t include SMS texts either.
I’ve also used WhatsApp. As Andrew has mentioned, WhatsApp is widely used by many in Europe.
As you may know, if you have an iPhone, you can also send iMessages (via WiFi) to anyone else who has an iPhone.
One more thing, there’s no need to pre-purchase the voucher since you’ll still have to go to the phone shop to get your SIM card.
Enjoy your trip!

Edited to add...
Make sure you have your passport with you when buying a SIM card as they will request it from you.

Posted by
245 posts

Most people in Europe will use WhatsApp -- texting usually isn't included in their smartphone plans. It uses data, so if there's data included in your plan (like the TIM tourist plan you're looking at) then you're good to go. I've used it to chat with friends while they were travelling in Europe, and I know I'll use it when I'm in Europe to chat with friends back home (as well as locals). Just be sure to tell your friends at home to download the WhatsApp app!

I have another question about using an Italian SIM in my iPhone (maybe I should have started a different thread, but here it is): I've heard some horror stories about iPhones sending texts in the background when you have a foreign SIM card inserted - OK, horror is an overstatement - and building up charges without you realizing it. It seems particular to iPhones.........can anyone explain it, and how to avoid it?

Posted by
27720 posts

I have an iPhone (3 actually, but just one everyday one) and I have a UK sim in it - not foreign to me but maybe foreign to you, and none of them have ever sent texts that I haven't written. Why would they?

Possibly if your phone was hacked, but that could be anywhere with any phone on any network.

I keep mine locked when i'm not using it.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks, all. In recent years I have brought my current iPhone and used Verizon's Travel Pass when I travel, which for $10 per day gives me the same minutes, texts and data that I have in the US. I don't use it every day so it can be a good deal.

I have also been bringing my older iPhone and getting a SIM when I arrive. My wife keeps it with her so we can be in touch in the infrequent situations when we are not together, and it's sometimes handy to be able to send or receive texts rather than cause a phone to ring or vibrate. (We don't need to be spending $10 per day with Verizon for 2 phones so she doesn't activate Travel Pass on her US phone although she brings it and uses wifi where available.) It could be changing but I think in the past it seemed that if I phoned a local restaurant, driver or hotel that it may have been easier to get the call answered or returned if it's from a local number. I will definitely install What's App on the phones before I leave the US. I've also followed Andrew's advice on a different topic and installed the Trenitalia app on my primary phone and will also put it on my old iPhone.

In any case, I have been fine with Vodafone SIMs in the past and their stores are easy to find so I will probably just go there after arrival and have them set it up for me. In the past it's only cost me around 15-20 Euro for the card and all the minutes and data I needed.

Posted by
245 posts

and none of them have ever sent texts that I haven't written. Why would they?

iPhones send SMS messages back to "home base" to confirm the connection of the services (iMessage and FaceTime). You don't know it's happening, and it never appears on your screen. It might be turned off on the phones that are sold there, but it's active on phones made for the US and Canadian markets. I asked for an explanation and solution on the Apple boards, and this was the helpful response: "iMessages uses SMS messages to confirm the service. You'll need to sign out of both iMessages and Facetime (It also uses SMS messages for the same purpose). Then, you should be fine. You might also want to talk to the Italian carrier and see if they can block SMS messages entirely. "