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How do I use my Samsung/Windows/Verizon phone in Switzerland and Italy?

I have a Smsung ATIV SE Windows 10 phone. The provider is Verizon. How do I use this phone in Switzerland and Italy so that I do not incur ridiculous charges for roaming/texting/email/etc.? Any advice would be most appreciated.

Posted by
975 posts

I got the international plan from Verizon and was not happy with it. Half the time I could not connect and my husband was never able to get data. I used WhatsApp for communicating with my family back home and used Wifi at our apartment and wherever there was free wifi. Google maps works offline so that was great. I had other maps downloaded and used them also. Next time I think I will just purchase a European SIM card.

Posted by
2518 posts

First, by going to the "Phones and Tech" section in Travel Tips on the menu, you can get a basic understanding of phones in Europe.

Make sure that your phone is unlocked. You then have some options since you'll be using the phone in two countries. Option #1: buy local SIM cards in both countries. There are numerous providers and a multitude of plans. Option #2: sign up with T-Mobile here in the US. Their "simple plan" begins at $50 per month, includes 2 gigs data, unlimited texts, phone calls at 20¢ per minute. You won't have to waste time buying and activating cards overseas. When going from country to country, it will switch networks automatically. Some folks complain that you don't always get 4g speeds but unless you're streaming movies, it shouldn't be a problem. By using this option, you can make certain your phone works before leaving home.

I've used both options. Local sim when in one country, T-Mobile for multi-countries. A problem I encountered when purchasing a card in France was that I had great difficulty locating a nano-SIM for my iPhone. There are other prepaid SIMs available that will work in multi countries but from what I've researched, they are primarily for telephone use and data charges seemed very high.

Posted by
1706 posts

I've had a lot of attempts and fails while trying to set up communication abroad. I have TMobile and never worry about it anymore. It's worth looking into - it's so simple. I arrive in a country, I turn on my phone and it works:)

Posted by
605 posts

For $10 per 24 hours, you can extend your current Verizon domestic plan to apply in Europe. If you don't make calls or use cellular data (i.e. Wifi only), you don't pay. Maybe not the cheapest way to go, but I knew what I would be paying.

Posted by
79 posts

I have used the Verizon travel plan for $40/month. Go to the Verizon Wireless website and you will see the different international options explained. I turn off data and only turn it on in a pinch. Otherwise used available wireless networks for the web. I was told Verizon now automatically discontinues the plan after you return, but call to make sure. One year I didn't check my bills for months and discovered I was being charged for the plan even though I had provided a stop date when setting it up. They may try to sell you on the "unlimited" $10 plan for which you are charged "only if you use your phone that day." I had my phone on everyday -- that would have been a whopping big bill. In fact, some clever salesman did sell it to my husband, and when I explained to him how much that would cost, he switched to an $85 plan. Unless you really need unlimited everything everyday, the $10 plan can cost you hundreds. I don't call much when abroad, I do text and like to keep the phone on for incoming calls from home, etc.

Posted by
11154 posts

"How do I use this phone in Switzerland and Italy so that I do not incur ridiculous charges for roaming/texting/email/etc.?"

As you can see by the varied responses, that depends on what you mean by "use" the phone. Do read Rick's tips to get a good introduction to your options.

If you can do things on Wi-Fi, you will not incur charges for these. Just make sure you've set your phone so it doesn't do things without Wi-Fi (like updating apps, checking for new e-mails, etc.).

If you are only using the phone a little bit for calls, texts, or data (e-mails use data), then one of Verizon's international plans may work.

If you are going to be doing a lot of calling, need a lot of data, etc., you'll want to make sure your phone is unlocked, so you can get a SIM card in Switzerland or Italy. This will give you a Swiss or Italian phone number (a potential problem if you need to be reachable on your US number). It will also give you low rates in the country you bought the SIM card. However, since Italy is EU and Switzerland is not, there's a good likelihood that the rates will go way up when you change countries, unless you also change SIM cards.

Posted by
3 posts

Letizia, Phillip, Valerie, Eric, Nancy, & Harold: Thank you SO much for your replies. They really help. I have traveled internationally most of my career. I had more than 4 million miles on AA alone, not to mention 2 million on Lufthansa and many others. I had a cell phone with me most of those decades, but it was always a company phone. Interesting how being retired and "calling on your own dime" changes your entire attitude about costs - especially with something as tricky as cell phones in various foreign countries.
My wife and I tried to take this same trip in 2014. Eight days before we were to leave (I'm a type-A, so I was all packed), she fell and shattered her wrist (8 screws, one plate, and a pin to fix it). So, we're trying it again in October of this year. Our middle kid - a daughter - lives in Lugano, Switzerland with her husband and two sons. We'll fly from here (Atlanta) to Milan and then spend 7 days with them in Lugano. Then we are off to Rome for 3 days. I've been there, but my wife has not and wishes to see the usual things. Then we catch a 15-day Celebrity (the Reflection) cruise back to Miami and then fly home to Atlanta. About a month, all in all. So, that's what we're up to and why I need to now figure out how to not cavalierly use a cell overseas. Thanks so much again.
G.