Please sign in to post.

Very Basic SIM Question

We will be traveling to Italy in a month and have some very basic SIM questions. We might make it for a call or two in case we get lost and cannot find the B&B, but most of its use will be using Waze or Google Maps to navigate and accessing email.

I know how to swap out a SIM on my phone (Galaxy S9) but is that all that is involved, or will I need to do something to set things up?

We will be flying into Venice - I am assuming that I should be able to get a SIM at the airport, correct?

After buying a card, how long can it be used? I assume that the card comes with a certain number of minutes and a certain amount of data. Can it continually be used until these are exhausted? Any idea how much data I should get? We will be doing a good bit of driving through Tuscany for a little over a week, so I'm just looking for a very general guideline.

Sorry for the easy questions, but if we get there and I can't figure this out then we're kind of up the creek without a paddle.

Thanks -

george

Posted by
7696 posts

The SIM I bought at the TIM store was 30€ for a month and we never ran out of data in 3.5 weeks of using it. It was a package deal with more voice and data than we used up. The clerk at the TIM store set it up but I think it was easy. We bought it in Polignano a Mare, Puglia and used it mostly in Sicily where it was invaluable. There are TIM stores all over Italy, but do not know about the airport in Venice. I remember that I had to run back to the hotel to get my passport to complete the transaction at TIM.
We used my phone with SIM to call for restaurant reservations, call landlord several times including when having an electrical malfunction in the apartment, , change hotels reservations as we were traveling, call local shops, etc. You will use it more than you think!

Posted by
2719 posts

In Italy the best thing to do is to get either TIM Tourist or Vodafone Holiday SIM cards. They both cost €30 for one month. The offers between the two are different so assess what you need. The biggest difference seems to be in the data allowance between the two. I’ve used the TIM Tourist a number of times and have never exceeded any of their allowances and have been happy with their service. If Venice is your first stop, neither TIM nor Vodafone has a presence at VCE but each has many stores in Venice.

Posted by
4931 posts

First of all, who is your mobile provider now? And...is your phone unlocked? Just because you are able to replace a SIM physically doesn't mean a new one will work - if your phone is locked, you will need an unlock code the very first time you insert some other SIM card in it.

GPS, FYI, does not require mobile data at all. You can download the Google Maps (or probably Waze and the others) "offline" ahead of time on WiFi and leave the phone in Airplane Mode while driving and using the phone as a GPS. You won't get traffic info that way, but as a GPS with maps and directions, it will work fine.

Not saying you shouldn't buy a SIM card though. It is nice to have a working phone everywhere, even when there's no WiFi.

Prepaid SIM cards generally give you a set amount of data and calling minutes that are good for set period of time (usually a month). For Italy, I'd probably stick with TIM or Vodafone. You can simply show up at a TIM or Vodafone store and buy a SIM there. Bring your passport - it is required in Italy to buy a SIM card. Get the clerk to set up your phone and make sure it is working before you leave the store.

Note that when you have an Italian SIM card, you'll have an Italian phone number - and won't be able to use your old number for calls or texts until you put the old SIM card back in the phone.

Install WhatsApp on your phone before you leave. WhatsApp is popular in Italy for calling and messaging, for free, though it would require either WiFi or mobile data to work. If you are from the US, you can also install Google Voice so you can make free calls to US numbers (even landlines) from Italy if need be - handy if you need to call your airline or your credit union or something and not worry about burning minutes.

More info about Italian SIM cards here:

https://prepaid-data-sim-card.fandom.com/wiki/Italy

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for the information, I have located two placed in Venice where TIM is located so that will probably be the easiest path to take.

I am on Mint Mobile, which uses the T-Mobile network. The phone was purchased unlocked and uses the Mint SIM, so I should be able to swap that out without a problem.

I hadn't even thought of downloading the map via WiFi and going into airplane mode. That said, I have a feeling that there will be times when we will want to use my phone while on the road.

Thanks for the tip about the passport - that will save me a trip back to the B&B. An Italian phone number is not an issue.

Thanks both for the very helpful information.

Cheers -

george

Posted by
13 posts

George,
I have Mint also and I just put International roaming $ on it. Reasonable cost and you keep your own number.

Posted by
32 posts

klenox1111 -

Thanks for the info, I didn't know that that was an option. I'll at least check it out.

Cheers -

george

Posted by
4931 posts

I have Mint also and I just put International roaming $ on it. Reasonable cost and you keep your own number.

For calling, it is 25 cents a minute which is not bad. But for mobile data, it is extremely expensive: 20 cents per MB. I typically use 100MB a day when I travel, so it would cost me $20/day to use Mint in Italy. My Dutch Vodafone SIM (which I already had from last time) cost me 9 euros for 2GB of data that lasted me all of my ten day trip.

If you don't need to keep your number, it's much, much cheaper just to buy a SIM card in Italy.

Posted by
32 posts

Andrew H. -

I looked at my data usage and calculated it for two weeks in Italy and realized that it would cost around $200 if I went through Mint, so yeah, getting the SIM is the obvious way to go.

Cheers -

george

Posted by
4931 posts

George, if you want to check your Mint voicemail while you are in Italy, install Google Voice (before you leave the US). Then you can check your voicemail by dialing your Mint number from the Google Voice app (add a +1 in front of US phone numbers to call them). When you get your voicemail prompt, hit the * (star) key. Then type in your Mint phone number (without the +1). Then enter your passcode to access your voicemail box. You can make this call on WiFi or using mobile data from the SIM (don't even need the SIM if you are on WiFi).

Posted by
32 posts

Andrew H. -

Thanks for the info. I should be okay since I use my phone almost exclusively as a not-phone. (g)

Cheers -

george