Prepaid SIM Card

A prepaid SIM card is a SIM card (or an eSIM) which is not attached to a mobile plan. Instead, the user must purchase credits upfront in cash. These credits can be applied towards making phone calls, sending SMS messages or using mobile data.

A major advantage of prepaid cards is the absence of credit. Because prepaid credits must be purchased up front in cash, the user can only use telecom services which they have already paid for, thus minimizing the chances of unpleasant surprises and overspending.

Prepaid SIM cards are offered by all three of the major Swiss mobile service providers, Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt. Many other mobile service providers including M-Budget from Migros, Coop Mobile, Aldi Suisse Mobile, Yallo and Lebara also offer prepaid SIM cards.

In Switzerland, buying a prepaid SIM card is relatively simple. They are sold in mobile phone stores, kiosks and supermarkets, among other locations. Swiss law requires the identification of consumers purchasing prepaid SIM cards to be recorded by service providers. A passport or ID card is required for this process.

Prepaid credits for Swiss prepaid offers can be purchased at supermarket tills, ticket vending machines, automated teller machines, kiosks and online.

Note: Service providers reserve the right to disable prepaid SIM cards. Each service provider has its own rules governing the circumstances under which it can deactivate a SIM card. Many service providers will not deactivate your prepaid SIM card as long as you make at least one phone call per year using the SIM. Other service providers require you to regularly purchase credits in order to avoid having your SIM card disabled. You can find an overview of the different rules in the guide to prepaid mobile inactivity and expiry periods.

When you use a prepaid SIM card, you can switch to a different mobile service offer at any time. There are no minimum terms or notice periods. You can keep your existing phone number even if you migrate to a different service provider. This is known as phone number porting.

You can use prepaid offers to make calls and access the Internet (roaming). Purchasing a local SIM card in your destination country while traveling can help you avoid roaming fees.

Tourists who visit Switzerland can also benefit from using a local Swiss SIM card. You can find useful tips in the telecom guide for tourists visiting Switzerland.

There are major differences in the costs attached to different prepaid offers. This applies to both local and international phone use. The comprehensive mobile plan and prepaid offer comparison makes it easy to find the most affordable prepaid offer based on your individual needs.

More on this topic:
The guide to using prepaid mobile in Switzerland
Prepaid offer and mobile plan comparison

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.