roaming making phone calls traveling tips

Roaming: 9 Tips for Making Phone Calls While Traveling

June 28, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Making phone calls while traveling can quickly burn a hole in your wallet. Read these roaming tips to save money when traveling outside of Switzerland.

Here you can find the 9 most important roaming tips for making calls while traveling. You can find key data roaming tips for using Internet while traveling here.

Tip 1: Do not take it easy

It may be convenient to simply continue making phone calls after leaving the country without making special arrangements ahead of traveling. But Swiss mobile operators use expensive standard rates for automatic roaming, which means you pay a lot for the convenience. If, on the other hand, your mobile subscription already includes a certain amount of roaming call time which is unused, you may not need to make any special arrangements prior to traveling.

Tip 2: Add a roaming option or buy a roaming bundle

Many mobile operators offer roaming options and roaming bundle.

Roaming options generally have a basic fee (10 francs, for instance). In exchange for that basic fee, you get much lower rates for calls made using roaming. If you plan to make phone calls while traveling, activating a roaming option is a good idea. Depending on which mobile service provider you use, a roaming option can save you money if you make as little as two minutes of phone calls.

Roaming bundles give you a predetermined number of call minutes for phone calls made from outside of Switzerland. However, some mobile operators limit the use of roaming bundles to calls made from countries in Europe and in some cases specific additional countries. Some operators offer roaming bundles which include phone call and data roaming.

The roaming comparison on makes finding the right roaming option or bundle easy.

Tip 3: Check expiry dates

Some roaming options are only valid for limited periods of time (1 month, for instance). Check the expiry dates of options and bundles before buying them. The expiry model used by Salt is particularly unfavorable: Roaming options are valid until the ninth day of each month. If, for example, you purchased a roaming option on June 8, you would only benefit from it for 2 days.

New regulations in effect as of July 2021 require roaming bundles with a specific number of minutes to be valid for 12 months. But in spite of that, there are still some offers which expire after 30 days.

Tip 4: Terminate roaming options after trips

Do not forget to have your mobile service operator deactivate roaming options after you return from your trips abroad. If you do not, the option will roll over to the next term automatically, and you will continue to be billed for each term even though you are not using the roaming option. Options which roll over are offered by Sunrise and Salt, among others.

Roaming bundles, on the other hand, do not need to be deactivated. You pay once when you buy the bundle, and you do not automatically get a new one after it is used up or expires. 

Tip 5: Roaming costs for answering calls

Accepting phone calls while traveling abroad also incurs roaming fees. You can only avoid these costs by not answering phone calls. Tip: If you expect to receive a lot of calls while traveling, make sure to get a roaming option or a roaming bundle designed for that purpose.

Tip 6: Call with Voice over IP apps

You can avoid high roaming fees by using a Voice over IP app (like WhatsApp or Skype) to make calls. Requirements: You must be logged into wireless, online network. The people whom you communicate with must have the same Voice over IP software installed on their devices.

Voice over IP apps can also be used with mobile data. If you purchase a data roaming bundle before traveling, making voice over IP calls using data roaming will normally work out cheaper than making regular calls at roaming rates. As a general rule, one minute of Voice over IP calling uses 1 to 2 megabytes of data.

Tip 7: Use Wi-Fi calling

If you are able to connect to wireless, online networks, you can make use of Wi-Fi calling. However, using Wi-Fi calling is only possible if your mobile operator provides this service for your specific device and subscription. Additionally, your operator must enable Wi-Fi calling outside of Switzerland. Currently, only Salt subscribers can use Wi-Fi calling while traveling abroad. Wi-Fi calling outside of Switzerland is not yet offered by Swisscom, Sunrise and other mobile operators.

Tip 8: Avoid mobile subscriptions which include roaming

Many mobile subscriptions include roaming in subscription fees. However, these subscriptions are generally expensive. These subscriptions generally let you make calls to Switzerland from countries in Europe at a flat rate. Some providers also include calls from Turkey, the United States, and Canada. However, getting an affordable mobile subscription and then getting cheap roaming options or bundles separately is generally a cheaper option.

Tip 9: Select a cheap mobile subscription

Some mobile operators offer subscriptions and prepaid offers with very affordable rates for local use, but charge notably higher roaming rates than other operators. These operators often have no roaming options at all, or very limited options. Make sure to compare roaming offers when choosing mobile subscriptions.

More on this topic:
Roaming rate comparison
Data roaming tips
Mobile subscription comparison

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