A guide to securing the best prepaid SIM card when travelling to Monaco
French SIM cards based in Monaco provide good options for tourists.
One of the hottest tourist destinations in the entire world, Monaco is a tiny city state located on the French Riviera. Visitors to Monaco pay a premium on accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Lowering your smartphone costs by purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a great way to save money you can use on other expenses during your stay.
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Smartphone network operators in Monaco
Monaco has just one local network operator: Monaco Telecom. However, several French network operators have established base stations in Monaco to provide more thorough coverage. Monaco Telecom is quite highly priced, and one of the French carriers may be a better fit for your smartphone needs during a trip to Monaco. Let’s look at some of those French providers: Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom, as well as Monaco Telecom and 4G Yacht.
Orange is a leading telco provider in much of Europe and has a specific SIM card plan for foreign visitors called Orange Holiday. The package costs EUR39.99 (AUD$60). It includes 2 hours of calls, 1,000 SMS messages and 10GB of data. It’s valid for 14 days once you make your first call or text.
A top-up costs EUR20 and is found in supermarkets and tobacco shops. The top-up card contains 1 hour of calls, 500 SMS messages and another 500MB of data. It’s also valid for 14 days after the first call or text. There’s an Orange store located just a few hundred feet outside Monaco’s border on Boulevard de la Republique.
APN for Mobicarte: orange
APN for Pochette prêt à surfer: orange
Website in French: http://www.orange.fr/
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SFR is a second French telco provider with a base station in Monaco. Its Welcome prepaid SIM card costs EUR34.99 and comes with 120 minutes and 1,000 texts to any country. It also includes 20GB of data with 4G/LTE hotspot sharing. SFR prepaid SIM cards are available in corner stores and Relay outlets. To activate your card, call 963. If you have questions, you can contact customer service by dialing 1026 between 8am and 10pm, Monday through Saturday.
You can buy top-ups online, at the supermarket, at SFR shops or in Relay shops, including at the airport. There are two options for top-ups, both of which last for one month.
- For EUR20.99, you get a bundle of unlimited calls and texts along with 1GB of data.
- For EUR10, you get no calls or texts but 8GB of data.
Website (in French): http://www.sfr.fr
Bouygues Telecom is the third provider with a base station in Monaco. Its XL Card comes in four different bundles of calls, texts and data. Compare the bundles in the table below.
|International calls||5 minutes||5 minutes||5 minutes||5 minutes|
|Validity||3 days||10 days||1 month||2 months|
Website (in French): http://www.bouyguestelecom.fr
Monaco Telecom owns a monopoly on the domestic prepaid SIM card market in Monaco. Its prepaid card costs EUR19.90 and offers just 100 KB of data. The only way to get better rates is to have a French bank card/account.
Sitting directly on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco hosts a fleet of yachts in its harbor every day of the year. 4G Yacht is a company offering Internet yacht SIM cards. If you plan to spend a lot of time out on the water, here are three packages to consider:
|Length||30 days||30 days||30 days|
TripAdvisor is well known for its hotel and attraction reviews, but it has forums dedicated just to SIM cards and telco networks as well. Here’s some advice from a recent visitor to Monaco.
“While Monaco is not an EU country and we do still pay roaming charges when we leave France (Monaco and France counting as one for mobile purposes), the cost is down to 5 euro cents per MB. Be that as it may, Monaco Telecom is your port of call for data SIM cards, branches in every neighbourhood and the main office on Rue du Gabian in Fontvieille.”
Pros and cons of Monaco’s top SIM card operators
Monaco has just one local SIM card network, but several French operators also have access to the market. Here are some of the positives and negatives of those providers.
- French networks provide alternatives to Monaco monopoly.
- Bouygues Telecom has data bundles ranging from three days to two months.
- Monaco’s own provider has high prices without quality service.
- Proliferation of French-language websites makes language a barrier for those who don’t speak French.
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