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A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM cards in Mongolia

Two network operators can reduce your costs

Updated

Fact checked

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Despite being 1 of the 20 largest countries in the world, Mongolia has a population of just 3 million, about the size of Chicago. If you are traveling to Mongolia for business or as a tourist, you can cut down on your expenses by investing in a local prepaid SIM card. This will save money on your data and reduce roaming charges on calls and texts. You can get a prepaid SIM card package for MNT10,000 (US$4.06).

Travel Sim Card

Travel Sim Card from SimCorner

SimCorner's prepaid SIM cards let you enjoy local call, text and data rates in dozens of countries around the world.

View details
Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Number of countries Data range Shipment time
Flexiroam X
150+
1GB-7GB
3-7 business days
Attach the Flexiroam X ultra-thin microchip sticker to your current SIM card to access data roaming in over 140 countries.
SimCorner
80+
1GB-Unlimited
1-12 business days
SimCorner's prepaid SIM cards offer local call, text and data rates in dozens of countries around the world. Choose from a range of data packages, including unlimited data in the USA.
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Prices last updated 25 Sep 2017

Smartphone network operators in Mongolia

There are two main network operators in Mongolia. They are:

  • Mobicom
  • Unitel

There are two other networks, Skytel and G-Mobiel, but they are not compatible with GSM, and so most tourists can’t access them. MobiCom and Unitel are on 2G at 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, and 3G at 2100 MHz. A 4G/LTE network was opened on 1800 MHz in Ulaanbaatar in 2016.

MobiCom

MobiCom leads the Mongolian industry with more than 1.7 million subscribers. It was the country’s first mobile network and was established in 1996. 4G is automatically enabled on all new SIM cards. You must show your ID or a passport in order to purchase a SIM card.

MobiCom has two prepaid plans: MobiCard and One. They can be purchased for MNT5,000 without credits on them or for 10,000MNT with MNT5,000 preloaded.

The basic rate for data on both is MNT0.09 per KB. The One plan has a better rate for calls than the MobiCard plan. If you don’t use your account for 30 days, it will expire. To keep the same account and phone number, you must recharge for at least MNT1,000 every 30 days.

MobiCom top-up cards are sold at most convenience stores and grocery stores. You can buy a voucher card with a 16-digit PIN number attached to it. To top-up, dial *212<PIN>#. To check your balance, dial *210#.

There are additional data bundles for the two plans listed below:

3G Data4G DataValidityPrice
600MB1.2GB1 dayMNT1,500
1GB2GB2 daysMNT2,000
1.5GB3GB3 daysMNT3,500
3GB6GB7 daysMNT7,000
5GB10GB15 daysMNT11,500
3GB6GB30 daysMNT16,500

To purchase a package, send an SMS with the original 3G data number to 592. If your phone is set to 4G, you will automatically receive the larger amount. Do not put spaces between the numeral and the GB or MB. For instance, to purchase the 3GB plan, text 3GB to 592. To check your data usage, text “B” to 592.

If you are visiting from another country, there is another intriguing data bundle. This night package is valid from 12am to 8am for seven nights. You get 30GB at a cost of MNT1,500. To purchase, dial S30 to 592.

In recent years, MobiCom has added three Tourist Combo data bundles that have data spread over 15-30 days with more SMS messages and lower international rates. In addition to a set amount of data, there is a credit amount preloaded onto the card that can be used for data (at MNT0.09 per MB), calls or texts. They are:

DataCreditValidityPrice
600MBMNT5,00015 daysMNT20,000
1.1GBMNT10,00030 daysMNT35,000
5GBMNT15,00030 daysMNT60,000

You can extend your Tourist Combo up to 90 days.

APN: internet

Website: http://www.mobicom.mn/en/

Unitel

Short for United Telecommunications, Unitel was founded in a joint venture with South Korea in 2005. It became 100% Mongolian-owned in 2010. It covers 88% of the population. Its 3G network launched in 2009 followed by 4G in 2016 for the following cities:

  • Ulaanbaatar
  • Erdenet
  • Darkhan City
  • Dalanzadgad
  • Tsogttsetsii

The general consensus is that the Unitel network has better prices but inferior coverage when compared to MobiCom. There are Unitel official stores throughout Ulaanbaatar.The company website has a good map to make it easier to find them. Be forewarned that neither the website, the phone support nor the signage in the stores is in English. English is not a very common language spoken in Mongolia, so it may be difficult to buy a SIM card if it’s your only language. Make sure you bring your ID, passport or a driver’s license to register your new card.

Unitel has all three SIM card sizes available for MNT3,000 with MNT1,000 worth of credit preloaded. You can top-up with vouchers which have PIN numbers attached to them. Dial #1411<PIN># to top-up. To check your account balance, dial *1411#. Unitel offers three different prepaid plans on an a la carte basis. These plans and their rates are:

Plan NameVoiceTextData
Smart TalkMNT35/minMNT20/SMSMNT0.09/MB
Smart DataMNT70/minMNT20/SMSfree
Smart TimeMNT70/minMNT20/SMSMNT0.09/MB

The following data bundles can be added onto the Smart Data plan to give you more days of unlimited data with additional credits.

DataCreditValidityPrice
UnlimitedMNT1,0005 daysMNT5,000
UnlimitedMNT1,00015 daysMNT10,000
UnlimitedMNT1,00030 daysMNT15,000
UnlimitedMNT2,50030 daysMNT25,000
UnlimitedMNT5,00090 daysMNT40,000
UnlimitedMNT5,000180 daysMNT70,000
UnlimitedMNT5,000360 daysMNT120,000

APN: unitel or net

Website (only in Mongolian): http://www.unitel.mn

Advice from TripAdvisor about SIM cards in Mongolia

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 Mongolia.

“You can get (a SIM card) from the airport. Or just ask the taxi driver, they sell cheap sim cards. 5GBs cost around US$30.”

“I bought a MobiCom sim card and didn’t like it. Out of Ulaanbaatar, it didn’t work properly (only in some villages). In Gobi, no way! Meanwhile, our driver had an Unitel sim card that was working pretty well all the time.”

Pros and cons of Mongolia’s top SIM card operators

Mongolia has two main network providers for smartphones. Here is a list of positives and negatives about their coverage and services.

Pros:

  • Most of Unitel’s plans feature unlimited data.
  • MobiCom has 4G available in Ulaanbaatar and covers 95% of the population.

Cons:

  • Websites, voice help and in-store signage are all in Mongolian, with very few English speakers to assist you if you don’t speak Mongolian.

Switch to a cell phone plan with international calling

Name Product Data Minutes Texts Can I bring my own phone? Cell phone plans starting at:
Sprint
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$25
Get unlimited data, calls and text or a customized plan on a 5G network. Eligible plans come with Hulu, Amazon Prime or Tidal subscriptions.
SIMPLE Mobile
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$30
30-day phone plans that allow you to cancel your service at anytime. Choose from five different talk, text and data options with the choice to add international calling for $10/month.
FreedomPop
Starting at 500 MB
Starting at 200 minutes
Starting at 500 texts
Yes
$0
Bring your own phone for a free plan with 500MB of data, 200 minutes and 500 texts per month using Sprint's CDMA Network. Prepaid plans with more data, talk and text start at $9.99/month.
NET10 Wireless
Starting at 1 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$20
30-day plans with unlimited talk and text and the option to choose how much data is right for you. Add-on rollover data is available starting at $5/500MB.
Straight Talk Wireless
Starting at 3 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$35
Choose from several different plan options with no contracts, no fees and coverage on the same networks as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
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