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A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card when traveling to Armenia
Keep costs down why not switch to a local SIM card to take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs.
Armenia has some of the best SIM card options available, deals that could significantly reduce your cell phone bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Armenia’s leading telco provider for as little as AMD1,000 (CAD$2.70). So, whether you’re planning a short-term or long-term trip, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.Prices last updated 28 Apr 2017
Armenia has recently invested in its cell phone networks, so telco providers offer good services. There are three main cell phone operators: VivaCell MTS, Beeline and UCOM. All three can be trusted, and they also offer some of the best prices in both Europe and the Middle East.
According to OpenSignal’s map coverage report, Armenia provides very good cell phone signals evident on all three operators (it lists UCOM under its previous brand name, Orange, on its maps). Signal was strong throughout most of the country, especially in Yerevan.
Nestled between Europe and the Middle East, Armenia’s operators offer some of the best deals in the region, on 2G, 3G and 4G services. VivaCell MTS is the largest provider, followed by Beeline and UCOM. Prepaid SIM cards are available from official stores, supermarkets, post offices, stalls. kiosks and at Zvartnots International Airport. Although you won’t need ID to purchase the SIM cards in supermarkets, official stores are starting to ask for identification, but there is no legal requirement to do so. Take your national ID card or passport along just to be sure.
Below, we have broken down all three telco providers to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Armenia.
VivaCell MTS is the leading mobile phone provider in Armenia, with a 60% market share. It has the best coverage and the fastest speed out of all three networks, but that comes at a price because it’s also the most expensive. It has good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services, and has some good bespoke data and voice plans.
VivaCell’s prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for AMD100 in their official stores, at the airport and in some supermarkets. They have two prepaid plans: “YES” and “Dialect”. Make sure you locate an English-speaking seller or use Google translate on your phone before purchasing.
Their standard data rate, before purchasing any plans: AMD5 per MB on “YES” and AMD15 per MB on “Dialect”.
VivaCell’s BIT service data packs allow Internet options on the following:
- BIT1: 200MB for AMD100 – Dial *777*1# to activate – valid for 1 day
- Super BIT1: 500MB for AMD150 – Dial *778*1# to activate – valid for 1 day
- BIT30: 3GB for AMD2,500 – Dial 777*30# to activate – valid for 30 days
- Super BIT30: 5GB for AMD4,000 – Dial *778*30# to activate – valid for 30 days
Balances can be checked by dialing *778#.
VivaCell also sells a data-only (with SMS) SIM card called MTS Connect Daily. You can purchase the SIM for AMD1,000, and starter packs include the same amount of credit. MTS Connect Daily credit top-ups can be purchased for AMD250 and come with unlimited data for one calendar day; maximum speed on this deal is 640/256 kbps.
Beeline is the second largest carrier in Armenia, run by Armentel. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services, and some of the cheapest deals on the mobile phone market. Beeline provides a wide range of prepaid SIM options, available in official stores or supermarkets. Travelers can take advantage of their “Welcome” offers, designed especially for tourists. You can purchase the SIM for AMD500, which includes AMD400 in credit. The plan has a standard data rate of AMD50 per MB.
Credit can be topped up in any official retailer, supermarket or store. There is no time limit for usage and you can top up as much as you like. The SIM will remain active until you run out of credit. Dial *102# to check your balance.
The following data packs are only for voice SIM cards, valid for 30 days:
|AMD200||50MB||Dial *450# to activate|
|AMD600||250MB||Dial *4250# to activate|
|AMD800||500MB||Dial *4500# to activate|
|AMD1,000||1GB||Dial *4401# to activate|
|AMD2,500||3GB||Dial *4403# to activate|
|AMD6,000||10GB||Dial *4410# to activate|
Dial *103# to check your balance.
Beeline also sells unlimited data-only packages:
- Use code *110*08057# to activate AMD200 to switch to “Infinity 512” – unlimited data capped at 512 kbps. Daily fee AMD83.33 or monthly fee AMD2,583.
- Use code *110*08059# to activate AMD200 to switch to “Infinity 1024” – unlimited data capped at 1,024 kbps. Daily fee AMD150 or monthly fee AMD4,650.
Add the following “turbo” speed options to the above-mentioned plans:
- 1GB valid for 7 days – AMD1,500 – Dial *991# to activate
- 2GB valid for 14 days – AMD3,000 – Dial *992# to activate
- 5GB valid for 20 days – AMD4,000 – Dial *995# to activate
Dial *110*990# to deactivate, which will take you back to the standard plan. Dial *107# to check balance and plan details.
UCOM is the smallest operator in the country, formerly known as the Orange network. It has very good 2G and 3G services, and offers a 4G/LTE service, but this is new and experiences teething problems. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased at official stores, supermarkets, post offices, all malls and megastores. After acquiring your free SIM card, dial 111 to activate. You can select an English language option and it will talk you through how to set up and select plans.
UCOM will keep your SIM active for six months; if there is no activity during that time then it will automatically cancel. Credit can be purchased for use, in the following guises: AMD500, AMD1,000, AMD2,000, AMD5,000 and AMD10,000, which can be valid from anywhere between 30 days and six months, depending on your chosen plan. Dial *133# to check your balance.
UCOM offers two prepaid plans:
- U!Simple: AMD15 per MB – Dial *111*11# to activate
- U!Prepaid(each plan is valid for one month):
- U!1000: 100MB and 100 SMS for AMD1,000 – Dial *254# to activate
- U!1500: 1GB, 150 SMS and 100 mins for AMD1,500 – Dial *251# to activate
- U!2000: 1.5GB, 200 SMS and 150 mins for AMD2,000 – Dial *252# to activate
- U!3000: 3GB, 300 SMS and 200 mins for AMD3,000 – Dial *253# to activate
The following data deals can be added on top of any U! plan mentioned above. To check your data balance dial *205*20#.
|AMD100||300 MB||Valid for 1 day||Dial *205*1# to activate|
|AMD750||500 MB||Valid for 30 days||Dial *205*2# to activate|
|AMD1,000||1 GB||Valid for 30 days||Dial *205*3# to activate|
|AMD1,500||2 GB||Valid for 30 days||Dial *205*4# to activate|
UCOM also sells “Internet Daily” data- and SMS-only SIMs, intended for tablets and modems. The standard rate is AMD200 per day for Internet usage; speeds are quite slow at 512/256 kbps. Purchase one of the following options to receive a speed increase:
- 1GB for 10 days – AMD2,000 – Text ‘1GB’ to 111 to activate
- 2GB for 10 days – AMD2,500 – Text ‘2GB’ to 111 to activate
- 4GB for 30 days – AMD6,000 – Text ‘4GB’ to 111 to activate
- The official language in Armenia is Armenian, so if you don’t know any then download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. The good thing about Armenia is that they are very cosmopolitan and English is widely spoken.
- Armenians call a SIM card a “chip” or “SIM”.
- Ask the retailer to help set up the SIM card for you; it will save time and hassle.
- Beat the crowds by getting there early!
All three networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible international cell phone. To double check you have this phone, or if it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
- Good value for money
- Armenia has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current cell phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- No cell phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unblocked GSM phones
- Armenian is a unique language and could prove problematic when setting up your SIM
Q: Is the signal good in Armenia’s countryside?
A: Armenia has vast country areas that may suffer from poor coverage. The terrain is also quite mountainous so this might affect your coverage options. However, Armenia has one of the best and cheapest cell phone services in the world! Their SIM card plans will most likely beat the price of your own provider and their overall signal is good!