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Travelling to Kazakhstan? Check out our guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card
Reduce your rates by using a local SIM.
Using your own phone network in Kazakhstan can be expensive, so consider switching over to a local SIM card to take advantage of better deals and plans. Kazakhstan has some of the best prepaid SIM card deals in the world, with offers that can really reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Kazakhstan’s leading telco provider for as little as KZT490 (about CAD$1.75). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, longer stay or tour of the region, check out the best SIM card options available on finder CA.
Prices last updated 2017/09/18
Telco providers in Kazakhstan
There are four main operators in Kazakhstan: Kcell, Beeline, Tele2 and Altel. All four operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate, and each one competes with the others to offer the best deals. Their services have all been tried and tested by both locals and travellers, and can be trusted. According to OpenSignal’s connectivity report, Kazakhstan has good network coverage around the main cities and more urban areas but can worsen as you head toward the more remote regions. Network troubles aren’t just a problem for local providers; it will happen with any phone or provider you use there.
Kazakhstan’s operators offer good roaming rates and sell prepaid credit that allows users to take advantage of cheap local offers and deals. All four providers offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Locals call their SIM cards “SIMs” or “chips”, and they can be purchased by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Prepaid SIM cards can be found at official stores and approved resellers, as well as at the airport as you enter Arrivals. Credit can be purchased from the same retailers or at most stores and supermarkets throughout the country.
Below, we have highlighted what each provider can offer you during your stay in Kazakhstan.
Kcell is the largest operator in Kazakhstan and offers some great prepaid voice and data packages. It provides customers with 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Internet speeds are fast and the network coverage is very good. Your passport must be shown when purchasing a prepaid SIM card, and a registration form will have to be filled out and signed before it can be activated. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Credit can be purchased from the same retailers, at the airport and at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for KZT1,500, which includes KZT1,300 of credit. There are two prepaid plans available: “Long Calls+” (Ұзақ әңгімелер+) and “Simple+” (Қарапайым+). Data packs can be added to both of these SIM card packages.
Credit can be added through recharge cards or electronic top-up terminals, and they come in the following denominations: KZT500, KZT1,000, KZT2,000 and KZT5,000. To upload credit from vouchers, dial *110*<13-digit voucher PIN>#. You can also add credit by using your credit card online.
The following data packs can be added too:
To cancel the packages, dial *444*1*4# for daily and *444*4*4# for monthly, otherwise they will auto-renew. Dial *444*1*3# for daily and *444*4*3# for monthly to check the balance.
Kcell’s APN: internet, and website: http://www.kcell.kz/en
Beeline is the second-biggest operator in Kazakhstan and offers prepaid voice and data packages. Beeline provides customers with 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Internet speeds are fast and the network coverage is relatively good. Your passport must be shown when purchasing a prepaid SIM card, and a registration form will have to be filled out and signed before it can be activated. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Credit can be purchased from the same retailers, at the airport and at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for KZT1,000 and are called “Free Style”. They can be purchased from almost anywhere in Kazakhstan, but you will still have to take it to the official store for proper registration.
The standard default data rate is charged at KZT20.16 per MB. The following packages can be added to bring down the prices:
All of the above-mentioned packages auto-renew. Dial *622*333# to cancel. Dial *106# to check your data balance. Dial *102# to check your credit balance.
There is also a tourist SIM card available called “Welcome” (Қош келдіңіз!) that provides discounted international calls, data and SMS rates. Bundles can be purchased for KZT1,500, which includes 200 minutes of monthly on-net calls, 200 on-net SMS and 10GB mobile Internet data. Overuse is charged at KZT15 per MB, but refills can be added at any time by dialling *323*20#.
Beeline’s APN: internet.beeline.kz, and website: https://www.beeline.kz
Tele2 is the third-largest provider in Kazakhstan. It sells many different prepaid voice and data packages. 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services are available. Internet speeds are fast and the network coverage is acceptable but can be sketchy in some areas. Your passport must be shown when purchasing a prepaid SIM card, and a registration form will have to be filled out and signed before it can be activated. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Credit can be purchased from the same retailers, at the airport and at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations.
Prepaid SIM cards are sold in the following combinations:
- Start: 2GB data, 30 minutes of local calls: KZT890. Text *122*12*1# to activate.
- Strong: 15GB data, 180 minutes of local calls: KZT1,290. Text *122*1*1# to activate.
- Large: 20GB data, 280 minutes of local calls: KZT1,790. Text *122*13*1# to activate.
Dial *121# to check your balance. Credit can also be added online by using your credit card. Check the official website for more details on online purchases.
The following data packs can also be added:
All packages auto-renew, so dial the code in the far right column if you wish to cancel. Dial *123*1*3# to check your data balance.
Tele2’s APN: internet.tele2.kz, and website: http://www.almaty.tele2.kz
Altel is the smallest operator in Kazakhstan with the slowest Internet speeds and more problems with network coverage. If you plan to stay in the main towns and cities, then this is probably a good option for you because it offers good deals and promotions, but if you plan to travel around the country, then avoid this provider because you will have problem after problem. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Your passport must be shown when purchasing a prepaid SIM card, and a registration form will have to be filled out and signed before it can be activated. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Credit can be purchased from the same retailers, at the airport and at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations. Dial *110# to check your credit.
The following offers are available on 3G and 4G SIM cards:
- Connected: No base rate, default package, data charged at KZT3 per MB. Text *808*4# to activate.
- SMART: KZT1,390 per month, 8GB, free Altel calls and 200 minutes to other networks. Text *808*18# to activate.
- SMART Super: KZT1,890 per month, 15GB, free Altel calls and 300 minutes to other networks. Text *808*19# to activate.
- SMART Pro: KZT2,490 per month, 20GB, free Altel calls and 400 minutes to other networks. Text *808*20# to activate.
There are also 4G Internet SIM cards available:
- WEB: KZT2,650 per month for 15GB. Text *808*21# to activate.
- WEB Super: KZT4,200 per month for 25GB. Text *808*22# to activate.
- WEB Pro: KZT5,800 per month for 35GB. Text *808*23# to activate.
Dial *111# to check your balance.
|BOOSTER 2GB||KZT500||Text *938*2# to activate|
|BOOSTER 5GB||KZT1,000||Text *938*5# to activate|
|BOOSTER 8GB||KZT1,400||Text *938*8# to activate|
Dial *807# to check your data usage.
Altel’s APN: internet, and website: http://www.altel.kz
- Kazakh and Russian are spoken in Kazakhstan, so if you don’t know those languages, you may want to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. English speakers are mainly aged 30 or younger; many older citizens have little knowledge of English.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM” or “chip”.
- Ask the sellers to set up the SIM for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to get advice.
- Remember, it’s always better to get things done early, before the stores get too busy. That way you are more likely to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds!
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
While it’s well known for reviews, booking hotels, flights and holidays, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Kazakhstan.
“You can get SIM cards in the departure zone on the floor above the arrival floor. There is a phone shop there.”
“International calls are quite expensive in Kazakhstan, though you can consider buying a local SIM card and send texts (price for sending text messages is the same regardless of the operator/country). I would rely on emails + text messages on cell phone.”
“Regarding calls, it is probably best to use your mobile. Whilst expensive (check your operator), it will be less hassle than trying to make international calls locally.”
Pros and cons of Kazakhstan’s top telco providers
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Kazakhstan has good Internet speeds
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in stores
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Tough rules and regulations could make buying a SIM card difficult
- Signal can become weak in the remote regions
More questions about finding the best SIM card?
Q: What about other providers in Kazakhstan?
A: You can rent portable 4G routers if you intend to use a lot of data in Kazakhstan. The service is called Power Wi-Fi and is extremely popular with tourists who plan to stay for long periods of time. Devices can be collected at either Almaty or Astana airports, and you can drop them off when you head back to the airport to grab your flight home.
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