A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM cards in Moldova
Three network operators offer coverage and data bundles in Moldova.
Independent since 1991, Moldova is among Europe’s poorest and least-visited countries. If your travels take you to Moldova, you can lower the costs of your trip by investing in a prepaid local SIM card. This can cut costs on voice, SMS and data usage.
In order to help you make the best selection for your prepaid SIM card needs in Moldova, finder UK offers the following guide to the nation’s telco operators.
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Moldova is one of the few countries in Europe that does not require any form of identification document to purchase a prepaid SIM card. Because Moldova is not a party of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), it’s not part of the “Roam-Like-at-Home” protocol that began in the summer of 2017. Therefore, using your own country’s network in Moldova could lead to high roaming charges.
There are three mobile network operators in Moldova:
Moldcell is second in market share in Moldova to Orange, but Orange does not allow prepaid customers to use its 4G/LTE network. So Moldcell becomes the top choice for visitors to the country.
Its prepaid SIM card offering is called “Cartelã Moldcell” and costs MDL30 with MDL30 credit. It’s available at Moldcell stores and retail outlets. In addition, you get 300MB of data up to 4G/LTE, 30 domestic minutes and 300 domestic texts. It renews every month with the same allowances and can be activated by dialling *222*0#.
If you opt not to use a data plan, you must pay a default rate that decreases as you use more data. The default rates are:
- MDL3.50 per MB up to 10MB
- MDL3 per MB from 11MB to 70MB
- MDL2.50 per MB from 71MB to 100MB
- MDL0.50 per MB for greater than 100MB per day
The following data bundles are available on 3G and 4G. They are also known as “Pachete Internet”.
|Price||Data volume||Validity||Activation code|
|MDL10||50 MB||7 days||*202*2#|
All packages auto-renew. To cancel a service, text 1 to 5678. To check your remaining balance, dial *444# and select Option 1. The overuse fee is MDL0.50 per MB. If you want to add a social media package, dial *222*1*2# and you’ll receive unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter and two popular local social networking sites, Odnoklassniki and VKontakte, all for MDL15 per month.
Website (in Romanian and Russian): http://www.moldcell.md
Unité has about 10% of the Moldovan market share. It has a 3G network on 900 and 2100MHz that is compatible with GSM. In 2015, it opened a 4G/LTE network that operates in the capital city of Chișinău on 1800MHz that is available to prepaid users.
Stay away from Unité’s “Connect” cards, as they only work on the CDMA standard. The one that will work for you is the “Cartela Prepay Unité” for either 3G or 4G. For MDL29, you get 200 domestic minutes, 200MB and MDL5 credit for MDL29. Everything is valid for three months.
The standard data rate for Unité in Moldova is MDL2.50 per MB. The following data purchases are a better value:
To activate, dial *200# and choose your package.
APN: internet3g.unite.md or internet.unite.md
Website (in Russian and Romanian): http://www.unite.md/
Orange has been in business the longest in Moldova and is the market leader with a 61% share. It covers 99% of the country’s population on 2G and 89% of the population on 3G. It started its 4G/LTE network in 2012, but it is no longer offering that service to prepaid customers.
In Moldova, its prepaid card is called Orange Prepay and is sold at Orange stores for MDL30 with MDL30 of credit preloaded. Recharge cards are sold in denominations of MDL30 to MDL200. You can also recharge your card by dialling *144*<PIN code>#. Using the recharge cards gives you free extra data every time you top up. The list of bonus data is as follows:
The following data packages are available at 3G. Outside these packages, Orange’s default data rate is MDL3 per MB.
To activate a daily plan, dial *100*323#. For a monthly plan, dial *100*32#.
Prepaid SIM cards in Transnistria
Transnistria is a self-proclaimed state but considered a part of Moldova by the United Nations. Moldova recognises it as an autonomous territorial unit. Transnistria has its own operator: Interdnestrcom (IDC). It uses CDMA in 2G and EVDO for 3G. It has started an LTE network in major areas but hasn’t released it for prepaid SIM cards as of yet. Because of its small geographic size, which is about 1,600 square miles and very narrow in width, many users suggest you will still probably be able to use your Moldova-bought SIM card in Transnistria without losing much of the signal. Users from Ukraine, Transnistria’s neighbour to the north, report likewise. If you have to stay in Transnistria for an extended period of time, buying a CDMA-compatible device is your best bet. This is the only region in Europe without its own GSM or UMTS coverage.
Website (in English): http://www.idknet.com/en/
Advice from TripAdvisor about SIM cards in Moldova
In addition to being an online review platform for hotels and attractions, TripAdvisor has an impressive online community of members. Here’s some advice from recent visitors to Moldova:
You can easily buy a SIM card (no ID required as a rule) in Chisinau or other big cities. There are several providers in Moldova, but the prices are almost the same. You may not want to call to other countries using the Moldovan SIM card, though, as it is quite expensive.”
Pros and cons of Moldova’s top SIM card operators
Moldova has three major SIM card providers. Here are some of the positives and negatives about these companies.
- Orange recharge cards offer data bonuses.
- Modcell has a 7-day bundle that contains a full 1GB of data.
- Orange does not extend its 4G/LTE network to prepaid customers.
- Unité does not have a fallback 2G network.
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