International SIM cards for Russia

Travelling to Russia? Check out our guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card

Reduce your rates by using a local SIM.

Using your home phone network in Russia can be expensive, so consider switching over to a local SIM card to take advantage of better deals and plans. Russia has some of the best prepaid SIM cards available, with deals that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Russia’s leading telco provider for as little as RUB350 (£4.58). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, longer stay or tour of the country, check out the best SIM card options available on finder UK.

Prices last updated 25 Sep 2017
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    Telco providers in Russia

    There are five main operators in Russia: MegaFon, MTS, Beeline, Tele2 and Yota. All five 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. Most of the country is covered by a good network signal. Some of the northern regions can suffer from poor reception, but that will happen on whichever phone or provider you use there. Be aware, there is still censorship over content appearing in Russia, so we advise you to download a VPN onto your device before you travel.

    About Russia’s operators

    All five operators offer prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official outlets, as well as at most international airports. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card machines around various towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets. Please note, the Russian Federation is split up into 85 federal states, which sometimes use different plans and packages, therefore it’s almost impossible to list all of these deals. We have selected the best offers that can be purchased in Moscow and the main cities, and have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Russia.

    MegaFon

    MegaFon is the main provider in Russia and offers the best network coverage and competitive rates. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers, and it’s a legal requirement for stores to ask for ID to officially register the number. Credit can also be purchased from the same retailers and convenience stores across the country.

    MegaFon SIM cards can be picked up for free, but packages must be added for use. Each is valid for 90 days after your last credit upload. International roaming is automatically activated on your SIM when purchased, which means that when you receive incoming international calls, the rates are lower. You can also use roaming when travelling to other countries. Dial *100# to check your balance. Dial *558# to check data usage.

    Prepaid plans come in the following types:

    • Switch to ZERO (“Переходи на НОЛЬ”) or Everything is easy (“Всё просто”): Heavily discounted call rates to other MegaFon users in the same region. Data discounts are also available on this plan. Check the latest promotions for the best deals. Dial *105*1005*1# (Switch to ZERO) or *105*0041*1# to activate.
    • Around the world (“Вокруг света”): This is the best prepaid SIM card for tourists. All incoming international calls are free, and all outgoing calls are charged at RUB3 per minute. Data is also heavily discounted. Dial *105*678*1# and select the “Around the World” plan.
    • Warm Welcome (“Тёплый приём”): The best option if you are looking for discounted international calls from the Moscow area. This SIM card will cost RUB200. The SIM card includes the following options:
    • Calls to MegaFon numbers in same region – 100 minutes per day
    • To other numbers in Moscow – RUB2 per minute
    • MegaFon numbers in other regions – RUB2.5 per minute
    • Calls to other Russian numbers – RUB10 per minute
    • Calls to China, India, Vietnam, Turkey and Japan – RUB27 per minute

    The following combo packs are also available:

    • Warm Welcome S: RUB300 monthly: 150 minutes to MegaFon nationwide, 150 SMS and 2GB data. Activation: *105*1082#
    • Warm Welcome M: RUB500 monthly: 500 minutes to MegaFon nationwide and all networks in the home region, 300 SMS and 3GB data. Activation: *105*1082#
    • MegaFon Online data-only plan (“МегаФон-Онлайн”). This data-only SIM card is perfect for tablets, modems, routers and laptops. For RUB200, you will receive a discounted data rate of RUB2.5 per MB. The following data packs can also be added:
    PackPriceData (month)Nighttime dataValidityActivation
    XSRUB19070MB/dayn/aRegional*236*1*1#
    SRUB3503GBNational*236*2*1#
    MRUB5908GB8GB*236*3*1#
    LRUB89018GB18GB*236*4*1#
    XLRUB1,29030GBUnlimited*236*5*1#

    Dial *558# to check your balance.

    The following data add-ons can also be purchased:

    1. RUB19: 70MB for a day. Activation: *372#
    2. RUB175: 1GB. Activation: *370*1*1#
    3. RUB400: 5GB. Activation: *370*2*1#
    • All-inclusive combo plan (“Всё включено”): The following combo plans are also available:
    PackageMonthly feeDataVoiceExtrasActivation
    “Пиши”
    Write
    RUB3502GB
    regional
    350 minutes
    regional
    Messengers
    200 SMS (regional)
    *789*2#
    “Говори”
    Talk
    RUB5003GB
    regional
    600 minutes
    national
    Messengers*789*4#
    “Слушай”
    Listen
    RUB5006GB
    national
    250 minutes
    regional
    Messengers
    Music
    *789*3#
    “Общайся”
    Communicate
    RUB60012GB
    national
    500 minutes
    national
    Messengers
    Social Media
    *789*5#
    “Смотри”
    Watch
    RUB95016GB
    national
    1,200 minutes
    national
    Messengers
    Social Media
    20GB for YouTube,
    Free TV pack
    *789*6#
    “Премиум”
    Premium
    RUB3,00020GB
    national
    2,000 minutes
    national
    *789*7#

    MegaFon’s APN: internet, and website: www.megafon.ru

    MTS (or MTC)

    MTS (or MTC) is the second-largest operator in Russia and also offers SIM cards at reasonable rates, in all sizes. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers, and it’s a legal requirement for stores to ask for ID to officially register the number. Credit can also be purchased from the same retailers and convenience stores across the country.

    The following prepaid plans are available, and each is charged at a monthly fee:

    • Super MTS (Супер МТС): RUB100 – 20 minutes of free outgoing calls to other MTS numbers in the same region per day.
    • Your country (Твоя Страна): RUB100 – Discounted calls to other Russian regions, China and Vietnam.
    • Red Energy: RUB1.6 per minute for all calls inside the same region. RUB150 for the starter pack, which can change from time to time. Check stores at the time of purchase.
    • Per second (Посекундный): RUB0.05 per second to all calls inside the same region.

    The following Connect-4 data packs are also available:

    • Internet per day (Интернет на день): RUB50, 500MB per day nationwide. Activation and deactivation: *111*67#
    • RUB5,000: 100GB per day nationwide. Activation: *111*1824*1#, deactivation *111*1824*2#.

    The following data packs are also available for prepaid SIM cards:

    PackageValidityPriceData/monthActivationExtra volume
    Mini BIT
    МиниБИТ
    RegionalRUB2520MB/day*111*62#RUB15/20MB
    NationalRUB45RUB25/20MB
    BIT БИТRegionalRUB20075MB/day*111*252#RUB8/50MB
    SuperBIT
    СуперБИТ
    NationalRUB3503GB*111*628#RUB75/500MB
    MTS Tablet
    МТС Планшет
    NationalRUB4004GBOnly online
    Internet Mini
    Интернет-Mini
    Regional,
    national is RUB50
    per day extra
    RUB3503GB*111*160#
    Internet Maxi
    Интернет-Maxi
    RUB70012GB/day,
    12GB/night
    *111*161#
    Internet VIP
    Интернет-VIP
    RUB1,20030GB/day
    unlimited
    *111*162#

    APN: internet.mts.ks, and website: http://www.mtsgsm.com/

    Beeline

    Beeline is the third-largest operator in Russia, and it offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers, and it’s a legal requirement for stores to ask for ID to officially register the number. Credit can also be purchased from the same retailers and convenience stores across the country.

    Dial*102# to check your balance. The following prepaid packs are available:

    Zero doubts (“Ноль сомнений”): RUB50 – Calling other Beeline numbers across Russia, with discounted data rates. Data is charged at RUB9.95 per MB. Dial 0674000999 to activate.

    Internet forever (Интернет навсегда): Data-only SIM card packages for tablets and modems with 200MB data per month. Dial*110*999# to activate.

    The following data packs can be used on all Beeline prepaid SIM cards:

    PackageFee (month)DataActivationDeactivation
    Highway 1GBRUB2001GB*115*04#*115*040#
    Highway 4GBRUB4004GB*115*061#*115*060#
    Highway 8GBRUB6008GB*115*071#*115*070#
    Highway 12GBRUB70012GB*115*081#*115*080#
    Highway 20GBRUB1,20020GB*115*091#*115*090#

    The following data add-ons can also be purchased:

    RUB2501GBActivation: *115*121#
    RUB5004GBActivation: *115*122#

    Beeline also offers a selection of combo packs:

    PlanMonthlyCalling time includedSMSDataActivation
    (charged per day)to BeelineOther calls
    All 1RUB350
    (RUB11.7)
    Unlimited national300 minutes regional1GB
    regional
    0674000111
    All 2RUB550
    (RUB18.3)
    Unlimited national400 minutes regional500
    regional
    6GB
    national
    0674000222
    All 3RUB900
    (RUB30)
    Unlimited national1,200 minutes regional500
    national
    10GB
    national
    0674000333
    All 4RUB1,500
    (RUB50)
    Unlimited national2,000 minutes national500
    national
    15GB
    national
    0674000444
    All 5RUB2,500
    (RUB83.3)
    Unlimited national5,000 minutes national500
    national
    15GB
    national
    0674000555

    Beeline’s APN: internet.beeline.ru, and website: www.beeline.ru

    Tele2

    Tele2 offers some great packages, and its signal is also quite good. Tele2 offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards must be registered properly by showing your passport, and credit can be purchased from almost anywhere across the country.

    Dial*105# and press “call” to check your balance. The following prepaid plans are available:

    Plan nameMonthly feeNational allowancesActivation
    Classic
    Классический
    FreeNone, basic data
    rate: RUB1.5/MB
    *630*8#
    My Tele2
    Мой Теле2
    RUB210(as
    RUB7 per day)
    5GB (per month)
    social media
    *630*1#
    My Talk
    Мой разговор
    RUB1992GB,
    200 minutes, 50 SMS
    *630*2#
    My Online
    Мой онлайн
    RUB39912GB, social media
    500 minutes, 50 SMS
    *630*3#
    My Online +
    Мой онлайн +
    RUB79930GB, social media
    1,500 minutes, 50 SMS
    *630*4#
    Internet for devices
    (Интернет для устройств)
    RUB2997GB*630*12#

    The following data packs can also be added:

    • Internet from Phone (“Интернет с телефона”):

    o RUB7: 100MB per day

    Dial*155*151# to activate, and *155*150# to deactivate.

    • Network day (“День в сети”):

    o RUB20: 300MB per day

    Dial*155*161# to activate, and*155*160# to deactivate.

    The following data packs are also available, each valid for one month:

    DataExtrasPriceActivationDeactivation
    7GBData rolloverRUB99*155*681#*155*680#
    15GBFree social mediaRUB499*155*671#*155*670#
    20GBUnlimited nighttime useRUB699*155*691#*155*690#
    50GBUnlimited nighttime useRUB999*155*701#*155*700#

    To add more data, the following packs are available:

    PriceDataDaysActivationDeactivation
    RUB15100MB1 day*155*281#*155*280#
    RUB50500MB1 day*155*171#*155*170#
    RUB1503GB30 days*155*181#*155*180#
    RUB2505GB30 days*155*231#*155*230#

    Tele2’s APN: internet.tele2.ru, and website: www.tele2.ru

    Yota (Йота)

    Yota is the smallest provider in Russia, with average network coverage and Internet speeds. It’s more known for providing prepaid data SIM cards, as opposed to voice. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards must be registered upon purchase, and credit can be found almost anywhere across the country or by using a credit card online. The following data-only SIM packs are available for tablets, modems and routers:

    RUB5024 hours
    RUB59030 days
    RUB4,500365 days

    The following data packs can be used nationwide:

    • RUB50: 2 hours at maximum speed
    • RUB150: 24 hours at maximum speed

    Yota’s APN: internet.yota, and website: http://www.yota.ru

    Some top tips from finder UK staff:

    • The official language is Russian. If you don’t know the language, download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. People who speak English are mostly aged 30 or younger, and many of the older generation will struggle to speak it.
    • Locals call a SIM card a “SIM” or “karte”.
    • 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 shops 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 Russia.

    Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:

    Purchasing a 4G/LTE modem SIM may only be needed if you are planning to take your laptop with you and also planning to avoid free Wi-Fi hotspots, which should cover most of Russia. Local SIM cards will save you some money on phone calls and mobile Internet.

    You will get access to 4G/LTE if your smartphone supports Russian 4G/LTE frequencies, which are different to USA. The only issue that I know for sure is that US models of iPhone will NOT work with Russian high-speed mobile Internet. Most of Android smartphones as well as international iPhone models will work OK.

    If you are willing to get yourself a local SIM card I recommend “Warm welcome” (the name of the plan) plus extra “Internet L” option (for RUB790).”

    Pros and cons of Russia’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.

    Pros:

    • Good value for money
    • Russia has good coverage
    • Prepaid credit when required
    • No in-store contract needed
    • Could be compatible with your current phone
    • Cheap handsets are sold in stores

    Cons:

    • No devices offered with the SIM card packages
    • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
    • Tough rules and regulations make buying a SIM card difficult
    • Make sure the plans you purchase work in the region where you are situated

    More questions about finding the best SIM?

    Q: What about other SIM card providers in Russia?

    A: There is only one mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Russia called Sim Sim, which runs through the base providers we have highlighted above. Although you may find slightly different deals and plans, we feel it’s always best to stick with the main providers.

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