Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming bills.
If you’re looking for Turkish and Greek influences at the same time, Cyprus is the answer. Quite literally split down the middle with different telco providers, using your phone on the island can be expensive. So, why not take advantage of local SIM card deals to reduce your bills? You can buy 1GB of data from Cyprus’s leading telco provider for as little as EUR€5 (AUD$5.30). So, whether you’re planning a week-long holiday or a long-term trip, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
There are four main operators in Cyprus: Cytamobile-Vodafone, MTN, KKTC Turkcell and KKTC Telsim (Vodafone). KKTC operators are part of Turkey and are not within the European Union. The other two providers are Greek and are classed as being part of the EU. There are no roaming deals between the north or south of the island. All operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate in the country and they all compete with one another to offer the best deals. They have all been tried, tested and trusted by locals and international travelers alike and their deals are competitively priced. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Cyprus has great network coverage around the Strovolos area. Other areas can suffer as the network signal becomes weaker.
Operators in Cyprus offer good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE wireless services. All four operators sell prepaid credit, which allows users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. The locals call their SIM cards “chips” and “SIMs” and they can only be purchased from official stores and approved resellers by using your passport. Credit can be purchased from supermarkets and at the airport. Top-ups can be purchased online by using your credit card. Below, we’ve described each telco provider and highlighted exactly what they can offer you during your visit to Cyprus.
Cytamobile-Vodafone is a joint venture between the government and Vodafone. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G services. The "soeasy" SIM card can be purchased almost everywhere, including official stores, supermarkets and the airport. SIM cards will need to be activated by entering a PIN code, which is always 1234. Credit can be purchased for EUR€5, EUR€10, EUR€20 and EUR€35. A top-up of EUR€10 or more is valid for 365 days. Dial *110# to check your balance. Cytamobile-Vodafone’s SIM starter pack can be purchased for EUR€7.50 and comes with EUR€5 credit along with 100 SMS and is valid for 90 days.
The standard data rate is very high, charged at EUR€1.015 per MB. We advise you to purchase one of the following data packs, which will help keep costs down (text 8000 and choose the “on soeasy plus” option to select the relevant plan):
- EUR€20: 150 domestic minutes, 150 domestic SMS, 500MB and EUR€3 credit.
- EUR€35: 300 domestic minutes, 300 domestic SMS, 1GB and EUR€3 credit.
The following data packs are also available:
|soeasy MI day||1 day||30MB||EUR€1.50|
|soeasy MI week||1 week||80MB||EUR€3.00|
|soeasy MI month||1 month||300MB||EUR€10.00|
Text the relevant MI code to 8000 to activate. An overuse rate is charged at EUR€0.25 per MB. An SMS will be sent towards the end of the plan to notify you that you’re nearly at the limit. There is also a tourist SIM card on offer with a default rate of EUR€0.25 per MB and discounted calls to the UK and Russia. Cytamobile-Vodafone also offers a data-only SIM called VMI, which comes with 200MB of data for EUR€14.95. Data can be added as follows:
Another variation of the VMI SIM card can be bought for EUR€14.95 with 500MB of data, valid for 7 days. The following data packs can also be added:
MTN is the second largest operator in Cyprus and offers better rates than Cytamobile. 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services are available. SIM cards can be purchased for EUR€7.50, which comes with EUR€2 of call time and 20 SMS. SIMs are available from most retailers and approved resellers. Credit can be purchased at any MTN paypoint, any stores selling vouchers or online. EUR€5, EUR€10, EUR€20, EUR€35 and EUR€50 can be added. Data top-up cards can also be purchased for EUR€15 with 1.5GB of data, valid for 30 days. Dial *202# to check your balance.
The MTN PayAsYouGo voice and data SIM is also a good option. It offers the following packs:
|1 day||20MB||EUR€1.52||Text “data on day” to 6040|
|1 week||80MB||EUR€4.00||Text “data on week” to 6040|
|1 month||200MB||EUR€10.19||Text “data on month” to 6040|
|1 month||500MB||EUR€15.13||Text “data on month 500” to 6040|
There is also a Holiday Prepaid Pack available for tourists. It can be purchased for EUR€2 and comes with EUR€1 of credit. The above-mentioned packs can be added and as well as the following data-only plans:
KKTC Turkcell is the leading telco provider in Northern Cyprus. It can be used in Turkey without incurring roaming charges. Its prices are listed in "Kontör" which means units. 1 unit is TRY0.065. KKTC Turkcell’s prepaid SIM card can be purchased from Turkcell stores for TRY15 with 100 units of credit (worth TRY6.5).
The standard default data rate is 11 units (TRY0.715) per 100KB and the following packs are available:
- 100MB for 1 day: 77 units = TRY5, activation: GUNLUK
- 1GB for 7 days: 152 units = TRY9.88, activation: HAFTALIK1
- 500MB for 30 days: 340 units = TRY22.10, activation: 500
- 1GB for 30 days: 500 units = TRY32.50, activation: 1
- 2GB for 30 days: 680 units = TRY44.20, activation: 2
- 4GB for 30 days: 1,000 units = TRY65, activation: 4
- 10GB for 30 days: 1,155 units = TRY75, activation: 10
- 15GB for 30 days: 1,308 units = TRY85, activation: 15
Text the activation code to 1111 to activate. Text "IPTAL" to 1111 to cancel.
KKTC Telsim is part of Vodafone Turkey and is Turkcell’s main competitor. KKTC Telsim’s SIM cards can also be used in Turkey without incurring any extra roaming charges. Its rates are also sold in units:1 unit is TRY0.065. SIM cards can be purchased from official Telsim stores, supermarkets or approved resellers.
There is a tourist package on offer for TRY25, which contains 50 international minutes, 500 text messages and 500MB of data, valid for 7 days. The standard SIM card can be purchased for TRY10, but credit must be purchased to use it.
The following data-only packs can also be added:
- 250MB: 246 units = TRY16
- 500MB: 338 units = TRY12
- 1GB: 492 units = TRY32
- 3GB: 769 units = TRY50
- 5GB: 1000 units = TRY65
- 10GB: 1138 units = TRY74
- 15GB: 1292 units = TRY84
To buy an above-mentioned plan, call customer services at 548, head to a Telsim shop or purchase online. Text “DURUM” to 2121 to check your balance.
- Turkish and Greek are spoken in Cyprus, so if you don’t know these languages download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM”.
- Ask the retailer to set up your SIM for you as they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
- Remember, it’s always better to get things done early. This way you are more likely to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds.
While it’s well known for its reviews as well as 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 Cyprus.
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
- “You can purchase a SIM card with 2GB of data for EUR€20 as well as a SIM card with 1.5GB of data and EUR€3 credit for calls for EUR€20.”
- ”While living in Cyprus I used MTN with no problems. MTN and CYTA are the veterans in mobile telephony in Cyprus.”
- “Cyta is the veteran, while all the rest followed when Cyprus joined the EU and telecommunications were opened to all companies and it wasn’t just a monopoly for state-owned Cyta. MTN is the main rival.”
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM-compatible international phone. To double check that you have this phone, or whether it’s possible for you to unlock your device, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Cyprus has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- No roaming deals between Southern and Northern Cyprus
There are several MVNOs available, including PrimeTel, which offers some good SIM deals. Check the latest deals on offer before purchasing your SIM card. Make sure you buy the correct SIM card for visiting either Northern or Southern Cyprus, as they don’t have roaming partnerships.