Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming bills.
Using your phone in Georgia could turn out to be a costly business, so to keep costs down why not switch to a local SIM card to take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs. Georgia has some of the best SIM card options available, deals that could significantly reduce your phone bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Georgia’s leading telco provider for as little as GEL5 ($7). So, whether you’re planning a short-term or long-term trip, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
Telco providers in Georgia
Georgia has recently invested in its telecommunications network, so telco providers offer good services. There are three main operators: MagtiCom, Geocell and Beeline. All three can be trusted, and they also offer some of the best prices in both Eastern Europe and Western Asia. According to OpenSignal’s coverage report, Georgia provides a fairly good phone signal, evident on all three operators.
About Georgia’s telco providers
Nestled between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia’s operators offer some of the best deals in the region on 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE platforms. MagtiCom is the largest provider, followed by Geocell and Beeline. Prepaid SIM cards are available from official stores, supermarkets, post offices, stalls. kiosks and at the airport. Although you won’t need ID to purchase the SIM cards in supermarkets, official stores are starting to ask for identification, in spite of the fact 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 Georgia.
MagtiCom is the market leader and offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards come in three variations “Magti”, “Bali” or “Bani” and they can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers. Prepaid SIMs can be purchased for GEL5, which comes with the same amount of credit uploaded. SIM cards come in standard, nano, micro or mini sizes. The standard default data rate is charged at GEL0.70 per MB. The following monthly data packs can also be added:
Each pack is valid for one month. Dial *111# <call> or *100# <call> and select the relevant pack to activate.
- GEL30 – 3GB data, free domestic calls, free domestic SMS/MMS, 30 minutes of international calls, valid for 15 days. Text 2230 to activate.
- GEL15 – 5GB data, free domestic SMS/MMS, valid for 15 days. Text 3315 to activate.
There’s a “Magti booth” at Tbilisi airport and staff there will help set up the phone for you. They will change the APN, facilitate SIM registration and ID checks, and ensure that everything has been uploaded properly. You will receive an SMS message in Georgian and English when the SIM is ready to use. The SIM card can be updated with additional 15 day packs, or credit amounts of varying denominations.
MagtiCom’s APN: 3g.ge, website: www.magticom.ge
Geocell is the second largest provider in the country. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services and has some competitive rates.SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers for GEL5, and come with that amount of credit. To use the LTE services you need one of their new LTE-enabled SIM cards. The sellers should replace the SIM card for free if you already have one of their SIMs.
The standard default data rate is charged at GEL0.70 per MB. There is also a special data pack that is offered for just one day, charged at GEL0.50 for 70 MB. Dial *008 to activate. The following data packs are also available:
|GEL3||500MB||Dial *135*1# to activate|
|GEL5||1.2GB||Dial *135*2# to activate|
|GEL7||2GB||Dial *135*3# to activate|
|GEL10||4GB||Dial *135*4# to activate|
|GEL15||6GB||Dial *135*5# to activate|
|GEL30||15GB||Dial *135*7# to activate|
Geocell’s "All Inclusive" tourist SIM card is also a good option. For GEL20 you’ll receive 30 minutes of international calls, unlimited calls and SMS to Georgian networks, and 2GB data – valid for 15 days. Call 7010 to activate. Top-ups can also be added in various denominations.
Geocell’s APN: internet, and website: www.geocell.ge/en
Beeline is the smallest operator in the country. Although its market share is small, Beeline is gaining customers quickly, thanks to offering the best prices and good network coverage. At GEL3, SIM cards are the cheapest out of all three providers and come with that amount of credit. Beeline doesn’t ask for any proof of ID before purchase. SIM cards come in all sizes and can be purchased from official stores, approved resellers and most supermarkets. Credit can also be purchased from the same retail outlets or online by using a credit card.
|GEL1||500MB||7 days||Dial *120*500# to activate|
|GEL4||1GB||30 days||Dial *120*1# to activate|
|GEL9||4GB||30 days||Dial *120*4# to activate|
|GEL16||8GB||30 days||Dial *120*03# to activate|
|GEL25||30GB||30 days||Dial *120*30# to activate|
Beeline’s APN: internet.ge.beeline.net, website: www.beeline.ge
Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:
- The official language is Georgian. If you don’t speak the language, you may want to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. English is also widely spoken.
- Georgians call a SIM card a “Chip” or “SIM”.
- Ask the retailer to help set-up the SIM card for you, because it will save time and hassle.
- Beat the crowds by getting there early!
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
“Assuming you will arrive at Tbilisi airport, you will find different operators in the arrival hall. Also in the same place you will find various banks, ATMs and airline offices.”
“Wi-Fi in Tbilisi and Batumi is very common in most bars and restaurants.”
“There is a large ‘Beeline' phone shop opposite the Marriott Hotel on Rustavelli Avenue. Staff speak English and SIM cards are really easy to buy”
Pros and cons of Georgia’s top telco providers
All three 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 set off on your travels.
- Good value for money
- Georgia has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Georgian is a unique language, and could prove problematic when setting up your SIM if you don’t speak the language.
Another question about finding the best SIM
Q: Is the signal good in Georgia’s countryside?
A: Georgia has vast country areas that may suffer from poor coverage. The terrain is also quite mountainous so that might affect your coverage options. However, Georgia has one of the best and cheapest 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.