A mega-guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card when travelling in Kosovo
Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming bills.
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Kosovo has a growing economy with some amazing local SIM card deals that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from their leading telco provider for as little as EUR1.50 ($1.90). So, whether you’re planning a week-long holiday or a long-term trip, check out the best SIM card options available.
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Telco providers in Kosovo
There are two main phone operators in Kosovo: IPKO and Vala. Both operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate in the country, and each one competes with the other to offer the best deals. Both have been tried and tested by locals and visitors, and can be trusted. Their deals are among the best in world. According to OpenSignal’s network coverage map, Kosovo has good or above-average coverage all over the country. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can be picked up from the same retailers.
Both operators provide good 2G, 3G and 4G services. Passports must be shown as a valid form of ID and prepaid credit can be added in varying amounts. IPKO and Vala have sales booths at Pristina airport, which can easily be found in the arrivals hall. Both providers will set up and register a SIM card for you before leaving the airport. Even though the euro is the official currency, Kosovo is not part of the EU, or the EEA, so EU data caps do not apply. Using your home phone will no doubt work out to be more expensive so it’s definitely worth purchasing a local SIM card. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your visit to Kosovo.
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IPKO is the largest provider and offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prices are good and so are the voice and data packages being offered. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers, and so can top-ups. The SIM card can be purchased for EUR3, and credit can be added in the following amounts:
- EUR5 – Valid for 90 days
- EUR10 – Valid for 180 days
- EUR20 – Valid for 330 days
Dial *123*<16-digit code># to add credit. eTopUp’s can also be added for varying amounts between EUR1 and EUR50. Data must be activated on your SIM card before it can be used. Text "Plus GPRS" to 121; dial *321# to activate. SIM cards come in two different variants, one for 2G and 3G plans, another for 4G. The standard default data rate is charged at EUR0.21 for the first 100KB, and each 10KB after that costs EUR0.001. The following data packs can be added by dialling the number listed in the right-hand column.
Dial *123*1# to check data. All above-mentioned plans can also be used on the Wi-Fi service. There are also several roaming partnerships available on this network: Albania (Eagle, Telekom Albania or Vodafone), Macedonia (One/Vip), Montenegro (m:tel) and Turkey (Vodafone). The following roaming packs are available and the data can also be used in Kosovo:
|1 day||200MB||EUR1.50||Dial *478*1# to activate|
|1 week||1GB||EUR5||Dial *478*2# to activate|
|1 month||2GB||EUR10||Dial *478*3# to activate|
Dial *478# to check data usage.
Zog Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) of IPKO and extremely popular with the younger audience. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers and top-ups can be purchased from the same retailers. Zog offers some great voice and data deals, and its packages are geared up for the online youth audience. SIM cards can be purchased for just EUR1 and can be activated by dialing the code *800*1# and selecting option 1. Data is charged at EUR0.021 for the first 100 KB; each 10 KB after that is charged at just EUR0.01. IPKO’s APN: Ipko, website:www.ipko.com/en
Vala is the second largest provider in Kosovo and offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers and top-ups can be bought from the same retailers. Vala offers some great voice and data deals, and its packages are extremely good value. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for EUR3, which comes with EUR1 of credit and 700MB data. Credit can be purchased from anywhere between EUR1 and EUR50 and are valid for different amounts of time, depending on how much you top-up. The standard default data rate is charged at just EUR0.01 per MB. The following bundles are also available, each valid for 28 days:
- S package: EUR3.99, including 100 domestic minutes, 500MB internet and 100 national SMS. Text “Pako S” to 50555.
- M package: EUR9.99, including 200 domestic minutes, 1GB internet, 300 national SMS, 10 minutes to European countries (including Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria) as well as 100MB roaming data. Text “Pako M” to 50555 to activate.
The following data packs can also be added:
|7 days||1GB||EUR1.50||Option 3|
|15 days||2GB||EUR2.50||Option 4|
|25 days||3GB||EUR3.50||Option 5|
|31 days||5GB||EUR6.00||Option 6|
Call 161 and select the relevant option to activate. Vala also offers roaming partnerships with the following countries: Turkey (Vodafone), Montenegro (m:tel and Telenor), Albania (Vodafone, Plus and Telekom), in Macedonia (all networks) and Bulgaria (Mobitel). The following data bundles are available for roaming and can also be used in Kosovo:
|1 day||60MB||EUR1.99||“Region 1” for activation|
|4 days||200MB||EUR4.99||“Region 4” for activation|
|10 days||300MB||EUR6.99||“Region 10” for activation|
Text relevant code to 50555 to activate. Vala also has many Wi-Fi hotspots dotted around the country. All data packs can be used with these Wi-FI locations. Vala’s APN: vala, and website:www.valamobile.com/
- Albanian and Serbian are spoken in Kosovo, so if you don’t know those languages then consider downloading Google Translate onto your phone before you travel.
- Locals call a SIM card a “Karte” or “SIM”.
- 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 seek advice
- Try and get to the shops early to avoid the crowds.
TripAdvisor has many user comments that can help guide you through the SIM cards that have been tried and tested in Kosovo. Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users: “If your phone is unlocked you can get a SIM card to put in it. Many of the phone plans are attached to the card/phone number. I was told as a foreigner, I had to buy a SIM card that worked on a pre-paid system, which is very easy. They can be topped-up at almost any newspaper stand.” “If they do not have a micro-SIM card, you can go to any phone service, and ask them to cut your SIM card. It'll cost you 1-2 euro.”
Pros and cons of telco providers in Kosovo
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
- Kosovo 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 phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Not part of the EU data roaming pact
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