How to find the best prepaid SIM card when travelling to Romania
Many options for competitive deals from local network providers.
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Whether you’re travelling to Romania to enjoy a river cruise on the Danube or to explore the castles of Transylvania, lowering the cost of your trip is always a good idea. One way to achieve this is to purchase a local prepaid Romanian SIM card, which offers local deals on texts, data and minutes. You can also avoid incurring roaming charges for being out of network. You can purchase a prepaid SIM card with 2,000 local minutes/SMS and 9GB of domestic data for EUR10 (AUD$15). Note that the Romanian network operators advertise their prices in euros, but the local currency is the Romanian Leu.
finder.com.au has explored the top options for prepaid SIM cards in Romania for your next trip there.
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SIM card rules and regulations in Romania
In September 2014, a Romanian high court ruled that a law requiring mandatory registration of all SIM cards to be unconstitutional. That leaves Romania as one of the few countries in the EU where this practice does not occur. A second condition to be aware of is that a hidden 19% value-added tax (VAT) is included on all purchases. When you top up, the local sales tax is deducted from the credit you have purchased.
Mobile phone carriers in Romania
The prepaid SIM card brands are:
- Digi Mobil
Orange has the best coverage, highest speeds and most customers in Romania. As of 2017, Orange’s 4G/LTE network covered 97% of Romania’s population. If you have a postal address you can send mail to, such as your hotel room, you can order a SIM card online for free. Otherwise they are available at newsstands and Orange outlets for a small fee. The basic SIM card comes preloaded with 300 minutes. Unless you happen to have a Romanian credit card handy, you’ll have to make your top-up purchases at Orange outlets. To activate the SIM card, enter PIN number 0000
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The standard data rate is EUR0.04 per MB. The following combos are all month-long values offering data, voice and SMS services.
|Price||Domestic minutes/SMS||International minutes/SMS||Domestic data||Roaming data||Activation code|
All packages renew automatically after 30 days. If you’re only interested in data, the following plans are available.
|Price||Domestic data||Roaming data||Activation code|
If you run out of domestic data, you’ll be charged EUR0.02 per MB for the remainder of the month. To check your remaining credits, dial *133#
Website (in Romanian): http://www.orange.ro/
Vodafone has the best prices of the major providers and a strong 3G network, but its 4G offering exists in only some cities. The Vodafone coverage map can help you decide if it’s the right network for you.
Its prepaid SIM card offering is called Cartela Vodafone. It’s sometimes offered for free but otherwise costs EUR6.20 with a built-in EUR5 credit, and can be purchased from Vodafone stores as well as local newsstands.
Top-ups are made with in-store vouchers or online. Vodafone is the only SIM card provider in Romania that takes international credit cards. The cards are valid for 30-90 days after being recharged, plus a 300-day passive period. You can reactivate your card at any point in that timeframe for as little as EUR1.
There are three Cartela starter SIM card packs:
- Free: Has no credit installed
- EUR1: Comes with on-network minutes/SMS or 10 all-network minutes/SMS
- EUR5: Unlimited on-network minutes/SMS, 200 all-network minutes/SMS and 100MB data.
Vodafone offers a number of data/voice/SMS bundles that are available on a 30-day basis. They are:
Free units are redeemable as MB, voice minutes or SMS messages. The 35-day bundles will auto-renew unless you stop them. Once your subscription ends, you will be awarded an extra 30GB of domestic data and 500 international minutes good for the next 90 days as long as you have at least EUR6 in your account. The largest two bundles also give free access to digital music service Zonga and HBO Go.
Website (in Romanian): http://www.vodafone.ro
About Telekom Romania
Formerly known as Cosmote, Telekom Romania’s best upgrade was opening its 4G/LTE network to prepaid customers. The 4G network is available in most major cities, but a quick check of the coverage map can give you a better indication. Its 3G network covers only about 60% of the population.
The starter pack for Telekom is either free with no credit or EUR5 with a EUR5 credit included. Unless you have a Romanian credit card handy, you’ll have to buy your top-up cards in the outlet stores or at other convenience store-type locations. Check your existing credit by dialling *100# or *134#
The following month-long packages are offered for a combination of data and voice/SMS:
|Price||Domestic data||Domestic voice/SMS||International voice||International roaming||Activation code|
|EUR1||100MB||n/a||n/a||n/a||A DS to 638|
|EUR3||500MB||n/a||n/a||n/a||A DM to 638|
|EUR4||n/a||100 minutes/SMS||50 minutes||150MB||R4 to 123|
|EUR5||1GB||n/a||n/a||n/a||A DL to 638|
|EUR5||5GB||1,000 minutes/SMS||100 minutes||n/a||5 to 123|
|EUR6||6GB||1,500 minutes/SMS||200 minutes||n/a||6 to 123|
|EUR7||7GB||2,000 minutes/SMS||250 minutes||n/a||7 to 123|
|EUR8||8GB||2,000 minutes/SMS||300 minutes||2.1GB||8 to 123|
All combo packages include unlimited use of WhatsApp, Facebook and Facebook Messenger.
|EUR1||3G||100MB||A DS to 638|
|EUR3||4G/LTE||500MB||A DM to 638|
|EUR5||4G/LTE||1GB||A DL to 638|
Website (in Romanian): http://www.telekom.ro/
About Digi Mobil
Digi Mobil has the best rates but also the smallest network in Romania. Its best coverage is in the big cities and along the highways that connect them, usually on 3G networks. Digi Mobile started a 4G/LTE network in 2016 that presently covers about 50% of the population.
Digi Mobil startup packs are sold in Romania at the company’s array of stores and outlets. The packs come with a EUR3 credit. Its bundles and top-ups are only available in its own stores or on its website. The following Digi Mobil bundles include unlimited texts and calls on the Digi Mobil network.
Top-ups can be done in stores or online using a credit or debit card. Please note that there are no roaming services on prepaid cards, and Digi Mobil plans only work in Romania.
Website (in Romanian): http://www.rcs-rds.ro
Advice from TripAdvisor on buying prepaid SIM cards in Romania
TripAdvisor is well known as a great resource for hotel and attraction reviews, but its community forums also handle questions like where to get the best prepaid SIM cards. Here’s some advice from recent travellers to Romania.
“Get your Romania mobile phone SIM card at the nearest petrol station. But, don't be discouraged if some petrol stations are sold out of the SIM cards. If they don't speak English, they'll understand “SIM card”. If they reply but don't hand you a SIM card, there's a good chance they're saying "We don't have any SIM cards with new telephone numbers, but we do sell mobile phone credit" (to recharge a SIM card). I got a Vodafone SIM card and was pleased to realise that there's an option for selecting English as your language preference.”
“SIM cards with numbers can be easily bought from the phone shops in the street or in shopping centres and rarely in petrol stations. Credit for cards can be bought even in supermarkets.”
“For EUR6-EUR8, you can buy a prepaid card and you have virtually hundred of free minutes on any mobile Romanian network as well as at least 1GB of Internet. Actually there are are so many special campaigns right now that you just have to ask the vendors and they will provide you the best solution within the price range I already mentioned.”
Pros and cons of Romania’s top telco providers
There are four major network operators in Romania. Here is a look at a list of pros and cons.
- Orange’s 4G/LTE network covers 97% of the population.
- Multiple data plans offer extra bonuses, including free data to certain websites.
- Most packages are available only in 30-day increments.
- Only Vodafone and Digi Mobil take international debit cards or credit cards for top-up payments.
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