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 (AUD$7.77). 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.com.au.

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Flexiroam X International SIM Card
Flexiroam X International SIM Card
If you're planning a trip that includes multiple countries, attaching flexiroam X can be much cheaper than roaming with your existing mobile number or buying a new SIM in each location.
  • Over 100 countries
  • Three different starter pack options
  • Data options from 1 to 5 GB
  • Shipment takes 3 to 5 days
  • Pay as you go plans
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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:
Pack Price Data (month) Nighttime data Validity Activation
XS RUB190 70MB/day n/a Regional *236*1*1#
S RUB350 3GB National *236*2*1#
M RUB590 8GB 8GB *236*3*1#
L RUB890 18GB 18GB *236*4*1#
XL RUB1,290 30GB Unlimited *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:
Package Monthly fee Data Voice Extras Activation
"Пиши"
Write
RUB350 2GB
regional
350 minutes
regional
Messengers
200 SMS (regional)
*789*2#
"Говори"
Talk
RUB500 3GB
regional
600 minutes
national
Messengers *789*4#
"Слушай"
Listen
RUB500 6GB
national
250 minutes
regional
Messengers
Music
*789*3#
"Общайся"
Communicate
RUB600 12GB
national
500 minutes
national
Messengers
Social Media
*789*5#
"Смотри"
Watch
RUB950 16GB
national
1,200 minutes
national
Messengers
Social Media
20GB for YouTube,
Free TV pack
*789*6#
"Премиум"
Premium
RUB3,000 20GB
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:

Package Validity Price Data/month Activation Extra volume
Mini BIT
МиниБИТ
Regional RUB25 20MB/day *111*62# RUB15/20MB
National RUB45 RUB25/20MB
BIT БИТ Regional RUB200 75MB/day *111*252# RUB8/50MB
SuperBIT
СуперБИТ
National RUB350 3GB *111*628# RUB75/500MB
MTS Tablet
МТС Планшет
National RUB400 4GB Only online
Internet Mini
Интернет-Mini
Regional,
national is RUB50
per day extra
RUB350 3GB *111*160#
Internet Maxi
Интернет-Maxi
RUB700 12GB/day,
12GB/night
*111*161#
Internet VIP
Интернет-VIP
RUB1,200 30GB/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:

Package Fee (month) Data Activation Deactivation
Highway 1GB RUB200 1GB *115*04# *115*040#
Highway 4GB RUB400 4GB *115*061# *115*060#
Highway 8GB RUB600 8GB *115*071# *115*070#
Highway 12GB RUB700 12GB *115*081# *115*080#
Highway 20GB RUB1,200 20GB *115*091# *115*090#

The following data add-ons can also be purchased:

RUB250 1GB Activation: *115*121#
RUB500 4GB Activation: *115*122#

Beeline also offers a selection of combo packs:

Plan Monthly Calling time included SMS Data Activation
(charged per day) to Beeline Other calls
All 1 RUB350
(RUB11.7)
Unlimited national 300 minutes regional - 1GB
regional
0674000111
All 2 RUB550
(RUB18.3)
Unlimited national 400 minutes regional 500
regional
6GB
national
0674000222
All 3 RUB900
(RUB30)
Unlimited national 1,200 minutes regional 500
national
10GB
national
0674000333
All 4 RUB1,500
(RUB50)
Unlimited national 2,000 minutes national 500
national
15GB
national
0674000444
All 5 RUB2,500
(RUB83.3)
Unlimited national 5,000 minutes national 500
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 name Monthly fee National allowances Activation
Classic
Классический
Free None, 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
RUB199 2GB,
200 minutes, 50 SMS
*630*2#
My Online
Мой онлайн
RUB399 12GB, social media
500 minutes, 50 SMS
*630*3#
My Online +
Мой онлайн +
RUB799 30GB, social media
1,500 minutes, 50 SMS
*630*4#
Internet for devices
(Интернет для устройств)
RUB299 7GB *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:

Data Extras Price Activation Deactivation
7GB Data rollover RUB99 *155*681# *155*680#
15GB Free social media RUB499 *155*671# *155*670#
20GB Unlimited nighttime use RUB699 *155*691# *155*690#
50GB Unlimited nighttime use RUB999 *155*701# *155*700#

To add more data, the following packs are available:

Price Data Days Activation Deactivation
RUB15 100MB 1 day *155*281# *155*280#
RUB50 500MB 1 day *155*171# *155*170#
RUB150 3GB 30 days *155*181# *155*180#
RUB250 5GB 30 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:

RUB50 24 hours
RUB590 30 days
RUB4,500 365 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.com.au 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, 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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