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Buying SIM Cards in Russia

Buying SIM Cards in Russia

One of the most controversials countries in the world, with complicated political relationships surrounding their government but beyond all that Russia is a country worth visiting. Though before visiting, remember to read on their policies, the do and the don’ts as it a strict country especially to visitors. Russia is the biggest country in the world. In it is world on its own. Filled with its cities filled with flamboyant architecture, marvelous natural wonders, rich history and art, unique festivals and one of a kind culture.

To say that there are alot of places to visit in Russia is an understatement. For one, there are places from its monarchical past like, The Winter Palace, Kizhi Pogost which is a UNESCO site, and the Golden Domes. The country also holds dramatic landscapes such as the Golden Mountains of Altai, Lena’s Forest, the Valley of the Geysers, Mount Elbrus and the Volga River. It’s cities are one of a kind too, Moscow, the most populated city in Russia is built by buildings with unique architecture. There’s also the city of St. Petersburg which seems something out of a story book.

This intriguing country attracts both first time travelers and experienced once. If you’re looking forward on travelling to Russia, we’ll help you get one thing off your mind. We will guide you on buying a SIM card for your travel in this curious country.

The First Thing You Need To Do

For first time travelers in Russia, the first thing you need to with regards to switching on a SIM card is to actually get your phone unlocked. Having an unlocked phone means that your phone is compatible with any SIM card and only then will you be able to utilize your phone to make phone calls, text messages and utilize data. If you can do this before going to Russia that would be great as it will save you from a lot of hassle.

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Choosing A SIM Card

For a strict country, purchasing a SIM card is surprisingly easy compared to other countries. An identification such as passports is required upon purchase. There are five major service providers in Russia:

MegaFon

Megafon is the largest service provider in Russia and most user friendly amongst tourists. MegaFon offers their SIM cards for free but you must purchase a package for it to be activated. Once you activate your SIM card its international roaming is also activated hence international call rates are lower. They offer several plans: Switch Zero, which gives big discounts to other MegaFon users. Around the World makes all incoming international calls free and outgoing international calls for RUB3 per minute, data use is also given big discounts, making it one of the best plans for tourists. Warm Welcome SIM card offers 100 minutes of call for other MegaFon users within Moscow as well as in the same region, RUB2 per minute for other numbers also within Moscow, RUB10 per minute for other service providers and international calls to (Vietnam, India, Turkey, China and Japan) for RUB27 per minute.

MegaFon also offers Warm Welcom S which costs RUB300 and comes with 150 minutes of call to other MegaFon Users, 150 text messages and 2GB worth of data good for 90 days. Warm Welcom M which costs RUB500 and comes with 500 minutes of call to other MegaFon Users, 300 text messages and 3GB worth of data good for 90 days. They also offer MegaFon Online which is a data only SIM card. The base rate is RUB2.5 per MB, but you can avail packages such as: S, which costs RUB350 and comes with 3GB worth of data. M, which costs RUB590 and comes with 8GB worth of data. L, which costs RUB890 and comes with 18GB worth of data and XL, which costs RUB1290 and comes with 30GB worth of data during the day and unlimited at night.

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MTS (MTC)

MTS comes second to MegaFon as the largest service operator in Russia. They offer several prepaid plans such as: Super MTS which costs RUB100 and comes with 20 minutes of outgoing calls to other MTS numbers everyday or for the same credit you can have discounted call to other Russian Regions, Vietnam and China. Red Energy which offers RUB1.60 per minute for calls within the similar region, it costs RUB150 for the starter pack but this can vary from time to time. They also offer Internet per Day which costs RUB50 and gives you 500MB worth of data or for RUB500 you’ll get 100GB worth of data.

Beeline

Beeline comes next to MTS as Russia’s largest service provider. Beeline offers their SIM cards along with these packages: for RUB50 you’ll be able to call othe Beeline numbers all throughout Russia for discounted rates. Data however, is charged at RUB9.95 per MB. They also offer Internet Forever which is a data only SIM card that can be utilized for tablets or pocket WiFi, along this they offer: HIGHWAY 1GB which costs RUB200 and comes wtih 1GB worth of data, HIGHWAY 4GB which costs RUB400 and comes wtih 4GB worth of data, HIGHWAY 8GB which costs RUB600 and comes wtih 8GB worth of data, HIGHWAY 12GB which costs RUB700 and comes wtih 12GB worth of data, and HIGHWAY 20GB which costs RUB1200 and comes wtih 20GB worth of data.

Tele2

The fourth largest service provider in Russia is Tele2. Along with there SIM cards they offer: My Tele2 which costs RUB210 and comes with 5GB worth of data good for a month, MyTalk which costs RUB199 and comes with 2GB worth of data good for a month, 200 minutes of call and 50 text messages. MyOnline which costs RUB399 and comes with 12GB worth of data good for a month, 500 minutes of call and 50 text messages and MyOnline Plus which costs RUB799 and comes with 30GB worth of data good for a month, 1500 minutes of call and 50 text messages. You can also add 100MB worth of data valid for 1 day for RUB7 and 300MB worth of data for RUB20.

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Yota

Yota is the smallest service provider in Russia. They offer data only SIM cards and along it are these packages: for RUB50 you can use unlimited data at average to slow speed for a day. For RUB590 you can use unlimited data at average to slow speed for a 30 days and for RUB4500 you can use unlimited data at average to slow speed for a a year. They also offer two hours unlimited data at maximum speed for RUB50 and 24 hours unlimited data at maximum speed for RUB150
When it comes to coverage, the bigger service provider has a wider scope compared to the small ones. Though all service providers perform well in major cities but can vary from one region to another. There are also a few week spots especially in rural areas.

Where do I buy one?

It is encouraged to buy from there official stores that is located throughout the country especially in major cities.They also have authorized resellers of the products. Another option is to buy them online (both the SIM card and the packages). They are also available in corner stores and supermarkets but again, availing it in official stores will give you advantage as assistance is readily available.

Conclusion

Make sure you have your passport with when buying a SIM card in Russia as it essential for the transaction to go through. Compared to other service providers in other countries prepaid packages in Russia are limited and can get costly so make sure that what you get will cover all of your need for the trip.

Written by Gear Up To Travel

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