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How to buy a local SIM-card

Cheap phone calls from Russia

Cheap phone calls
from Russia to homeland for tourists


1 Introduction

2 Local SIM – Megafon

3 Local SIM – MTS

4 Local SIM – BeeLine

5 What is cheaper – roaming services or Russian SIM?

6 Mobile internet + Skype (or any other messenger program)

7 Free WiFi internet + Skype (or any other messenger program)

8 Using stationary phone at your hotel


All the pages of our website are created by Russian journalists. We work hard to provide you with a most valuable and actual information. The English language is not native to us, and we misspell sometimes. If you catch sight of a mistake, then please will not throw tomatoes at us, and leave the comment with the description of the mistake. A comment may be left at the end of every page.

Most of tourists need to make calls home while travelling, but the roaming service is often too expensive. On this page we will tell you the ways to make calls cheaper. We Russians have a good experience in resolving the problem, and we will share the experience with our readers.

In the times of the Soviet Union it did not matter the price for international calls, because we needed a special KGB approval to make any call to any country of the West.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, state companies became monopolists at the market, and international calls from Russia were extremely expensive. One hour talking by phone with a USA interlocutor could cost an average monthly salary of a Russian employee. It was terrible.

Later, at the end of the 90s the cost of international calls started going down, and nowadays one minute of talking with USA cost 4 Russian rubles (0,08 USD). Tourists can also use all the services, and we will tell the way how.

Local SIM – Megafon

First, you need to buy a local SIM-card in Russia. Tariffs are different according to a mobile operator you choose. If you choose Megafon, then the international calls will be cheaper. Some prices you can find in the table below.

4 rubles6 rubles1 ruble11 rubles6 rubles14 rubles

If you did not find your country in the list, please write a comment at the end of this article. We will give you the price for your country.

You should remember the prices will be available only if you turn on the special service. You need to type *105*0081# on your phone or send an empty SMS to the number 0500981. We advise to wait 15-30 minutes, because this option needs time for activating. This option costs 60 rubles permanently and 2 rubles every day subscriber fee.

Local SIM – MTS

The MTS company is also has an option for cheap international calls. You need to send SMS with text “902” to number 111. After the option will turn on, the prices will be:

5 rubles10 rubles1,5 ruble10 rubles10 rubles25 rubles

As you see, the prices are worse than Megafon, but better than BeeLine (see below). Turning on this option will take 50 rubles out your balance.

Local SIM – BeeLine

If you bought a SIM-card from the BeeLine company, then we will advise to take it out of your smartphone and drop it into a trash can. The tariffs are awful, the service is bad, and it is better to buy MTS or Megafon.

15 rubles15 rubles15 ruble15 rubles15 rubles50 rubles

What is cheaper – roaming services or Russian SIM?

We are not able to answer the question, because we do not know your roaming prices. Maybe, your prices for roaming services are very cheap, and purchasing a Russian SIM-card will be useless for you. According our experience, such situation is rare. In most cases, buying a SIM card in Russia will save you money. If it is still expensive for you, then we have a few ideas.

Mobile internet + Skype (or any other messenger program)

If you buy a local Russian SIM-card, then you will have a mobile internet service. So, you can use the messaging programs - Skype, Viber, etc. Skype is the best idea for Russia, it is working well in our country, and many people here use it.

There is the best Skype tariff for travelers. It costs only 10,5 Euros, and you will have unlimited calls to most countries of the world. The tariff is called “Unlimited World”. We hope it is available at the moment you read this article.

There are some features of Russian mobile internet, you need to know about. The quality of mobile internet access service is not very good in Russia. If you talk by Skype, you should be ready for the bad connection. We recommend to stand on the place while talking.

Unfortunately, in Russia we often need to choose – to be mobile without internet or to have the internet access without being mobile.

Free WiFi internet + Skype (or any other messenger program)

If your hotel provides you with free WiFi, you can use it for calling with Skype or other messenger program. This is the cheapest method of calling to the homeland. If your friends also have the Skype program installed, then you can talk absolutely free. As for us the Russians, we usually use this unpaid way while traveling to other countries.

If you do not have internet access at the hotel, you can use any other free access service. There are many sources – Moscow subway, Russian McDonald's, some other restaurants, etc.

Using stationary phone at your hotel

This service can be cheap or expensive, it depends on the hotel. If the hotel has the direct contract with any international calls operator, and the automatic telephone system is tuned correctly, then the prices for calls to other countries will be similar to the mobile provider’s prices we wrote above.

But, this situation is rare. Usually, hotels do not care, and the calls are very expensive. In any way, we recommend to ask for the price-list at the reception desk, maybe you will be lucky.

We wish you cheap calls and good connection. Read other tips for tourists in Russia (see the link list below and on the left from any article text).

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Thank you for your valuable website.It helps m e really. I am from Egypt and i need to know the price of telephone to my country Egypt and the best company to buy from it the sim card Thanks in advance

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