Best sim card in Armenia

Best sim card in Armenia

Getting yourself a sim card in Armenia is a great idea! Not only does it allow you to stay connected with your family and friends, but it also enables a whole range of extra convenience during your stay. Whether you want to use online maps on the go, call a taxi, or check the opening hours of a restaurant, an Armenian sim card on your mobile phone is the answer. Therefore, in this post, I’m going to compare three mobile service providers in our country. I’ll also attempt to answer the most common questions about getting a sim card in Armenia.

If this post proves to be helpful for you, please let me know on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips. I love hearing from my readers! Ok, so let’s jump into it!

International sim cards work just fine in Armenia, so if you are planning to use roaming while traveling here, you should not face any problem. Just connect to one of the local mobile operators – Viva MTS, Team Telecom Armenia or Ucom, and you’re all set. But let’s be honest, who really wants to pay for roaming? It can cost you a fortune!

Prepaid vs Postpaid sim cards in Armenia

Often I get asked about postpaid sim cards in Armenia and how getting one works here. I get it, postpaid sim cards from mobile operators over here often come with additional perks and benefits, which the prepaid cards don’t offer. So, it might be tempting for you to think that getting a postpaid sim card is the go-to move.  But, hold your horses!

In order to decide if you want to buy a prepaid or a postpaid card it is important to understand the difference between them. And the choice you make will largely depend on the purpose of your stay in Armenia. Surprised? Let me explain!

The main difference lies in when you pay for your package. For prepaid cards, you need to pay upfront by basically topping up your account credit. At the same time, in the case of postpaid sim cards, you pay based on an invoice that you receive at the end of each month. However, you can only get a postpaid sim card in Armenia if you sign a contract with one of the mobile operators here. And for that, you need to reside in Armenia and have some legal status here (e.g. temporary residence).

So, since the vast majority of my readers are only traveling in Armenia, the postpaid sim card option is off the table for you. Get yourself a prepaid sim card if you are visiting Armenia for just a couple of days or weeks. Luckily, as you’ll learn below, such prepaid sim cards offer data plans, calls and messages for very affordable prices.

Why do I recommend getting a prepaid sim card in Armenia?

Those of you who are visiting from the EU, are certainly very familiar with the convenience of traveling without even thinking about roaming. Well, our country is not in the EU, therefore the best way to stay connected while in Armenia is getting a local sim card.

I personally tried to just rely on public wifi, but I ended up running from one restaurant to another, and it proved to be quite inconvenient. Besides, as I wrote in my post about Uber alternatives in Armenia, when you call a cab in Armenia you’re better off if the driver can call you to clarify the address. That alone is an incentive significant enough for me to stay connected in Armenia.

Believe me, there is really no reason why you shouldn’t consider getting a local sim card. Imagine, Armenia is known for providing the cheapest mobile network services in the region. The rates are way cheaper than in Europe as well. Besides, I’m confident, that clerks at any service center around Armenia will do their best to make the setup process quick and pleasant for you.

Main mobile networks in Armenia

All in all, there are three mobile operators in Armenia with over 3.5 million users in total.

  • VIVA MTS (previously known as VIVA-cell)
  • Team Telecom Armenia (previously known as Beeline)
  • Ucom

The largest operator is VIVA MTS. It got renamed recently as a result of an acquisition by an international operator called MTS. This operator is followed by Team Telecom and Ucom. All three offer very decent service and coverage – the differences are really marginal.

Main mobile operators in Armenia

Network coverage in Armenia

All three operators provide 3G connection almost everywhere in Armenia, and 4G / LTE connection in major cities. The VIVA MTS coverage is the best, but the differences are not major.

Keep in mind, you might experience connectivity issues if you decide to go for a hike or if you end up in some remote village. But for the most part, especially in Yerevan, your mobile phone will be connected 24/7, without a doubt. Follow these links if you want to see interactive maps of mobile network coverage by VIVA MTS, Team Telecom, and Ucom.

Where to buy an Armenian sim card?

You can buy a sim card in one of the many service centers in Armenia. All three mobile operators generously sprinkled their service centers around the country, so finding one is not a problem. You can see a complete list of those stores on their websites – for VIVA MTS, Team Telecom and Ucom. Also, most post offices sell them, as well as some regular newsstands and kiosks (although I’ve never seen anybody buy a sim card from them). Honestly, I recommend sticking to service centers, because there are really plenty of them. And to help you with that, I’m linking some of the most centrally located service centers in Yerevan and Gyumri below.

In Yerevan (even at night):

  • VIVA MTS: 3, Amiryan street. (open daily 24/7)
  • Team Telecom: 3, Amiryan street. (open daily 09:00 – 24:00) – yep, it’s just next to VIVA MTS (also don’t get confused if you see Beeline on Google as sometimes they still call Team Telecom with the previous name)
  • Ucom: 1/2 Northern Ave. (Business Center “Nord”) (open daily 24/7)

In Gyumri:

Buying a sim card at the airport

You can also consider getting your sim card right after arrival, at the airport, if you are flying into Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan. All three operators have their stands at the airport, so you can easily choose one of them, get your sim card and have the clerk set it up and activate it. But keep in mind prices are much higher at the airport than outside of it. Otherwise, when you leave the airport and decide to purchase your local sim card somewhere in the city – the prices are the same everywhere.

Below are the pictures of those mobile operators’ kiosks at the airport so you can find them easily. You will see them and recognize that you’re at the right location 😉. All three are actually located close to each other and it will be hard to miss any of those. Without hesitating too much just approach VIVA MTS (arrival and luggage hall), Team Telecom (arrival hall) or Ucom (baggage reclaim area) and get information about their mobile plans. Find what you need and make your purchase from one! Easy! By the way, they all work every day round the clock so no rush 😉.

VIVA MTS mobile operator stand
VIVA MTS mobile operator stand
Team Telecom mobile operator stand (before rebranding)
Team Telecom mobile operator stand (before rebranding)
Ucom mobile operator stand
Ucom mobile operator stand

Regardless of where you buy your sim card in Armenia, you need to show your passport or an ID. So, bring it with you!

When you cannot use an Armenian sim card?

If you have one of those subscriptions with your mobile operator back at home, which prevents you from using any other sim card than theirs, you won’t be able to change your sim card. Typically, this is the case when you purchase a discounted phone from an operator and agree to use their services for a certain period of time (12 / 24 months usually). With those services, they simply block your phone, so that you cannot abandon that mobile operator.

But, honestly, living in Europe, the last time I came across this approach from a mobile operator was back in 2015. I think these days no mobile operator would block your phone in such a manner. They’d simply invoice you for the whole period of your contract duration, even if you stop using their services. So, most of you should be able to buy and use a local sim card when traveling in Armenia.

Tips for using your sim card in Armenia

Choose the right data plan

First things first, when you buy your sim card, choose the plan that meets your needs. Honestly, I believe most travelers mainly want to have internet access and to be able to make a call or two occasionally. So, I think the prepaid sim card with the cheapest plan would be the best choice for you in Armenia. If you exhaust the data, calls or allowance of messages included in your selected plan, then you just top up your credit and activate an additional package. It’s very cheap and easy to do, and later in this post you will learn how to do it.

You can see complete lists of different plans on the websites of these operators – VIVA MTS plans, Team Telecom plans and those for Ucom. Further down in this post I’m going to elaborate on my own recommendation – buying the cheapest prepaid sim card. So, stick around! 🙂

Buy the cheapest prepaid sim card

Luckily, all three mobile network operators offer prepaid sim card options. So, follow these 7 steps to buy a sim card in Armenia:

  1. Purchase your sim card in any service center.
  2. Choose the plan and different services you want to activate (you probably want an internet data package with minimum calls and messages included).
  3. Ask the clerk at the service center to insert your sim card into your phone and activate it.
  4. If your phone requires a sim card of a specific size, like micro or nano, they will cut it for you.
  5. Ask the clerk to set the auto-response menu of their call center to English for you.
  6. It’s ready, you can use your sim card anywhere in Armenia.
  7. Try to make a call or to use the Internet in order to check if your sim card is indeed activated.

How to check your account balance?

Why do you need to check your account balance from time to time? If you are an avid internet user, you might need to top up your sim card credit at a certain point. If you are using a prepaid sim card, in order to prolong a service or activate a new one, you need to make sure you have sufficient funds on your account. To check the funds in your account you simply need to dial the following number:

  • *888# for VIVA MTS
  • *102# for Team Telecom Armenia
  • *133# for Ucom

The balance notification will then pop-up as a message on your display.

Topping up your Armenian sim card account

There is a wide range of different ways how to top up your account if the funds on your sim card are too low:

  • Visit one of the service centers of your mobile operator in Armenia
  • Buy a scratch card with a top-up activation code at any supermarket (e.g. SAS, Yerevan CITY etc.)
  • Pay online on your mobile operator’s website
  • Top-up using a payment terminal, e.g. iDram, EasyPay, TelCell (these are everywhere in Armenia)
  • Find an ATM that supports ArCa payments (look for the logo with those 4 letters)
  • If all fails, go to the nearest post office!

Sim card in Armenia: price

The lowest price for a sim card in Armenia is 1000 AMD (2 EUR). This amount immediately appears on your mobile balance, hence it can be used to purchase mobile data services, for calls and messages. So, technically the sim card itself is free! This way, 1000 AMD is basically the minimum required spend.

But to be honest, with only 1000 AMD you can realistically get a data package, but won’t be able to make calls with it. And I strongly believe that being able to make or receive calls while in Armenia could significantly improve your experience here. So, let me show you a comparison between some of the most convenient and basic Armenian mobile plans that I think fit travelers the best. All these plans are active for 30 days, but you can top up your account and purchase additional packages as you go, if you want to.

PackageVIVA MTSTeam TelecomUcom
Internet3 GB3 GB6 GB
Outgoing local calls200 min*50 min**200 min
Messages (SMS)200150200
Extra calls to
Team Telecom Russia
No150 minNo
Includes calls
to Artsakh
YesYesYes
Includes calls to
Russia, the USA and Canada
YesNoNo
Free use of Whatsapp, Viber,
Messenger and Telegram
YesNoYes
Plan nameZ tariffSmart 1500 regionalLevel Up 1700
Price (AMD)180015001700
Price (EUR)4.063.393.84

* after 200 minutes allowance is exhausted VIVA MTS offers additional 10000 min of free calls within their network

** on top of this, Team Telecom offers an additional 10000 min of free calls within their network

International calls and roaming with an Armenian sim card

If you are planning to call abroad while in Armenia, depending on the destination country, the calling rates may vary. However, most prepaid packages offer calls at very affordable rates to Artsakh, Russia, the USA and Canada. For example VIVA MTS even includes calls to these countries into some of their standard packages, and counts them as local calls. You can also check detailed price-lists for international calls from your Armenian sim card following these links: VIVA MTS, Team and Ucom.

By the way, keep in mind that legally Artsakh is not part of Armenia, so if you plan to travel there, you’ll need to activate roaming on your Armenian sim card. Just ask the staff at the service center of your mobile operator to do that. The roaming rates for travelers who visit Artsakh with an Armenian sim card are typically the following:

Mobile service in roaming in ArtsakhRate
Mobile data usage 22 AMD / MB
Incoming calls15 AMD / min
Outgoing calls (locally)29 AMD / min
Outgoing calls (to Armenia)29 AMD / min
Outgoing calls (other than to Armenia)500 – 2000 AMD / min
Outgoing messages15 AMD

Internet: data-only sim card for travelers in Armenia

Even though I already presented you some of the sim card options, I understand that many of you only need data on your phone to browse the internet. For that, I selected some good Internet-only phone plans for you. Unless stated differently, in the table below you can see all three operators’ data-only plans that can be activated on your prepaid sim card. You can also find more information on their websites if you need: VIVA MTS, Team Telecom and Ucom.

VIVA MTSTeam TelecomUcom
+3GB
Price: 500 AMD
Activation: *888*1#
Mega 500+ (1000MB)
Price: 150 AMD/daily
Activation: *1500#
uDaily (1GB)
Price: 250 AMD/daily
Activation: get uDaily sim cards by visiting their service centers
+10GB
Price: 1000 AMD
Activation: *888*2#
Giga 2+1GB (3GB)
Price: 1000 AMD/monthly
Activation: *1102#
uDrift (10GB)
Price: 2900 AMD/monthly
Activation: *111*4#
+20GB
Price: 1500 AMD
Activation: *888*3#
Giga 5+1GB (6GB)
Price: 2000 AMD/monthly
Activation: *1105#
uDrift (30GB)
Price: 4900 AMD/monthly
Activation: *111*5#
+Unlim (unlimited internet)
Price: 3000 AMD
Activation: *406*1#
Giga 15GB
Price: 5000 AMD/monthly
Activation: *1115#

So, to summarize, here is my opinion. The best internet data-only sim card option in Armenia is a prepaid sim card from VIVA MTS with the “+20GB” data plan. It only costs 1500 AMD and with the 20GB internet data that it offers you can just pay once and forget about it for the rest of your stay. Assuming most travelers won’t spend more than 14 days in Armenia, 20GB should be more than enough.

Choosing a sim card in Armenia: practical example

So, let’s say you want to buy a sim card in Armenia because you are planning to spend a week here. You want to stay connected, but you also want to be able to call or send a message if you need to. Remember, Emmanuel from ArmeniaTravelTips.com recommended connecting with the driver over the phone when you call a taxi here. 🙂

Choose your plan and activate the sim card

So, you might choose the “Level Up 1700” from Ucom, which only costs 1700 AMD (3.84 EUR). It includes 6 GB of mobile data, 200 minutes of calls to all networks in Armenia, and even 200 messages. Great! So, you go to the nearest Ucom office with your passport or ID, and you purchase a sim card. You pay 1700 AMD, because you know this is the amount you need to activate the Level Up 1700 package. You ask the clerk to set it all up for you and then you make a brief call to check if your sim card really works. Done!

Top up your sim card balance

Let’s say you check your balance and you realize you’ve been way too active on Instagram and your initial data allowance is almost gone. Duuuh! 🙂 So, you’ll need to top up your account to purchase an extra data allowance and to be able to be connected while roaming around Armenia.

This is a simple task! You just find the nearest iDram payment terminal and top up your sim card balance by 1000 AMD. You are planning to spend 700 AMD to activate an extra 1 GB mobile data package, and you’ll keep the remaining 300 AMD on your account, just in case you need to make a call. The top up confirmation message pops up on your screen in a couple of minutes.

Activate an extra mobile data package

Now, when you fully exhaust your initial data plan, you’ll activate the extra 1 GB by dialing *200*3#. You will then immediately get a notification that you made a payment of 700 AMD from your balance and you now have 1 GB of data to use. That’s it!

Bonus option: Free sim with Yerevan Card

The Yerevan Card is really a lifesaver when it comes to the urgent need for Internet access. When you buy the Yerevan Card City Pass you get a bunch of benefits including free Internet of 200mb daily. I know it’s not a lot, but trust me, it’s enough for urgent situations. Yerevan is full of spots that offer free wifi and you can use that to save your mobile data. And at the end of the day, if you are on a budget this can be your absolute go-to 😉.

So, what is the best sim card in Armenia?

So, I hope this post helped you figure out how to choose and buy a sim card in Armenia. I think the best sim card for travelers in Armenia is the one that offers you the most connectivity for the lowest cost. From that perspective, I think the Ucom operator with its “Level Up 1700” is the most optimal option (6GB data, 200 minutes of calls, etc.) However, if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outside of the capital city, or any other major town in Armenia, maybe consider choosing one of the VIVA MTS plans with a prepaid sim since they offer a bit better coverage around the country.

If I managed to help you stay connected and broadcast your joyful pictures on social media, please let me know! For example, tweet or instagram your pictures to me with #ArmeniaTravelTips. Knowing that I can help visitors enjoy a convenient stay in Armenia is very fulfilling.

Featured image credit: Photo by Andrew Becks on Pixabay (edited)

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