Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Armenia Guide

Armenia is known for its capital city, Yerevan, where you can find the Republic Square, the Yerevan Cascade, and Zvartnots Cathedral. Besides the capital, you can also visit churches in Vagharshapat, temples in Garni, and a lake in Lake Sevan. As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Armenia.

What you may not want to do, however, is to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers want to buy an Armenian SIM card.

As Armenia is not part of the EU or EEA, EU citizens cannot roam for free in Armenia, which is why they should buy an Armenian SIM card too.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Armenia. Let's do this.

Telecom Providers in Armenia

Armenia has 3 telecom providers: VivaCell MTS, Beeline Armenia, and UCOM. All providers have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. Coverage with all Armenian providers is good throughout the country unless you go extremely far out.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Armenia? If you want to buy a SIM card in Armenia, I would recommend going with VivaCell MTS because they have the most extensive network. If you are on a budget, both Beeline Armenia and UCOM will be good candidates while having good coverage.

Like some countries in Europe, you do have to show your passport when buying an Armenian SIM card. However, the process is quick and straightforward.

Lastly, this is important for those with a European Union SIM card: Armenia is not part of the EU or EEA, which means that the Roam like Home rule does not apply in Armenia. Therefore, it is recommended that European citizens with EU SIM cards buy an Armenian SIM card instead of roaming with their providers. Some providers, however, offer free roaming in Armenia but this is not the case for all. Be sure to check your provider’s site to learn whether you can roam for free or not.

With that out of the way, let’s see what Armenia has to offer to us.

Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!

VivaCell MTS

VivaCell MTS Logo

VivaCell MTS is run by MTS Armenia and has the most subscribers in the country. They also have the best coverage and speed throughout Armenia, which is why I recommend them to most travelers. However, they are also the most expensive provider, but still cheap compared to (Western and Northern) European standards. 2G and 3G can be found almost everywhere, whereas 4G/LTE covers more than 50% of the population and is being expended to this day.

VivaCell MTS SIM cards can be bought for 1000 AMD ($2.10) in their stores. 100 AMD is the price for the SIM card, while 900 AMD is “given back” in credit. The SIM card is given for free when you immediately purchase a package. The following monthly combo packs are available:

  • 1500 AMD: 1 GB, 1500 on-net minutes, and 150 SMS
  • 2500 AMD: 2 GB, 2500 on-net minutes, 50 domestic minutes, and 250 SMS
  • 3500 AMD: 3 GB, 3500 on-net minutes, 100 domestic minutes, and 250 SMS
  • 5500 AMD: 5 GB, 5500 on-net minutes, 200 domestic minutes, and 250 SMS
  • 7500 AMD: 10 GB, 7500 on-net minutes, 350 domestic minutes, and 350 SMS

If you are only interested in data, then the following VivaCell MTS data packs can be added:

  • 100 AMD: 200 MB for 1 day
  • 150 AMD: 500 MB for 1 day

Beeline Armenia

Beeline Logo

Beeline Armenia, just Beeline, is run by Veon Armenia and is the second-largest operator in the country. They have good coverage, but it is not as extensive as the ones of VivaCell MTS. However, they are cheaper than VivaCell MTS, which is why they can be a good contender for those who are on a budget.

Beeline SIM cards are sold for 500 AMD, which comes with 400 AMD in credit, in Beeline stores. The following daily (24 hours) data packs can be added:

  • 90 AMD: 200 MB
  • 150 AMD: 500 MB

You can also purchase one of the monthly Beeline data packs:

  • 200 AMD: 50 MB
  • 600 AMD: 250 MB
  • 800 AMD: 500 MB
  • 1000 AMD: 1 GB
  • 2000 AMD: 2 GB
  • 2500 AMD: 3 GB
  • 3500 AMD: 6 GB
  • 6000 AMD: 10 GB

UCOM

UCOM logo

UCOM is the smallest operator in Armenia but still has good coverage throughout the country. 4G/LTE covers more than 65% of the population. UCOM SIM cards can be bought in UCOM stores, which come in three variants: U!Simple, U!Prepaid, and U!Daily. U!Prepaid is recommended is you are interested in one of the combo packs listed below. If you only need data, then it does not matter which card you choose. Although U!Daily has its own data packs (listed later).

The following monthly combo packs are available to U!Prepaid:

  • 1000 AMD: 100 MB and 100 SMS
  • 1500 AMD: 1 GB, 100 minutes, and 150 SMS
  • 2000 AMD: 1.5 GB, 150 minutes, and 200 SMS
  • 3000 AMD: 3 GB, 200 minutes, and 300 SMS

These UCOM data packs can be added to both U!Simple and U!Prepaid:

  • 100 AMD: 300 MB for 1 day
  • 750 AMD: 500 MB for 30 days
  • 1000 AMD: 1 GB for 30 days
  • 1500 AMD: 2 GB for 30 days
  • 5000 AMD: 10 GB for 30 days

Finally, you have data packs for U!Daily, which cannot be added to U!Simple or U!Prepaid:

  • 250 AMD: 500 MB until midnight
  • 1000 AMD: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 1500 AMD: 2 GB for 15 days
  • 3000 AMD: 5 GB for 30 days

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Armenia

So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Armenia. However, that is not the only way to be online in Armenia I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.

Roaming in Armenia with Your Provider

Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Tcell from Tajikistan, then you would be roaming with Tcell in Armenia.

You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.

Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Armenia, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Armenia, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).

No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!

Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.

Using Free WIFI connections in Armenia

This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.

First, you need to find hotspots in Armenia. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.

In the case of Armenia, you can find plenty of hotspots, although not all of them are fast.

Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.

Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in Armenia

Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.

Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.

I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.

Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Armenia

International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.

All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Armenia. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.

International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. All countries in the Caucasus require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.

My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Armenia

Getting a SIM card from MegaCom would do you well when considering an Armenian SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.

Visiting other countries in the Caucasus? Check out my Caucasus SIM card buying guide, covering other nations in the Caucasus, such as Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia.

Visiting other places in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)? Check out my CIS SIM card buying guide, covering the CIS with nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

What about other places in Europe? My Europe SIM card buying guide covers all destinations in Europe, including those not part of the European Union/EEA, such as Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my SIM card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for Armenia

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Armenia. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Armenia drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Armenia

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Armenia. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in an Armenian hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Armenia

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Armenia, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the currency of your destination for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan due to the current pandemic and does not have any travel plans for after his stay in Taiwan.

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