The Comprehensive Guide to Ukrainian SIM Cards
I won’t beat around the push: Ukrainian SIM cards can be a complete pain in the ass. BUT, that’s why great sites like Ukraine Living exist.
Let’s start with the good things about the cell phone deal in Ukraine. First off, it’s cheap as hell. Less than $5 a month will get you all of the data, SMS, and calling that you’ll probably ever need. In addition, there’s no contracts, monthly charges, or anything. Just put your money in a machine and you’re good to go.
The bad things is that sometimes you just seem to get randomly switched to a new plan, and end up having to top off. It’s happened to me a couple of times—I was on a monthly plan, where I topped off and got my 2GB on the first of every month. Then, I’d randomly start running out of data ten days into the month, though I hadn’t used even close to that. I finally went into the store and they sorted it out, but it’s good to be aware of this scenario. Sometimes things just…get changed. I don’t have a solid explanation for this.
In any case, let’s break down the different carriers.
Guide to Ukrainian SIM Cards
Generally speaking, there are three companies that you can buy Ukrainian SIM cards from:
- lifecell—alternative name: life 🙂
- Vodafone—alternative name: MTC
- Kyivstar—alternative name: Київстар
IMPORTANT: It’s essential that you simply sign up at a store and make it clear you do not want a monthly contract. Look and ask for “PREPAID”. For this reason, the prices may vary a little bit from what you’ll pay for a month to month kind of contract.
On a final note, I definitely think paying cash is the way to go when it comes to Ukrainian SIM cards. The last thing you want is your credit card getting charged monthly and no one able to help you about it. Just pay cash and keep it simple.
This seems to be the most popular among expats. It’s owned by Turkcell, a Turkish cell phone company. You can expect everything to be readily available in English. Their plans are very reasonable, and the service is excellent.
The most up to date fees are available at this link.
With that being said, here’s a rough ballpark of the plan that’s probably idea for expats—it’s the “Smartphone 3G+ Tariff Plan”:
FIRST MONTH FREE1
|3G+ Internet||0.75 GB||2 GB||5 GB||8 GB|
|Minutes to other networks||30||100||200||350|
|Meloring||–||Free for 15 days after tariff activation/migration3|
|SMS within Ukraine||30||100||200||350|
|Price, UAH/30 days||40||60||100||150|
|Tariff plan migration||–||*404#||*405#||*406#|
Vodafone seems to be the most popular among the locals, though it varies from city to city. Here’s a breakdown of their prepaid tariffs. As always, make sure you check this in-store.
Kyivstar seems to be increasing in popularity and is an excellent choice for phone service in Ukraine. The screenshot below is for their plan that starts at 70 UAH (about $3 USD):
If you’ve got questions about any of this, just drop a comment below. It’s also not a terrible idea to get a local Ukrainian girl to help you out with this if it comes to it. Sometimes it can get to just be a hassle. Having a local speaker will usually clear everything up quite quickly.