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Michael0512
18-06-2010, 13:42
Hi!

I have already searched the forum, but I didn't find an answer.

I am going to live in Moscow for 5 months, starting in July, and I would like to buy a prepaid card for my cell phone.

Someone wrote that Megafon, Beeline and MTS are the biggest companies who offer prepaid cards, but which one is the best? Or which of these do your recommend? (just for calls in Moscow)

Which is the cheapest and which has the best network coverage?

Thanks in advance for answering my question :)

Kind regards
Michael

AussieinMoscow
18-06-2010, 13:58
I am with Megaphone, and I haven't had any problems. Putting credit on your phone is super easy.
Coverage is fine, except for in my house. Although my service is fine in all the other buildings I have been in, so I'm guessing its just my house thats the issue.
Good luck :)

FatAndy
18-06-2010, 14:38
Aussie, I also have bad coverage of both Beeline and MTS in my home - because it is made of thick metal-beton. It is normal in such case, you should just speak at balcony or near the window or use call forward to landline phone.

Michael, if you will live in Moscow and and plan to communicate frequently with colleagues of same company just ask them about their operators. If 80% of them use MTS - take MTS. If Beeline - take Beeline. If Megafon - take Megafon. This way you'll make economy, because inside same mobile op calls are cheaper. Moreover, your company may supply you with corporate tariff + simcard.

If not - select by colour :D

Austrian flag contains red, white, black and yellow - red and white are MTS сolours (red egg on white or vice versa), black and yellow - Beeline (beeeeee, select them if you like buzzz and honey). If you belong to ecologically disturbed part of population or just like nature and quiet colours/flowers - take Megafon, they're green and blue.
As for me, for historical reasons I have basic Beeline and reserved MTS, no problems with both.

tvadim133
18-06-2010, 15:10
As for me I use MTC for ages (more than 10 years) without any problems even in the flat, though I live in the building like FatAndy described (though in the bath room or in the lift there is definitely a bad connection) :)

kapione
19-06-2010, 11:57
sure you can get prepaid cards everywhere, and there are so many terminals to add money too

some terminals say 0% but have a surcharge , some places do have 0% surcharge 0% fee
go directly to your providers shops you will get this zero charge benefit

there are dead zones with service for ALL carriers....
be careful of of hidden changes and hidden fees

Michael0512
19-06-2010, 17:37
to summarize: they are all the same, I can choose what I want, it makes no difference :) perfect! thanks for your fast responses! you guys are great!

and especially: thanks for the hint with the surcharges!

ReallyGreatConcerts
19-06-2010, 18:20
Another way to avoid surcharges is to make your payments through the "Elecsnet" network of payment terminals (you can find them in most places).

The opening screen gives you an option "Zapisnaya Knizhka", and you can set up a permanent shorthand account for all your electronic payments (mobile phone, internet, you can even pay your domestic telephone and local taxes). Remember to use a user-number and password-number you can memorise!

Provided you make a payment more than 200R each time, your payments will now be commission-free :) Works for ALL phone providers :) Saves you trekking to the office of the phone-provider concerned.. usually there's an Elecsnet terminal inside or near most metro stations :)

kapione
20-06-2010, 11:41
If you get a crazy over charge, call your provider , ask for an English speaking operator, have them explain the overcharge, and unless you signed a document that you agreed to change the service , they MUST return the overcharge to your account

MTS did this with my 2 numbers.... I was being charged 15 py each day for having "no caller ID/private number "status on a phone I use for emergencies....

I told them I never agreed to the change .... I was refunded this money

Michael0512
21-06-2010, 10:25
One more, probably stupid question, but I have to ask you because it's important:

I am planning to do a couple of trips to Peterburg and zolotoe kalzo (e.g. Jaroslavl, Vladimir, Zuzdal). The mentioned networks (Beeline, MTS, Megafon) also work outside Moscow, or?

tvadim133
21-06-2010, 10:54
One more, probably stupid question, but I have to ask you because it's important:

I am planning to do a couple of trips to Peterburg and zolotoe kalzo (e.g. Jaroslavl, Vladimir, Zuzdal). The mentioned networks (Beeline, MTS, Megafon) also work outside Moscow, or?

Yes, they are federal providers of cell phone connection (all over Russia).

You can be reached even in Kamchatka hills or at Baikal.

FatAndy
21-06-2010, 10:54
All of them are national-wide coverage (MTS and Beeline also work in Ukraine and Belarus', very probably other CIS countries too) ops. This doesn't mean if you jump with parachute into taiga near North Polar circle you'll immediately find the network. ;)

Also be informed that out of Moscow "home region" you'll get into regional roaming. And it is a bit more expensive. All operators have special options to switch on for costs decreasing if you are in regional or CIS roaming (for example Beeline has cutoff for 50% for in/out/sms for 15 rub/day abonent fee in Ukraine). Ask about them in operator' office or search at their websites.

To obtain guaranteed connection take two sim-cards of different ops - if no coverage for one, probably second will work.

Michael0512
21-06-2010, 11:04
It even works in other CIS countries? great!!!

"This doesn't mean if you jump with parachute into taiga near North Polar circle you'll immediately find the network." :D

FatAndy
21-06-2010, 11:42
Maybe Megafon also has CIS offices, I just don't know. Never had a need to check :)

Another note. If you buy prepaid contract in kiosk/underpass (like a lot of foreigners do to avoid a need to carry Russian person into mobile op office - it's easier to get official postpaid contract onto the name of Russian resident for bureaucracy reasons) - don't forget to put the equivalent sum of $50 (1500 rub) to switch on CIS roaming availability (to "open" roaming). At least it was so some time ago, consult operator office for details. They also can help you with those special options for decreasing costs in roaming, but if you don't speak Russian - ask local colleague or friend to help you or visit ops shops in the center of Moscow - there is more probability to find English-speaking person.

ReallyGreatConcerts
21-06-2010, 18:31
BUT you must have your provider switch the "national" and "international" roaming on for you. Don't assume your phone will work outside Moscow - it won't, unless you have been to their office in person (with your passport) to have roaming activated. It's a once-only visit, and then it is switched on forever :)

FatAndy
21-06-2010, 18:49
For Beeline and MTS roaming activation can be done via Svyaznoy shop, or I-ON shop, or Euroset - not obviously that own shop of operator. The same is if simcard is lost (phone stolen) etc.

ReallyGreatConcerts
21-06-2010, 19:22
For Beeline and MTS roaming activation can be done via Svyaznoy shop.

MTS told me that different rules apply to foreigners, and that I had to take my passport to one of their shops in person. They said it was something to do with the "prevention of terrorism", and was Govt ruling? That was four years ago, however.. maybe things have changed?

FatAndy
21-06-2010, 19:48
I'm not sure too... both of my contracts were made onto my Russian internal passport of course and in the moment of signing I did roaming activation. As of now they have description at their website:
http://www.mts.ru/coverage/i_roaming/howtoget/
Notice that personal visit is required only if you need to have data transfer roaming (3g/gprs), but for calls/sms there is possibility to activate roaming with sms, with ussd-request, via Internet-helper (with your PC connected to Internet) or via Mobile helper (calls to 111 short number, then going via menu) - for selected tariff plans though, most of them are prepaid ones.

mistygris
21-06-2010, 19:59
Maybe Megafon also has CIS offices, I just don't know. Never had a need to check :).

megafon was working when i was in riga. probably it works in ukraine too....

Michael0512
22-06-2010, 10:47
"Ja otschen plocha gavarju po russki" :D
So, I think I will need help to work that out. Sounds a little bit difficult to explain them in the office to "turn on"/ to acitvate roaming (for me ;) )

Thanks for the advice with "national roaming" and "international roaming"!

FatAndy
22-06-2010, 12:23
2 Michael0512:
Ja otschen plocha gavarju po russki" - it will be your own problem (popular proverb in Moscow). The city is not intended to help foreigners (locals too though). They should accomodate themselves, and, having flexible nervous system and a portion of optimism, you can do it.
So you have room to grow and definitely need to have language practice - in language courses (there are some threads about MSU, Pushkin Institute and RUDN, make search) or with girlfriend who wants to learn German (or English).

As a start point you can visit Beeline office at beginning of Arbat (special souvenir street for foreigners :D) - they should have Eng speaking personnel - or MTS office just opposite Russian Foreign Ministry, across Sadovoe Kol'tso, it's close to end of Arbat street - they should have too.

National roaming is usually switched on always... the point is to enable those options which can (not obviously do! as you will think that everything is cheap and thus will speak more) decrease your costs in regions.

Michael0512
23-06-2010, 10:02
2 Michael0512:
Ja otschen plocha gavarju po russki" - it will be your own problem (popular proverb in Moscow). The city is not intended to help foreigners (locals too though). They should accomodate themselves, and, having flexible nervous system and a portion of optimism, you can do it.
So you have room to grow and definitely need to have language practice - in language courses (there are some threads about MSU, Pushkin Institute and RUDN, make search) or with girlfriend who wants to learn German (or English).
[...]

My Russian is not that bad and I am going to stay at the Pushkin institute in July (russian intensive course) before I start working. There is only one problem: my active vocabulary isn't really big...(I know the grammer and basic vocabs - a few hundred, but probably not enough at all to survive the first day in Moscow)

FatAndy
23-06-2010, 10:58
I can give you only one advice - language immersion (when nobody around speaks Eng/Deu) so you're forced to extend Russian volens-nolens.

Michael0512
23-06-2010, 11:03
yeah thats true! I will be in this position outside the office. As far as I know: everyone speaks English at work...which is good, but doesnt really help me on the long run

but I am going to live at an apartment where no-one speaks another language than russian - it is going to be challenging, but awesome! :)

tvadim133
23-06-2010, 11:51
Do not worry much!

People (young) who are from 17 y.o. up to 30 y.o (even a bit older like 40, though they just think they are young :) ) can speak English.

I do not mean you will be able to discuss serious topics with them, but at least they will help you with basic information like "what is the best direction to" or "how much does it cost".

Cooldude
23-06-2010, 13:27
It even works in other CIS countries? great!!!

"This doesn't mean if you jump with parachute into taiga near North Polar circle you'll immediately find the network." :D

You'd be lucky if they have no coverage there, 'cause if they do their roaming charges will be just insane!

My advice: if you go to St Pete get a local number there, the cost is around 50-100 rbl with up to 100% of this amount being credited to your account.

In Moscow I have all the three big ones, megafon being my#1. I've had it for a while and am quite happy with the service, but when it comes to going out of town Megafon is an absolute rip-off! The other two seem to be a bit easier on that or simply have other ways of squeezing cash out of you.

Michael0512
23-06-2010, 21:32
["...simply have other ways of squeezing cash out of you."]
:D nice! :)
how does it work out for you having 4 phone numbers?


["what is the best direction to" or "how much does it cost"]
you wont believe it, but I can say that :) (in russian)

Cooldude
24-06-2010, 17:17
["...simply have other ways of squeezing cash out of you."]
:D nice! :)
how does it work out for you having 4 phone numbers?


["what is the best direction to" or "how much does it cost"]
you wont believe it, but I can say that :) (in russian)

Oh, it works just fine.
My #1 number has a flat-fee unlimited airtime plan, the others are prepaid and used as backup/travel/roaming/ etc. numbers.

Well, megafon loves roaming charges, the other two are cheaper in roaming, but once in a while try to sign me up for some nonsence service claiming it to be free. The catch is usually in the initial free period - once it expires you need to cancel the service to avoid charges. That's a pretty common trick with cellular operators. So, if you get a text message like: we've activated a free ringtone selection service on your account make sure you cancel it byfor they start charging you, unless you want to use it of course.......

:D