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Buying recharge card in China

China SIM Card

by China Mobile

GSM 900

The prepaid SIM card for China with a world cell phone is the most convenient and economical solution for staying in touch while in China. All incoming calls while you travel China are no more than $.19 USD per minute (Only $.07 in Beijing), regardless of where they originate. Pay the local rate for local calls and use your cellular phone in China like you do at home. And unlike home, your China SIM card and cell phone service is prepaid so there is no need for a contract.

For more information please refer to the User guide that comes with your package.

China SIM Card (China Mobile) Highlights
($7.5 USD, 50  Yuan) starter airtime credit
A local cell phone number in China
SMS text messaging
No yearly contract, monthly charges or credit check

Please Note:
Your China SIM Card (China Mobile) will require a SIM-unlocked GSM 900 compatible international cell phone.

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 Activating Your Service

Your China service will provide you with a China cellular phone number which will be printed on an information card contained within the prepaid SIM card packaging. The number will start with a 1.

  • Travel to China
  • Be sure that the battery is adequately charged
  • Insert the China Mobile SIM card into the cell phone*
  • Turn on your cell phone
  • Enter PIN 1234 if requested^
  • You are now ready to make and receive calls

*You will need to snap out the thumbnail sized China SIM card along the perforated edge of its holder and then insert the SIM card into your international cell phone with the gold contacts of the SIM card facing the metal contacts of your international cellular phone.

^The PUK is only required to unblock your phone if you enter in a PIN code incorrectly 3 times using your China cell phone. Your phone may or may not prompt you for a PIN code. Follow your cell phone manual instructions to correctly use the PUK to unblock your cell phone.

**When calling overseas from the United States to your China cell phone, callers will need to dial 011 followed by country code 86 and your China cell phone number. To call abroad from your China cell phone simply dial 00 followed by the country code and phone number. For example to call Aerobile you would dial 0019192617889

Customer service for your China Mobile prepaid SIM card is available by dialing 14008200293

For emergencies while using your local China GSM SIM card in China please dial 112 from your cell phone.

 Airtime Rates (Standard rates; local operators provide further discounts like our Beijing and Shanghai cards)

Domestic Calls

Airtime Rate
Local Incoming Calls

YUAN 0.6 (US$0.09)
per minute

Long Distance Incoming Calls YUAN 1.19 (US$0.17)
per minute
Local Outgoing Calls YUAN 0.6 ($0.09 USD)
Long Distance Outgoing Calls YUAN 1.19 ($0.17 USD)

All rates are per minute.

SMS text messages are US$0.17 per message.

International Calls

All international outgoing calls using your China SIM card and cell phone with the exception of Taiwan are charged at a flat per minute rate with your China SIM card. All international incoming calls are charged at a flat of $0.19 USD per minute regardless of where a call originates.

Call Type Airtime Rate
All incoming Calls YUAN 1.19 ($0.17 USD)
per minute
Calls to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan YUAN 2.8 ($0.35 USD)
per minute
International with Direct Dial* YUAN 8.8 ($1.10 USD)
per minute
International with IP 17951** YUAN 5.4 ($0.67 USD)
per minute

*Standard direct dial calls are 00 + country code + phone number from your China cellular phone. As an example to call Aerobile from China you would dial 0019192617889.

**Like a standard call but add 17951. As an example to call Aerobile from China you would dial 179510019192617889. Your call will be routed using an IP over the internet and call quality may be affected.

SMS text messages are US$0.17 per message.

Roaming Calls (calls placed when traveling outside of the country)

Roaming is currently not available with your China service.

GPRS Data Rates (Wireless Internet)

GPRS is currently not available with your China service.

 Adding Airtime

You can conveniently add airtime credit to your China prepaid SIM card over the phone by caling 1 400 820 0293, between the hours of 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM (China Time).

To recharge manually, please

  • Purchase a China Mobile recharge card
  • Scratch off the protective layer to reveal your recharge voucher code
  • Dial 13800138000 from your mobile phone
  • Press 1 for English voice prompts
  • Press 1 to recharge your account
  • When prompted, enter the 18-digit recharge voucher code
  • The voice prompt will confirm your recharge
 Service Life

If you do not recharge your account within the initial activity period of 24 months, your China prepaid SIM card will expire and all remaining airtime credit will be forfeit. The service life of your China prepaid SIM card may be extended indefinitely by purchasing and recharging airtime which, depending on their denomination, will provide a service life extension and all subsequent airtime credit will be carried over into the next validity period.

Voucher Value Validity Period
RMB 50 ($6 USD)

90 days

RMB 100 ($12 USD) 180 days
RMB 300 ($38 USD) 360 days
RMB 500 ($60 USD) 360 days

If the remaining airtime credit on your China SIM card drops below RMB 10, 60 seconds after connecting a call you will hear a beep as a warning and/or the call will disconnect immediately if there is no value remaining. China mobile will not print out phone charges. Customers can only check their remaining value by calling 13800138000.

 More Information and Resources

Keeping in touch while in China can be very a frustrating and expensive experience without an international cell phone and China SIM card.

Sometimes a payphone takes coins (But how many is anybody's guess!!!), other times a proprietary calling card and still others only a credit card will do with accompanying instructions that would take a week to understand.

China cellular phone rentals can significantly cut down on the frustration of calling home while abroad but the airtime rates would bankrupt all but the thickest of wallets. Airtime rates for a China cell phone rental can typically start at $1.50 and may be as high as $2+/minute.

Think you got a deal on your world phone and plan on doing some international roaming? With international roaming charges the airtime rate you will pay is out of this world.

The China prepaid SIM chip is a quick and easy way to convert your existing world phone into a prepaid China cell phone for China and as discussed is more economical then a China cell phone rental. For your next assignment or vacation in China, this SIM chip (combined with an unlocked GSM World cell phone) helps you stay connected while avoiding those international roaming surcharges that always accompany your 'home' SIM card while abroad. We offer a growing selection of prepaid SIM Cards for other international destinations.

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