USSD shortcodes to know for South Africa’s mobile networks

Mobile network customers who want to buy bundles, check their balances, or ensure they are not being charged for cell-based subscription services they don’t use can quickly do so by using shortcodes.

Many people are now buying their airtime or bundles through dedicated network mobile apps or third-party apps like those offered by banks.

This makes it less necessary to remember strings of USSD codes to recharge and query airtime and data. However, there are still some shortcodes that are useful to know in a pinch.

The Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) is a Global System for Mobile (GSM) protocol that has been around since 1997.

It allows users to enter a combination of numbers, asterisks, and hashes in their regular dialling app to execute various actions on their mobile network account.

Although GSM, which includes 2G and 3G technologies, is set to be shut down over the next few years, USSD can be supported on LTE and 5G.

If you know the shortcodes your mobile operator uses for the various services, then USSD is often the fastest option for managing your cellular plan.

It also does not require an Internet connection or consume mobile data. When you’ve run out of airtime or data, the right USSD code can be a lifesaver.

Other shortcode functions can include turning international roaming or WASP subscriptions on or off.

The tables below summarise the most important USSD shortcodes currently in use by Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C.

MTN’s list of shortcodes is more detailed because the operator offers an exhaustive list on its website, while the other networks only provide shortcodes for the main service sections.


Vodacom

USSD Code Description
*100# Airtime balance summary
*135# Master USSD menu
*120# Check WASP subscriptions
*#06# View your device IMEI
*111*501# View your MSISDN
*136*01*Recharge voucher PIN# Recharge Prepaid Airtime
*140#number# Please Call Me
*140*02*MSISDN# Request airtime from another user
*135# Send airtime to another user
*135# Change Tariff
*135*082# Airtime Advance

MTN

USSD Code Description
*136# Airtime balance summary
*136*0# Master USSD Menu
*135*5# Check WASP subscriptions
*#06# View your device IMEI
*123*888# View your MSISDN
*121*number# Please Call Me
*136*1# Detailed balances
*136*2# Buy data, voice, or SMS bundles
*136*3# Buy or send airtime to another user
*136*4# Change Tariff
*136*5# Check your account details
*136*10# Recharge balance with bank card
*135# International roaming and voicemail, SIM swap, RICA SIM card
*141*voucher number*cellphone number to be charged Recharge another prepaid number using a voucher
*127*number# Request reverse-charged call
*155# Check digital subscriptions
*136*5*6622# Out-of-bundle barring
*136*5*7852# Usage limit management

Cell C

USSD Code Description
*101# Airtime balance
*147# Master USSD menu
*133*1# Check WASP subscriptions
*#06# View your device IMEI
*147*100# View your device MSISDN
*102*Recharge voucher PIN# Recharge Prepaid Airtime
*111*recipient cellphone number# Please Call Me
*147*01*cellphone number of other user*amount# Request airtime from another user
*147*333*cellphone number to be recharged# Send airtime to another user
*147*8# Change Tariff

Telkom

USSD Code Description
*188# Airtime balance summary
*180# Master USSD menu
N/A Check WASP subscriptions
*#06# View your device IMEI
*1# View your device MSISDN
*188*Recharge voucher PIN# Recharge Prepaid Airtime
*140*number# Please Call Me
*180# Request airtime from another user
*180# Send airtime to another user
*180# Change Tariff

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USSD shortcodes to know for South Africa’s mobile networks