Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Argentina Guide

Argentina is known for its world-class Argentinian steak. Besides that, their capital, Buenos Aires, has, as some say, European-styled landmarks. Torres del Paine National Park is a park you have to visit. Let's not forget about Ushuaia. As you can see, there are many things to do in Argentina.

What you may not want to do is to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many people want to buy an Argentinian SIM card when exploring Argentina. In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Argentina. Let's do this.

Telecom Providers in Argentina

Argentina has 3 telecom providers: Claro Argentina, Movistar Argentina, and Personal Argentina. All providers run 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. Although Claro Argentina is “the largest” operator in terms of subscribers. However, the market share between the providers is almost the same. 

Argentina has 2 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) called Fiber Corp. and Nuestro. You cannot get a prepaid SIM card from Fiber Corp. anymore, and Nuestro does not sell data packages, making both MVNOs unattractive for travelers. As a result, they will not be discussed in this article.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Argentina? If you want to buy a SIM card in Argentina, I would recommend going with Movistar if you are interested in high speed in the big cities. Claro if you want coverage in the most rural parts of Argentina. Or Personal for the best network performance.

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Do note that mobile data in Argentina is quite slow compared to other nations in South America. If 4G/LTE is available, then data speeds will be okay, but the 3G networks of all providers are slow compared to South American standards.

Like many countries in South America, you have to show your passport when buying an Argentinian SIM card.

If you are a WhatsApp fan, then it is good to know that using WhatsApp does not count towards your data allowance. Do note that voice and video calls are not “free” or “unlimited.”

Finally, Argentina has been experiencing hyperinflation over the past few years. As a result, the prices listed for SIM cards and packages in this article may have risen unexpectedly. I will try to keep the prices as up-to-date as possible.

Let’s see what Argentina 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!

Claro Argentina

Claro Logo

Claro Argentina, just Claro, is Argentina’s largest operator by a small margin. The operator has good coverage with their networks. Claro SIM cards are sold for max. 50 ARS (<$1) in Carlo stores and from vendors. Make sure to ask for a USIM card if you want to use Claro’s 4G/LTE network. Else, you will be limited to 2G and 3G only.

The following Claro data packs are available:

  • 25 ARS: 200 MB for 24 hours
  • 35 ARS: 500 MB for 2 days
  • 45 ARS: 1 GB for 24 hours
  • 70 ARS: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 80 ARS: 2 GB for 3 days
  • 110 ARS: 2 GB for 5 days
  • 140 ARS: 2 GB for 7 days
  • 170 ARS: 2 GB for 10 days
  • 190 ARS: 2 GB for 15 days 

Movistar Argentina

Movistar Logo

Movistar Argentina, just Movistar, has the best 4G/LTE coverage in Argentina. It covers more than 75% of the population. 4G/LTE can be found in all the capitals of Argentina’s provinces. Movistar SIM cards are sold for max. 50 ARS in Movistar stores. The following data packs are available:

  • 20 ARS: 200 MB for 1 day
  • 30 ARS: 1 GB for 1 day
  • 35 ARS: 2 GB for 1 day
  • 40 ARS: 2 GB for 2 days
  • 70 ARS: 2 GB for 3 days
  • 90 ARS: 2 GB for 5 days
  • 120 ARS: 2 GB for 7 days

If you are interested in combo packs, then the following weekly Movistar combo packs are available:

  • 60 ARS: 200 MB and 5 minutes
  • 80 ARS: 500 MB and 20 minutes
  • 100 ARS: 1 GB and 40 minutes
  • 120 ARS: 1.5 GB and 60 minutes
  • 180 ARS: 2 GB and 80 minutes
  • 330 ARS: 2 GB and 100 minutes (for 30 days)

Movistar also sells tourist SIM cards at Movistar stores. The following two packs are available for the tourist SIM card:

  • 110 ARS: 1.5 GB, 60 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 7 days
  • 300 ARS: 2 GB, 100 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 30 days
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Personal Argentina

Personal Logo

Personal Argentina, just Personal, has the best network performance in Argentina. Their 4G/LTE covers more than 75% of the population. Personal SIM cards are sold for max. 40 ARS and comes with 10 ARS in credit. The following data packs can be added:

  • 15 ARS: 50 MB until midnight (not a pack, default rate)
  • 20 ARS: 200 MB until midnight
  • 25 ARS: 200 MB for 1 day
  • 35 ARS: 1 GB for 1 day
  • 50 ARS: 500 MB for 3 days
  • 75 ARS: 2 GB for 3 days
  • 120 ARS: 2 GB for 7 days
  • 290 ARS: 2 GB for 30 days

You can also buy Personal’s tourist SIM card. You can buy this SIM in Personal stores, from authorized dealers, Ezeiza International Airport, and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. The Personal tourist SIM card costs 800 ARS and comes with 3 GB, 30 international minutes, and 100 domestic minutes.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Argentina

I have discussed the relevant providers in Argentina in this article because using an Argentinian SIM card would be much cheaper than roaming with your provider… in most cases. However, buying a local SIM card is not the only way to stay connected in Argentina. You can buy an international SIM card, use a mobile hotspot, or use free WIFI connections. Below, I will discuss the alternative options to use your phone in Argentina.

Roaming in Argentina 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 CNT from Ecuador, then you would be roaming with CNT in Ecuador.

The issue with roaming is that it can be expensive. There have been many horror stories where people had to pay thousands in roaming fees when coming back from their holidays, which is just a shame, in my opinion. However, roaming does not always have to be expensive, especially when visiting a neighboring country.

Many providers offer roaming plans. Some allow you to roam for free in Argentina, while others would offer you a roaming bundle with a set number of minutes, SMS, and data. Finally, several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee.

As you can see, there are many options out there, so be sure to explore the roaming options your provider has. Conveniently for you, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers (and many more to come) and discussed everything you need to know about roaming with your provider. If you are lucky, you may not even have to buy a SIM card in Argentina and can roam for free there.

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

One thing I would not recommend doing is to Roam As You Go. Just like prepaid cards where you can buy bundles or Pay As You Go (as in, charged per minute, SMS, or MB), Roaming As You Go can be insanely expensive (that is how people get expensive roaming bills). So far, there are a handful of providers I have reviewed that offer affordable Roam As You Go rates. But generally, avoid it. Get a roaming plan if you can or buy a SIM in Argentina.

Using an International SIM Card in Argentina

International SIM cards are cards that have been made for travelers so that they do not have to deal with roaming costs.

The number of international SIM card providers is too many to count, but international SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. A few providers I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.

They allow people to call you at one number instead of five in case you are exploring multiple countries in one trip. Moreover, you do not have to deal with multiple SIM cards you will never use again. In short, international SIM cards have been made for the international traveler in mind.

Although this sounds fabulous, international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Argentina. Some international SIM card providers charge ridiculous fees (sometimes, even more than roaming with your provider), while others offer awful service. It is, therefore, important to go with a reputable company so that you do not have to deal with surprised when traveling around the world.

On the other hand, international SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Most countries in South America 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.

Using Portable Hotspots (Pocket WIFI) in Argentina

Portable hotspots, also referred to mobile hotspots or pocket WIFI, are routers small enough to bring with you everywhere you go. They are portable, battery-powered wireless routers that allow 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.

Just like with the number of international SIM card providers, there are so many mobile hotspots out there that it is challenging to keep track of them all. Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers. 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.

The first time I used a portable hotspot was when I was in Bangkok, Thailand, with my dad. He uses the Dutch telecom provider called KPN, which does not let you roam for free in Thailand. I was with 3 Denmark (3 Danmark), which also did not allow me to roam for free. The router was offered for free by our Airbnb host. Let me tell you how convenient that thing was!

I do not remember the exact brand router we used, but we could connect our phones to it, explore Bangkok, and upload highlights of our trip on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp without the need of connecting to unsecure and slow connections in Thailand.

That is why I often recommend those who are traveling in groups or with families to consider getting a pocket WIFI device so that each individual does not need to buy a local SIM card and data packages. In some countries, the cost of getting a local SIM card or packages is so low that it is not even worth getting a mobile hotspot. In others, it could save you money.

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.

Connecting to Free WIFI Networks in Argentina

Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected in Argentina which is using free WIFI networks.

Using WIFI networks should not cost you any money (unless you are connecting to premium hotspots), which is why it is a popular option for travelers. Go to a local café, buy a coffee, connect to their WIFI, and post your pictures to Facebook or Instagram. Straightforward, right? Well, let’s see if that is indeed the case.

First, you need to find hotspots. In some regions, they are readily available. In others, you cannot find any, require you to give your personal details (for commercial purposes), are restricted for those who are a subscriber of an operator’s, or are so slow that you wished you never connected to them.

In the case of Argentina, you will find so many free hotspots that it may bother you. Of course, some of them are of high quality, while some are extremely slow.

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.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Argentina

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

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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 South America? Check out my South America SIM card buying guide, covering other South American countries, such as Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. 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 Argentina

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 Argentina. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Argentina drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Argentina

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 Argentina. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in an Argentinian hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Argentina

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 Argentina, 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 Argentine Peso 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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