Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Chile Guide

Logos of Telecom Providers in Chile: WOM, Virgin Mobile, Entel, VTR Móvil, Claro, and Movistar

Chile is home to the driest desert on Earth called the Atacama Desert. It is also home to Easter Island, which has the most extensive cave systems in the world. Easter Island also has the famous moai statues.

There is so much to do in Chile that it is hard to make a selection. Santiago, the capital of Chile, has Plaza de Armas and Parque Metropolitano.

Viña del Mar is a beach city, but it also has Quinta Vergara Park. Puerto Montt is a port city with the Patagonian fjords. You certainly will not be bored when exploring Chile.

What also should not bore you is the risk of getting a high roaming bill because you decided to roam with your provider in Chile. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why seasoned travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, like Chilean ones.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Chile. Let's do this.

Telecom Providers in Chile

Chila has 4 telecom operators: Entel Chile, Movistar Chile, Claro Chile, and WOM. All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.

There are also 2 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) called Virgin Mobile Chile and VTR Móvil.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Chile? If you want to buy a SIM card in Chile, I would recommend going with either Entel or Movistar because both operators have extensive coverage throughout Chile and have high speeds.

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If you are concerned about speed, then Claro Chile can be an option because, according to OpenSignal, they have the fastest speeds in Chile.

Nowadays, you cannot buy prepaid SIM cards in official stores – they only deal with (postpaid) subscribers. Instead, you have to buy your SIM card at supermarkets, kiosks, or convenience stores.

Unlike most countries in South America, you do not have to show your passport when buying a Chilean SIM card.

As of 2017, everyone using a foreign phone and a Chilean SIM card has to register their IMEI with the national telecommunications regulator called Subtel. If you fail to register within 30 days, then your device will be blocked. If you are planning on using a Chilean SIM card for less than 30 days (or decide to roam with your provider), then you do not have to register your device. Anyone who wants to stay longer in Chile has to do so.

You can register your IMEI through this site – operators cannot do this for you. Everyone can register one device per year for free.

Chileans call SIM cards chips. Ask for a chip if they salesperson does not know what you are talking about when saying SIM card.

With that said, let’s see what Chile has to offer.

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!

Entel Chile

Entel Logo

Entel Chile, just Entel, used to be a state-owned company, but they have been privatized for a while. Together with Movistar, they have the most extensive coverage throughout Chile.

You can get an Entel SIM card, called Super Chip, for 3500 CLP ($4.30) in various supermarkets, kiosks, and convenience stores. Recharge stores can also be bought at these places too from 1000 CLP to 10 000 CLP.

If the store does not activate your Entel SIM card, then you have to call 301.

Depending on how much you top up, you will get a bonus:

  • 1000 CLP top-up: unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter for 3 days
  • 2000 CLP top-up: unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram for 7 days
  • 3000 CLP top-up: unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram for 7 days
  • 5000 CLP top-up: unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram for 15 days
  • 10 000 CLP top-up: unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify for 30 days

Entel has several SIM card plans, like Tarifas Antia and Carlos, but it does not matter which one you choose if you are only interested in data.

The following Entel packs, called bolsas prepago, are available:

  • 500 CLP: 100 MB for 3 days
  • 1000 CLP: 300 MB and 50 minutes for 3 days
  • 1000 CLP: 200 MB for 7 days
  • 2000 CLP: 2 GB for 2 days
  • 2000 CLP: 800 MB and 100 minutes for 7 days
  • 2000 CLP: unlimited data for 7 nights between 11 PM and 7 AM
  • 2500 CLP: 500 MB for 15 days
  • 3000 CLP: 1.5 GB and 150 minutes for 7 days
  • 5000 CLP: 3 GB and 200 minutes for 15 days
  • 5000 CLP: 1 GB for 30 days

You can activate an Entel package by dialing *119#, through the Entel app, or online.

You can also get one of the Entel unlimited voice and data packs called Prepower:

  • 900 CLP: unlimited calls and data for 1 day
  • 3300 CLP: unlimited calls and data for 4 days
  • 5300 CLP: unlimited calls and data for 7 days

Finally, you can get an Entel data-only SIM card called BAM Prepago, which is primarily aimed for tablets and routers. These data packs can be added:

  • 500 CLP: 150 MB for 1 hour
  • 1000 CLP: 500 MB for 3 hours
  • 2000 CLP: 1 GB for 24 hours
  • 5000 CLP: 2.5 GB for 7 days
  • 10 000 CLP: 5 GB for 15 days

These BAM Prepago packs can be activated online.

You can check your Entel balance by dialing *103#

Movistar Chile

Movistar Logo

Movistar Chile, just Movistar, is the main competitor of Entel. With extensive coverage and fast speeds, Movistar is a good option for those exploring Chile.

Movistar SIM cards are sold for 2000 CLP in various supermarkets. Recharge cards can be bought in supermarkets or convenience stores.

If the store does not activate your SIM card, then you have to call 103. It can take up to 24 hours before your SIM card will be activated, and you will get a text message once it is done.

The following Movistar combo packs, called PrePlan, can be bought. They come with unlimited Facebook (Messenger), Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter (excluding VoIP usage):

  • 2000 CLP: 2 GB and 200 minutes for 7 days
  • 3000 CLP: 2 GB and 300 minutes for 7 days
  • 7000 CLP: 5 GB and 350 minutes for 30 days

All Movistar PrePlan packages auto-renew if there is enough credit. You can activate a package by dialing *303# and selecting option 2. From there, select the package of choice. You can also activate a plan online.

You can also get a Movistar Bolsas Prepago plan, which does not auto-renew:

  • 500 CLP: 100 MB and 10 minutes for 1 day
  • 1000 CLP: 300 MB and 30 minutes for 3 days
  • 1300 CLP: unlimited data and calls for 1 day
  • 2000 CLP: 2 GB and 80 minutes for 2 days
  • 2500 CLP: unlimited data and calls for 2 days
  • 3000 CLP: 3 GB and 100 minutes for 3 days
  • 3300 CLP: unlimited data and calls for 3 days
  • 5300 CLP: unlimited data and calls for 8 days

You can activate a Movistar Bolsas Prepago plan by dialing *303# and selecting option 3. Except for the 5300 CPL plan – that one can only be activated on the Movistar app. All other plans can also be activated with the app. These plans also come with unlimited Facebook (Messenger), Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter (excluding VoIP usage).

Claro Chile

Claro Logo

Claro Chile, just Claro, is the third-largest operator in Chile. Their coverage is not as extensive as the ones of Entel and Movistar, but the coverage is still good.

You can buy a Carlo SIM card from 1000 CPL to 2500 CLP in supermarkets. I mention that range because some stores sell them at a discount, so you can look around for a promo if you feel like saving money. Recharge cards are sold in many establishments.

The following Claro combo packs, called Paquetes, can be bought:

  • 1000 CLP: 750 MB and 100 minutes for 3 days. Activation: text P1000 to 2020
  • 2000 CLP: 2 GB and 200 minutes for 7 days. Activation: text P2000 to 2020
  • 3000 CLP: 2 GB, 200 minutes, and 10 international minutes to select destinations for 5 days. Activation: text PLDI2 to 2020
  • 3000 CLP: 4 GB and 250 minutes for 10 days. Activation: text P3000 to 2020
  • 5000 CLP: 2 GB, 200 minutes, and 20 international minutes to select destinations for 15 days. Activation: text PLDI1 to 2020
  • 5000 CLP: 5 GB and 300 minutes for 15 days. Activation: text P5000 to 2020
  • 7000 CLP: 7 GB and 400 minutes for 30 days. Activation: text P7000 to 2020
  • 10 000 CLP: 9 GB and 500 minutes for 30 days. Activation: text P10000 to 2020

You can activate any of these Claro data packs, called Bolsas, that do not auto-renew:

  • 250 CPL: 75 MB for 1 day. Activation: text IM250 to 2020
  • 1000 CPL: 200 MB for 1 day. Activation: text IM500 to 2020
  • 1500 CPL: 1.5 GB and unlimited Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram (no VoIP) for 3 days. Activation: text IM1500 to 2020
  • 2500 CPL: 2.5 GB and unlimited Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram (no VoIP) for 3 days. Activation: text IM2500 to 2020
  • 4000 CPL: 3.5 GB and unlimited Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram (no VoIP) for 7 days. Activation: text IM4000 to 2020
  • 6000 CPL: 4.5 GB and unlimited Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram (no VoIP) for 7 days. Activation: text IM6000 to 2020

The select international call destinations are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The 5000 CPL plan includes Bolivia, Haiti, and Venezuela as well.

WOM

WOM Chile Logo

WOM is the smallest operator in Chile, but it is the cheapest operator. WOM realized that their coverage is still limited, so they have struck a deal with both Entel and Movistar that allows its customers to roam on Entel’s and Movistar’s networks if WOM has no coverage in the area (you have to enable data roaming for this to work).

WOM SIM cards are sold in various kiosks and markets for 2000 CPL. WOM SIM cards come with 150 MB, 20 minutes, and 2000 CPL credit.

Just like other operators, WOM gives certain bonuses depending on how much you top-up:

  • 1000 CPL – 2999 CPL top-up: 500 MB for 5 days and unlimited WhatsApp for 30 days
  • 3000 CPL – 2999 CPL top-up: 1 GB for 10 days and unlimited WhatsApp for 30 days
  • 5000 CPL – 2999 CPL top-up:  2 GB for 15 days and unlimited WhatsApp for 30 days
  • 7000 CPL or more top-up: 4 GB for 30 days and unlimited WhatsApp for 30 days

You can add one of the following WOM Bolsas, which are data packs (if you have noticed, all providers use Bolsas for their data packs):

  • 250 CPL: 75 MB for 1 day
  • 500 CPL: 150 MB for 3 days
  • 1000 CPL: 300 MB for 7 days
  • 2500 CPL: 1 GB for 15 days
  • 5000 CPL: 2 GB for 30 days
  • 7000 CPL: 3 GB for 30 days

You can activate your WOM data pack by dialing *103#.

There are also WOM unlimited data packs, called Bolsas Ilimitadas:

  • 3000 CPL: unlimited data for 3 days
  • 4500 CPL: unlimited data for 5 days
  • 8000 CPL: unlimited data for 10 days

Just like the regular Bolsas, you can activate these plans by dialing *103#.

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Virgin Mobile Chile

Virgin Mobile Logo

Virgin Mobile Chile, just Virgin Mobile, was Chile’s first MVNO. It uses the Movistar network, meaning that you will have great coverage throughout the country.

Virgin Mobile SIM cards are sold at Virgin Mobile stores and metro stations. There are 3 variants:

  • 2000 CPL: 2000 CPL in credit for 90 days (Chip con saldo – basic SIM)
  • 7000 CPL: 4 GB, 200 minutes, and 100 SMS for 30 days (Chip + Antiplan 4 GB)
  • 10 000 CPL: 10 GB, 300 minutes, and 200 SMS for 30 days (Chip + Antiplan 10 GB)

Once you have chosen your SIM card, you have to activate your SIM card online, or the salesperson can do that for you (if they have the time).

Virgin Mobile has several combo packs, called Planes sin contrato, which are all valid for 30 days:

  • 5000 CPL: 2 GB and 100 minutes 1
  • 7000 CPL: 4 GB and 200 minutes 2
  • 10 000 CPL: 10 GB and 300 minutes 2
  • 15 000 CPL: 18 GB and 400 minutes 2
  • 20 000 CPL: 25 GB and unlimited calls 2
  • 25 000 CPL: 30 GB and unlimited calls 2
  • 29 000 CPL: unlimited data and calls

1 includes unlimited Facebook and WhatsApp (no VoIP)

2 includes unlimited Facebook, WhatsApp (no VoIP), Instagram (not for the 10 000 CPL plan), Twitter, Spotify, and Apple Music

If you only need data, then Virgon Mobile data-only plans, Bolsas de datos, will be interesting. They come with unlimited Facebook and WhatsApp, but They can only be added online:

  • 250 CPL: 30 MB for 1 day
  • 1000 CPL: 150 MB for 1 day
  • 2000 CPL: 400 MB for 3 days
  • 3000 CPL: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 4000 CPL: 1.5 GB for 15 days

VTR Móvil

VTR Móvil Logo

Lastly, we have VTR Móvil, which is the mobile brand of VTR Globalcom – the largest cable TV operator and the 2nd largest broadband operator. VTR mainly targets its current customers with package deals, but travelers can buy VTR Móvil SIM cards too.

VTR Móvil uses the Movistar network, meaning that you will have great coverage throughout the country.

VTR Móvil SIM cards are sold for 5000 CPL in supermarkets and service stations. The SIM cards come with 5000 CPL in credit, which is valid for 60 days.

The following VTR Móvil data packs, called Tarifa Inicio, can be added:

  • 500 CPL: 75 MB for 3 days
  • 1000 CPL: 150 MB for 7 days
  • 2000 CPL: 200 MB for 30 days
  • 4000 CPL: 600 MB for 30 days

You can activate a VTR Móvil Tarifa Inicio by dialing *103#, selecting option 2, and pressing 3.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Chile

So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Chile. However, that is not the only way to be online in Chile I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.

Roaming in Chile 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 Avantel from Colombia, then you would be roaming with Avantel in Chile.

You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.

Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Chile, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Chile, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).

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

Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.

Using Free WIFI connections in Chile

This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.

First, you need to find hotspots in Chile. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.

In the case of Chile, you can find plenty of hotspots throughout the country.

Additionally, 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.

Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in Chile

Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows 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.

Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. 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.

I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.

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.

Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Chile

International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.

All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Chile. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.

International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many 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.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Chile

Getting a SIM card from Entel or Movistar would do you well when considering a Chilean 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 Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, 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 Chile

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

Book Your Accommodation for Chile

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 Chile. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Chilean hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Chile

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 Chile, 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 Chilean 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, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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