Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Guatemala Guide

Telecom Provider Logos in Guatemala: Claro, Tigo, and Movistar

Guatemala is home to many volcanoes, its rain forests, and many ancient Mayan sites. In Guatemala City, you can see Plaza Mayor. Antigua Guatemala has many churches to be seen, and Tilak is an ancient Mayan city with pyramid ruins. There is plenty of history to be seen in Guatemala.

What you may not want to do, however, is to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers want to buy local SIM cards so that they can enjoy local rates. In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Guatemala. Let’s go.

Telecom Providers in Guatemala

Guatemala has 3 telecom providers: Tigo Guatemala, Claro Guatemala, and Movistar Guatemala. All providers have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks throughout the country.

Guatemala also has one Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) called Tuenti Guatemala. It uses the Movistar network.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Guatemala? If you want to buy a SIM card in Guatemala, I would recommend going with Tigo if you want to have the best coverage throughout the country. If you are on a budget, then Movistar would be your best bet. Their coverage is “bad”, but they have the lowest rates.

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Just like many countries in Central America, you need to show your passport when buying a Guatemalan SIM card.

With that being said, let’s see what the three providers have 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!

Tigo Guatemala

Tigo Logo

Tigo Guatemala, just Tigo, has the most subscribers and has the best coverage in Guatemala. However, they are also the most expensive operator in this nation. 4G/LTE can be found in all major cities and in many towns too, as Tigo keeps developing its 4G/LTE network to this day.

Tigo SIM cards are sold for 50 GTQ ($6.50) in Tigo stores or from vendors. They come with 25 GTQ in credit and 200 MB. Recharge cards are sold from 10 GTQ to 100 GTQ in many stores throughout Guatemala.

The following Tigo data plans can be added. All plans come with unlimited WhatsApp chat (no VoIP):

  • 5 GTQ: 100 MB for 1 day
  • 10 GTQ: 500 MB for 1 day
  • 10 GTQ: 300 MB for 2 days
  • 15 GTQ: 500 MB for 3 days
  • 30 GTQ: 800 MB and unlimited Facebook for 7 days
  • 99 GTQ: 2 GB and unlimited Facebook for 30 days
  • 199 GTQ: 4 GB and unlimited Facebook for 30 days
  • 499 GTQ: 20 GB and unlimited Facebook for 30 days

Claro Guatemala

Claro Logo

Claro Guatemala, just Claro, competed with Tigo at lower prices. Their coverage is not as extensive as the one of Tigo. However, phones that have not been made for the American market (North-, Central, South America, and the Caribbean) will be better off with Claro because they use frequencies and bands that are being used in other parts of the world.

Claro SIM cards are sold for 25 GTQ and come with 150 MB, 30 SMS, and 30 GTQ in credit. Your first recharge of more than 10 GTQ will get your top-up quadrupled. For example, a 50 GTQ recharge will get you 200 GTQ in credit instead. Recharge vouchers are sold from 5 GTQ to 200 GTQ in many stores and online.

The following Claro packs can be added. All of them come with unlimited WhatsApp chat (no VoIP):

  • 5 GTQ: 100 MB for 1 day
  • 10 GTQ: 300 MB for 2 days
  • 15 GTQ: 500 MB for 3 days
  • 30 GTQ: 1 GB and unlimited Facebook for 7 days
  • 60 GTQ: 2 GB and unlimited Facebook and Instagram for 15 days
  • 100 GTQ: 3 GB and unlimited Facebook and Instagram for 30 days
  • 200 GTQ: 6 GB, unlimited Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for 30 days

Movistar Guatemala

Movistar Logo

Movistar Guatemala, just Movistar, is Guatemala’s smallest operator. They, however, have the lowest prices of them all, which is why they are recommended for those on a budget. Movistar does have the “worst” coverage, so you would be better off with Claro or Tigo if you want to explore rural Guatemala.

Movistar SIM cards are sold for 30 GTQ and come with 250 MB and 20 international minutes to the United States. The following data packs can be purchased, which all come with unlimited WhatsApp chat (No VoIP), Snapchat, and Instagram. Finally, you get the same equivalent in data for 4G/LTE usage: For example, the 20 GTQ plan comes with 700 MB. You will get 700 MB for free for 4G use, even though I will only mention 700 MB below:

  • 5 GTQ: 150 MB for 1 day
  • 10 GTQ: 400 MB for 2 days
  • 20 GTQ: 700 MB for 5 days
  • 30 GTQ: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 100 GTQ: 3 GB for 30 days
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Tuenti Guatemala

Tuenti Logo

Tuenti Guatemala, just Tuenti, is Guatemala’s only MVNO. They use the Movistar network, meaning that you will have the “worst” coverage in the country. You can get a Tuenti SIM card for free by visiting a Tuenti store and immediately buy a pack.

Tuenti top-up cards are sold in many stores throughout the country or online. Recharge vouchers are sold from 5 GTQ. The following monthly combo packs can be added, which all come with unlimited WhatsApp chat (no VoIP) and Voz Digital, which is Tuenti’s VoIP app:

  • 50 GTQ: 1.5 GB and 75 minutes
  • 75 GTQ: 3 GB and 100 minutes
  • 100 GTQ: 5 GB and 125 minutes

If you only want data, then the following data packs can be added. The same perks as with the combo packs apply to the data-only packs:

  • 8 GTQ: 250 MB for 3 days
  • 15 GTQ: 500 MB for 5 days
  • 25 GTQ: 1 GB for 10 days 

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Guatemala

Now you know everything about buying a SIM card in Guatemala, but what are your other options? Although buying a local SIM card is almost always the cheapest option, the cheapest option would be using free WIFI connections in Guatemala, but you can also roam with your provider in Guatemala, use an international SIM card in Guatemala, or use a mobile hotspot in Guatemala. Let’s see what our options are.

Using Free WIFI hotspots in Guatemala

Using something free is always better than paying for something. However, sometimes, free stuff may be of bad quality. Sure, you do not have to pay anything for using a free hotspot (unless you are required to purchase a beverage or meal at an establishment), but it may be a challenge to find a free hotspot. Moreover, the connection may be so slow that it is practically useless.

In the case of Guatemala, you can find many hotspots in the popular destinations. Finding hotspots in rural Guatemala will be a challenge.

Do note that public hotspots are unsecure. Hackers love to steal sensitive information on unprotected connections because it is apparently easy to do so. That is why I use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using a public hotspot, and I would encourage you to do so too.

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 NordVPN subscription now!

Roaming with Your Provider in Guatemala

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 Movistar Nicaragua, then you would be roaming with Movistar Nicaragua in Guatemala.

Roaming may be the most convenient way of using your phone abroad. You do not have to buy a new SIM card, which, in turn, means you do not have to swap SIM cards. As a result, your friends and family from home can easily reach you on your cell. With many providers, the only thing you need to do is to turn on the data roaming setting on your phone, and you are good to go.

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

Although roaming with your provider may be the most convenient way of staying connected in Guatemala, it can also be the most expensive option. There have been many horror stories where people have racked up roaming bills up in the thousands and even more than ten thousand.

Luckily, many providers have affordable roaming plans, allow you to roam for free in some destinations like Guatemala, or allow you to use your plan’s allowance in Guatemala. For example, with Virgin Mobile Canada, you can use your plan’s allowance for 12 Canadian dollars per day. This may be affordable in some destinations for a small number of days, but it will be expensive for prolonged periods.

If you are unsure about the roaming options of your provider, I have written many articles about roaming with various operators around the world. I analyze them in-depth and give you my advice on whether you should roam with your provider or not. If yes, I also state for how long you should roam to take the most advantage of the offer.

One thing that should be avoided at all costs is to Pay As You Go roaming where you pay per minute, SMS, or MB. This is how many people get expensive roaming bills because the roaming prices for data are usually extremely high.

If you want to roam, make sure to get a roaming plan. Unless your provider offers extremely low Pay As You Go roaming rates, which is only a handful of providers, then you can consider doing so. Furthermore, if your provider lets you roam for free in Guatemala, then you should go for it. Just note that your speeds will be lower as a roamer than if you were to buy a Guatemala SIM card.

Using an International SIM Card in Guatemala

International SIM cards are SIM cards that work internationally. Most SIM cards do work abroad, but then you have to roam with your provider. International SIM cards, however, let’s you use one SIM card in many destinations around the world for, often, the same price. This way, your friends and families can still reach out to you while traveling.

International SIM cards are, however, much more expensive than buying a local SIM card in many cases, but they are often cheaper than to roam with your provider. There are many international SIM card providers out there, but a few providers I can recommend are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.

International SIM cards are useful for those who frequently travel for leisure or for business. That way, everyone can reach you on one number instead of a handful of local numbers scattered around the world.

Moreover, many destinations in the world require you to register yourself before you can buy a local SIM card. In some countries, the process is quick, while others require much more of your time. Furthermore, the registration process may be cumbersome in countries.

Finally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some. It can be a challenge dealing with a salesperson who does not understand you. They may try and sell you the most expensive option out there. Luckily, you know the prices of SIM cards and packs in Guatemala, so you cannot be taken advantage of.

My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple destinations in one trip, 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 a Mobile Hotspot in Guatemala

A mobile hotspot 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.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Guatemala

Getting a SIM card from Tigo would do you well when considering a Guatemalan 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 Central America? Check out my Central America SIM card buying guide, covering other Central American countries, such as Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. 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 Guatemala

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

Book Your Accommodation for Guatemala

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

Get Your Travel Insurance for Guatemala

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 Guatemala, 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 the local currency 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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