Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Uruguay Guide

Uruguay is an exciting destination in South America. It may not be the cheapest country in this region, but it is certainly one of the most developed ones and a safe one.

Besides its lovely cuisine, going to the beaches in Montevideo is something you have to do. You can also find a lovely beach in Punta del Este called Mansa Beach. Go to Cabo Polonio if you want to find sea lions. As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Uruguay.

What you may not want to do, however, is to roam with your provider in Uruguay. Roaming can be expensive depending on the conditions of your provider, which is why many travelers who tour around South America like to buy South American local SIM cards, including one in Uruguay. In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Uruguay. Let's go.

Telecom Providers in Uruguay

Uruguay has 3 telecom providers: Antel, Movistar Uruguay, and Claro Uruguay. Antel is stated-owned and is the largest provider with the best coverage, followed by Movistar Uruguay and Claro Uruguay.

All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. 4G/LTE can mainly be found in Montevideo and other cities and towns.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Uruguay? If you want to buy a SIM card in Uruguay, I would recommend going with Antel because they have the best coverage in the country. If you are on a budget and staying near the bigger cities and towns, then Claro Uruguay could be a cheaper option.

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Just like many countries in South America, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card. In the past, your phone had to be declared to customs, but that is no longer the case. The same counts for giving your local address. Nowadays, buying a SIM card in Uruguay is straightforward and easy, especially if you speak Spanish.

With that out of the way, let’s see what Uruguay 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!

Video Guide for Buying a SIM Card in Uruguay

Want to watch the video version of this Uruguay local SIM card guide? You bet! Check the video down below, and make sure to subscribe!

Antel

Antel Logo

Antel is a state-owned company with around 3 million subscribers. The company also has the best coverage in Uruguay, and customers can use their 4G/LTE network without a surcharge. Antel’s 3G network covers more than 90% of the population, while its 4G/LTE is still being expended.

Antel’s SIM card is called Chip Prepago, costs 65 UYU ($1.75), and comes with 200 UYU in credit. The SIM cards can be bought at Montevideo International Airport, Antel shops, or from authorized dealers. Top-up vouchers can be bought from many shops around the country, and each top up comes with benefits as listed below:

  • 50 UYU: 3 GB for 24 hours
  • 140 UYU: 700 MB for 30 days
  • 165 UYU: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 165 UYU:  1 GB for 30 days
  • 200 UYU: 1 GB for 60 days
  • 300 UYU: 1.5 GB for 90 days
  • 500 UYU: 2.5 GB for 120 days

You can also buy an Antel tourist SIM card at the airport or in Antel shops. The following options are available:

  • 150 UYU: 1 GB for 1 day
  • 1000 UYU: 40 GB for 7 days

Finally, you can also buy a 4G/LTE router. I do not remember how much data you get, but the price was around 3000 UYU for 40 GB or 50 GB.

Movistar Uruguay

Movistar Logo

Movistar Uruguay, just Movistar, is owned by a Spanish company called Telefonica. Telefónica has a large presence in the Americas. In Uruguay, Movistar is the second-largest operator with more than 1.7 million subscribers. Their coverage is decent, meaning that you will be fine with Movistar when staying in the bigger cities.

Movistar Prepago SIM cards are sold for 60 UYU in Movistar shops and from authorized dealers. Recharge cards are sold from 20 UYU to 1000 UYU. The following packs can be added:

  • 45 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 1 day
  • 105 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 5 day
  • 149 UYU: 5 GB daytime data and 12 GB nighttime data for 7 days
  • 175 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 10 day
  • 215 UYU: 3 GB, unlimited on-net calls and SMS, 25 domestic minutes, and 100 domestic SMS for 7 days
  • 215 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 15 day
  • 250 UYU: 15 GB daytime data and 30 GB nighttime data for 7 days
  • 315 UYU: 4 GB, unlimited on-net calls and SMS, 40 domestic minutes, and 150 domestic SMS for 7 days

UPDATE 2020: Movistar recently changed their data packages. Instead, you have the following options called Paquetes de Compra Puntual:

  • 120 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 5 days
  • 190 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 10 days
  • 230 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 15 days
  • 300 UYU: 3 GB and 100 on-net minutes for 20 days

If you need more data, consider one of these combo plans:

  • 169 UYU: 6 GB daytime, 12 GB nighttime, and 50 on-net minutes, all for 7 days (Dúo Semanal)
  • 179 UYU: 6 GB daytime, and 12 GB nighttime for 7 days
  • 235 UYU: 3 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, 25 off-net minutes, unlimited on-net SMS, 100 off-net SMS, all for 7 days (Preplan Super)*
  • 280 UYU: 12 GB daytime and 30 GB nighttime for 7 days
  • 335 UYU: 4 GB, unlimited on-net minutes, 40 off-net minutes, unlimited on-net SMS, 150 off-net SMS, all for 7 days (Preplan Ultra)

*Does auto-renew

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Claro Uruguay

Claro Logo

Claro Uruguay, just Claro, is Uruguay’s smallest operator with less than 1 million customers. Their coverage is not as extensive as Antel or Movistar, which is why they may not be suitable for travelers. They are, however, the cheapest operator in Uruguay.

Claro SIM cards are called Chip Claro Tajetero and are sold for 40 UYU. They can be bought in many Claro stores or kiosks. Top-up vouchers are sold from 20 UYU to 300 UYU. If you top up with more than 200 UYU, you get 400 MB for free for 15 days. More data can be added with the packs listed below:

  • 40 UYU: 1 GB for 1 day
  • 90 UYU: 2 GB for 5 days
  • 100 UYU: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 110 UYU: 3 GB for 3 days
  • 120 UYU: 2 GB for 7 days
  • 150 UYU: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 190 UYU: 3 GB for 10 days
  • 220 UYU: 3 GB for 20 days

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Uruguay

Some travelers do not want to get an Uruguayan SIM card for various reasons. Some prefer to roam with their providers while others would prefer an international SIM card. Then we have those who like portable WIFI devices, and others who will connect to WIFI networks instead.

Roaming in Uruguay 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. If you use your phone in Uruguay without changing SIM cards, you would be roaming in Uruguay.

Roaming can be expensive. This person received an £8,348.41 data roaming bill. I also found out why roaming is so expensive. However, it does not always have to be costly.

Many providers offer roaming plans where you can roam for free in select destinations like Uruguay. Others may offer bundles that give you some minutes, SMS, and data. You also have providers that allow you to use your plan's allowance for a daily fee. Every carrier is different, so it is recommended to explore your roaming options before you go out and experience bill shock (which is not fun). Luckily, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers so that you do not have to.

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

You can also Roam As You Go, meaning that you will pay per minute, text, and MB. In most cases, this is not recommended, as these rates are insanely high (that is how people get bills in the thousands). There are some providers, however, that do have attractive Pay As You Go roaming rates. Do not get too excited, though, as the number of carriers that have decent standard roaming rates is rare.

International SIM Cards

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

There are many international SIM cards out there, such as OneSimCard and SIM cards from SimOptions. These SIM cards with the same as roaming with your provider, but the charges are often way less than actually roaming because they have been set up for international travel.

International SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. As in, not having to get numerous SIM cards, you will not use again, and being reachable on one number instead of multiple

International SIM cards are, however, more expensive than using a local SIM card, such as an Uruguayan one. On the other hand, they are often cheaper than roaming with your provider. International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or those who are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. If you are only visiting Uruguay, stick to a local SIM as discussed in this article.

If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my comparison post where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers.

Portable hotspots

Portable hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are devices small enough that they should fit into your pocket. These devices turn into your on-the-go WIFI hotspot while they connect to the cellular networks in the country.

There are many portable hotspots out there. Two reputable pocket WIFI companies I know are Skyroam (use coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ) and Vision Global Wireless. WIFI access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. Using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

A pocket WIFI device is ideal for those who are traveling with families or multiple individuals. This way, everyone can connect to the device and enjoy the WIFI network on the go. Some companies will charge you per GB while others will give you unlimited data. Be aware of the data restrictions of your device so that you will not receive a high bill after your travels.

Free WIFI connections

Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected: Free WIFI hotspots.

Although using WIFI hotspots may save you money, it may not be convenient as using a SIM card. First, you would have to find WIFI hotspots. Uruguay does not have many public hotspots around the country.

Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. I would recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to an unfamiliar network. The VPN will encrypt your data and will keep your data private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get yours today or find out more about NordVPN.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Uruguay

Getting a SIM card from Antel would do you well when considering an Uruguayan 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, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, and Suriname. 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 Uruguay

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

Book Your Accommodation for Uruguay

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

Get Your Travel Insurance for Uruguay

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 Uruguay, 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 currency of your destination 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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