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National Anthem

Basics[edit | edit source]

Argentina has 3 national operators:

  • Claro (by América Móvil)
  • Movistar (by Telefónica Spain)
  • Personal (by Telecom Argentina)

They three all have about the same market share. For being former state-owned company, Personal tends to have a better coverage in rural area but has very llimited prepaid plans compared to Movistar and Claro. In Buenos Aires area, Movistar has best coverage in Subte (subway) networks even in between stations (as of Jan. 2021). Although reliable free WiFi is available inside of each subway station,

2G and 3G is on 850 and 1900 MHz, so users from Europe and Asia need a "US-band" device. 4G/LTE is on AWS (1700/2100) MHz and B28 (700 APT).

Data speed is much improved in recent years especially in areas with 4G availability, although in rural area you still find coverage of 2G only, and spotty coverage indoor even in Buenos Aires. According to OpenSignal's country report, Personal has the best overall perfomance in the country, while Movistar has the best 4G coverage at somewhat lower speeds in 2016.

The first MVNOs started with Nuestro and Quam, now renamed in Tuenti móvil, but don't offer good data choices for visitors so far.

Regulations[edit | edit source]

Prepaid SIM cards were not registered until 2017. This has changed as operators need to verify and identify all mobile phone users via a central register with a view to reducing the trafficking of stolen handsets. The new rules require that the operators themselves must pay to 'develop, operate and manage' the register, which is being set after regulator Enacom ordered all mobile service providers to block equipment reported as lost or stolen.

Enacom has informed prepaid mobile phone users that they have until 18 October 2018 to register their SIM cards or face disconnection. Since May 2017 all prepaid users have been obliged to provide ID (such as passport) and register their details when buying a new SIM card.

Availability and recharges[edit | edit source]

All three operators offer prepaid SIM cards (called chips in Argentina) and given out free at their branded store or sold in hundreds of shops around the city for around AR$ 50. Keep in mind that the SIM card needs to be registered wity your ID before use. Therefore, it is recommended to go to the respected branded store/office with your passport as you can get free SIM card anyways. Only Claro allows you to register online by uploading passport image.

You can recharge your SIM at many kiosk, supermarket, drugstores in towns. Supermarket and drugstore chains recharge without comission, but small independent stores may charge you additional $5-10. You need to look for a sign saying 'cargo virtual' or orange/blue vending machines in kiosks. At these machines you need to enter your phone number and feed it with the bills of the amount you want to top-up. A small receipt slip is printed out and your balance is added instantly. All recharge is confirmed by a SMS. To top-up by credit card use the website of the provider. It may happen that the credit is not added immediatetly. In these cases keep the confirmation receipt and turn to a customer service hotline or store.

Note that all prices quoted in $ are in Argentine Peso (AR$), not US$. All prices now include all taxes. Due to expected hyperinflation in 2021, you can expect prices in AR$ to rise continously without prior notice.

Dialing rules[edit | edit source]

For calls and SMS Argentina has somewhat unusual dialing rules: Mobile phone numbers in Argentina are preceded by a two digit number, '15.' If you’re calling a mobile number from a landline, you’ll have to dial '15' first (add the area code before the '15' as necessary). However, if you’re calling a cell phone from another cell phone, you don’t need to dial '15'. Not to be confused with area code of Grand Buenos Aires '11.' When dialing an Argentine cell phone from another country, dial your international exit code, then 54, then 9, then the area code without the 0, then the number – leaving out the 15. It's confusing.

Mercosur roaming [edit | edit source]

The countries of the Mercosur Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay have agreed in 2019 to implement a "roam like at home" scheme similar to the EU. After this deal is approved by all local parliaments operators must not charge additional fees for roaming between the bloc’s member states, and must apply the same tariff conditions that apply in the user’s home state for local outgoing calls, SMS and data. As of January 2021 this agreement is not yet implemented.

Claro[edit | edit source]

Claro.jpg

Claro (formerly called CTI Movil) owned by Mexican América Móvil is still market leader by a small margin amd has good coverage: 2G 3G and 4G coverage maps. For 4G/LTE mainly band 4 on 1700 MHz is used.

Availability[edit | edit source]

You can buy prepaid SIMs (called chips) at Claro Customer Care Centers (shop locator), kiosks, pharmacies, service stations, supermarkets, any outlets or shops where you can see the logo of Claro.

Top-up with vouchers calles Tarjetas Prepagas sold everywhere by texting the voucher code to 444. Or do a virtual recharge available in many kiosks and supermarkets starting at $5. Check balance by *611#.

As a bonus for a top-up of $50 100 MB for 5 days, of $100 250 MB for 7 days or of $300 400 MB for 7 days are given out.

Activation[edit | edit source]

(The following procedure assumes the purchase of an unactivated Claro SIM card at a convenience store, and the customer is required to activate the line on his own.)

To activate the line, put the SIM card into the phone and turn it on. Note that the phone number that is printed on the package of the SIM card; it will be required during activation process..

The phone will start receiving a number of SMS messages. One of them will read as follows: "Si no tenes DNI argentino, te invitamos a completar el formulario que esta en claro.com.ar/simcheckin para activar tu linea con pasaporte." Which means that for users that do not have Argentine ID (ie. visitors), fill out the form on claro.com.ar/simcheckin to activate using passport information.

Go to the site http://claro.com.ar/simcheckin (the site is partially in English) and fill out the following information:

  • Phone number listed on the SIM card package
  • Passport number
  • Email address
  • Departure date (which date you are leaving Argentina)
  • Address while staying in Argentina
  • Photo of your passport information page
  • Photo of yourself (selfie) while holding the passport information page
  • Answer the CAPTCHA, which consists of a Spanish word and 8 icons; you need to select the icon that corresponds to the Spanish word. (Use Google Translate or ask a hotel staff for help.)

Once everything is entered and submitted, the site will display "Su mensaje ha sido recibido con el numero de caso / You message has been received with case number xxxxxx". If any of the information is incorrect, you will get a SMS in Spanish indicating what is missing, in which you will need to resubmit the form above.

Data rates[edit | edit source]

Default data is (0-24h per calendar day) flat of 50 MB for $20, beyond $0.18 per MB and free WhatsApp (no VoIP) in Plan prepago.

Data feature packs[edit | edit source]

The following data packages can be added:

Data Time Price Activation
1 GB 3 days $ 120 1GB3D
1 GB 7 days $ 170 1GB7D
1 GB 30 days $ 300 1GB30D
2 GB 7 days $ 250 2GB7D
2 GB 15 days $ 320 2GB15D
3 GB 20 days $ 390 3GB20D
4 GB 7 days $ 410 4GB7D
4 GB 30 days $ 550 4GB30D
6 GB 30 days $ 700 6GB30D

To activate text the code to 454 or select by *989#. Or login at simpe.claro.com.ar [1]

Roaming[edit | edit source]

To use in the USA, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Chile Claro has issued these two roaming packs with free WhatsApp included:

  • 300 MB for 7 days: $ 200; for activation text '300MB' to 252
  • 1 GB for 30 days: $500; for activation text '1GB' to 252

More info[edit | edit source]

Movistar[edit | edit source]

Movistar-0.jpg

Movistar is owned by Spanish Telefónica and still the No.2 in the country what customers are concerned. It has the widest 4G/LTE coverage in the country covering 68% of population in 2016 on bands 4 and 28. 4G service is available in more than 380 locations, including all 23 provincial capitals and the national capital.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Its prepaid SIM card called Chip is given out free in their shops and outlets.They are also often available from kiosks for around $50, but you still need to visit their shops to activate with a passport.

For recharges you will be awarded bonuses: For a $50 reload you get 50 MB, for $100 100 MB and for $200+ 500 MB all valid only for 1 day, plus 7 to 30 days unlimited call to Movistar, and free WhatsApp. Note these bonus are ´promotion´ and constantly changing.

To check balance, send any SMS to 444 or dia *444#

Default data rates[edit | edit source]

  • Plan Prepago: daily data pack at $ 20

Movistar has daily (0-24h per calendar day) 'flat' rates for prepaid called Internet Día including a 50 MB block that lasts until midnight. When you start using internet, you will be billed automatically for the first block and will receive a SMS saying “Ya estas navegando con INTERNET x DÍA PLUS! Tenes 50MB para navegar hasta las 0 hs por $20.

After you used up second 50 MB block, will get another SMS from 772 Alcanzaste los MB disponibles. Responde SI y recuperala x $20 cada 50 MB con Internet por dia Plus y segui navegando hasta las 0hs. Just reply SI to buy an additional block of 50 MB.

Data feature packs[edit | edit source]

Following data packages are offered:

Data Time Voice Social Media Price Activation
200 MB 1 day $ 45 D1MB
2 GB 2 days $ 100 D2GB
2 GB 3 days $ 140 D3GB
2 GB 5 days $ 180 D5GB
1 GB 7 days $ 140 INTERNET
2 GB 7 days 1 GB $ 200 D7GB
3 GB 10 days 1 GB $300 3GBD10
3 GB 30 days 1 GB $520 3GBD30
5 GB 30 days 5 GB $660 5GBD30
1.5 GB 7 days 60 mins $ 240 SUPER
2 GB 80 mins $ 265 ULTRA
2 GB 30 days 100 mins $ 600 MES

All packages come with free WhatsApp (no Voip). Social media includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

For activation text code to 2345 or subscribe at https://web.movistar.com.ar

Armá tu Pack

Movistar offers more flexible prepaid plan that you can choose any combination of the data amount of 350MB, 1, 2, 3 or 5GB, voice call to any carrier at 10, 100 or 200 minutes, and duration of 1, 3, 7, 10, 15 or 30 days. You can subscribe it at movistar website at https://web.movistar.com.ar

As there are so many choices, it is not possible list all plan here, but generally are better deals than data packages above. Remind you although this Arma tu Pack is advertised as only available at ¨Movistar app¨, which is not available from non-Argentine app store, you can still access it from its website above.

Tourist SIM[edit | edit source]

Movistar has two special packs that can be chosen by tourists (automatic renewal):

  • Week (for 7 days): $ 110, 1.5 GB (WhatsApp unlimited), 60 minutes to talk to domestic numbers, unlimited domestic SMS. To activate, text 'SUPER' to 1234.
  • Month (for 30 days): $ 300, 2 GB (WhatsApp unlimited), 100 minutes to talk to domestic numbers, unlimited domestic SMS. To activate, text 'MES' to 1234.

You can buy a SIM card at any kiosk or store. But to activate the SIM, you'll need an internet connection: you might follow "Movistar Argentina" on Facebook or @movistararg on Twitter, then send them a private message with the word "#NOMI". After, send them a photo of Passport or Mercosul DNI, a selfie with that document, a photo of SIM card, the address that you are going to stay and how long you plan to stay in Argentina.  

To activate the packs, send a free SMS with the word "SUPER" (week) or "MES" (month) to number 1234 or by app.

Roaming[edit | edit source]

On the their new promotion 'Roaming all inclusive' you can roam for US$ 7 per 24 hours in the Telefónica networks in Germany, the UK (both on O2), Brazil (on Vivo), Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela (all on Movistar) and in the United States with up to 200 MB and in most countries up to 4G speeds, before you will be throttled to 256 kbps. This option is automatically enabled when entering one of these countries and having a balance above US$ 7 in Peso.

More info[edit | edit source]

Personal[edit | edit source]

Personal.jpg


Although being only no.3 in the country OpenSignal gives it the best nationwide performance. Note that their customer service is not available in English. About 90% of the Buenos Aires metro system (called Subte) is covered by Personal's 4G/LTE. At the end of 2017 it has 71% coverage of population in over 1000 towns and cities.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Chips and recharges are given out free in their branded outlets and offices (shop locator). It is also sold in kiosks or shops at about $ 50, but to activate with foreign passport you need to visit one of their office.

Electronic top-ups ((carga virtual) are available in many kiosks and supermarkets. Check balance by *150#.

All recharge top-up amount gives 180 calendar day validity period from the moment recharging is completed.

Default data rates[edit | edit source]

  • Prepago: data $ 27 per day for 50 MB by default

On default plans they automatically charge you $27 each time you use data and keep charging you each time 50MB block is used up. It expires at each day at midnight.

Personal advertise unlimited use for WhatsApp according to how much money you top-up ($30-49 will give you 1 day, $50-99 will give you 5 days and >$200 will give you 30 days). The catch is actual free use is only after exausting data pack and credit money in your account. If you have a data pack, data used for WhatsApp is counted from the data pack. If you are on the default plan and have a credit in your account, they keep charging you $27 until credit becomes minus $50. Only after that, you can keep using WhatsApp free. Very deceptional.

Data feature packs[edit | edit source]

You can add these data packages:

Data Time Price Activation
1 GB 1 day $ 80 1GX1D
2 GB 3 days $ 140 2GX3D
2 GB 7 days $ 240 2GX7D

For activation text code to 152, or register at https//autogestion.personal.com.ar

Tourist SIM

In 2018 Personal has started to offer a tourist SIM card. The only plan costs $ 800 (with 30 days validity after activation/refill) and gives you 3 GB internet, unlimited WhatsApp use, 30 mins for international calls and 100 mins for domestic calls (website with Spanish, English and Portuguese language options: https://www.personal.com.ar/turista/).

The SIM card can be bought in Personal stores or authorized retailers, including at Ezeiza International Airport (Terminal A, ground floor) and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (ground floor). There, it's sold already activated.

If you buy it in a kiosk or drugstore, you need insert the Personal SIM in your device and connect to a WiFi network to contact Personal Argentina (follow on Facebook or Twitter ) and send them a private message with the hashtag "#NOMI". A customer service agent will guide you with the documentation to show. Have your ID or passport ready and wait for agent's confirmation.

Refills can be bought in kiosks, drugstores, retail stores, or online.

Once your balance account is refilled, send an SMS with the keyword "ARG" to 152. You will receive a text message confirmation. For balance account information, dial *150# (for free). For customer service dial *111 or contact them through Facebook or Twitter accounts.

More info[edit | edit source]

Fiber Corp. (formerly Nextel)[edit | edit source]

Nextel logo.jpg

Nextel was the 4th provider in Argentina with a rather limited coverage. In 2017 it was bought by Grupo Clarin and started a 4G/LTE-only network based on 900 and 2600 MHz frequencies (bands 7 and 8) which are not so usual. Because of their rather restricted coverage, they can't be recommended for travellers. The brand name Nextel was dropped and the network merged with Fiber Corp.

In 2017 they started their prepaid offer, but they seem to have discontinued their product line. Only existing customers can still use their old Nextel prepaid lines.

Nuestro[edit | edit source]

Nuestro.png

Nuestro was the first MVNO in the country at all. It uses the network of Personal (see above). SIM cards can be obtained in their shops (list). That's where you find their recharge vouchers of $20 or $30 too.

They have different plans called Hablemos Más or Tuyo. But they don't include data. In fact, they don't even sell data packages and data stays on all plans at a default rate of $0.005 per 5 KB.

Tuenti móvil (formerly Quam)[edit | edit source]

Tuenti móvil.jpg

Tuenti móvil (formerly called Quam) is the biggest MVNO in Argentina, started at the end of 2013 as a subsidiary by Telefónica. It targets primarily young people and uses the network of Movistar. But they are not recommended for foreigners. While you can buy the SIM at many newspaper kiosks only to find out that you can't register it.

As a foreigner without a valid Argentinian ID (= DNI), you won't be able to activate your SIM card. For registration an Argentinian DNI number is essential. That's why Tuenti Móvil is taken off the list at this time. Please report, if you have been able to register a SIM card as a foreigner and how you did it.

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