Argentina has now 4 national operators:
- Claro (by América Móvil)
- Movistar (by Telefónica Spain)
- Personal (by Telecom Argentina)
- Nextel (on 4G/LTE only in a limited area)
They three all have about the same market share. Plans are pretty much alike for the three of them and the coverages are similar. 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 - being currently only used by Personal).
A fourth provider called Nextel was aquired by media conglomerate Grupo Clarin in 2017 and provides a 4G/LTE network based on 900 and 2500 MHz frequencies.
Generally data is pretty slow and 3G coverage variable, although they have greatly improved in areas with 4G availability. In Argentina WiFi is available almost everywhere. 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.
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 and register their details when buying a new SIM card.
Availability and rechargesEdit
All three operators offer prepaid SIM cards (called chips in Argentina) and can be bought in hundreds of shops around the city and public transports. They sell the chips typically at around AR$ 20.
The SIM card comes usually already activated. You can refill your SIM at automated vending machines or many shops in towns. You need to look for a sign saying 'cargo virtual' or orange 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. Then click confirm. A small receipt slip is printed out and your balance is added instantly. This is usually confirmed by a SMS. To top-up by credit card, go to a branded store or 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$), not US$. A special tax of 1% called ENARD (Ente Nacional de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo) must be added to all prices. Due to the high inflation at a rate of 40% in 2016, you can expect prices in AR$ to rise without prior notice.
For calls and SMS Argentina has somewhat unusual dialing rules: Mobile phone numbers in Argentina are always preceded by a two digit number, usually '15' or '11.' If you’re calling a mobile number from a landline, you’ll have to dial the two digit number (e.g. '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' and you also don't need to dial '15' to send SMS. 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.
All three operators have started in 2016/7 with zero-rated unlimited WhatsApp use for both prepaid and postpaid customers. The offers include text, audio and video messagesm, but doesn't include voice or video calls. Personal was the first local operator to launch a zero-rated WhatsApp offer in November 2016.
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.
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. For 4G/LTE you'll need an USIM card.
They sell different chips for smartphones, tablets and computers (modems). Start-up price for the SIM card is around $10-50.
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 promotion for a top-up of $40 50 MB for 7 days, of $50 100 MB for 10 days or of $100 250 MB for 10 days are given out.
Default data is (0-24h per calendar day) flat of 50 MB for $ 12, beyond $0.14 per MB and free WhatsApp (no VoIP) in Plan prepago tripilica.
Data feature packs Edit
The following data packages can be added:
|200 MB||24 hours||$ 15||200M1D|
|1 GB||24 hours||$ 30||1GB1D|
|1 GB||2 days||$ 40||1GB2D|
|2 GB||3 days||$ 65||2GB3D|
|2 GB||5 days||$ 90||2GB5D|
|2 GB||7 days||$ 110||2GB7D|
|2 GB||10 days||$ 135||2GB10D|
|2 GB||15 days||$ 150||2GB15D|
To activate text the code to 454 or select by *989#.
- APN: igprs.claro.com.ar
- Username: clarogprs
- Password: clarogprs999
- Website in Spanish: http://www.claro.com.ar/
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.
Chips and recharges are sold in their shops and outlets. They are also often available from kiosks for around $20-50 (though these are often re-used old numbers, which may include previous premium SMS subscriptions. Register on the Movistar site, so you can check that you are not losing credit).
For recharges you will be awarded bonuses: For a $50-80 reload you get $30 bonus and $100-180 gives you $80 bonus for the Multiplicate plan (see below). To check balance, send any SMS to 444.
Default data ratesEdit
- Plan Prepago: daily data pack at $ 12
Like Claro, 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 once per day for the first block and you will receive a SMS saying “Ya estas navegando con INTERNET x DÍA PLUS! Tenes 50MB para navegar hasta las 0 hs por $12.
When 50 MB is used up, you will get another SMS from 772 Alcanzaste los MB disponibles y se reducira la velocidad. Responde SI y recuperala x $12 cada 50 MB con Internet por dia Plus y segui navegando hasta las 0hs. Just reply SI to 772 to buy a new block of 50 MB.
If you don't add further blocks then you still have internet access for the remainder of the day, but at a reduced speed of 32 Kbps only.
Data feature packsEdit
Following data packages are offered:
|200 MB||1 day||$ 18||D1MB|
|1 GB||$ 25||D1GB|
|2 GB||$ 35|| only by
|2 GB||2 days||$ 45|
|2 GB||3 days||$ 60||D3GB|
|2 GB||5 days||$ 80||D5GB|
|2 GB||7 days||$ 100||D7GB|
|200 MB||7 days||5 mins||$ 50||SEMANA|
|500 MB||20 mins||$ 60||EXTRA|
|1 GB||40 mins||$ 90||PLUS|
|1.5 GB||60 mins||$ 110||SUPER|
|2 GB||80 mins||$ 160||ULTRA|
|2 GB||30 days||100 mins||$ 300||MES|
All packages come with free WhatsApp (no Voip). For activation text code to 1234.
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.
- APN: wap.gprs.unifon.com.ar
- Password and Username: wap
- Website in Spanish: http://www.movistar.com.ar/
Personal is the only Argentinian carrier so far that's using 4G/LTE band 28 on 700 MHz (not compatible to 700 MHz on US bands) and band 4 on 1700/2100 MHz (compatible to US bands) for 4G/LTE.
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.
Chips and recharges are sold in their shops and outlets (shop locator) at $ 20-40, and the same shops around the city that all other companies and come with $10 credit after activation.
Vouchers for top-ups calles Recargas Prepagas of $ 30, 40 or 50 or electronic top-ups in many kiosks and supermarkets. Check balance by *150#.
Default data ratesEdit
- Prepago: data $ 11 per day for 50 MB or $ 14 for 200 MB
Add 1% tax to all rates. On all three plans they sell you packs for a calendar day until midnight. When used up, you can buy another pack or will be throttled to 32 kbps.
At midnight, you get a text message like this, saying your 50 MB data plan has been renewed: Comenzaste a navegar, ya contas con 50MB hasta las 23:59hs. Se descontó 11 pesos final de tu crédito.
When your data runs out you get another message to extend the plan and get another 50 MB: Alcanzaste tu cuota de datos. Enviá SI al 152 para mantener tu velocidad de navegación por otros 50MB hasta las 23.59hs. Precio $11 final. You need to text 'SI' to 152 to purchase another 50 MB of data for $11.
It is now also possible to book daily packages of 200 MB for $14.99. To activate this simply text DOBLE to 152. Once consumed you can book more 200 MB packages by texting MAS to 152. To switch back to 50MB per day, text BAJADOBLE to 152.
Personal has now unlimited data for WhatsApp (messages, voice messages, photos and videos included) according to how much money you top-up ($30-49 will give you 1 day, $50-99 will give you 5 days and >$100 will give you 15 days)
Data feature packsEdit
You can add these data packages:
|200 MB||1 day||$ 15||INET1D|
|1 GB||$ 25||1GX1D|
|500 MB||3 days||$ 30||INET3D|
|2 GB||$ 50||2GX3D|
|1 GB||7 days||$ 60||INET7D|
|2 GB||$ 90||2GX7D|
|2 GB||30 days||$ 250||2GX30D|
All packages include unlimited WhatsApp (no VoIP). For activation text code to 152.
Tourist SIM Edit
In 2018 Personal has started to offer a tourist SIM card. The only plan costs $ 500 (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.
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 the 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.
- APN: datos.personal.com
- Username and Password: datos
- Website in Spanish: http://www.personal.com.ar/
Nextel is 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 so far for travellers.
In 2017 they started their prepaid offer that is only available in their stores (locator) within the coverage area: coverage map for $ 10. Top-ups can be made in kiosks, supermarkets or by credit card online. Credit stays valid only for 30 days. Check balance by *111.
Data options Edit
For data be sure to have a device capable of bands 7 and 8 in 4G/LTE. As default rate they offer an unlimited daily rate for $ 3.39. Two other options are available:
- unlimited for 3 days: $ 10 - to activate text "NAVEGA 3" to 663
- unlimited for 7 days: $ 20 - to activate text "NAVEGA 3" to 663
More info Edit
- APN is still unknown
- Website in Spanish: https://www.nextel.com.ar
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.
- APN: gprs.nuestro.com
- Username: gprs
- Password: adgj
- Website in Spanish: http://www.nuestro.com.ar/
Tuenti móvil (formerly Quam)Edit
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.