Our editors independently research and rate the best products. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links on our site. Learn more

best sim card south america

The 7 Best South America SIM Cards in 2022 

Author: Anthony Lee

Phone & Tablet Expert

best south america sim card

Traveling to South America and looking for a Prepaid SIM Card? We will tell you how good the coverage in South America is, which providers you can choose from and where you can buy the cheapest SIM card for South America.

Table could not be displayed.

Are you looking for an alternative to SIM Cards? We compared the best Pocket WiFi’s.

Three - Pay As You Go Sim Card

Founded in Hong Kong, but mostly known for its operations in the United Kingdom, Three has evolved to be one of the major internet service providers around the world. Today, Three provides mobile internet service to more than 130 million customers. With the SIM Cards offered by the Three and the Go Roam program, you can browse through the internet in more than 70 countries worldwide. The full coverage can be found here.

No products found.

No products found.

Cellhire - South America Mobile Sim

Cellhire might be less known than the other companies mentioned here but they are the leading supplier during events (FIFA World Cup, Olympics, Tour de France and many more). With the headquarters in the United Kingdom and many across offices across the glove, Cellhire has itself established as a major internet provider. The South American SIM Cards offered by them provides a great value.

No products found.

No products found.

OneSimCard - International SIM Card for South America

When it comes to international SIM Cards, we definitely cannot overlook OneSimCard. This international mobile service providers offered Prepaid SIM Cards for more than 200 countries worldwide. They allow free incoming calls from 162 countries. So if you need to enjoy mobile data service in South America and would like to be able to receive calls, then OneSimCard is the right choice for you!

No products found.

No products found.

KeepGo - Free Roaming SIM Card for South America

You may have not heard about KeepGo before but this company is an official partner of Vodafone, Telefonica and AT&T.  The SIM Card provided by KeepGo is valid forever – without any contract! If you need to use internet in South America, you simply upload some credit and off you go. It is the most convenient option available if you are traveling to South America several times per year.

No products found.

FAQ - SIM Card South America

Why get a SIM Card for South America?

The problem: When connecting to a foreign cell phone network – so-called roaming – very high roaming charges of several dollars per minute may be incurred.

There are several options for travelers to avoid this cost trap: Either you look at mobile operators for suitable international packages, buy a local SIM card on site, or order a special prepaid card online for the holiday destination. Dedicated SIM cards are often cheaper but are linked to a specific provider. The international SIM Cards are available with different data volumes, with and without calls or text messages.

Mobile phone reception in cities and popular destinations in South America

In large cities and metropolitan areas such as Sao Paolo, Santiago de Chile, Lima, Bogota, Rio or Buenos Aires the quality and signal strength of the mobile telephone network is comparable to that of major European cities. Certain restrictions only exist in unofficial poor areas, which at times have not (yet) been connected to the internet network. Nonetheless, many popular holiday destinations do provide a good internet connection. For example, despite its remote location, even the ruined city of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes now has a large number of cell phone connections.

The situation is different when you stay in certain areas, which are largely undeveloped. There is no infrastructure over great distances – these include, for example, the Uyuni Salare on the Chilean-Bolivian border, the Atacama Desert, large parts of Patagonia including the Torres del Paine and visits to the inner Amazon or islands in the Galapagos Archipelago.

Mobile Providers in South America

Unlike in Europe or the USA, prices hardly vary between providers. It is best to buy from the respective market leader. It not only has the best network coverage but also the most users. Calls, if you have to make any, are cheaper within the respective network than to users of other providers.

In large parts of South America, particularly along the Pacific coast, three companies provide the majority of the infrastructure. Claro is a subsidiary of the Mexican group América Móvil and is active on the entire continent except for Bolivia, Venezuela, and Guiana.

Entel are (originally) state-owned companies that operate independently in Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina – the name is short for Empresa Nacional de Telecommunicaciones.

Finally, Movistar is a subsidiary of the Spanish Telefonica, which includes O2 and Vivo. It maintains a mobile network in all countries in South America except Guyana, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

Besides, there are other national providers in the individual countries such as the Chilean companies WOM and VTR or the TIM Brasil belonging to Telecom Italia. In Brazil, there are mainly four providers dominating the market: Claro, Vivo, TIM, and Oi.

Overview of the market leaders:

  • in Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador is Claro followed by Movistar.
  • in Peru Movistar in front of Claro
  • in Chile Movistar in front of Entel
  • Entel in Bolivia
  • in Uruguay Antel
  • in Paraguay Tigo.
  • In Brazil, four providers, Oi, TIM, Claro, and Vivo, share the market roughly equally and with the similarly good network coverage.

The spread of LTE

When LTE was introduced, many companies reserved it exclusively for customers with a premium tariff. In the meantime, however, this separation hardly exists anymore, so that inexpensive Prepaid SIM Cards now use the latest standard. The coverage in the cities of South America is very good and also surprisingly fast in many countries.

However, there is a problem in some cases with the compatibility with smartphones and other devices that are specially made for the European / USA market. With the GSM standard, only four frequency bands have to be supported to make the mobile phone usable almost anywhere in the world. With a so-called quad-band cell phone, you can also make calls in South America. In the area of ​​GSM, it is that only old cell phones do not work with all frequencies, so smartphones have no problems.

Things are different with LTE because dozens of different frequencies are used worldwide. A single smartphone does not usually support all of these frequencies. Best-known example: Older iPhones (before the iPhone 6), which were bought in the USA, could not broadcast in all German LTE networks, which led to frustration for some users. If you want to use the mobile Internet via LTE in South America, you can check the datasheet of your smartphone for the supported frequencies beforehand. If the connection does not work, smartphones automatically switch to the next lower standard – here UMTS.

Where to buy a SIM Card for South America?

We recommend purchasing a SIM Card online before you travel so you can avoid any time-consuming registration process.

Otherwise, you can get it immediately after arrival. Vendors’ stands can be found at most major airports in the arrivals hall or in the shops of the suppliers – they are practically on every corner. If you are traveling in a group, you can ask the tour guide for help, ask individual travelers at the reception of your hotel. Most providers also have a store locator on their website that shows you the closest shop. Additional credits are sold at street stalls, kiosks and drugstores – recognizable by the symbol of the provider.

4.7/5 - (46 votes)

Last product update on 2022-09-29 | Source: Amazon Affiliate