How to get local Argentinian mobile phone number in Argentina
To start with. Make sure your phone runs frequency used in Argentina. I think every phone made in last 5 years can be used worldwide so will be fine. Maybe the maxinum data speeds will vary. I can confirm that my Motorola Moto E gets fast mobile internet and my second phone Motorola Moro G catches only Edge here. Even the specifications looks almost the same.
Someone asked me: why do you need local numbet? Well. I probably don't really need it. But if I want to post to Instagram or check my email, or get a taxi in Buenos Aires using BA Taxi app or even find something in Google maps, I need internet. WiFi is not always available, and roaming to Argentina is really expensive. Plus I noticed that some of the mobile operators here are offering WhatsApp even when you run out of standard data allowance.
For some reason I decided to go with mobile network provider Claro. Probably because I did see some billboards on my way from the airport to Buenos Aires. There are another two: Movistar and Personal. You can buy a chip (that's how the SIM card is called here) in almost every Kiosco (corner shop). I paid 45 pesos for Claro SIM chip with an Argentinian number. All the SIM cards are the multisize type, where you peel the SIM to size you need (normal, micro, nano). For the 45 pesos, there was zero credit on the card.
Once I inserted it into my smartphone, I got a message from Claro, that I need to activate my SIM. In order to activate and use it, I have to provide national ID (DNI) number. Activation is through dialling code *22#. They verify every number you enter with a national database so you can be trying for ages. Once I got a message that my DNI has already 5 top-up (recarga) chips activated and that is maximum allowed per person. I even registered through Claro website and created my account and topped up. No luck. I could receive text messages, but couldn't use internet and couldn't make calls.
So I went to the nearest Claro customer service shop. And was lucky with the shop assistant assigned to me. He could speak English a little. He needed my passport, my new number and did the activation. Asked how long I'll be staying in Argentina. Before me and my wife left, he also offered a second SIM chip for my wife. For 10 pesos only! The only difference was that he had to activate that one and assign a number to that one. So I recommend to go to a Claro shop or any other mobile operator shop instead of buying from Kiosco.
Top-up (recharging, buying credit) is then done from Kiosco. You need to say what company (Claro, Movistar, Personal), how much credit, and the number to recharge. Kiosco will charge additional fee (very little as maybe 5 pesos) for this service. Claro doesn't offer top-up through their website using a payment card. I don't know the other operators.
Internet packages for Claro:
From credit you have in your SIM you can purchase various types of data packages. You can do it through their website or download their app and through the app (for both, you need to register and verify your number via a text message). For example 50MB data are automatically deducted from your credit every 24 hours for 8 pesos. You can buy max 2GB for 10 days for 110 pesos. Also you can add one unlimited number to call and text to for free (this is 45 pesos I think). You can also register multiple numbers under one online account.
Internet speed is rubbish most of the time even in Buenos Aires. So I wouldn't bother to buy big data package.
- a SIM card is called chip
- the chip can be purchased in Kiosco for about 45 pesos (I don't recommend)
- every SIM chip has to be activated using ID (passport) and that can be done in the chosen customer service shop
- the chip can also be purchased directly in the operator's shop for 10 pesos (Claro) and activated straight away using your passport (better, less hassle)
- topup from Kiosco