This is likely only a concern for you if you’ll be staying in Argentina for a prolonged period of time (i.e. longer than a month). Otherwise, you can simply check out my article on making international calls in Argentina using a calling card. However, if you will be staying here for a while, you’ll definitely want something either to keep in contact with the people you’re traveling with in Argentina, or with people you meet here. The question then becomes whether you should purchase some sort of international calling plan for your domestic cell phone, or just purchase a pay-as-you-go plan here.
What I Did
This question was easily answered for me, since I have Verizon and they don’t offer any type of international service. Because of this, I can’t offer you any real type of guidance over what the major differences are between an international cell phone and one purchased here, other than link you to some good resources. What I can and will talk about is what my experiences buying a cell phone here were, what the different carriers are, and then let you make the decision as to which one you want to buy.
So in Argentina, there are three major wireless carriers: Movistar, Personal and Claro. I can’t specifically tell you which one is the biggest, but my guess would be either Movistar or Claro. Personal is the wireless division of Argentina’s telecommunications hegemon “Telecom”, but you’ll likely see the most advertisements for Claro while you’re here (they actually have this deal where above most of the street signs they have a Claro advertisement and an arrow pointing in the direction of the nearest store).
As far as what you’re going to want to get, it’s likely going to be a pay-as-you–go service, unless you’re planning to stay here for longer than 2 years. To do the pay-as-you–go program, you either need to bring a cell phone with a SIM card slot, or purchase one here. What I will say is that I had a couple of friends that got cell phones before they came over here, and have had tons of difficulties getting them to work. Because of this, they just bought new ones here. In light of this, my recommendation is to just buy one while you’re here.
So Let’s Talk Price
As far as the initial cost for the phone, your cost will likely vary. I got mine for 150 pesos (pictured below), but I heard people on my program paying as little as 130 or as much as 200-220. It depends on the sophistication of the phone, but since you won’t be here for that long, just make sure it’s a good brand and something that will work (my experience has been that Samsung and Nokia make fantastic, sturdy phones that can resist a lot of abuse. LG…not so much).
As for the costs between the different carriers, my friends and I went to each of the different carriers and asked about price before we decided. One thing I will recommend: if you don’t speak Spanish very well, bring someone with you that does, since the process of buying and setting up a cell phone here can be a real headache if you don’t know what’s going on. The people are very nice, and you shouldn’t be too worried about getting ripped off, but I do say this because there is going to be a lot of dialogue, and you want to make sure you can communicate your desires and that you can understand the options being offered to you.
That being said, our experiences were that Movistar and Personal operate on the platform that it is relatively cheap to call within your network, but much more expensive out of it (i.e. for a Movistar phone to call another Movistar phone, it’s a real bargain. Same deal with texting). Claro works on a basis that it’s the same cost for in and out of your network, for both calling and texting. Because of this, the rate for out of your network is lower than Personal and Movistar with Claro, but the rate for in your network is higher.
Now as far as what you should pick, it’s relatively personal preference and what you think you’re going to need. We picked Claro, because we knew we were likely going to meet a lot of random people, and didn’t want to feel constrained if they ended up not being in our network. Also, Claro offers a lot of promotions, like if you buy a 30 peso card, it doubles automatically for you. That alone is an awesome deal right there. However, if you’re only buying a cell phone so you can keep in contact with your travel group as you tour around Argentina, ask at Personal about their deal with registering people together. They were offering us this deal where if three people registered at the same time, they could call each other for like 11 centavos (11/100 pesos) a minute (really, really cheap per minute here. For example, my Claro per minute is like 74-75 centavos per minute). It’s all up to you, really.
How Do I Add Minutes?
Like the international calling card, cards to add more pesos to your phone can be purchased at just about every kiosco. Make sure you ask them if there are any promotional ones, especially if it’s Claro. After you purchased them, peal away the scratch tape and find your pin, and then search in your phone’s contacts for the number to add more minutes. It’s really quite simple since you just enter in the code and you’re good.
As far as dividing up the costs when calling and sending texts, the way it works here is “caller pays”. In other word, when you receive texts and calls, it’s free for you and the person calling gets the tab. Thus, if you’re trying to even out the cost between a group of people, try and get it so that you trade off more or less in terms of who calls.
The Bottom Line
In general, you’ll find that Argentina’s level of technological prowess and sophistication when it comes to telecommunications and computing is a step or two behind the developed world. This can be evidenced in the relative scarcity of people yammering away on phones compared to the US, and the relatively high price per minute to call (texting is much cheaper here, and depending on your carrier in the US is likely cheaper here than there. Because of this, texting is the preferred method of communication).
Also, with the relatively high import taxes that Argentina exacts on imported goods, don’t be surprised if the new age techno gadget is much more expensive here, even when converted back to dollars. Everyone has cell phones and typically internet, it’s just the level of sophistication of the gadget and how often they can use it.
Edited by admin, 30 September 2008 - 07:22 AM.