Calling Internationally in Argentina

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by Andrew Jarmon -- The Sane Investor

If you’re looking to travel to Argentina, you’re likely looking for a way to call back home while you’re abroad. Especially if you don’t speak very great Spanish or you’re not familiar with South America or Argentina, this is likely one of your greatest concerns. But have no fear! I’ve been living in Argentina for the past month, and I’ll let you in on all there is to know about staying in touch.

International Calls


So one thing that I think people typically concern themselves with before going abroad is figuring out some method of communicating back to their friends and family back home. This makes sense, since you likely want to be able to call back home and let everyone know you’re ok, or at least not dead, as soon as you arrive. However, if you’re going to be traveling to Buenos Aires, I’m going to give you some advice that might sound strange: don’t buy any sort of international calling card before you come over here!

I know, scary right? Going abroad without having any way to contact home? Before you totally freak out, let me explain. If you’re traveling from the United States or Europe, you’re likely very keen to the fact that both the Euro and the Dollar are relatively very strong to the Argentine Peso. However, if you were anything like me, you didn’t necessarily think that that would translate in to cheaper calling cards. I myself thought that it would be cheaper to purchase a calling card in the United States for calling the United States while abroad, rather than trying to find one here. But that didn’t work out, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that it didn’t.

So before I go too much further, let me tell you that buying phone cards while abroad in Argentina (at least Buenos Aires) is not only incredibly easy, it’s also really cheap. At almost every single kiosco (that’s what they call the little corner stores that are on almost every street) you’ll be able to buy an international phone card. As far as price, the highest they go is 10 pesos, which translates for me calling the United States to between 66-76 minutes (there’s one type of phone card that gives you the extra ten if you call from Buenos Aires. It has a white background with pictures of a bunch of different flags on the front. See picture below).



Knowing that one US dollar equals a little more than three Argentine pesos, that means that you can buy an international calling card here for US$3.33 for 66 minutes, or 5 cents a minute (more like 4.3 if you’re using the one I pictured).

But besides the fact that it is significantly cheaper, there’s also a huge reason to buy a card here: 1-800 phone calls out of Argentina are NOT free like they are in the United States. Instead, to get a toll free call here, the number you’re dialing has to have a 0-822 or 0-800 preceding it.

Thus, on top of the fact that you’ll probably pay more per minute buying a card in the US, you’ll likely have a charge on top of that for calling a 1-800 number while abroad. For someone like me, living with a host family in Argentina, that’s a big deal. But because 0-822 calls are toll free from any landline phone in Buenos Aires (I specify because it might be different outside of the city), I can call as many times and talk for as long as I want without worrying about running up ridiculous phone bills for my host family.

Yeah, But What If I Can’t Find A Place That Sells Them?


If you’re anything like me, this is likely the question that follows: “So they’re cheaper, but what if I can’t find one?”. As far as the prominence of places that sell them, if you fly in to the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, likely as soon as you get through customs and pick up your bags, you’ll see a “25 Hs” kiosco like I did. At every one of these they sell calling cards, and all you have to ask is: “¿Se vende tarjetas telefónicas de diez pesos para llamadas internacionales acá?” (You can also just print that and show it to him/her. They’ll understand). They’ll likely confirm that you want the diez peso one.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here is how the directions on the card will likely go:



  • [ ]Call X number (it’ll begin with 0822)
    [ ]Punch in your pin (there will be some sort of scratch and peel to reveal that number)
    [ ]Dial 00 + country code + number you want to dial [i.e. (808)-555-2252] (The country code for the United States is “1”)
    [ ]Wait for the call to connect and you’re good to go.

I’ve encountered one card that requests that you hit “#” after the pin code and after you enter the phone number. There are only three types of phone cards here, so that one is pretty easy to tell. It has an orange background with a black swoosh in the foreground, and through skimming the calling directions on the back there should be multiple printings of “#”. That means you’ll probably have to enter that.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve used all three different types, and have never had a problem. They work really well, are really easy to use, and I wouldn’t recommend anything else.

What If My Hotel/Place That I’m Staying Doesn’t Have a Phone?

I can’t imagine that this would be the case, but if you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a call and no proper place in which to do it, all you have to do is search out the nearest “locutorio”, which is a shop where you can use a phone terminal (it’s a small glass room with a telephone) or the internet. These are very prominent throughout the city, and all you need to do is ask someone: “¿Hay un locutorio cerca de acá?” and they will happily point you in the right direction.

Once you get to the locutorio, if you haven’t already purchased an international calling card, you can typically purchase one at one of these places as well. They’ll point you to an available calling room, and from there you’ll be able to make your call. Although it’s free to use these places if you’re using a calling card, bear in mind that they exact their pound of flesh as well, since you’ll probably get around half or less of the minutes you would normally get using a regular phone in the city.

Although I haven’t tried it, I’m guessing you can probably use one of the many pay phones they have outside around the city. I’m not sure if they work for this, and I can’t really help you as to how you would do it. If you find yourself needing to try this, I would recommend asking the person behind the desk of the hotel, or just people on the street. My recommendation of course would be to just use a locutorio, though.

 

EvergreenGal

Registered
Thank you so much for posting this timely information! We just had company from the states and they left their card behind for us to use...even though my husband is from BA..he isn't savy with these kind of cards...no patience for sure to read all the directions, ha! So this helped us out greatly and will be getting a new one when we use up the minutes left on the card.
 

Maya

Registered
I use internetcalls.com instead of a card....if you have a landline it's basically free to call anywhere because every time you load your account (with at least 10 euros) you get 100 days of free calling...and you can either use your computer, their system (which will call your number and then the number you're calling) or your landline with an access number....for instance my cellphone # is in my account, so I can call the states from my cellphone just like I'm calling a local number.
 

niceguypaddy

Registered
i use High Connection/Home and its not BAD but sometimes you get the deadline, droppin calls etc but at least for me ringing ireland its cheap. you get a pin and you can call from your house phone or any landline or mobile with a pin.
 

Elpanada

Registered
Check this shit out, okay like so many people there in Argentina I was calling some local numbers with my cellphone and well I was just simply AMAZED at how quickly my prepaid credit ran out but heck one needs to make his calls right? Well unbelievably I realized what was happening, I wasn't just dialing the numbers there in Argentina but I was dialing their full international code like for example 00541193958393409 (that's an example number doubt there is anyone on the other end of it) but anyway yeah, I realized that IF! I dialed the 005411 before the local number then I got charged like 10 times more than if I only dialed the numbers after it. Strange shit no? Them Argentinians, trying to get every last penny out of your pocket.
 

marie

Registered
Hi guys:

I am Argentinian and my BF American, when he was living in the States we called each other for free. We had a free hour call everyday. Of course, you need to have a computer and register to a webpage. You dial the number using the program in that webpage and then shut up the computer and be on the phone. The webpage is: JAJAH - web-activated telephony it is NOT a messenger , it is to make phone calls. But there is only one thing, both your receiver and you must register with your phone numbers.

Marie
 

marie

Registered
Elpanada said:
Check this shit out, okay like so many people there in Argentina I was calling some local numbers with my cellphone and well I was just simply AMAZED at how quickly my prepaid credit ran out but heck one needs to make his calls right? Well unbelievably I realized what was happening, I wasn't just dialing the numbers there in Argentina but I was dialing their full international code like for example 00541193958393409 (that's an example number doubt there is anyone on the other end of it) but anyway yeah, I realized that IF! I dialed the 005411 before the local number then I got charged like 10 times more than if I only dialed the numbers after it. Strange shit no? Them Argentinians, trying to get every last penny out of your pocket.
well to your concern, telephoning in Argentina is Spanish company.
span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }
 

RWS

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I think that Elpa' meant not to convey particular information so much as to spoof the ignorance and vulgarity often displayed by my fellow Americans in Buenos Aires.

A shame, really, that most Argentines encounter so few Americans of the middle and upper classes. No wonder that Argentine opinions of Americans should be low.
 

Elpanada

Registered
RWS said:
I think that Elpa' meant not to convey particular information so much as to spoof the ignorance and vulgarity often displayed by my fellow Americans in Buenos Aires.

A shame, really, that most Argentines encounter so few Americans of the middle and upper classes. No wonder that Argentine opinions of Americans should be low.
Say what????????
 
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