Traveling to countries like throughout South America can be expensive as far as your phone bill goes.
- Some carriers charge extreme prices in international and roaming fees. That can be avoided if you get a local prepaid SIM card.
Prepaid SIM cards are cheaper, and offer you way better data speed and network coverage.
- For purchasing an Uruguayan SIM card in a shop, you must show your passport (any copies are not accepted).
Uruguay has 3 mobile phone operators:
Movistar (by Telefónica)
Claro (by América Móvil)
Coverage and speed are pretty good for Latin American standards.
While Antel has 2G and 3G on "European bands", Movistar and Claro use "American frequencies".
In 2017 new spectrum was auctioned to all three operators to be used for 4G/LTE
Antel is the market leader with 53% of all cellular customers and the best network in the country. 3G now covers about 90% of the country. 4G/LTE started in 2011 and is available for prepaid without overcharge, but is more limited so far.
- Their prepaid SIM card is called Chip Prepago and available for UYU 65 containing a UYU 200 credit in their shops and sales outlet.
You can buy a SIM card in an Antel shop in Montevideo airport, directly after you exit customs or in any Antel shop around the town.
- Recharges can be made everywhere where you spot the Antel logo around the town. Top-ups last from 5 to 120 days depending on the top-up plan. Incoming calls expire 180 days after a 30-day top-up and 365 days after a 60-day top-up.
WhatsApp is free when you top up at least UYU 140 every month.
There are several plans to choose from
From cheap as UYU 50 up to UYU 500.
Antel even offers tourist SIM cards that are sold exclusively to visitors. You will need to show your foreign passport.
These starter options are sold:
- 1 GB for 1 day (= 24 hours): $ 150
- 40 GB for 7 days: $ 1000
Movistar by Spanish Telefónica is the second-largest provider in the country with a 34% share.
3G coverage is about 50%, 4G/LTE has started in Montevideo and is given out for free when you have a 4G SIM card.
Their prepaid SIM card is called Movistar Prepago and available in their shops and sales outlets.
- You can order online (Pedí tu chip) to an Uruguayan address. The delivery is free, but the SIM costs UYU 60.
Recharges can be made everywhere in the town, where you spot the Movistar logo. You can also send a free SMS to "944" with the word DONDE and they text you the nearest locations.
Top-ups start from UYU 20 to UYU 1000 giving 7-90 days of credit depending on value.
Free WhatsApp is included.
Data feature packs
For more data check those packages.
It is called Preplan: with unlimited calls and SMS for 7 days.
You can buy it and activate it on Movistar Uruguay website or by "Mi Movistar" app:
Preplan Super : 3 GB, 25 mins, 100 SMS: UYU 235 for 7 days;
Preplan Ultra: 4 GB, 40 mins, 150 SMS: UYU 335 for 7 days.
Dúo Semanal: 6 GB daytime + 12 GB at nightime, 50 mins, UYU 169 for 7 days
Dúo Música: 6 GB daytime + 12 GB nightime, free "Movistar Música" app traffic, UYU 179 for 7 days
Dúo XL: 12 GB daytime + 30 GB nighttime; UYU 280 for 7 days - no auto-renewal!
Claro by Mexican América Móvil is the smallest network in the country with a 13% market share. 4G is available since 2014
- The prepaid SIM card called "Chip Claro Tajetero" is sold for UYU
40 with lots of bonuses in kiosks and their shops.
- Top-ups can be made in any shop that has Claro logo from UYU 20-300 and is valid from 3 to 21 days. For top-ups they give out heavy data bonuses:
- top-up $100-190: 100 MB for 7 days
- top-up >$200: 200 MB for 10 days
Free WhatsApp is included.
To check your balance, enter *888 or send an empty SMS to 888.
Internet beyond the data bonuses is on the daily rate: 100 MB per calendar day (until 11.59 pm) for $22. Using more than 100 MB per day, the rate is $0.90 per MB.
$ 40 1GB 1 day
$ 110 3GB 3 days
$ 90 2GB 5 days
$ 100 1GB 7 days
$ 120 2GB 7 days
$ 150 3GB 7 days
$ 190 3GB 10 days
$ 220 3GB 20 days
To activate, dial *989# or visit claro.com.uy/packs.
All packages include free WhatsApp traffic, 1 GB extra free YouTube and 1 GB extra for "Free Fire" game app.