Mobile Phone Services
There are many different local cell phone services to choose from all over South America. In many countries, the most popular larger cellular companies are Claro and Movistar. Before going, I researched several services online and checked and compared their signal strengths on opensignal.com for the areas we would be travelling: Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Colombia.
As it turns out, Tmobile Simple Global works in over 120 countries, and most importantly it gets as good of signal as other local services, which can’t be seen on opensignal, but it’s been mostly getting signal with a few slow exceptions throughout Buenos Aires. One couchsurfing host claimed he had one precarious spot in his home he got enough signal to make a call. Our Tmobile got data signal in his home with no problem. It’s 2G mostly, 4G LTE can be purchased for $15/day, by the week(I don’t remember how much, I think maybe $25?), or $50 for 14 days.
To get Tmobile started, Zoe used her U.S. social security number and agreed to a credit check to qualify for their postpaid program. We decided to get one SIM card with a new account and phone number. I would save the $50 for two months and use wifi. So far wifi is plentiful and has been ok. Occasionally at restaurantes I have to ask for the “wee fee” password.
With the Tmobile postpaid monthly plan, we added Simple Global for no extra charge which includes unlimited data and texts, phone calls to/from the U.S. are 20 cents a minute.
All that to have service set up before we arrived so it would work stepping off the plane. Arriving late at night after traveling since the night before, we didn’t want to have to find a SIM card to get signal to contact our host and configure directions and transportation.
Using the myverizon app, we both put our Verizon service on hold the day we got on the plane and had our number forward calls and texts to the new Tmobile number. It can be on hold for 90 days unpaid and will then automatically resume after 90 days which will extend the 2 year contract, or paid with no service but keeps the contract running. Verizon service can be resumed at any time during the 90 day suspension.
I brought an old unlocked AT&T Galaxy Note just in case, but our Verizon phones, still in contract, work fine with the Tmobile SIM card. I have a Galaxy 6 and she has the first Moto X.