You can get a prepaid SIM card from Movistar/Claro/Personal for a few pesos/free in phone shops, you only pay about 20 ARS (about 5 USD) for your starting balance. Inserting the SIM card into your unlocked mobile phone should work, but you may need to enter your passport number (or any other 9 digit number) to register the SIM card. You will then have your own personal Argentine phone number, which is very useful for keeping in touch with other travellers, either by phone or SMS. Calls cost about 1 ARS per minute. However, it is extremely rare to have to register your SIM card.
Receiving calls is generally free, except for international calls and some inter-network/inter-city calls. It is therefore not necessarily worth buying a SIM card just to keep in touch with people abroad.
To top up, you can buy small cards with secret numbers at many kiosks, but the easiest way is to ask for a “Recarga Virtual” and tell the seller your phone number, company and the amount of pesos you want to top up.
Not related to mobile phones, there are similar cards with credit for international calls. You can get them in locutorios, where you can also use the phone boxes. You dial a free number to connect to the service, then your secret number for credits, and finally the international phone number you want to call. With these cards, a one-hour call to Europe costs about 10 pesos (US$3). Do not call without these cards or even from your hotel – it will be much more expensive.
The telephone numbering plan in Argentina is hopelessly complicated for foreigners. See the Wikipedia article on this subject for more information.
- Directory entry (The White Pages): 110
- International operator: 000
- National operator: 19
- National collect calls: 19 from normal phones, *19 from public phones.
- Mobile phone numbers start with 15 or 11
- Area code for Buenos Aires: 011
Other useful telephone numbers are
- Official time: 113
- Consumer Ombudsman Service: +54 11 5382-6216 or 6217
All 2 and 3 digit numbers are free of charge, except for the official time service (113).
All 0800 numbers are free of charge, unless you are calling from a mobile phone.
Long distance calls from Argentina: you can use a calling card, 0.18 ARS/min or 0.59 ARS/min for calls from Argentina to the US.
Most cafés and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi through an advertisement in their window. Just buy a coffee and ask for the password. Public Wi-Fi is also widespread in Buenos Aires and offers high speeds. The name of the network will be BA Wifi