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Deep in the heart of South America, Bolivia is a little removed from the rest of the world. Using your phone there is key to keeping in touch with the outside, but can be expensive. Switching over to a local SIM card could save money.
Bolivia has some of the best prepaid SIM cards in South America, with deals that can really reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data for as little as BOB20 (about £2.40). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, a holiday or a tour of South America, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com/uk.Prices last updated 28 Apr 2017
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There are three main mobile phone operators in Bolivia: Entel, Tigo and Viva. All three operators have been tried and tested by both locals and travellers, and can be trusted. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Bolivia has a strong mobile phone network around the La Paz and El Alto areas. Other inner areas can be weak, and in the outer regions it can be extremely difficult to find a good signal.
Bolivia’s operators offer good roaming rates and sell prepaid credit, which allow users to take advantage of their cheap offers and deals. All networks offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G services. Locals call their SIM cards chips and there are rules and regulations when purchasing them. Tourists must register SIM cards with authorised dealers before using, and should show their passport to the seller. Top-up vouchers can be purchased from almost any supermarket, post office, newsagent or tobacconist.
Entel is the state-owned mobile operator in Bolivia with a 44% share of the market. It’s well-known for providing the best coverage, even in the remote Amazon and Andes regions. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. 4G is now available in most towns and cities across Bolivia.
Entel’s prepaid SIM card can be purchased for BOB10 in their official shops called Multicentro Entel. We highly recommend that you purchase your SIM card from these stores, because they will automatically register it for you. You can also activate the SIM online by selecting “Registro” on their official website. To login select “TELÉFONO” then enter your SIM card number and PIN code. Dial *122# to retrieve the PIN code.
Top-ups can be purchased from Pago Express for BOB5, or vouchers in the following denominations from most stores: BOB10, 20, 30, 50 and 100 by dialing *109*<14-digit PIN code>#. Dial *105# to check balance.
The standard default and overuse rate is BOB0.20 per MB. The following data packs can also be added:
|1 day, valid until midnight onday of purchase||60MB||BOB2|
|Valid for 30 days||90MB||BOB9|
Dial *10# <call> to activate, or register online using your personal account. Data will roll over to the following month, if you purchase a new data pack with at least the same value.
Tigo is the second largest provider in Bolivia with a market share of 29%. It has good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services, it was the first network to offer 4G in Bolivia, which increased its market share. Their prepaid SIM card can be purchased from official stores, supermarkets, kiosks and the airport. SIMs are sold for BOB10, and it’s highly recommended you register them at official stores to get the mandatory registration process out of the way early. If you don’t activate your SIM within five days, it will be suspended.
Dial *108# and follow instructions to register. Instructions are in Spanish, so you may want to go online or speak to a member of staff in their official stores to save hassle.
Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, vouchers can be picked up for BOB10, 30, 50 or 100 and are valid for at least 60 days. Dial *123# to check the balance.
These bundles can be purchased for prepaid SIM cards:
|until 6amon thenext day||55MB||BOB2|
Register online. Data will roll over to the following month, if you purchase a new data pack with at least the same value. The standard default rate and overuse rate is charged at BOB0.15 per MB. Text SALDO to 174 to check data usage.
Viva is the smallest provider with a 27% market share. Viva is well-known in Bolivia for offering the lowest rates, and their customer base is expanding annually. Although coverage can be limited in some areas, it has the best data deals which can be used if you find a good signal area. It offers 4G services in only a few cities, including La Paz.
Viva’s prepaid SIM card can be purchased for BOB10-15, which includes BOB10 credit. Call 100 to activate the SIM card, but it’s better to purchase it from the official store so they can register it for you.
Credit vouchers can be purchased for BOB10, 20, 50 or 80 sold in most retailers. Dial *109*<Voucher PIN code># to add credit. Dial *105# to check the balance.
The standard default rate is BOB0.50 per MB. The following data plans can also be added:
|1 hour||450MB||BOB6||HORA 450MBx6Bs activation code|
|until 1amon thenext day||11MB||BOB1.5||DIARIA 11MBx1.5Bs activation code|
|55MB||BOB2||DIARIA 55MBx2Bs activation code|
|230MB||BOB5||DIARIA 230MBx5Bs activation code|
|525MB||BOB10||DIARIA 525MBx10Bs activation code|
|1.1GB||BOB20||DIARIA 1100MBx20Bs activation code|
|7 days||300MB||BOB15||SEMANAL 300MBx15Bs activation code|
|1GB||BOB30||SEMANAL 1000MBx30Bs activation code|
|30 days||60MB||BOB9||MENSUAL 60MBx9Bs activation code|
|200MB||BOB25||MENSUAL 200MBx25Bs activation code|
|750MB||BOB50||MENSUAL 750MBx50Bs activation code|
|2.5GB||BOB100||MENSUAL 2500MBx100Bs activation code|
|8.1GB||BOB200||MENSUAL 8100MBx200Bs activation code|
|18GB||BOB300||MENSUAL 18000MBx300Bs activation code|
|Nighttime||600MB||BOB3||NOCTURNA 600MBx3Bs activation code|
Text 9101 or dial #511 to purchase a pack. If there is enough credit on your account, the packages will auto-renew. Text SALIR <activation code> to 511 to cancel. Data will roll over to the following month, if you purchase a new data pack with at least the same value.
TripAdvisor user comments could help guide you through the best SIM card options in Bolivia. Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible mobile phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
A: All networks will suffer in the Andes or Amazon region, regardless of the provider you use. Ensure your tour guide has a satellite phone when taking on long tours through the outer regions. Service can be problematic in most areas, but no worse than what you would get on your home phone! So, it makes sense to opt for a local SIM card when travelling around Bolivia.
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