Bogotá is the vibrant capital and largest city in Colombia. As a major tourist destination, staying connected during your visit is important for using maps, translation apps, rideshares and more. Getting set up with a local SIM card for your phone is the best way to avoid expensive roaming charges from your home carrier.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Bogotá, with tips from savvy locals. We’ll compare the major carrier options, recommend the most convenient places to purchase your new SIM, walk through setup, and answer some frequently asked questions.

SIM Card In Bogotá

I. Which Mobile Operator is the Best in Bogotá?

When looking for a SIM card in Bogotá, you’ll generally choose from these major carriers:

  • Claro: This Mexico-based company is one of the largest cell network operators in Latin America. In Bogotá and across Colombia, their 4G LTE network provides excellent coverage and fast speeds. As an international brand, Claro prepaid SIM packages cater nicely to travelers’ connectivity needs.
  • Movistar: Owned by European telecom giant Telefónica, Movistar enjoys tremendous popularity across Colombia with great coverage even in rural locations. Their prepaid plans come in variety of data amounts to suit different visitors.
  • Tigo: Tigo provides 4G LTE coverage on-par with Claro and Movistar as the country’s third biggest operator. As with the other two, Tigo sells flexible and tourist-friendly prepaid SIMs at affordable rates.
 CoverageData AmountSpeedReliabilityInt’l CallingTextsValidity
ClaroExcellent1GB to 5GB+Fast 4G LTERobust networkIncluded or cheap addonIncluded30 days+
MovistarExcellent500MB to 5GBFast 4G LTERare outagesIncluded or addonIncluded30 days
TigoVery good1GB to 4GBFast 4G LTERare outagesCheap addonIncluded30 days

As you can see, all three carriers offer prepaid SIM plans well-equipped for visitor connectivity with generous data amounts, fast 4G LTE speeds, solid coverage around Bogotá and Colombia, with the option to add international talk & text capability.

Any of these providers will serve most tourists very well. Claro tends to have a slight edge in network robustness and data-focused plans. Movistar balances great infrastructure with inexpensive rates for their prepaid packages. And Tigo comes in very competitively for visitor SIMs with excellent value.

You really can’t go wrong between Claro, Movistar and Tigo though when buying your Bogotá SIM card.

II. Best Bogotá SIM Cards and Cost for Tourists

Best Bogotá SIM Cards and Cost for Tourists

Based on the information above, here are two recommendations for prepaid SIMs that provide an excellent combination of network quality, included data amounts, and affordability:

OperatorSIM Card CostData Package (30 days)Package Cost (COP)Package Cost (USD)
ClaroCOP 5,000-10,000 starter pack15GBCOP 31,000USD 6-7*
MovistarCOP 2,000 chip2GB + 500MB WhatsAppCOP 42,900USD 8-9*
TigoCOP 5,000 starter pack3GB + 500MB WhatsAppCOP 52,900USD 10-11*
Virgin MobileCOP 10,000 starter pack2.5GB + WhatsAppCOP 40,000USD 8-9*
AvantelCOP 5,000 starter pack + COP 1,000 credit4GBCOP 30,000USD 6-7*
ETBCOP 5,000 starter pack1.9GB data + other benefitsCOP 45,000USD 9-10*
*Prices in USD are approximate and may vary depending on current exchange rate.

Claro, Movistar and Tigo offer the most extensive coverage nationwide as the largest networks. Virgin Mobile and Avantel are good low-cost MVNO options. Prices are generally affordable, with 30 day data packages ranging from USD6-11 depending on data allowance and extras included. Tourists should purchase upon arrival to easily connect during their stay.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Bogotá

Grabbing your prepaid Colombian SIM card is quick and convenient in Bogotá.

You have a couple main options…

1. Upon Arrival

Get the inside scoop on Where to Buy SIM Card at Bogota Airport

If you want to setup connectivity right off your flight or transport into town, head to either the airport or bus terminal upon arrival.

There are Claro, Movistar and Tigo stores/kiosks located right within both El Dorado International Airport (BOG) as well as the main Bogotá bus terminal at Salitre.

Prices and packages are very similar to what you’ll find in the city. Having connectivity shortly after arriving can be invaluable for rideshares, maps to your accommodation, restaurant reservations and more.

Just make sure your phone is unlocked to accept foreign SIM cards first.

2. In the City

Otherwise, pickup up your new SIM once settled into Bogotá itself.

Otherwise, pickup up your new SIM once settled into Bogotá itself.

You’ll easily find official Claro, Movistar or Tigo stores across the city, including prominently in malls like Centro Andino and Gran Estación. Malls are actually a quick and convenient option since you’ll find other useful shops there too.

Again, armed with just your passport you can walk out with 4G data in hand within minutes typically.

Many smaller convenience stores also sell preloaded SIMs from the major carriers at similar pricing. Though the airport or malls give the best chance of finding English-proficient staff if needed.

Don't stress about SIM cards Get an eSIM instead

IV. eSIM for Travelers to Bogotá – a Smart Alternative

While physical SIM cards still dominate, eSIM technology has begun rolling out globally allowing you to conveniently activate a local data plan digitally with participating carriers.

This means not needing to track down stores, find and swap SIM cards constantly, deal with incorrect card sizes for your device etc. Everything configured through software instead.

For Bogotá visitors (and across Colombia), Claro and Movistar currently support eSIM setups:

  • Claro eSIM: Buy online and setup before you go for seamless connectivity upon landing
  • Movistar eSIM: Still limited availability but check their website during your travel planning

You can also explore provider which specializes in global eSIM data plans spanning 180 countries. While priced higher than local carrier packages, we do offer seamless connectivity without needing to source SIMs in each country:

colombia esim plans
Check your device’s esim compatibility here

Using eSIM technology allows you to skip the SIM card hunt and store visits. Just another great connectivity option to research for your upcoming Bogotá travels.

Plans that may interest you

Colombia Eduador Peru
Colombia Eduador Peru
From $18.90
Colombia eSIM 14 Days
Colombia eSIM 14 Days
From $16.50

V. Things to Prepare when Buying a SIM Card in Bogotá

To ensure the process buying your Bogota SIM card goes smoothly, having these basics covered ahead of time is key:

  • Unlocked Phone – Your device cannot be locked to a specific network carrier back home otherwise it won’t accept new SIMs abroad. Double check it’s unlocked.
  • Know Your Phone’s SIM Size – SIM cards come in different sizes – standard, micro and nano. Make sure to get the right size SIM for your particular device. Most smartphones use either micro or nano.
  • Passport – Your passport will be required as official ID when purchasing any carrier SIM package.
  • Pesos – Have some Colombian Pesos on hand for paying your new SIM. There may be ability to use USD or credit cards at airports but Pesos are guaranteed widely accepted.
  • Basic Spanish Phrases – Though English will often be spoken, coming equipped with Spanish basics like “Hi/Excuse me” or counting Peso notes doesn’t hurt in shops.

As long as you validate those quick points above, snagging a prepaid Colombia SIM in Bogotá for your trip will be a breeze!

VI. Tips and Recommendations

mobile connection rural area in Colombia

A few extra pointers worth mentioning to help you connect smoothly during your travels around Bogotá:

  • Install useful offline maps like Google Maps or Maps.Me before leaving home so you at least have navigation basics in place while getting set up with a local SIM initially.
  • WhatsApp reigns supreme across Colombia for messaging so download and register beforehand. Video calls require mobile data/internet connectivity of course.
  • Claro, Movistar and Tigo all have convenient online account tools or apps to manage your prepaid SIM balances, top up data, check usage etc once setup.
  • For security, enable phone locks with passwords, PIN codes or biometrics to protect personal information in case of loss or theft. Also backup photos to cloud storage periodically.

Staying in touch, getting around easily and sharing your Colombian experiences require 21st connectivity. We hope these SIM card tips give you confidence to purchase hassle-free upon arrival in incredible Bogotá.

¡Que lo pases muy bien!

VII. FAQs about Buying a SIM Card in Bogotá

From which mobile operators can I buy a SIM card in Bogota?

The main mobile operators in Bogota are Claro, Movistar, and Tigo. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards for all three operators from their retail stores located around the city. SIMs are also available from MVNOs like Virgin Mobile.

What do I need to buy a SIM card?

To purchase a SIM card in Colombia, you will need to present a passport or national identity card. The seller will make a photocopy of your identification documents for registration purposes. Payment can be made in Colombian pesos.

How much do SIM cards typically cost?

Starter packs for prepaid SIM cards usually range from COP$5,000-10,000 which includes some initial credit. Replacements SIMs are around COP$2,000-5,000. Discounted or bonus packages may be available from time to time.

How do I register my phone for use with a Bogota SIM Card?

Colombian regulations require registration of the IMEI number of any device used on the local networks. You can register your IMEI at the operator’s stores, on their websites, or by calling customer service. It’s best to register when purchasing your SIM to avoid blocks later.

What is the best way to top up credit?

Top-ups called “recargas” can be purchased from the operator stores, affiliated retailers, lottery kiosks, some supermarkets or online. Top-up values typically range from COP$1,000-100,000. Make sure to have the SIM card handy to input the activation code.

How can I get data with the SIM card?

Mobile operators offer a variety of daily, weekly or monthly data addon packages starting from 100MB for around COP$2,000. Data rates without a package can be high. It’s best to subscribe to a data package suited to your needs when purchasing the SIM.

VIII. Final Words

Choosing reliable providers like Claro, Movistar or Tigo, coming prepared with passport and unlocked phone, as well as knowing your SIM size makes purchasing simple. You’ll quickly access high-speed 4G data thanks to modern infrastructure investments across the city and country.

Staying connected with affordable prepaid SIMs then allows you to freely use maps, messengers, rideshares and more to unlock the very best from your time in Colombia.

Have an incredible trip full of vivid sights, vibrant culture and friendly locals ahead!

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