Reduce your roaming rates by using a local telco deal.
Visiting Peru? Or travelling around South America? Either way, using your home phone network there can work out to be rather expensive. A top tip for saving money and reducing roaming rates is to switch to a local SIM card for cheaper deals, tariffs and plans. Peru has some of the best SIM card deals in South America, and you can get 1GB of data for as little as PEN10 (AUD$3.93). You can also use the SIM cards from Peru in other South American countries, which will save you even more money. So, cut down your costs this holiday season by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com.au.
Telco providers in Peru
There are four main telco providers in Peru: Movistar, Claro, Entel and Bitel. All networks have been tried and tested by locals and tourists, and can be trusted. According to OpenSignal, Movistar has the best coverage in the country, but it also has the most expensive rates. Claro is its closest competitor, and prices can often be lower. The signal can become weaker the farther out you head, which will happen on any phone or provider you use there.
All four operators offer prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official outlets, as well as at the Jorge Chavez and Inca Manco Capac international airports. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card machines around various towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets. Be advised that there is a huge black market in Peru for prepaid SIM cards and credit vouchers. We advise you to avoid street sellers and only purchase SIM cards and credit from official stores or approved resellers.
Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Peru.
Movistar is the largest provider in Peru. It offers the best network coverage and well-priced packages. 2G, 3G and 4G services are available on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and the SIM must be registered by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, including supermarkets, corner stores, service stations and online.
It offers good voice and data packages, and also has some great promotions to further bring down costs. The best place to purchase your prepaid SIM card is at the airport when you arrive, to get it out of the way. There are outlets at the airport, and the retailers will set up the SIM card for you to save time and hassle.
Its “chip prepago” prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for PEN8. Please note it will take around 24 hours after the retailer has registered your SIM card for it to become active.
Credit can be purchased from kiosks or shops displaying the “recarga” sign outside. Dial *515# or call 104 to check your balance.
Data is charged at a low PEN1 per 10MB per calendar day. You can update the pack as many times as you like during the day or add one of the data packs listed below:
Dial *515# and follow the prompts to book the relevant pack. The following social media packages can also be added:
- Facebook, unlimited use for a day: PEN1
- WhatsApp, unlimited use for a day: PEN1
Dial *515# -> Consultas -> Consultas de saldo to check your balance.
Movistar’s APN: movistar.pe, and website: http://www.movistar.com.pe
Claro is the second-largest provider in Peru and the main competitor of Movistar. Claro offers good network coverage, and packages are also reasonably priced. 2G, 3G and 4G services are available on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and the SIM must be registered by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for PEN5 and come in all sizes. Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, including supermarkets, stores, service stations and online.
However, the best place to purchase your prepaid SIM card is at the airport when you arrive. There is a shop located just after Arrivals, and the retailer will set up the SIM card for you to speed up the process.
The standard data rate currently stands at PEN1 for 15MB per calendar day. Once you exceed that level, a new pack will automatically be charged to your account. The following data packs can also be added:
|15MB||Daily||PEN1||1M - default|
Text 779 or dial *779# <call> and select the relevant pack to activate. Please note that all of the above-mentioned packs will auto-renew, so text "SALIR" to 779 to cancel. You can purchase a maximum of four packs per month.
Claro’s APN: claro.pe, and website: http://www.claro.com.pe
Entel is the third-largest operator in Peru. Its network coverage is somewhat lacking, but it does offer some good voice and data packages. 2G, 3G and 4G services are available on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and the SIM must be registered by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, including supermarkets, corner stores, service stations and online.
The best place to purchase your prepaid SIM card is at the airport when you arrive. There is an Entel shop at most airports, and the retailer will set up the SIM card for you to save time and hassle.
The “Súper chip prepago” prepaid SIM card can be purchased for PEN5 and comes with 250MB data. The standard data rate is charged at PEN0.25 per MB. The following “súperbolsas” packs are also available:
Dial *144# <call> then press option 3 to choose the relevant pack. Multiple packs can be purchased but wait until you are near the end of the previous allowance before purchasing another.
There is also a data-only prepaid SIM card available called “Internet Móvil Prepago”, and it comes with the following options:
- 100MB, valid for 15 days on 3G/4G: PEN15
- 2GB, valid for 15 days on 3G/4G: PEN69
The following “superbolsas” data additions can be purchased too:
There is also a tourist SIM card available called “Super Chip Turista” that is only available for travellers who show their passport to the cashier. The SIM card can be purchased for PEN69, which contains 20 local minutes, 2GB data, unlimited WhatsApp (VoIP included) and Facebook, valid for 15 days. The following data packs can also be added:
- PEN39: 10 local minutes and 1GB data
- PEN69: 20 local minutes and 2GB data
Entel’s APN: entel.pe, and website: http://www.entel.pe
Bitel is the smallest provider with the worst coverage out of all four operators. Bitel offers some really good deals, but we recommend you choose one of the offers we have recommended above before looking at this provider.
Bitel offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and the SIM must be registered by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, including supermarkets, corner stores, service stations and online.
The prepaid SIM cards from Bitel are called “BiFri” and can be purchased for PEN1. If you top up at least PEN3 every month, you will receive free social media use, restricted to WhatsApp and Facebook.
The standard data rate is charged at PEN0.41 per MB. There are also some good DATAMAX plans on offer:
|25MB + 25 minutes||Until midnight||PEN 1||1 - 1 - 1|
|75MB + 75 minutes||5 days||PEN3||1 - 2 - 1|
|100MB||24 hours||PEN3||2 - 1 - 1|
|200MB||2 days||PEN5||2 - 2 - 1|
|500MB||7 days||PEN 10||2 - 3 - 1|
|1GB||30 days||PEN 20||2 - 4 - 1|
|2GB||30 days||PEN 50||2 - 5 - 1|
|5GB||30 days||PEN 100||2 - 6 - 1|
To activate one of the above-mentioned packs, dial *9090#.
Bitel’s APN: BITEL, and website: http://www.bitel.com.pe/
- The official language in Peru is Spanish. If you don’t know the language, then download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. Although some Peruvians speak English, many cannot, and they like it when foreigners try their language.
- Peruvians call a SIM card a “SIM” or “chip”.
- Ask the retailer to set up the SIM for you. This will save you a lot of time and trouble, and it's also helpful to cover anything you might not understand.
- Make sure you get to the stores early before the crowds take hold and to receive the best advice.
- Avoid street sellers at all costs. Peru is well known for its black market telco business. Make sure you only buy SIM cards from the official stores or approved sellers, and purchase credit from reputable outlets that display the official logo.
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
TripAdvisor reviews can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Peru.
- “I just came back and I bought one at Lima that was about PEN6 and yes it gave me Internet and local calls.”
- “In my opinion, Movistar is the best when you're going on a trip, it has a better reception.”
- “You don't need to pay that much, just for the SIM card which should be around PEN5 and then you can add as much as you want, depending on what you need (calls, internet, sms).”
- “The last time I went to Peru, I travelled around and used the Claro SIM card. I didn’t have any troubles with the signal or data usage in built up areas. The signal can suffer a little if you’re in the open areas but I’ve heard that can happen on most phones there.”
Pros and cons of Peru’s top telco providers
- Good value for money
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Can be used in other South American countries
- SIM cards could be compatible with your current phone
- Make sure SIM cards don’t already have existing plans uploaded
- No new devices offered with the SIM card plans
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Poor coverage can be found on all networks in certain areas
- Avoid street sellers at all costs
More questions about finding the best SIM card?
Q: What about other networks operating in Peru?
A: There are a number of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) doing business in Peru. Tuenti also offers great deals and plans that run through the four telco providers we have mentioned above. Make sure you shop around for the best deals, because they can sometimes offer better promotions than the four main providers. Tuenti can be trusted.
Q: What shall I do if I lose my phone in Peru?
A: Your phone is your lifeline, especially when travelling around South America. Make sure you keep it safe and always make a note of where it is. If you lose your phone, then retrace your steps and ask around. If you still have no luck, then cancel any plans or payment methods associated with the phone, report it missing and make a note of the crime number to claim on insurance. Finally, find a cheap replacement to keep in touch with the outside world, and don’t let the new one out of your sight!