Preparing your trip to El Salvador and looking for the best way to stay connected? This guide is to help you find the best prepaid sim card or e-sim card for El Salvador. Avoid high roaming charges or slow overseas data plans. Find out everything you need to know about buying a prepaid sim card in El Salvador, up to date prices as per August 2023, the best e-sim cards for El Salvador, the best 4G/5G network coverage, info about international sim card, my recommendation and my experiences and more.
I have been a big fan of traveling in Central America and the last years I have been around all the countries multiple times. Without a doubt Central America is an amazing place to visit if you are an adventure traveler.
The first thing I do when I get to a new country is finding the best way to get connected. Sometimes that means buying a prepaid sim card and more than often in 2023 that is by getting an e-sim card. As I am also trying to travel to every country in the world I get to a lot of places and therefore on Traveltomtom you can find more than 200 prepaid sim card guides from all over the world: Europe, Spain, Madrid, Barcelona, Germany, France, United Kingdom, USA, New York, Bogota, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Mexico City and many more.
At the end of this guide I will also talk about my experience using and buying a sim card in El Salvador on my trip, but first I will give you the prepaid sim card plans, prices for data, more about the the best 4G/5G network in El Salvador and of course everything you need to know about e-sim cards for El Salvador. Although El Salvador is a developing country their mobile internet is pretty ok.
Traveltomtom recommends a Claro sim card for El Salvador. They have the best 4G network in El Salvador and a great sim card deal for tourists for $10 USD that gives you 5 GB data and unlimited social media for 30 days.
E-sim cards are a little more expensive, but they are a very convenient way to get connected on your trip to El Salvador. El Salvador e-sim card plans start from $8 USD. See below for more info.
On a big trip to Central America and visiting multiple countries? Then you want to also check out my article about the best international sim cards in 2023 and find some amazing sim card plans for Central America. These international sim cards are slightly more expensive but are valid in all Central American countries and come with a couple other advantages. You can order them online and they get shipped to your home address.
E-sim cards for El Salvador
The easiest and fastest way to get connected when traveling to El Salvador in 2023 is an e-sim card. You order online and arrange everything within just 2 minutes! No more swapping physical sim cards or visiting a store. Buy an e-sim card, receive a QR-code, follow the instructions and you are connected in no-time.
Check out the following El Salvador e-sim card deals:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $8 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $15 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $32.5 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for El Salvador directly online.
Much more expensive but there is also an international e-sim card that is valid in more than 120 countries, including the USA, Canada, all of Europe, South and Central America and of course El Salvador:
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
Before buying an e-sim card make sure your phone is e-sim card compatible and unlocked. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number from your home country.
Where to buy a sim card for El Salvador
San Salvador City Center
In San Salvador there are multiple mobile phone shops and official Claro, Tigo, Digicel and Movistar stores. Your best options is to go to any of the big shopping malls like Centro Comercial Galerias.
In the Historic Center in San Salvador you will also find prepaid sim card vendors on the streets. I saw people selling Tigo and Claro, see the picture above. These people sell prepaid sim cards for tourists and activate your sim card on the spot!
San Salvador Airport
There is a Digicel kiosk at San Salvador Airport that sells sim cards. But is Digicel a good choice for traveling in El Salvador? Keep reading... Unfortunately there is no other mobile internet operator shop at San Salvador Airport as of August 2023.
Just like in Guatemala, Honduras and other Central American countries you can buy prepaid sim cards for El Salvador in convenience stores all around the country. Even at gas stations and road side shops.
Don't worry, buying a sim card for El Salvador at a convenience store on the side of the road is normal. But very important is to first ask if they can activate the sim card for you on the spot. Don’t walk away or pay before the sim card are activated! Speaking Spanish will help a lot so may be not the best place for tourists to buy a sim card for El Salvador! If you only speak English it will be a bit harder, or ask a local to help you.
You can also buy a sim card for El Salvador online and especially if you want to arrive prepared for your trip to El Salvador this is a great option. It is a little more expensive but if you order an international prepaid sim card for El Salvador on the internet, the sim card will get shipped to your home address before your trip. On arrival it is plug and play. Another way of getting connected is buying an e-sim card for El Salvador as talked about above.
Unlike most other countries in the world you can buy a sim card in El Salvador without having to register your passport or id. There is no fingerprint or any other form of identification needed. A prepaid sim card you buy in El Salvador will not be registered on your name, it will just be activated for you and that is it. The sim card is plug and play, meaning you put it in your phone and it instantly works.
Therefore I also mentioned already that it is normal practice to buy a sim card for El Salvador on the side of the road or from a street vendor in the middle of a square in San Salvador.
However, very important is that your phone is unlocked! Foreign sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If you are unsure about this then contact your provider in your home country before your trip to El Salvador.
Mobile internet operators in El Salvador
For a country this small there are surprisingly many mobile internet operators. El Salvador has 4 providers:
Movistar does not offer prepaid sim card for tourists in El Salvador, all the other providers do.
Prices prepaid El Salvador sim cards
Good news for you: prepaid sim cards in El Salvador are cheap and for a couple dollars you can get a lot of data on your phone. In El Salvador they use the USD as their official currency as well as bitcoins. No joke, you can buy a sim card in El Salvador with bitcoins.
Tigo El Salvador
A prepaid Tigo sim card is free but you will have to top up with one of the available packages. All Tigo packages have unlimited calling to Tigo in El Salvador and they also come with FREE social media apps, see the above plans for 2023. On top of that there are minutes to USA, Canada included as well.
- 1 GB for 2 days + 10 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada = $1 USD
- 2 GB for 4 days + 20 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada = $2 USD
- 4 GB for 8 days + 40 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada = $4 USD
- 4 GB for 16 days + 50 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada = $7 USD
For more info check the Tigo El Salvador website.
Claro El Salvador
A Claro sim card is also free and come with free calls to Claro in El Salvador and unlimited social media. These are the prepaid sim card packages for tourists:
- 1 GB data for 2 days = $1 USD
- 2 GB data for 4 days + 500 MB YouTube + 20 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada = $2 USD
- 4 GB data for 8 days + 2 GB YouTube & TikTok + 40 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada = $4 USD
- 5 GB data + 2 GB YouTube & TikTok for 30 days = $10 USD
Big plus about Claro prepaid sim cards you buy in El Salvador is that they are valid in all of Central America. I have not tried it myself, so I can not give you my personal review about it. But apparently it works.
The bigger data packages come with extra GB's for YouTube and TikTok. For more info check the Claro El Salvador website.
Digicel El Salvador
All over the Americas and the Caribbean you will find Digicel, also in El Salvador, however it is fairly small and Digicel stores are limited. Their sim cards are free and come with free calling to other Digicel numbers.
The 3 most popular Digicel data packages are:
- 6 GB data for 8 days + 50 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada + free WhatsApp, FB, Instagram & Twitter = $3.5 USD
- 6 GB data for 16 days + 70 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada + free WhatsApp, FB, Instagram & Twitter = $6 USD
- 8 GB data for 30 days + 90 minutes to other networks and USA/Canada + free WhatsApp, FB, Instagram & Twitter = $9 USD
You can easily top up online and use Digicel in many other country as well according to their website but never tried myself. Digicel is not my preferred sim card for El Salvador, see below. Check for more info the Digicel website.
Best 4G/5G network in El Salvador
As of August 2023 there is still no 5G network in El Salvador available yet. Even the 4G network is not that advanced yet, therefore when traveling in El Salvador I recommend you to choose your prepaid sim card wisely. Have a look at the El Salvador 4G/5G coverage maps below and you know what I mean.
4G/5G Network Coverage Digicel
4G/5G Network Coverage Tigo
4G/5G Network Coverage Claro
As you can see a Digicel prepaid sim card is based on my comparison of the mobile network in El Salvador not a good choice for tourists. The Digicel network is simply much weaker than Claro and Tigo. Digicel does not even offer 4G+ what is also often talked about as the 4.5G network.
A Tigo sim card is a good option, but it is clear that Claro has the best 4G mobile network coverage in El Salvador in 2023.
Best sim card in El Salvador in 2023
Looking at the prepaid sim card deals in El Salvador and the 4G/5G network coverage we come to the conclusion that Claro is the best prepaid sim card in El Salvador in 2023.
Claro has the best mobile network coverage and for $10 USD you get 5 GB data for surfing the internet, free social media apps + 2 GB Youtube/Spotify and even 60 minutes to USA/Canada.
Order a sim card for El Salvador online
Does buying a sim card in El Salvador sounds like too much hassle or you simply want to arrive prepared for your trip to El Salvador then get yourself a sim card for El Salvador online. Order a so-called global travel sim card online and use it without any problems in El Salvador. The following international sim cards will be shipped to your home address before your trip to El Salvador and are pre-activated:
- 8 GB data in more than 70 countries
- Valid 14 days
- 12 GB data in more than 70 countries
- Valid 30 days
- 5 GB data in more than 70 countries
- Valid 14 days
Click here to order an international sim card for El Salvador directly online or find more info.
Is your phone e-sim card compatible then a last reminder that you can also arrange everything directly online by ordering an e-sim card for El Salvador. No more swapping sim cards or visiting a store.
My experience buying a sim card in El Salvador
After 3 weeks in Honduras I took a bus from Tegucigalpa to San Salvador. As soon as we crossed the border by bus I expected to lose signal, but to my surprise it kept on working. My Tigo Honduras sim card apparently also worked in El Salvador.
Well it did, but the data speed was slow, like 3G basically and it drove me nuts. After 2 days I finally bought a Claro sim card for El Salvador at a convenience store in Tunco.
It worked perfectly fine and I had good coverage along the coast, on the Ruta de las Flores (Flower Route), around Santa Ana and in San Salvador.
The last two days of my El Salvador trip my Claro package ran out and coincidentally the first phone store I ran into was Digicel. I had only 1 more day in San Salvador, and decided to buy a Digicel sim card for 2 days with 2 GB for $1 USD. Just couldn’t resist! :)
Digicel worked perfectly fine in the city center, but once I was on a bus from San Salvador to Guatemala City it basically stopped working pretty much as soon as we left the city.
If you have any more questions about traveling or sim cards in El Salvador please leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to help you out!
If you like to get fuelled by wanderlust then go check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom where you can find all my adventures on my journey to visit every country in the world. As of August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to El Salvador!