Planning your trip to Colombia? Staying connected while traveling in Colombia makes everything much easier and the cheapest way is to get a local prepaid sim card. In this guide you can read everything you need to know about buying a sim card in Colombia: the best 4G/5G network in Colombia, where to buy a sim card, up to date prices per January 2023, info about international and e-sim cards for Colombia, my experiences, a vlog and my recommendation.
Buying a prepaid sim card is the first thing I do when getting to a new country and since I am aiming to visit every country in the world on Traveltomtom you can find already more than 200 prepaid sim card guides from all over the world: Panama, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, New York, USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Europe, Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Israel, Istanbul, Dubai and many more.
So when you are planning your next adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card advice for your destination. Bookmark this website!
Why buying a sim card in Colombia
Traveling with a data connection is just so much easier. Think about using taxi apps, getting directions from Google Maps, use Whatsapp, find your friends, nearby restaurants, your bank apps, emergencies, etc.
Especially when traveling around the country in busses it is recommended to have a Colombia sim card. I am sure you want to be connected to the internet on your 5 hour bus ride!
Public WiFi in big cities in Colombia is actually pretty good and coffee shop, shopping malls and of course hotels offer free good WiFi. However, there is no guarantee and especially when traveling away from the cities, free WiFi becomes scares. Also another reminder that public WiFi is through an UNSECURED network. The use of a VPN is recommended when using public WiFi.
The cheapest way to stay connected when traveling to Colombia is a local prepaid sim card. Colombia sim cards beat every price of international and e-sim cards, data package in Colombia are cheap and with a local prepaid sim card you are guaranteed the best network connection and the fastest data speed. More about the best 4G/5G network in Colombia later.
Traveltomtom recommends a Claro sim card for Colombia. They have the most advanced mobile data network and for less than $12 you get 12 GB data for 1 month.
We also recommend looking into travel sim cards with global coverage. There are plenty international sim cards that cover Colombia and for $29.90 USD you can already get 10 GB data and the great thing is you can order one directly online and get it shipped to your home address. Check out my article with a comparison of the best international sim cards for traveling in 2023.
E-sim cards for Colombia
When traveling abroad and looking for the easiest way to get connected then look no further. An e-sim card is the newest thing. You don’t need to swap sim cards anymore, you can arrange everything online. Order an e-sim, receive a code, apply the settings as described and you are all set. Check out the following e-sim card deals for Colombia:
- 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 = $32.50 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Colombia directly online or get more info in the link. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number from home.
Mobile internet operators Colombia
There are 3 main mobile internet providers in Colombia: Movistar, Tigo and Claro. Below you will find more info about the 4G/5G network coverage and the prepaid sim card prices per provider.
Where to buy a sim card for Colombia
In the bigger cities in popular tourist areas you can buy a prepaid sim card for Colombia from a street vendor. These street vendors mostly sell Claro prepaid sim cards. The advantage is that you don't need your passport and the sim card will not be registered on your name.
At the time of research the street vendors offered double data and actually had really good prepaid sim card deals for Colombia: 9 GB data for 20 days including unlimited social media for 40,000 COP, about $10 USD.
The disadvantage is that this is not an official retail store and you are not getting registered. So if you would run into problems things could get a little tricky.
International Airport on arrival
Are you arriving in Colombia on an international flight then the most convenient place to buy your prepaid sim card for Colombia is at the airport on arrival. Be aware that buying a sim card at the airport in Colombia is more expensive than when buying a prepaid sim card in the city center. Just don't buy the tourist sim cards that are quoted in USD.
From my own experience I can tell you everything about buying a sim card at Bogota Airport as that is where I arrived myself lately. Check out the link for my complete guide including a vlog with my experiences.
According to my research you can buy a sim card at Cartagena Airport. There is a convenience store in the departure hall that sells Colombia prepaid sim cards for tourists.
The same counts for Medellin Airport were I lately landed. However, the departure hall is on the second floor of Medellin International Airport. In the departure hall there is a phone shop that sells accessories and phone cases, but it also sells prepaid sim cards. Here you can buy a Claro sim card for 85,000 Pesos ($18 USD) with 12 GB data for 30 days.
Unfortunately there is no shop at Arrivals that sells Colombia sim cards for tourists.
Official retail stores
The most recommended place to buy a sim card for your trip to Colombia is in one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet providers. Here you will get the best service and information and the staff can help you to apply the right settings. When you walk out of a retail store with a new Colombia sim card you are sure it is working properly.
Buy a sim card for Colombia online
There is also the option to buy an international sim card online that works in Colombia.
Officially tourists that buy a prepaid sim card in Colombia need to bring their passport, A copy of your passport is taken in the store and the sim card will be registered on your name and passport number.
If you want to avoid this you can look for a street vendor that sells prepaid sim cards or buy an international sim card for Colombia online or an e-sim card for Colombia.
Prices prepaid sim cards in Colombia
All mobile internet operators in Colombia sell prepaid sim card for tourists. The prices below are up to date as per January 2023. $1 USD = 4,800 COP.
A Movistar prepaid sim card costs 6,000 COP ($1.5 USD) for the registration and then you can top up with a couple prepaid data packages that include unlimited calling and texting in Colombia:
- 5 GB data for 15 days = 15,000 COP - $3.5 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = 25,000 COP - $6 USD
As you can see prepaid sim cards with data in Colombia is very affordable. For more info check the Movistar Prepago website.
A Tigo prepaid sim card is free and to keep it really simple they only have one Colombia prepaid sim card deal for tourists:
- 2.5 GB data for 10 days + unlimited calls/text = 10,000 COP - $2.5 USD
- 7.5 GB data for 20 days + unlimited calls/text = 20,000 COP - $5 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days + unlimited calls/text = 30,000 COP - $7 USD
Getting a Claro Sim card costs 3,000 COP. The Claro sim card deals come with free unlimited social media (TikTok and YouTube not included):
- 1.3 GB data + unlimited calls/text for 7 days = 7,000 COP - $2 USD
- 2 GB data + unlimited calls/text for 10 days = 10,000 COP - $3 USD
- 9 GB data + unlimited calls/text for 30 days = 30,000 COP - $8 USD
- 12 GB data + unlimited calls/text for 30 days = 40,000 COP - $11 USD
- 80 GB data* + unlimited calls/text for 30 days = 100,000 COP - $27 USD
*Hotspot is limited!
The packages included unlimited social media but are also significantly more expensive! For more info see the Claro Prepago website.
Best 4G/5G network in Colombia
May be even more important than the price is the 4G/5G network coverage when buying a prepaid sim card. Luckily all providers cover most of the tourist destinations in Colombia very well. However, there is definitely a difference in the 4G/5G network strength.
Is there 5G in Colombia?
No, as of January 2023 there is still no 5G in Colombia. It was supposed to be rolled out in 2022, but covid is used as excuse why there is still no 5G in Colombia.
Tigo 4G/5G network coverage map
Movistar 4G/5G network coverage map
Claro 4G/5G network coverage map
From the above 4G coverage maps for Colombia we can clearly see that Claro has the most extensive 4G network in Colombia.
Best prepaid sim card in Colombia in 2023
It is a very easy conclusion that Claro is the most expensive mobile internet provider in Colombia when it comes to prepaid sim card packages. However, we are talking about just a couple dollars.
The cheapest Colombia sim card is a Tigo prepaid sim card and costs a little over $5 for 10 GB data.
Claro has the best and most extensive 4G network coverage in Colombia.
Taking into consideration the prices and the 4G network coverage we come to the conclusion that Claro is the best prepaid sim card and therefore Traveltomtom recommends buying a Claro prepaid sim card for traveling in Colombia.
Buying a sim card for Colombia online
Sounds buying a local prepaid sim card on arrival in Colombia like too much work than we recommend looking into an international sim card with coverage in Colombia. These prepaid sim cards can be ordered online and get shipped to your home address before your trip. They are automatically activated and work like plug + play.
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $29.90 USD
- 12 GB data for 30 days = $39.90 USD
- 24 GB data for 2 years = $79.90 USD
Click here to order one of the above sim cards for Colombia directly online. Also another reminder that you can also order an e-sim card for Colombia online.
My experience buying a sim card in Colombia
Lately I visited Colombia for the 3th time and on this trip I only stayed in Bogota. I really like the city and it offers high living standards for very affordable prices. As said before when staying in the city center of one of the big cities in Colombia there it does not matter so much which prepaid sim card you buy.
Personally, I mostly always go with the provider that has the strongest 4G/5G network and therefore I bought a Claro prepaid sim card. However, even if I would have wanted to buy a Movistar or Tigo prepaid sim card it wasn’t possible as only Claro was still open at the time I was in the city center.
After I did my research at Bogota Airport I decided not to buy a prepaid sim card at Bogota Airport but patiently waited until I got to the city center. The prices for prepaid sim cards in Bogota city center are cheaper than at El Dorado International Airport.
I had no issues using Claro 4G in Bogota city center and at the airport! Since I had 12 GB data for just 2 days I also used my Claro prepaid sim card as a hotspot for my Macbook and it worked perfectly fine.
Interested in watching a short video about my experiences buying a prepaid sim card in Colombia then click below.
At the moment I can’t tell you much about my experiences using a Claro sim card for traveling in Colombia as I did not leave Bogota. That said in October 2023 I will be back in Colombia hosting another Traveltomtom Group Trip. So if you want to travel with me to Colombia this is your chance… Although when reading this article, I am sure you will be traveling to Colombia soon already.
If you are interested what it looks like traveling to every country in the world then check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom for some serious wanderlust. As of January 2023 I have visited more than 135 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Colombia!