Buying a SIM card at José María Córdova Airport (MDE) in Medellín: Travelers Guide

Staying connected upon arrival is crucial for many travelers landing in Colombia. Purchasing a local SIM card is strongly advised in order to ensure continuous data and connectivity. This guide provides tips for getting a SIM card at José María Córdova Airport (MDE) to have data, calls, and SMS for exploring the city. You will know updated prices, ways to get, and better alternatives to airport SIM cards in Colombia.

SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

I. Should You Buy a SIM Card at José María Córdova Airport (MDE)?

Yes, you should buy a SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport for immediate Internet connection upon arrival.

However, there are also drawbacks of this way and there may be cheaper solutions based on your needs. Here’s a breakdown to help you choose:

Where to buyProsCons
At José María Córdova International Airport– Saves you time searching elsewhere– Potentially higher price
Online before trip– A broader range of plan alternatives;
– Reasonable prices
– Additional delivery expenses;
– Must wait for delivery
In Medellín center– Help with registration;
– Wider selection;
– Potentially lower prices
– Inconvenience;
– Language barrier

► Our Recommendation:

  • If you want the cheapest choice, acquire a SIM card in Medellín’s city center  
  • If you prefer the convenience of having a SIM card straight away, you can purchase one at José María Córdova International Airport; however, it may be more expensive.

II. Where to Buy a SIM Card at José María Córdova Airport (MDE)? 

José María Córdova International Airport maps
José María Córdova International Airport maps

Unfortunately, there is no SIM Card SIM card shop in the arrival hall at Medellin Airport that offer Colombia SIM cards for tourists. However, you can find SIM cards in a phone store located in the departure hall on the 2nd floor of José María Córdova Airport. This shop sells phone cases, accessories and prepaid SIM cards for tourists. You can get a Claro SIM Card with 12GB of data used in 30 days flor 85,000 Pesos ($17.5 USD).

Besides, travelers arriving in Medellin still have several options to secure a SIM card:

  • Tech Port Business: Situated on both the first and second floors of the Medellin Airport. Tech Port operates 24/7, sells Claro SIM cards outside the restricted area, ensuring easy access for all visitors.
  • Small Store Upstairs: Claro SIM cards are available in a modest snack and beverage shop. It’s a convenient location for a quick buy.​

Pro Tip: You can connect to the airport wifi to purchase Colombia eSIM online. But, make sure that your phone supports eSIM function.

III. How Much Does a SIM Card at José María Córdova Airport Cost?

An international SIM card for Colombia at José María Córdova Airport often costs between $10 and $40. In fact, the cost of a SIM card vary substantially depending on the source you select. Consider that foreign shipping often raises the cost of the service. In general,

Here are some features to look for in a SIM Card:

  • Data Speed: Depending on your requirements, ensure that the SIM card provides the appropriate data speed.
  • Coverage Area: Look for SIM cards that offer coverage in the locations you intend to visit.
  • Price: Select a SIM card that is within your budget and meets your data and call requirements.

Note: Finally, the ideal option depends on your budget, data requirements, and how quickly you need to connect in Colombia.

IV. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

Prepare for buying a SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)
Prepare for buying a SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

You need to prepare the following things when buying a SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE):

  • Passport: When buying a SIM card, the majority of stores will ask you to present your passport for verification.
  • Unlocked phones: Verify that your phone is unlocked and compatible with GSM networks in Colombia.
  • Local Currency (COP): For a more seamless transaction, it’s advisable to have Colombian Pesos (COP) on hand, even if some retailers may take major credit cards. If possible, exchange some money prior to travel or use the ATM at the airport.
  • Card Reader Compatibility: In order for certain stores to accept your credit or debit card, be sure it has a chip and PIN capability.
  • Activate SIM: Mobile network providers in Colombia (Claro, Tigo, Movistar) typically require online activation or activation through a dedicated app. After inserting your new SIM, some phones require you to manually activate it in the settings before it works. You may also need to restart your phone to complete the process. Follow the instructions provided with the SIM.
  • Download Apps (Optional): Before leaving, if your phone has enough capacity and you can connect to a dependable Wi-Fi network, you might want to download local navigation or translation apps. This will be useful when you get there.

Remember: If you use data or make calls before activating your SIM card, you may be charged roaming fees on your current phone plan.

V. Best Tourist José María Córdova International Airport SIM Cards Options and Price

Three major carriers – Claro, Movistar, and Tigo – dominate the mobile communication market in Medellín. These service providers cater to a variety of client demands by providing a range of services over many network types, such as 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE. Whether in an urban or rural setting, consumers must select an operator that best meets their unique connection demands, as each has a different range of frequencies and coverage areas.

1. Claro Medellin Sim Card

  • Network: provides 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE services.
  • Frequency: 850/1900 MHz for 2G; 850/1900 MHz for 3G; Band 7 (2600 MHz) for LTE.
  • Coverage: is extensive, particularly in remote areas.
  • Popular Plans: Provides a wide range of prepaid and postpaid plans to meet a variety of needs. Tourist plans are also offered.
  • Data package: begin at 30,000 COP per 10 GB of data for 30 days. Claro provides the best coverage for sim cards in Medellin.
Buying a SIM card in Claro official store
Buying a SIM card in Claro official store

2. Movistar Medellin Sim Card

  • Network: Offers 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G services.
  • Frequency: Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz) for 4G LTE; 850/1900 MHz for 2G; 850/900 MHz for 3G
  • Coverage: In rural areas, coverage is less than in metropolitan areas.
  • Popular Plans: A selection of plans that meet different demands for text, calls, and data. Additionally, Movistar offers a few packages targeted to tourists.
  • Data package: For $6 USD, Movistar provides a variety of prepaid plans with 30 GB of data. In Medellin, Movistar is the most affordable sim card.

3. Tigo Medellin Sim Card

  • Network: offers 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE services.
  • Frequency: 1900 MHz for 2G; 1900 MHz for 3G; 4G LTE Band 28 (700 MHz).
  • Coverage: is strong in metropolitan regions but less so in rural areas.
  • Popular Plans: Known for offering low-cost prepaid plans. Tigo also provides numerous bundles that include data, voice, and text.
  • Tigo data packages: begin at $5 USD for 10 GB, which is valid for 15 days.

► Our recommendation: The greatest SIM card in Colombia is Tigo. This plan is ideal for digital nomads, remote workers, and travelers! 

VI. Colombia eSIM for Medellín – an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

Colombia eSIM for Medellín - an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)
Colombia eSIM for Medellín – an Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

You should definitely consider using eSIM as it has lots of benefits to make your trip to Medellín much more stress-free. Here is why:

  • Super handy: You don’t have to struggle with tiny plastic cards or wait for the card to be delivered by postal.
  • Easy to set up: Setting eSIM online before you leave your home country, or using the José María Córdova International Airport Wi-Fi after you land to activate the eSIM. 

You’ll avoid the difficulty of finding your SIM card at José María Cordova International Airport with Gigago. This is a reputable eSIM dealer, providing a convenient solution to stay connected throughout your Colombia trip. Their user-friendly service allows you to purchase and activate an eSIM quickly and conveniently.

Gigago has a variety of plans to suit your needs, from 7 days for $8.90 to 30 days for $35.90. Plus, with a Gigago Colombia eSIM for Medellín, you’ll avoid expensive roaming fees and keep your home SIM active for calls and texts.

VII. Where to Buy a SIM card Outside José María Córdova International Airport?

While José María Córdova International Airport offers SIM cards, you also have options to buy in the city center. In Medellín, just like everywhere else in Colombia, there are some stores on the streets that sell prepaid SIM cards by far. Here’s where you can get it:

1. Shopping malls & Convenience stores in Medellín

Some shopping malls, such as El Tesoro or Santafé, could have kiosks or tiny shops selling SIM cards. SIM cards may be found at Medellín convenience shops and supermarkets, including Éxito, Jumbo, Justo, and Bueno. 

2. Official Carriers Store in Medellín

Travelers can buy SIM cards at official carriers store in Medellín
Travelers can buy SIM cards at official carriers store in Medellín

For a wider selection of prepaid SIM card plans in Medellín, head to official stores of the major carriers such as Claro, Movistar, and Tigo. You’ll find them conveniently located throughout the city.

Claro Official Store in Medellín: 

  • Tenerife #101, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
  • Cr 43 A 30–25 C.C. Premium Plaza Lc 3428 – 3491, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia 
  • Cl. 49 #48-18, Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia

Movistar Official Store in Medellín:

  • Centro Comercial Camino Real, Cra. 47 #52 – 86 Local 301, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
  • Centro Comercial Premium Plaza, Cra. 43A #30 – 25 Local 1260, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
  • Diagonal 55 #34-67 Centro Comercial Puerta del Norte, Torre 1, Piso 2, Local 286 Zona Común Boulevard, Bello, Antioquia, Colombia

Tigo Official Store in Medellín:

  • Cra. 46 #52-50, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
  • Cl. 29 #45-10, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
  • Isla Tigo, Carrera 43A # 7 Sur -170 Piso 2 Carrera 43A, Av. El Poblado #7 Sur -170 piso 2, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia

► Our recommendation: The most suggested alternative when buying a SIM card outside José María Córdova International Airport is getting it from one of the internet provider’s official stores in Medellín. Their assistance experts will help you choose the right one.

VIII. FAQs about SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)

Can I buy a SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)?

Yes, you likely can find a store selling Colombia SIM cards at the airport. However, options and plans might be limited.

What are the available mobile network options in Medellín?

You can choose among Medellín’s major mobile network providers like Claro, Tigo, and Movistar.

Should I buy a physical SIM card or eSIM?

If you prioritize convenience, security, and keeping your home SIM active, and your phone supports eSIM, then you should go for the eSIM. You can find a reputable provider like Gigago to buy and activate eSIM online.

IX. Conclusion 

Finally, buying a SIM card at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) is pretty simple. The major carriers have stores right in the arrival hall that sell various data plans. Having a local SIM card allows you to simply look up transportation, check maps, and communicate with your loved ones back home via communication applications. An eSIM package is also a great option for dependable Internet connectivity and flexibility.