Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Purchasing a SIM card for your cell phone in Brazil circa 2011

Note this was written from my December 2011 trip to Rio De Janeiro, not sure if things have changed now in 2014 to make things more tourist friendly for the upcoming world cup.

Ok how to buy a Brazilian SIM card for your unlocked GSM Phone. Upon my arrival in Brazil this was one of my biggest concerns as I needed to get in touch with my friend who would be arriving the next day. No way was I going to pay T-Mobile outrageous roaming rates. At the hostel I was staying at they were very helpful and told me to visit the Botofogo shopping mall and look there. I knew I was going to get one from the carrier TIM as some previous research had told me it was the best pricing and coverage. Now as normal this is where the frustration sets in, after going to the TIM store, along with all the 3 other stores that sold phones in the mall, asking if anyone spoke English to which I got a resounding NO, I was able at least to point at the phone and they understood that I wanted a SIM card.. But wouldn’t sell it, and kept on saying Lojas Americanas, which was a store that I saw downstairs, eventually I ventured down there and it was intimidating at first as this place sold everything under the sun. The phones were right in the front and thankfully one gentleman spoke some English and with my pre-printed sheet and pointing at my iphone was able to figure out I wanted a Sim card. The card itself was cheap at R$10, my second concern was not having a Brazilian CBF number, the equivalent of their social security number. From previous reading I knew that TIM had some English customer service and would take my passport number as a way to register it. Seems the girl who helped me must have registered it with her CBF number, as I never gave them my passport or number. The card itself was R$10, but then I had to load up credit and just went with the smallest amount which was R$6.

Ok so now I thought I was in business but my initial attempt to call my friend failed, with the message in Portuguese and me having no idea of what they were saying it was back into the store again.. I showed them the number I was trying to call and it turns out I didn’t need the +55 for the international country code and actually numbers in Sao Paulo should be started with 041 instead of the city code.. with this change made, boom called and was able to talk and text my friend.. Plans were made to meet for new years eve and it was all good.. The service is good data plan with 3G, 3G sucks the hell out of the battery of my old unlocked iphone 3G, so I just go with slow edge or WiFi. So far I have not run out of the initial R$6 credit after using for 6 days… its been great to be able to have internet especially for the mapping with GPS features.


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