Cell Phone Rental In CR - No Longer Necessary...

Repurposed from USExpatCostaRica.com


Private companies market cell phone rental to English speaking travelers despite the fact the local telephone company sells a five dollar prepaid phone plan.

Anyone can pick up the SIM card at the airport in San Jose and be able to make local calls for seven cents a minute. Sending text messages costs less than a penny each.

The initial purchase of a Kolbi prepaid plan in Costa Rica includes the SIM and the local phone number for no additional fee. Incoming calls are free, and the line will stay active indefinitely provided there is a five dollar recharge once every sixty days. Unused credit will always roll over from month to month while the line is active.

The only requirement to purchase the prepaid cell phone line is photo identification, and a foreign passport is acceptable. Unlike in the past there is NO residency or cedula requirement to obtain this service in Costa Rica. It is also not necessary to present the cell phone at the time of purchase, and the SIM chip can be swapped in and out of different unlocked phones.

Perhaps the biggest problem for the average traveler is coming up with an unlocked cell phone. Since most of the cell phone providers in the United States offer a deal with the purchase of a new phone they come “locked” into one provider.

Some companies will provide the unlocking code when a customer calls and explains they intend to travel internationally, however this can present technical challenges for many people.

The easiest way to get a cheap unlocked cell phone is to order it online via ebay prior to making the trip abroad. Many of refurbished and unlocked cell phones are available for under $20 inclusive of shipping costs. A similar new phone in Costa Rica will cost about $40, although even the nicer stores have deals on used phones.

Costa Rica uses the GSM-1800 cell phone band, which is more commonly associated with Europe and Asia than the United States. The good news is that most phones in recent years support all the worldwide cell phone bands.

Having the local prepaid line also creates the possibility of forwarding the U.S. number, which is far cheaper than paying for a foreign phone to work in Costa Rica.

Unfortunately ICE, the local telephone company has suspended Internet access for lines on the prepaid system. The reasons for this move are unclear, however the service is available on regular postpaid cell phone lines. These come at the same rate for outgoing calls, and non-residents are now allowed to acquire new service.

The major difference is that post paid lies charge a seven dollar a month fixed fee that comes with sixty minutes of usage and no roll over of the unused minutes.

Also available is a Datacard Service, which provides Internet access for laptop or other USB device via the Internet.

Of course there are companies that will rent a SIM for as much as $12 a day to the unwary and uninformed traveler. This comes with unlimited airtime, however a person would need to make at least two and a half hours of outgoing local calls per day for it to be a deal.

Cell Phones in Costa Rica is another company offering phone rental, and charges between $16 and $8 dollars with unlimited local calls.

In the past the rental of a cell phone in Costa Rica from a private company was very much a necessity for the savvy travel, however these days such a service is of negligible value. Technology and accessibly have improved to such an extent that only marketing keeps these kinds of business alive. An informed traveler can do better with a small amount of preparation.


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