Prepaid (prepago) mobile telephones are easier to obtain than contract (postpago) since you need to be a resident in order to get a contract.
If you want a mobile phone you should first consult which technology is available in your area, after which you can visit the different companies that offer a mobile phone service. You would need to bring your passport and a copy of your passport, unless you are already registered in the company for other services.
The most important companies for mobile telephones are Kölbi (from ICE), Movistar and TúYo Móvil. This is an illustrative list of prices and services offered by these companies by January 2013:
- The price for calling and/or sending sms is about the same for all: ¢34 per minute, ¢1’70 per sms and about ¢ 85 per an international sms
- The possibilities for charging your prepaid card are by Scratchcard, by electronic card or in a charging point (usually banks or the company offices). In Movistar, there are Scratchcards from ¢5 to ¢5,000, in TúYo and Kölbi, it goes from ¢50 to ¢10,000. In Kölbi, you can find prepaid cards from ¢500 to ¢10,000 and also for $10 and $20.
- For internet, you can buy plans per hours (1, 3 or 6) or per days (1, 7, 15 or 30). The cost is around ¢17 one hour or ¢300-400 one day, although rates vary depending on the company and the offer.
- Kölbi offers all its services in Spanish and English, even in the website and for charging your card by phone.
- You are probably going to call home often, so ask about the MIDA international calling rates, since some companies have cheaper rates for different countries. All companies offer services for international calls, we will detail it in the section “International calls”
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) the Costa Rican state monopoly insurance company, offers insurance against cell phone theft. This policy cover lost or theft of cell phones. The premium of the insurance is 7.25% of the value of the cell phone. Important to know is that this policy is only available for new GSM phones. This insurance can only be renewed once. You can insure you cell phone when you buy it or within 30 days at your nearest insurance agent. You will have to bring your proof of purchase.
Payment of Telephone Bills
ICE offers different methods for paying your bills:
- PAR, Pago Automático de Recibos - This is an automatic payment. Each month your bill is paid automatically from your Costa Rican checking account.
- Internet - If you have a bank account with the Banco de Costa Rica or the Banco Nacional you can consult and pay your telephone bills online.
- Telephone - If you have a bank account with the Banco de Costa Rica you can pay your bills by calling Bancantel at (506) 258-9191. If you hace a bank account with Banco Nacional you can pay your bill by calling BN Directo at (506) 212-2566.