Data Roaming in Costa Rica & Alternatives to Get Internet 2024: Which Option to Choose?

When traveling in Costa Rica, knowing your mobile connectivity options is essential. Join us to discover useful things about data roaming to help you be best prepared for your vacation in Costa Rica.

data-roaming-in-costa-rica

Nowadays, almost everyone uses mobile phones in the world and so does Costa Rica. And are you worrying about choosing the option to use your cell phones here? So in this article, we will help you to know detailed information and instructions on data roaming in Costa Rica as a tourist.

I. Phone Roaming in Costa Rica – Quick Facts for Tourists

To help you better understand data roaming in Costa Rica, we will share some basic information through the following article.

  • Roaming services: Allow you to use your mobile phone on a foreign network or not.
  • International roaming: Describing the process of using your home country’s mobile network in Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rica’s top three mobile network carriers are Kölbi, Claro, and Liberty. Some operators provide 5G, 4G, and 2G services. 
  • Ways to activate roaming: Contact your network provider and follow the instructions provided to enable roaming.
  • Prices and rates: Roaming costs in Costa Rica will depend on your mobile service provider and service plan. You should check your network provider’s specific pricing.

II. Understand about Roaming in Costa Rica – How It Works

travelers-are-using-roaming-in-costa-rica
Data roaming for tourists in Costa Rica

Data roaming is switching from using your current mobile network to another one so you can text, call, or use the internet in areas that your current network does not cover, especially when you go aboard. Now we will guide you more about data roaming in Costa Rica. 

In Costa Rica, your phone will automatically connect to the local mobile network. Therefore, your network provider will charge you roaming fees. Roaming fees for each carrier will vary depending on your service plan.

Furthermore, depending on the agreement between each network operator and each country, you can roam data at the destination or not and receive free or charged data roaming. In Costa Rica, there are many operators providing data roaming services for tourists to choose from. Some mobile operators that you can refer to are Liberty, Kölbi, and Claro. 

Advantages of data roaming in Costa Rica:

  • Convenience: You can use your cell phone and phone number when traveling in Costa Rica.
  • No need to buy a local SIM card: This can save you time and budget.
  • Easy to activate: You can usually activate data roaming by contacting your mobile service provider or following instructions provided by your service provider.

Disadvantages of data roaming in Costa Rica:

  • High rates: Roaming charges in Costa Rica can be high, especially for data usage.
  • Limited coverage: Data roaming may not be available in all areas of Costa Rica.
  • Restrictions: Some mobile providers may have restrictions or limitations on roaming services.

Overall, it is important to consider the pros and cons of using data roaming in Costa Rica before making a decision. If you are planning on using a lot of data, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a local SIM card.

Tip: Contact your network provider before traveling to Costa Rica to find out about roaming rates and policies.

III. Is the Roaming Rate in Costa Rica Expensive?

Yes, roaming rates in Costa Rica are currently quite expensive. However, depending on each mobile operator, the cost of data roaming will vary. To understand clearly, please refer to the following.

OperatorCallsTextsData
Kölbi$1.20 per minute$0.15 per message$0.25 per MB
Claro$1.00 per minute$0.10 per message$0.20 per MB
Liberty$1.50 per minute$0.20 per message$0.30 per MB

Based on the table above, purchasing a local SIM card or eSIM will be more convenient for data roaming. Costa Rica SIM cards can be purchased for around $10-$20 and they often come with data plans that are much cheaper than roaming.

The price and plan can be changed over time. Contact the mobile operator to get the most updated information. 

IV. How to Activate Roaming Service for Costa Rica in Your Cell Phone?

To activate roaming services for Costa Rica in your cell phone, you just need to take 4 steps:

Step 1: Choose your preferred service provider

You need to determine the service provider first. You can either keep your home mobile plan or go for a local cellular carrier. If you choose a local mobile carrier, and activate its roaming service, the recommended local providers for roaming services are Kölbi, Claro, and Liberty.

OperatorRoaming ratesMobile packages with roaming
Kölbi$1.20 per minute$10 per day for unlimited calls, texts, and data
Claro$1.00 per minute$15 per day for unlimited calls, texts, and data
Liberty$1.50 per minute$20 per day for unlimited calls, texts, and data

Step 2: Activate the roaming function for your service provider

Each mobile network carrier has a different way to activate roaming services. You had better refer to the official website of the chosen operator for more details.

For example: If you choose data roaming of Kölbi, you just visit Kölbi’s website → Click on the “Roaming” tab → Select your country from the drop-down menu → Enter your Kölbi account number and phone number → Click on the “Activate” button → Turn on your phone’s roaming function → And start using roaming services in Costa Rica.

Step 3: Buy a mobile package with roaming

Normally, roaming charges are quite expensive. Buying roaming packages will ensure that there are no roaming charges.

► Our recommendations: 

  • It is recommended to purchase a roaming package one day before departure as it usually starts immediately after purchase.
  • Install your service provider’s app so you can manage and monitor built-in usage.
  • Choose the roaming package that suits your needs and budget accordingly. For example, choose an unlimited package (if any) if you are a heavy data user. Alternatively, choose a roaming package with a limited data volume if you only use data when necessary. 

Step 4: Turn on your phone’s roaming

On Android: Settings > Tap on “Data roaming” > Turn “International Roaming” on

On iOS (iPhone): Settings > Cellular > Tap on “Data roaming”

Note: Remember to turn off roaming when not in use to avoid incurring unnecessary costs when returning to Costa Rica.

V. How to Avoid Roaming Charges When Traveling to Costa Rica

Here are some tips to help you avoid data roaming fees when traveling to Costa Rica:

  • Most urban areas have hotels, restaurants, and public spaces that offer free WiFi. You can connect to their network, make calls, and watch videos without incurring roaming charges.
  • Turning off automatic app updates helps save your mobile data, especially when roaming.
  • Before your trip, you should download some necessary applications such as ticket booking, route lookup, and language translation applications in case you cannot connect while in Costa Rica.
  • There are many calling apps that allow you to make calls over WiFi or data such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype.
  • Check if the phone is unlocked to use the local SIM card. And don’t forget your phone supports eSIM by checking the eSIM compatibility list.

VI. Costa Rica – Alternative to Data Roaming in Costa Rica to Get Internet

esim-of-gigago-for-tourists-in-costa-rica

In addition to data roaming, travelers can also connect to data using a Costa Rica eSIM for travel. This method has outstanding advantages compared to roaming, you can refer to the following table:

eSIMRoaming
ProsCost-effective
– No need for a local SIM card
– Easy to set up and use
– Wide coverage
– No data limits
Cons– Limited coverage
– Data limits
– Must have an eSIM-compatible device to use
– Expensive costs
– Requires a Costa Rica SIM card

If you are wondering about choosing an eSIM provider, Gigago is the most suitable choice for you. Gigago is currently the leading eSIM provider in Costa Rica with a variety of data packages for you to choose from.

Gigago offers multiple data plan options for Costa Rica, with prices ranging from $37.80$108.00 . Their minimum 1 GB/7 days starts at just $37.80 . With this range of affordable plans, Gigago can accommodate any type of user and trip length in Costa Rica. Whether you only need occasional internet access or plan to stream extensively, Gigago has a Costa Rica eSIM plan to fit your needs and budget. The flexibility of their pricing makes Gigago a great eSIM solution for travel to Costa Rica.

VII. How to Turn Off Data Roaming When Traveling in Costa Rica

Use a local SIM card, mobile hotspot, or eSIM instead of data roaming in Costa Rica to prevent inadvertent costs. This is how:

1. Turn off international roaming on Android When Traveling in Costa Rica

  • Open the “Settings” app on your Android device.
  • Tap on “Network & internet”.
  • Tap on “Mobile network”.
  • Tap on “Data roaming”.
  • Toggle the switch next to “Data roaming” to the off position.
how-to-turn-off-roaming-on-android
How to turn off roaming on Android

2. Turn off international roaming on iPhones

  • Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone.
  • Scroll down and tap on “Cellular” or “Mobile Data” (depending on your iOS version).
  • Tap on “Data Roaming.”
  • Toggle the switch next to “Data Roaming” to the off position.
  • A pop-up message may appear. Tap “Disable” or “Turn Off” to confirm.
how-to-turn-off-roaming-on-iphone
How to turn off roaming on iPhone

VIII. FAQs

1. What should I consider when selecting a mobile plan in Costa Rica?

When selecting a mobile plan in Costa Rica, it is important to consider coverage, cost, customer service, and additional services offered by the mobile provider.

2. How can I track my data usage while roaming?

Check your phone’s built-in data usage tracking feature or use apps provided by your carrier to monitor your data usage and avoid exceeding limits.

3. Which are the major mobile providers in Costa Rica?

The major mobile providers in Costa Rica are Kölbi, Claro, and Liberty.

IX. Conclusion

In short, data roaming in Costa Rica is one of the most convenient ways when you want to travel here. Hope this article has helped you better understand data roaming information in this country as well as some ways to avoid roaming fees. If there is an effective alternative, then eSIM is perfect for all your needs.

If you have any questions about the best SIM card option for your travels in Costa Rica, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below. We are always happy to help you!

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