Buy a local SIM card to reduce your phone bills.
Puerto Rico is popular with tourists looking to explore the rainforests or spectacular waterfalls. Many people spend quite a lot of time navigating their way around the island. Using your phone there can work out to be quite expensive, however, so to keep costs down, why not switch to a local SIM card to take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs?
Puerto Rico has several prepaid SIM card deals for travellers, with offers that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from the leading telco provider for $10 (about AUD$12.75). So, whether you’re planning a quick break or extended relaxation, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
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Telco providers in Puerto Rico
The island is a US territory and has three main phone operators that are also available in the US: AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Two more operators cover Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands but won’t operate on the US mainland: Claro and Open Mobile. All operators have been tried and tested by both the locals and international travellers, and they can be trusted. According to OpenSignal, coverage is great along the shoreline and the main towns and cities, although it could get worse in some areas farther inland.
About Puerto Rico’s telco providers
All operators sell prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from official stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and approved resellers, as well as at the airport. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can purchase a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is active when you buy it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card kiosks around towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in most stores and supermarkets. Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Puerto Rico.
Claro is an operator unique to Puerto Rico. It has good coverage on 4G/LTE and is very popular with the younger crowd, which is looking for good prepaid deals for data. Most retailers will sell SIM cards, but it’s always better to buy them at official stores so they can be registered properly using your passport. All plans offer roaming on the US mainland. Claro also offers a selection of “prepago” (prepaid) or "sin contrato" (no contract) plans. Credit refill cards can be added in the following denominations: $10, $15, $20 or $30. Credit can also be added via E-cards and through top-up machines in corner stores or supermarkets. Dial *611# to check your balance.
Claro also offers “por minutos” plans:
|1GB||30 days||$19.99||DATA 1|
|3GB||30 days||$24.99||DATA 3|
|5GB||30 days||$34.99||DATA 5|
Text the “DATA” code to 2527 to activate.
The following data amounts can also be added:
The above-mentioned data plans have to be uploaded online.
Claro also offers a selection of data-only mobile broadband plans or “Banda Ancha” for modems or tablets. The following plans can be purchased:
(only on 4G/LTE)
(only on 4G/LTE)
(only on 4G/LTE)
- 250MB: $4.99 - For activation, text ADD250 to 2527
- 1GB: $9.99 - For activation, text ADD1GB to 2527
- 3GB: $19.99 - For activation, text ADD3GB to 2527
- 5GB: $24.99 - For activation, text ADD5GB to 2527
Claro’s APN: internet.claropr.com, but if LTE doesn't work, use: LTE.claropr.com
Open Mobile is a small provider only available in Puerto Rico. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Verizon has a roaming agreement with Open Mobile, so if you already have a Verizon SIM card, then you will be able to use that in Puerto Rico to roam on the Open Mobile network.
Open Mobile calls its own prepaid SIM card packages “Ola”. 2G and 3G plans are based on the CDMA platform, which means GSM phones won’t be able to use it. However, 4G/LTE SIM cards are compatible with GSM international phones. Credit can be purchased in several different denominations between $5 and $250.
The following monthly data plans are available on 4G/LTE SIM cards:
Data credit can be added in the following denominations: $10 for 1GB, $25 for 3GB or $35 for 5GB
Open Mobile’s APN for 4G/LTE: sp.openmobilepr.com
The following US-based providers can also be used in Puerto Rico without roaming charges:
AT&T is the largest GSM-based provider in America. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can be purchased from the same retailers and most supermarkets. The AT&T “GoPhone” prepaid SIM card can be picked up for free, but packages must be added to use.
There are two prepaid plans being offered: one includes data, voice and SMS while the other is a data-only SIM card for modems and tablets.
Credit can be added in many different denominations between $15 and $100, valid between 90 and 365 days.
The following voice and data plans are available:
|$30||Unlimited to US||Data charged at $2 per MB or 250MB for $5|
|$35||Unlimited to US||1GB included|
|$45||Unlimited (to Mexico and Canada included)||6GB included|
|$65||Unlimited (to Mexico and Canada included)||Unlimited US data|
There are also $1-per-day data add-on packs that can be purchased, valid per calendar day.
The following data-only packs are also available
|$25||2GB||500MB for $10 add-on available|
|$50||5GB||1GB for $10 add-on available|
|$75||8GB||2GB for $10 add-on available|
AT&T’s APN for smartphones: phone; APN for modem, routers and tablets: broadband
T-Mobile US is catching up with AT&T. Its plans are very popular with the younger audience, and T-Mobile offers better prices than its competitors. Prepaid SIM cards come labelled as “activation kits”, which come with a SIM card, detailed information on how to set it up in both Spanish and English, and/or a smartphone. SIM cards can be purchased for $25 but contain only $3 of credit. Dial *611 from a T-Mobile phone to activate. Credit can be purchased from most stores or supermarkets from $10 up to $200. Prepaid SIM cards are valid for 90 days after credit is added.
The following data packs can be added to prepaid SIM cards:
- $5: 500MB for 1 day
- $10: 1GB for 7 days
There are also monthly prepaid plans available:
|$45||Unlimited data||Unlimited cap: 4GB|
|$55||Unlimited data||Unlimited cap: 6GB|
|$75||Unlimited data||Unlimited cap: 30GB|
T-Mobile also has the following data-only SIM plans available:
The following data packs can be added, and they renew automatically after 30 days:
T-Mobile’s APN: epc.t-mobile.com, and website: https://www.t-mobile.com/
Sprint is the smallest operator but has some good deals available. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can be purchased from the same retailers and most supermarkets. The only catch here, though, is that you must buy a prepaid SIM card pack, which comes with a smartphone. Prices vary depending on which phone you select, but this makes these SIM card packages extremely expensive. We therefore suggest you choose one of the other providers mentioned, as they offer better services and better deals. However, if you do find a better deal on this network, then go ahead and use it because it can be trusted.
Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:
- Locals call a SIM card a “card” or “SIM”.
- Ask the retailers to help set up the SIM card for you. They are official sellers and will be very happy to help.
- Try to get to the stores early to beat the crowds.
Pros and cons of Puerto Rico telco providers
Most operators require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone, though Open Mobile also works for Verizon customers. To double check you have a GSM phone, or to find out whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Most networks can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Signal can suffer in some areas
Had more questions about finding the best SIM?
Q: What about other SIM card providers in Puerto Rico?
A: There are several smaller carriers providing SIM cards in Puerto Rico, including AirVoice, Boos Mobile, Cricket Wireless, FreedomPop, Simple Mobile and many others. These are all run through the base providers highlighted above. Although you may find slightly different deals and plans, we feel it’s always best to stick with the main providers. However, if you do find a better deal on one of these operators, they can be trusted.