We found many companies renting different types of cell phones – several that work with, or are part of, rental-car companies or hotels. So to streamline your travel plans, it’s worth asking ahead to see if your hotel or rent-a-car can offer you a phone. Options for renting a chip for your own phone appear to be more limited.
Magda Hernández, the owner of Cell Service (296-5553, 394-5904, 380-6663), told us her company offers both regular and satellite phones. For a cellular phone, customers must provide a credit card for a deposit of $300; the rental costs $5 per day with an additional charge of $0.60 per minute for local calls, $1.50 per minute for international calls.
A satellite phone – which, as the name implies, works through a satellite signal instead of cell-phone towers, and therefore offers the advantage of reliable service even in remote areas – requires a deposit of $1,300, a daily fee of $25 (a reduced fee is available for rentals longer than a few days), and a per-minute charge of $2.99. Hernández said the satellite phone option is popular with customers planning trips to Chirripó, in the Southern Zone, or Isla del Coco, off the Pacific coast. It’s also handy for clients planning to visit more than one country during their trip, because it works anywhere.
Cell Service offers delivery and pickup anywhere in the Central Valley, including JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, or can send a phone elsewhere. The company works with hotels including the Real Intercontinental in the western San José suburb of Escazú and the Four Seasons Resort in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Cell Service also occasionally rents chips for phones; contact Hernández for more information.
Dollar Rent-a-Car (443-2950) offers cell-phone rentals on their own, or in combination with car rentals. If you’re renting a car, the phone comes free of charge, though you’ll pay a daily minimum of five minutes’ worth of calls whether or not you use the phone. Phones equipped only for local calls ($0.49 per minute) or for international calls ($1.79 per minute) are available, according to Marco Castro of Dollar. Clients renting a phone but not a car must also pay a $300 deposit for the phone.
Economy Rent-a-Car also offers phone rentals through its GSM Rent-a-Cell service (231-5410).
Meanwhile, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) offers a slick new service for cell phone users planning to travel from Costa Rica to other countries. For more information, visit www. grupoice.com.