Traveling to Costa Rica? If your phone supports the Tico frequencies, you can get data, messages and local calling with just a SIM card and a pre-paid “tarjeta”. And if you sign up for Google Voice + Hangouts, you can make and receive free international calls using wifi!
You’ll need a phone that can use the following bands:
GSM 1800 – UTMS 850– UTMS 2100
There are several cell service providers. The biggest one is Kölbi, which also has the most coverage (at least for now). Kölbi has a kiosk inside the Juan Santamaria Airport, which is where you’re most likely to land. Their cards, however, require a little explanation to activate and use.
To activate a new Kolbi card: Scratch off the area in the lower left on the back, using a coin or the head of a key. Dial *888# using your calling app. A message will say “USSD is running”.
You’ll get an options menu. Choose option 2, “Recarga de cuenta”.
You’ll then get another list of options. Choose option 1 “Recargar mi cuenta”.
On the next screen, enter the PIN from your card. Be aware that Kolbi uses a font that makes 8s and 0s look very much alike. It will then ask you for your Clave, which is right after the PIN on your card.
You’ll receive 2-3 texts after activation. The first two will tell you your new balance (one text from 8888, and one from “kolbi”). You can check your balance at any time by dialing either of the following numbers exactly as shown:
*888*1*1# or *1150#