If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, having a reliable means of staying connected is essential. Whether it’s finding your way around a new city, discovering the best dining options, or simply keeping in touch with loved ones through photos and messages, having internet access while on the go can make your travel experience much smoother.
While international roaming is an option, the associated fees can quickly accumulate. That’s why we recommend considering either an eSIM or a local sim card to take advantage of local phone rates. Thankfully, obtaining either option in Costa Rica is incredibly straightforward.
To help you make an informed decision, this comprehensive guide provides you with everything you need to know about purchasing a sim card in Costa Rica, including current pricing information and the absolute best sim card option for your specific needs.
The best tourist sim card in Costa Rica is the Kolbi Prepaid Domain 2 with 4GB data for 8,065 CRC, or about $15 USD, which is valid for 1 month.
Kolbi offers the best mobile network coverage in Costa Rica, however, if you can only find a Claro or Vodafone store then you will be absolutely fine with one of their sim cards as well. All three mobile operators have very extensive coverage.
Airalo also offers an eSim in Costa Rica which is much more convenient than picking up a local sim card. However, they are also a bit more expensive at $22 USD for 3GB.
A Tourist Sim Card in Costa Rica costs 8,065 CRC in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.
Alternatively, an eSim in Costa Rica will cost between $9 USD and $31 USD. This, again, depends on how much data you require and which eSim provider you choose.
I generally recommend this Airalo plan for most tourists visiting Costa Rica which includes 3GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $22 USD.
In Costa Rica, three main SIM card providers dominate the telecommunications market – Claro, Kolbi, and Liberty (formerly known as Movistar). Claro, owned by America Movil, offers a wide network coverage across the country, providing reliable voice and data services. Kolbi, the state-owned company, offers extensive network coverage as well, with a strong emphasis on customer service. It is known for its affordable plans and extensive distribution network. Lastly, Liberty (formerly Movistar) offers competitive services with good network coverage and attractive packages for both locals and tourists.
All three providers offer prepaid and postpaid plans, allowing customers to choose the option that best suits their needs. With multiple retail outlets, online services, and customer care centers, these providers ensure accessibility and convenience for their users.
Claro is a major telecommunications company offering convenient tourist sim cards in Costa Rica. Their sim cards provide reliable coverage across the country, ensuring a hassle-free communication experience for tourists. With affordable data plans, visitors can easily stay connected with family and friends, browse the internet, and access popular travel apps. Claro’s user-friendly setup process and helpful customer service make it an excellent choice for travelers exploring Costa Rica.
The price of a Claro tourist sim card in Costa Rica is 10000 CRC.
The plan offered by Claro stores includes 5GB data valid for 30 days.
Kolbi, the leading telecommunications company in Costa Rica, offers tourists convenient sim cards for their stay in this stunning country. With Kolbi’s tourist sim cards, travelers can enjoy reliable and affordable communication solutions during their visit. These cards provide access to data, calls, and messages across Costa Rica, allowing tourists to stay connected with loved ones, navigate with ease, and access important information. Kolbi’s tourist sim cards are an excellent choice for any traveler exploring Costa Rica’s captivating destinations.
The price of a Kolbi tourist sim card in Costa Rica is 8,065 CRC.
The plan offered by Kolbi stores offers 4GB data + 50 minutes + 30 SMS valid for 1 month.
Liberty, formerly known as Movistar, offers convenient tourist sim cards in Costa Rica. These sim cards provide seamless connectivity for travelers, allowing them to stay connected with friends, family, and essential online services. With Liberty’s tourist sim cards, visitors can enjoy reliable coverage, high-speed internet, and competitive call rates. Whether exploring lush rainforests or relaxing on pristine beaches, Liberty ensures uninterrupted communication to enhance the Costa Rican experience. Stay connected and make the most of your trip with Liberty’s reliable tourist sim cards.
The price of a Liberty (formerly Movistar) tourist sim card in Costa Rica is 2,000 CRC.
The plan offered by Liberty (formerly Movistar) stores includes 1GB data + 15 minutes calls valid for 6 days.
Identify mobile providers: Claro, Kolbi and Liberty (formerly Movistar) are your best options in Costa Rica.
Find your nearest store: Locate a store or retailer by searching on Google Maps for your nearest store or asking at your hotel reception. I’ve never had issues finding a store as they can usually be found in major cities, shopping centers, or tourist areas. If possible, I always recommend to to avoid airports and head in to an official store in the city.
Bring the necessary documents: It is always a good idea to carry your passport or identification documents for sim card registration purposes. We’ve found most providers will need to confirm your identity to provide a sim card and it can be a major hassle to head to a store only to have to come back again later with your passport.
Choose your plan: Either request the plan you are after or consult with the staff in the store to select the right plan for you. My recommendations at the beginning of this guide are a good starting point, but the staff will usually be able to suggest the best option.
Pay and activate your card: Pay for the SIM card and plan, and the staff will activate it for you.
Test: It’s always a good idea to check that you can access the internet before you leave the store. I always search for something on Google then refresh my Instagram feed to check it’s working fine.
Buying a prepaid sim card for Costa Rica at the airport is usually considered the most convenient option for travellers arriving by plane.
However, airport stores selling sim cards are almost guaranteed to charge inflated prices, so if you are a cost-conscious traveller then you should definitely buy your sim card from a store in the city center.
In addition to this, we would argue that buying physical sim cards at all aren’t particularly convenient now that most people use esim compatible phones. If you are looking for the most convenient option, then buying an esim before you arrive or with the airport wifi is much easier and will save you having to queue up or communicate with staff.
If you must purchase a sim card at the airport in Costa Rica then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Costa Rica have stores selling sim cards. Despite the prices being higher than normal, the staff are knowledgable and will be able to get you set up with the correct sim card relatively quickly.
If you want to avoid the inflated sim card prices you’ll find at the airport and your phone isn’t esim compatible, then you’re going to need to head in to a store to buy your sim card.
I recommend visiting one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet operators such as Claro, Kolbi and Liberty (formerly Movistar). Your best option is to enter their names into Google Maps and find the branch closest to your hotel or accommodation. Typically the staff in the official stores in Costa Rica are knowledgable and helpful which means you can ensure you’ll walk away with a functioning sim card.
Despite this, it’s always a good idea to check your internet is working before you leave the store by loading a Google search results page and your preferred social media app. You should also ensure you always bring your passport with you when purchasing a sim card in case they need to register it.
If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in Costa Rica with your sim card all sorted and your phone ready to connect to the internet immediately then you should look into purchasing a sim card online.
The first option is to buy your sim card in advance via SimOptions, which is a company that will prepare and ship a sim card directly to your door. It’s a reliable and effective service, but with the invention of eSims it’s becoming obsolete.
The better option is to purchase an eSim online. We’ve written more on that below!
An eSim is a digital version of a traditional sim card and is most likely the future of connectivity for mobile devices. The convenience of no longer visiting a store, handing over your passport and purchasing a physical sim card is quickly making physical sim cards obsolete in favour of eSims.
We recommend Airalo’s eSim when travelling to Costa Rica. The Airalo Costa Rica eSim offers fast internet speeds, wide coverage and extremely competitive prices making it a far more compelling option than purchasing a physical sim card from any of the local sim card providers.
In order to get set up with an Airalo eSim, all you need to do is visit Airalo here and purchase the eSim online (the $22 USD plan is suitable for most travellers). Once you’ve purchased the sim card Airalo will email you instructions and a QR code. Following these instructions should take just a couple of minutes, then you’ll have a sim card in Costa Rica without having to venture outside.
Our preferred eSim provider in Costa Rica is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Costa Rica and found the service to be equal to the local sim card but without the hassle of acquiring a sim card in a store.
Airalo’s Costa Rica eSim uses the Claro and Kolbi Ice networks to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the Claro and Kolbi Ice networksnetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Costa Rica.
Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s Costa Rica eSim:
1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $9 USD
2GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $17 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $22 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $31 USD
For most travellers we recommend the 3GB data plan for $22 USD which is valid for 30 days. Some travellers may prefer a larger plan, whilst travellers visiting for just a couple of days may be fine with a smaller plan.
An alternative eSim provider we can recommend is Holafly.
Holafly’s eSim is a suitable option for travellers who require large amounts of data, such as digital nomads and people who work online while they travel. All of Holafly’s Costa Rica eSims offer unlimited data.
Holafly’s Costa Rica eSim uses the Telefonica de Costa Rica TCnetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in Costa Rica
Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s Costa Rica eSim:
6GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $44 USD
An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that is built directly into a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. Unlike traditional SIM cards, which require physical insertion and removal, the eSIM is seamlessly integrated into the device’s hardware.
With an eSIM, there is no need to physically swap SIM cards when switching between different mobile networks or plans. Instead, mobile network operators can remotely activate and program the eSIM, allowing users to easily transition between networks without any hassle.
For travelers or individuals who frequently switch between networks or travel internationally, eSIM technology offers convenience, flexibility, and ease of use. It eliminates the need to purchase and insert physical SIM cards, making it much more convenient to manage multiple mobile connections on a single device.
To activate an eSIM, users can either scan a provided QR code or manually enter the activation details given by their mobile network operator. Once activated, the device can connect to the desired mobile network and enjoy all the voice, data, and messaging services just like with a traditional SIM card.
There are several reasons why using an eSIM can be beneficial. First, it offers convenience as there is no need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching networks or plans. This is particularly useful for frequent travelers who may need to use different SIM cards in different countries.
Second, eSIM allows for dual SIM functionality, meaning you can have two active mobile numbers on the same device. This can help separate personal and work numbers or manage multiple phone lines.
Third, eSIMs save space as they are embedded within the device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card slot. This allows manufacturers to make devices smaller or use the extra space for other components.
Fourth, eSIMs enable remote provisioning, meaning you can activate or switch to a new mobile plan without a physical SIM card or visiting a store. This offers greater flexibility and convenience for managing your mobile connectivity.
Lastly, by using an eSIM-compatible device, you ensure future-proofing as more mobile networks and service providers offer support for eSIMs. This means you can take advantage of new services and offerings as they become available.
Overall, eSIM technology provides flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity, making it an appealing choice for many users.
eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular and is supported by a growing number of smartphones and other devices. Here are some examples of eSIM-compatible phones:
Apple iPhone series (iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, etc.): Apple was one of the early adopters of eSIM technology and offers support for eSIM on various iPhone models.
Google Pixel series (Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, etc.): Google’s Pixel smartphones also support eSIM functionality, allowing users to activate and use eSIMs.
Samsung Galaxy series (Galaxy S22, Galaxy Note 20, etc.): Many of Samsung’s flagship devices now come with eSIM support, enabling users to utilize eSIM technology.
OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8, etc.): OnePlus has included eSIM support in some of its smartphone models, offering users the flexibility of using eSIMs.
Motorola Razr (2020): The latest iteration of the iconic Motorola Razr features eSIM compatibility, enabling users to use eSIMs for cellular connectivity.
These are just a few examples, and the list of eSIM-compatible phones continues to expand as more manufacturers embrace this technology. There’s a very strong chance your phone supports eSims so if you’re unsure we recommend looking it up on our list of eSim supported phones.
Using an eSim is new for many travellers, however, the good news is it’s surprisingly easy to get set up – even for the technologically challenged!
Here’s a general guide on how to use an eSIM:
Check eSIM Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM functionality. Many newer smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices are eSIM compatible including all iPhones produced since 2018.
Obtain an eSIM: There are multiple ways to acquire an eSIM. You can purchase an eSIM online from a provider like Airalo (which we recommend) or directly from a mobile network operator. Some devices also allow you to scan a QR code provided by your carrier to download the eSIM profile.
Activate the eSIM: Your eSim provider will send you instructions to activate the sim. This will usually involve scanning a QR code, entering an activation code, or downloading the eSIM profile directly onto your device.
Set up the eSIM: Once activated, your device will guide you through the eSIM setup process. This typically involves selecting the eSIM as your preferred mobile plan, configuring settings like data roaming, and entering any necessary authentication details.
Enjoy the Connection: Once the eSIM is set up, you can use it as you would with a physical SIM card. Make calls, send messages, browse the internet, and use data services as needed. You can also switch between eSIM profiles if you have multiple eSIMs installed on your device.
Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. Travel Sim Expert is a blog dedicated to helping you find the best sim card for you, no matter where you are or what your budget is.