Cellular telephones are so inexpensive in Guatemala that I used to joke with a friend who did have a mobile phone that was such a shame since even shoe-shinning boys had cell phone nowadays.
If you are planning a trip to Guatemala and you need to stay in touch, these are your options:
- Buy the most economical pre-paid mobile phone which can be obtain for about 100 Quetzales (Q before any amount for short), which includes a basic cellular telephone and number and quite often over Q150 or air time. In other words, the actual telephone is free. The three main carriers are Tigo (best signal everywhere), Telefónica (best rates, but worst signal outside of urban areas) and Claro (in between the other two).
- Bring your chip-based cellular phone and just buy a chip which includes a cellular number for about Q25 to Q35 range. You can buy a chip in most places where they sell cellular phones or pre-paid air time card. You can pick the chip from one of the companies listed above. If you take this route, make sure your cell phone is flashed; meaning it can take a chip from any cell phone carrier.
Nowadays, brand-new cellular telephones can even be purchased in the local markets when you see the promotional girls selling them. You want to buy a pre-paid cellular or tarjeteros or pre-pago as they are known here because you don’t need to sign for a long-term plan and you’re ready to make a call with seconds from the purchase. You can add pre-paid airtime cards from Q5 to Q100; or more.
Often when you buy a pre-paid airtime card, you get double, triple or even quadruple the airtime as you enter the code on the card. Make sure you look for the promotional posters or just ask the clerks if they have a promotion. Often, by simply asking this question, you wait one day or two to enter your airtime card code and you get up to quadruple airtime.
Cellular calling rates to call the U.S. and Canada are usually cheaper than local calling rates or the same most often than not. If you remember the entry I am not conTigo where I humored the irony that is cheaper to call Manolo in Toronto, Canada than to call his brother Mauricio in Guatemala City. The average rate for calls is a little over Q1 per minute, local or to the U.S. and Canada.
Once you have your Guatemalan cellular, you dial 001+area code+telephone number to call the U.S. and Canada or 00+country code+number to dial other countries. Just dial the phone number to call any Guatemalan telephone number. Guatemala has no area codes, or rather, the one-digit area code is part of the telephone number. Thus, Guatemalan telephone numbers are 8-digit. To receive calls from abroad, you must provide the Guatemalan country code (502) and your number; for instance 502-4569-4419. People calling from abroad must dial the international codes first and then the 502+your number.
Do you find this cellular/telephone guide useful, please, let me know?
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