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How to get Internet on your smartphone in Nicaragua

Are you visiting or living in Nicaragua and you want to have internet in your smartphone? Or you want to have some minutes to call your new nica friends? So this article is for you. I’ll try to give you some ideas on how to can get internet on your smartphone in Nicaragua.

First of all, a good news and a bad news. Good news: If you have an unlocked smartphone it’s impressively easy to activate internet and calls on your device. If not, I’m sorry but beside local Wi-Fi and roaming rates, there is no other options for you (bad news). So before you travel, be sure you have an unlocked quad band smartphone (basically all new devices are quad band, so don’t bother about the meaning of this word).

Step 1 – Choose your mobile Nicaraguan phone carrier

Okay, let’s say you have just landed at Augusto Sandino Managua’s International Airport, don’t go out! Stay inside the airport and look for Claro or Movistar’s logos. So look for one of this two:

Claro Movistar Nicaragua

Which one to choose, Claro or Movistar? To be or not to be, this is a vital question. Well, if you here for vacation, or just a short stay, don’t worry, choose one of the two according to the color you like the most, and go to step 2.

Personally I have both, I started with Claro and is the one I use the most. Later I got a double sim smartphone and I got a Movistar chip too. Why do I use 2 sims? The reason I have two sim cards in my phone, is the same reason why you should give careful consideration which sim to buy if you are going to stay longer. Why?

Well, basically the main issue is that calling from Claro to Movistar and from Movistar to Claro is crazy expensive! So, watch out, I warned you. If you put 10$ in your pre-paid sim and it finishes quickly, probably is because you’ve been calling mostly friends that use the other carrier.

So here is the tip: if you are here on a longer base, I’d choose Claro or Movistar depending on what the majority of the people you are going to call have. Consider that Movistar seems to have many customers in Managua and the Pacific coast, Claro in the rest of the country.

Step 2 – Buy and install your sim card

Once you have chosen your Nicaraguan mobile carrier, go to the correspondent shop and ask for a sim card. Here in Nicaragua they call it just “chip”, yep, that’s it, “chip”.

Take a breath, prepare yourself and start speaking with your perfect Spanish: “Hola! Me puede vender un chip, por favor?”

Another good news, the price of the sim card is ridiculous, 50 cordobas, which means less than 2$, and usually it comes with 5$ to make calls, you don’t need documents, registration, credit cards and so on. You just pay and they give you the sim. Isn’t in great?

It’s possible the sim they sell it’s the “normal” size. So if you need a micro or nano size, don’t worry they usually have the “guillotine”, a sim card cutter to reduce to the size you need. This is how it looks.

sim card cutter

If they don’t have, just cut it by yourself as shown in the video. It works! If you make a mistake, don’t worry, you’ll have to spend another couple of bucks.

Now just switch on or restart your smartphone, et voilà le jeux sont fait. You are now officially part of the Nicaraguan mobile phone signal.

I know.. I know.. you are wondering, “Thanks Manuel, but how do I get internet in my smartphone?” You are right buddy, now comes the internet too, but first you may want to put some more money on your prepaid sim card. In Nicaragua they just call it “Recarga”.

So again prepare you Spanish and ask: “Me puede hacer una regarga de cinco dolares, por favor?”. The “regarga” is usually in cordobas, you may even “recargar” 10 cordobas (0.37 $) if you want. How much should you “recargar”? It depends on the following step, how much internet data you are going to use.

Step 3 – Get the internet in your smartphone

Careful: If you have your data activated, you could use your phone straight on, using your prepaid credit to use internet. Don’t do it. Disable immediately your internet data (3G, 4G or whatever) otherwise you’ll finish your credit in few minutes.

Basically the following procedures describe how to buy “datas packages” from few megas to gigas using your prepaid credit.

There are different methods to get internet data in your smartphone while in Nicaragua. Let’s start with the easiest. This example is based with the Claro Nicaragua carrier .

Using *555#

If you have Claro, type *555# from your smartphone and call it.

Internet in your smartphone with Claro
Press *555# to get the menu

This is what it will be prompt on your screen.

Instruction 1 - Press Internet
Press 1 to get internet options

Press 1 and press Enter, you’ll see this

Instruction 2 - Choose the offer
Choose your internet option

Okay, now you need some really serious Spanish, right? That’s why you need this awesome step to step guide. Basically here you’ll have to chose the amount of internet data you want to have on your smartphone. You will be charged according to the offer you choose from your pre-paid credit. So, let me  translate it for you, actually is quite easy.

  1. Full Week 1GB (4.87 $)
  2. Pro Week 500 MB (3.75 $)
  3. Social Week 300 MB (2.62 $)
  4. Full 2 days 100 MB (1.12 $)
  5. Facebook (1.12 $) (I’ve never done that, I guess it’s just to use Facebook)

(I used today’s convert rate of 1 US $ = 26.67 cordobas)

Think about the use you are going to do. Probably your hotel or other places you’ll stay will have Wi-Fi so option 2 or 3 should be all right. Press the corresponding number. You’ll get a confirmation message like this.

Step 3 - Confirmation message
Confirmation message

It says: “You will receive a notification of your offer’s activation trough SMS, thanks for using Claro.” Wait few seconds and you’ll get some SMS.

The following is a screenshot of my phone with various SMS I received just after I activated the “Social Week 300 MB” promotion. The numbers in red you see, is the actual order of the SMS you should receive, but at times you receive them in a messy order like in this shot.

SMS notificacion internet activation
SMS notificacion internet activation

Again, let me translate it for you. I’ll translate the SMS in the order you should receive them, according to the red numbers of the image above.

  1. Dear customer, you subscribed the offer of 300 MB prepaid internet, it will expire on (date and hour).
  2. This offer will renew automatically, for 70 C$ on (date and hour). If you want to cancel it send FIN at 8833 [Do it before that date, otherwise it will renew automatically, I usually unsubscribe immediately so I don’t forget]
  3. Dear customer, with your prepaid 300 MB internet offer you can use Facebook, Whatsapp free without using your internet data amount during the time of the offer.
  4. Increase your amount of internet data for only 10 C$ (0.37 $). Send EXTRA at 8833 and you’ll get 150 MB extra. Offer valid only today.

Step 4 – Enable 3G/4G on your phone (and disable it)

Last step, don’t forget to enable your cellular data so to start using internet in your smartphone. This is how it looks in my smartphone.

How to activate 3G on your Amdroid smartphone
How to activate 3G on your Amdroid smartphone

This is how it should look on a iPhone.

How to activate cellular data on your iPhone

If you are not going to renew the offer, remember to disable the data, otherwise when the offer ends and, as I previously said, you will start using your prepaid credit to use internet, which will finish very fast!

That’s all folks. I hope you might find this information useful. It took me some of my precious time to write down all this information. If it has been helpful, please make me happy and share this article with your friends.

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Co-founder at Nicaragua Yes Travel
I love travelling and see new places. I've been working in the web industry since 15 years. I love sports, football first of all, tennis and beach tennis, beach volley, bodyboarding but also snowboarding which I haven't practiced a lot since when I moved to Nicaragua.
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16 thoughts to “How to get Internet on your smartphone in Nicaragua”

  1. I have just subscribed to your newsletter. I wonder if you can assist me. I am looking to make contact with a cattle rancher who would be interested in selling cattle for export.

  2. HI there. 1) how do you pay with cordobas when you upgrade to data on the phone if you are coming from US and the visa is in us dollars? It seems this is done on line for the data and I just cannot figure out how to do that with cordobas electronically? 2) How does one find out their new phone number when they get a sim card abroad? I have never done this…so I am a tad confused…

    1. Hi Annie! 1) US dollars are excepted virtually everywhere in Nicaragua, as long as they are denomination of $20 or less. And you will get a great exchange rate from people because the love having dollars. If you need to use a Visa debit or credit card for payment it will have to be done at one of the local Claro or Movistar branches. Which are found all over the country and even within the Managua Airport. 2) When you receive your new SIM card it comes in a package that has the SIM’s phone number and PIN number to activate it upon installing it in your phone. It is all quite simple and the nicaraguan people are very patient and willing to help!

  3. Thanks for the great information. I am looking forward to visiting Nica in early 2017. I will be in Granada and Leon but plan on taking a few side trips. It sounds like Movistar might be the better option, but with such reasonable prices, maybe a second Clark card is advisable. My phone uses the micro SIM but it is easy to access it and exchange the cards.

  4. So, if I’ve just moved here for 6 months and didn’t bring an unlocked phone with me, but want a cheap yet dependable smartphone, do you have any recommendations that have the dual SIM option? Many thanks – this post was super helpful!

    1. Glad you like it Mike! Thanks for sharing feel free to do the same for other pages. Also feel free to reach out if you like to be featured on our pages.

  5. Hi there, im leaving to visit my family in Managua, Nicaragua next Monday and will be staying for 3 weeks.
    I have T-Mobile, and a iphone 6 and I’m pretty sure theres no coverage in Nicaragua. I would like to go on my social media and post amazing pictures, but im not going to be calling or texting love ones in the U.S.
    What can i do to get the data and use my social media?
    Por favor i would like to get an idea on what to do.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Erika! I m sure you will love Nicaragua!
      About your question… The only way you can get data traffic on your iPhone is that you get a local SIM card, either Claro or Movistar. But, is your iPhone unlocked?
      Make sure to visit Granada and Apoyo, and let us know your impressions!

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