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.

 

 

[UPDATE 2018: All new sim cards come in a triple format Standard Mini and Micro SIM Card so there is no need to worry about SIM card dimensions one of the three will fit to your smartphone]

Standard, Micro, Nano SIM card

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 with Claro

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.

[UPDATE 2018: The following pictures may differ a little bit, but the procedure is still the same, it hasn’t changed]
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

[UPDATE 2018: We just updated this screenshot and the following translation because Claro internet offer in Nicaragua has changed]
Claro Internet Options
Claro Internet Options

Okay, now it get tough, 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. 50 MB 10 Cordobas (0.32 $) Valid One Day
  2. 80 MB 15 Cordobas (0.48$) Valid One Day
  3. 100 MB 20 Cordobas (0.65$) Valid One Day
  4. 150 MB 30 Cordobas (0.97$) Valid Two Days with Unlimited WhatsApp
  5. 300 MB 50 Cordobas (1.62$) Valid Three Days with Unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook
  6. 500 MB 80 Cordobas (2.60$) Valid Five Days with Unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook
  7. 750 MB 110 Cordobas (3.57$) Valid Seven Days with Unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook
  8. 1 GB 130 Cordobas (4.22$) Valid Seven Days with Unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook
  9. 1.5 GB 230 Cordobas (7.48$) Valid Fifteen Days with Unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook

(I used end of 2017 convert rate of 1 US $ = 30.76 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.

verizon-lte-iphone-6-600x347
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.

What’s the best Dual Sim Unlocked Phone for your next Trip to Nicaragua?

The Motorola Moto G4 Plus what has been working great for me for over 3 years here in Nicaragua.

Of course now there’s the new Moto G5 Plus Dual sim. A great unlocked phone able to capture amazing pictures, long lasting battery and great over all performances.

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Feel free to comment or ask below!

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Steph R
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Steph R

Hi Matthew, I’m going to be arriving in Managua in a couple of days and have a question about the cellular data payment process. When you purchase the SIM card + the prepaid credit at a Claro or Movistar store, do they take your credit card information, and then any data you purchase using the *555# function gets automatically charged to your credit card? I’m unclear as to how the payment process works when you use the *555# function to purchase cellular data.

Matthew
Admin

Hey mate, sorry just saw your comment! Are you still in Nicaragua?
When you buy credit withClaro or Movistar you always have to pay, each time, and usually cash only 😉
So first you buy some credit (saldo) and then you choose to activate the option that you wish. If you are having issues and you want to stop annoying mesages from claro or movistar look at the link.

Lorraine Huntley
Guest
Lorraine Huntley

Hi Matthew, I have been in and out of Nicaragua over the past 3 years and I still can’t quite figure out Claro. I have an unlocked android phone with a Claro chip. I added 240c credit 3 days ago and had the guy at the Claro booth help me to turn off the Claro cellular data. I forgot to select my package. I turned on the data yesterday to send a text message, tried several times and then finally checked my account balance and it was zero. Is it possible I used up all my 240c trying to send… Read more »

Viet
Guest
Viet

Quick question about purchasing a data plan through *555# option, is payment done electronically with a card? Or how do you pay for the data packages if you’re coming from outside of country? Thank you! I will be in the airport so I assume I can always walk to the stand and purchase there.

Matthew
Admin

Hi Viet!
1. You buy a local sim card
2. You make a “recarga”, meaning you buy credit.
3. You activate the internet plan
Hope this help, let us know you nica experience, where are you planning to go?
Also read this new article about it: http://www.nicaraguayestravel.com/how-to-stop-claro-movistar-advertising-messages/

Erika
Guest
Erika

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!

Matthew
Admin

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!

Jeanne
Guest
Jeanne

Found your info informative but is there a way to tell whether a person’s number is Claro or Movistar if they don’t state it?

Matthew
Admin

No sorry Jeanne there is no way to know that…;( Glad you enjoyed the article, pls share it