South America cell phone help
July 2, 2007 10:09 AM   Subscribe

How do I keep my cell phone bill low while travelling through Latin America?

My job requires me to travel regularly to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. In the near future I will be traveling to even more countries to The South. For the last 3 months I have been averaging $400/mo on my bill. My boss has had his bill as high as $1500. How do we keep this low?

Every call I make or receive averages $2.99/minute. $2.99 every time I dial a number whether I reach anyone or not.

I currently have a cell phone with Tmobile and Blackberry. The cell phone is my everyday phone and gets used in South America when I am there. The blackberry has a number but it is not activated. Every time I travel I get the international roaming with Tmobile.

I have Skype in and Skype out. This work great if I have good internet access. I use Skype as much as possible but cannot use it while driving around Bogotá or Lima.

I have looked at getting a sim card. This would require a different phone number and tiny card I will lose for each country. Also this does not help too much when calling the US. It can cost more to dial the US from a Colombian cell than it does to call home roaming on my US cell.

Are satellite phones the best answer; they are very expensive up front, but fairly reasonable for service abroad compared to int'l roaming rates?

Ideally I want one number or way to be contacted regardless of where I may be. Does anybody have experience with this and can you provide any simple solutions?

posted by 4Lnqvv to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
Will you be in an area where there is any wifi signal? (I don't know - haven't been to Columbia yet.) If so you could get a wireless skype phone...
posted by miss lynnster at 10:19 AM on July 2, 2007

Why on earth are you paying for this and not your boss that requires you to travel internationally?
posted by geodave at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2007

Yeah that sounds like a business expense if ever I saw one...

However, depending on what kind of phone you had perhaps you could sign up for Jajah - I have their client for Series 60 nokias and it's pretty good.
posted by puddpunk at 11:08 AM on July 2, 2007

If you really want to get voice calls, you may want to concoct a virtual pyramid of phone numbers. I have Vonage, and Vonage will have my main number "simulring" on any number I want. When I want my calls forwarded to my cell, they forward. If I'm out of the country and have rented a local cell, I'll forward it there [I think I have to pay for "making" the call to that number]. This would let you have one number that you can have forwarded to whatever device you are using. I'm sure companies other than Vonage will do this.

Easiest solution is often to get people to text message you. On T-Mobile text messages are like .35 in many countries. And if you have unlimited texts on your plan *incoming* texts are still at no charge.

I also suggest calling you wireless provider and discussing your specific issues. Sometimes there are obscure plan add-ons for people in situations like this.
posted by Mozzie at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2007

Response by poster: This is a business expense, I am trying to reduce cost for the company. I of course get to write it off. Just working to save some money for the company.

Forwarding may work but I think Is till have to pay a lot for the call to another country.
posted by 4Lnqvv at 1:38 PM on July 2, 2007

How about a prepaid/no contract phone? Tracfone, for one, lists Peru, Mexico, and Columbia, though not Ecuador, on a page linked from this one (click the first 'continue' button and then the 'international destinations' tab), for the same prices as any other call. Their prices can be a little confusing because of all the different plans and promotions, but for two examples, you can get a phone and a 1 year/450 minute plan for $100 total, or you can get a phone for $10 and each 50 minute purchase for another $10 (and I hear you can get minutes for less on ebay). If Tracfone in particular doesn't work out for you, other prepaid/no contract phones are rated on this page.
posted by daisyace at 4:55 PM on July 2, 2007

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