Getting a Cellular phone in Panama
Panama Cellular Phones
Most people buy rather than rent cellular phone is Panama as they can be relatively cheap to purchase with brand names like Nokia selling for less than $30. The cellular service providers in Panama have their own stores scattered around the country and kiosks at malls and on busy streets offering discounted cellular phones with brand names like Samsung, Nokia, and even Blackberry as long as you use their SIM card forcing you to purchase their pre-paid cell phone cards.
Panama Pre-Paid Cellular Phone Cards
Once you have bought a pre-paid cellular phone you must buy their pre-paid cellular phone cards. You can buy these cards at supermarkets, malls, on the street, at service provider’s stores & kiosks, and even in small grocery stores. They come in values of $2, $5, $10, and $20. The back of the cards have a scratch off strip which reveals the code in which you type into your phone. The directions for inputting the code is only in Spanish so you can ask the person who sold you the card to input the code which they are happy to do.
Four cellular phone companies operate in Panama: Claro, MoviStar, Digicell, and + Movil (Cable and Wireless). You can only purchase pre-paid cards from the
company whose phone you own as other company card codes will not work. Cellular phone reception is pretty good around the country including islands and small towns.
Panama cellular phone companies often have promotions offering double to quadruple minutes when you buy your pre-paid cards and input the code on certain days. Cellular phone companies send out texts to their customers notifying them when these promotions are going on.
Many malls and popular streets with high pedestrian traffic always have young people selling cellular phones and pre-paid cards at discounts. When they are wearing the company’s t-shirts and have company brochures you can feel secure that they are legitimate.
If you plan to move to Panama, you may want to sign a one-year contract and get a preferable cell phone plan. Claro and Digicel have small offices and kiosks scattered all over Panama City while the other two only have a few locations. Getting a one-year plan can at those two companies require a lengthy wait at their cell phone company offices. You may also need proof of residency and other critical information in order to sign up for a long-term cell phone plan. There isn’t much difference between the various companies in terms of service or coverage so go with the one that offers the best plan at the time.