Claro cell phone service includes so many plans and so many options that it's impossible to list them all here. What we'll cover is the difference between monthly plans and prepaid (pay as you go) plans, how they work and how they differ.
Unlike in North America, there is no charge to receive a call on your cell.
You only "spend money" when you make calls from your cell phone. (You either use up minutes provided as part of your plan, or use up part of your cash balance in your prepaid plan.)
Calls to other Claro phones and landlines are the cheapest. Calls to cell phones on other networks are the most expensive.
Claro's service is by far the largest in Ecuador. For a country of just under 15 million, it has (according to Claro) almost 10 million Claro phones in use. That's a lot of phones.
And that's not because landline phone service is expensive. In fact, ETAPA's phone service in Cuenca is very inexpensive, just as most other phone services in Ecuador don't cost much.
For most Cuencanos, it's the convenience of having a phone wherever it's needed that makes cell phones so popular.
The best deals are on monthly phone plans. Like with most other countries, you sign up for a period of time, receive a phone (for free or at a discount), and have a certain number of minutes of outbound call time available.
Plans range from $22 (plus tax) for up to 220 Claro to Claro minutes ("up to" because Claro charges by the minute) and/or to landline phones, and/or up to 100 minutes to Movistar and Alegro phones, to $120 plus tax for up to 1,428 Claro to Claro minutes and/or landline minutes and/or up to 545 Movistar or Alegro minutes.
There are also several other plans, such as family plans, that may suit you better.
Claro also have voice and internet plans to use with smartphones (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). See our page about Claro internet service for details.
Prepaid phone service is good if you don't make many calls, as you can purchase as little as $1 worth of calling time.
With the prepaid service, try to keep a tarjeta in your wallet or purse. A $3 one will do.
When you run out of money in your balance (your saldo), your call ends. Abruptly, with no warning.
If you don't have a tarjeta, you can't make another call and continue your conversation.
Unfortunately, Claro tarjetas are available at fewer and fewer places in Cuenca as recharging becomes more popular. Electronic recharging (recarga) is available at Supermaxi and hundreds of other locations around the city.
If you don't plan to use your phone much (like Jeff), go with the prepago service, buying a few dollars of time at a time. If you're like Lulie and need your phone to always be available (no calls cut short due to lack of minutes), then go with one of the postpago plans.
Whichever way you go, Claro has the network to keep you connected just about anywhere you go in Ecuador.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!