Your guide to using your mobile phone in Cuba and how to make local & international calls and send texts in 2019
Why do I even need a phone in Cuba?
We do think it is a gift to unplug from the normality of everyday phone use but there will be situations for using your mobile phone in Cuba.
Think about your everyday life now and how reliant we are on mobile phones.
Often travelling as a couple or in groups the “what if we lose each other” sentence springs to mind. You hire a car, break down and need assistance. You need to contact medical services or the Police. You can’t find your taxi driver. Calling a tour operator, booking a restaurant table, the list goes on.
International Calls and texting using Wi-Fi
As experienced travellers in Cuba, we always suggest making international calls via online apps when you have access to Wi-Fi to contact friends and family back home. These include WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype, Facebook and Google Hangouts.
It is the cheapest way by far as Wi-Fi costs on average 1 CUC per hour of usage. Wi-Fi quality will be less than what you are used to so for video calls expect a little bit of lag.
For more information read our post on How to get Wi-Fi and Internet in Cuba.
Mobile Roaming in Cuba
Unless money is no object, do not leave your phone to pick up local roaming. You may end up with a bill costing more than the holiday itself.
Check with your provider before you leave for the actual costs as they vary from provider to provider. The easiest way to stop this from happening is to leave aeroplane mode on at all times and only use your phone when you have access to wifi.
Mobile bundles from your phone provider to use in Cuba
You can buy a bulk package from your mobile provider for a set number of international minutes and texts. While we do advise buying these, save them for that important business call you have to make or an emergency situation like calling your travel insurance company or bank.
The packages are expensive for the number of minutes and text allowance you receive but compared to the costs of using your phone without them they will save you a lot of money.
My network provider in the UK is EE. To use my mobile in Cuba without a prepaid bundle would cost as follows…
- Making a call £3.00
- Receiving a call £3.00
- sending a text £1.20
- Sending a picture message £0.55
To use my mobile in Cuba with a prepaid bundle would cost as follows…
- 60 minutes of Calls at £10 per month
- 100 texts at £6.00 per month.
To see these examples click on the EE link here.
Using a Cuban Sim Card (Cubacel)
There are various reasons you may want a Cuban mobile sim card. Firstly, the cost of making calls and sending texts will be cheaper both locally and internationally.
There is one sole provider of phone service in Cuba which is Cubacel and they are government owned.
Top Tip – To use a Cuban sim card, you will need an unblocked phone operating at 900wz.
Cubacel will record your IMEI number before you are granted access to its sim card. If you don’t register the IMEI number your phone will be blocked, and we don’t mean just the sim card the phone as well. The reasoning behind this is to prevent phone thefts in Cuba.
Read our post on How to get Wi-Fi and Internet in Cuba for more information on where to purchase a sim card while on holiday in Cuba.
Local and International Call & text rates using a Cuban sim card
After purchasing your Cuban sim card you can activate a plan which will be valid for 30 days from the moment of purchase.
There are daytime prices and nighttime prices for making calls within Cuba. The prices at night are cheaper than the day.
International calls and texts are a fixed price and are as follows…
Local calls and texts prepaid
|Plans||Rate||Number of SMS included||Validity|
|Plan 45 SMS||$ 2.50||Four. Five||30 days|
|Plan 35 SMS||$ 2.10||35||30 days|
|20 SMS Plan||$ 1.30||twenty||30 days|
|Plan 10 SMS||$ 0.70||10||30 days|
|Plans||Plan Rate||Amount min included||Validity|
|Plan 40 min||$ 10.00||40||30 days|
|Plan 25 min||$ 6.50||25||30 days|
|Plan 15 min||$ 4.20||fifteen||30 days|
|Plan 10 min||$ 2.90||10||30 days|
|Plan 5 min||$ 1.50||5||30 days|
International calls and texts prepaid
|America (except Venezuela)||1.10 CUC / min|
|Venezuela||0.70 CUC / min|
|United States and Associated Territories||1.10 CUC / min|
|Rest of the world||1.20 CUC / min|
|SMS Text Messages|
|SMS with National destiny||0.09 CUC|
|SMS with International destination||0.60 CUC|
|SMS Entumóvil (Access to short number trades)||0.16 CUC|
|MMS||0.10 CUC / MB|
For more detailed information visit the Etecsa website. This link is pre-translated into English via Google Translate.
Using a landline in Cuba
Landlines in Cuba are widely used and if you need to make a call domestically and you don’t have access to a mobile phone ask your casa particular owner or hotel if you can use their landline. They maybe ok with a local call but for international calls make sure you ask first and agree a price upfront.