Many of us have been on a travel hiatus with one thing and another over the past few years.
However, in 2022, the world is beginning to get into a rhythm with traveling again, and many people are boarding planes to head to their favorite destinations.
One of the biggest questions in today’s interconnected world has to do with getting cell phone coverage when you land.
Does Verizon Work in Puerto Rico?
Verizon has coverage for customers in Puerto Rico. While Verizon’s coverage map shows strong service coverage across the whole island, expect spottier service than you’re used to. You shouldn’t incur any extra fees since Verizon considers Puerto Rico to be domestic.
There are a few things that you should do before you head out to Puerto Rico if you’re going to be relying on your phone or mobile network when you get there.
Most of us will rely on our phones somewhat, and there are ways to get around spotty coverage and some other options to help make sure that you have the service you need while you’re there.
Is Puerto Rico Included in Verizon Wireless Plans?
For most people who have a monthly plan with Verizon, Puerto Rico is included and listed as domestic, not international.
Easily check this by going under My Plan on your Verizon online account.
If you use Verizon’s prepaid option or want to get a prepaid plan just for traveling, your phone will still work on Verizon’s network in Puerto Rico if you have purchased the Prepaid TravelPass from Verizon.
In Puerto Rico, it costs $5 per 24 hours on the days that you choose to use your data.
That is added to the cost of what you already paid, so it can add up quickly depending on the length of your trip and how often you need to reload your prepaid data.
What About Roaming?
We’ve all had the dread of discovering that we’re roaming and wondered what on Earth that will do to our bill when it comes in next month.
However, since Verizon classifies Puerto Rico as domestic, you may see a situation where you are domestically roaming.
This means that your smartphone may show a different network icon or show a message saying, “Extended.” What this means is that your phone has connected to a non-Verizon cell tower, and you’re using that company’s data network instead of Verizon’s.
But as mentioned, Verizon won’t charge you for this because Puerto Rico is a domestic destination.
You may see this icon when you’re traveling in the United States, as well.
For instance, if you get into an area where Verizon doesn’t have coverage, you’ll likely be able to pick up another major network.
But as mentioned, you won’t be charged for that data, either.
Traveling Destination Matters
Just like when you travel within the United States, not all areas of Puerto Rico have equal coverage options.
Anyone who has traveled through the mountains knows the feeling of not having a signal and then suddenly getting all of your notifications at the same time as you connect to a tower.
The same goes for Puerto Rico, and if you’re going out on adventures to more rural or mountainous areas to go hiking or ziplining or visit a coffee hacienda, you can expect your service will drop out just like it would in other mountain regions.
It will pick back up when you get back in range, but again, keep in mind that coverage may be slower or lacking compared to the United States.
Can I Use My Verizon Phone in San Juan?
Especially with recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico, you should expect that your coverage will be spotty while you’re there, even in metropolitan areas.
You also may not get the speeds that you’re used to back home.
Even traveling to the island’s capital and largest city, you may only have access to 3G coverage instead of 4G or even the 5G that’s rolling out in certain areas.
Other Options While You Travel
We’re all glued to our phones more than we’d like to admit.
Some of us may even need to access things like our email or get some work done on our iPads while we’re by the pool.
There’s no judgment here, but you might struggle if you’re depending solely on Verizon data.
If you absolutely need to have access to your smartphone and data while you’re traveling, your best option is going to be making sure that you can connect to WiFi at your resort.
Sites like TripAdvisor actually offer lists of hotels where the WiFi is the strongest.
If you’re needing things like access to maps or want to listen to a podcast while you’re traveling, be sure to use the WiFi to download those items to your phone before heading out.
If you need more storage, most phones these days have the option to add an SD card so that you can expand your storage.
Alternatively, you can take a look at what apps you likely won’t use while you’re on vacation and delete them from your phone.
Then when you get back home, go through and delete all of those items you downloaded and add the apps back, if you find you will need them when you’re not on vacation anymore.
Local SIM Cards
When you land, you should be able to pick up a prepaid SIM card from the airport or from little shops wherever you go.
Just pop in that SIM card and make sure not to lose your original one while you travel! But these prepaid SIMs will connect you to the island’s networks, and your phone should still have all of its functionality.
You will be assigned a new phone number, so if you need to call or text someone, be sure to introduce yourself.
However, apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger should still work as they did before.
Is There a Verizon Store in Puerto Rico?
We all hope that everything goes to plan on our vacation, but there are times when that’s just not the case.
Maybe you drop your phone in the ocean while you’re trying to get a selfie or it falls out of your pocket while you’re ziplining.
If that happens, there isn’t a physical store in Puerto Rico where you can go to get help.
You’d need to do everything online from someone else’s device.
Verizon sold its Puerto Rican operations to a company called Claro, and in that deal, they agreed that Verizon users could access their towers.
But any Verizon stores in Puerto Rico were rebranded to be Claro stores, and they won’t be much help.
If that happens, we’d suggest just buying a prepaid burner phone and dealing with getting a new phone when you get back to the United States.