Best Cell Phone Service in Puerto Rico – Who’s the Top Provider?

The island of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1917. It is a popular vacation spot for Americans not only because of its gorgeous beaches and weather but also because Americans can travel to the island without needing a passport, without changing currency, and without learning a bunch of new laws. 

One of the most common questions asked by future visitors is whether their mainland cell phones can be used on the island. The following article will give you confidence that your cell phones should still work when you step off the plane in Puerto Rico.

A photo of the American and Puerto Rican flags flying on white poles, against a blue cloudy sky

Do US Cell Phones Work in Puerto Rico?

Yes, a cell phone purchased on the United States mainland should function well in Puerto Rico, without the need to purchase new hardware or make changes to your plan. All major cellular companies include Puerto Rico as part of their standard domestic coverage.

However, please note that cell phone coverage is concentrated along the coast that surrounds the island, and along the major highways, as this is where most residents and tourists frequent. Cell coverage declines rapidly if you drive into the interior, more mountainous forested regions.

Cell Phone Service Providers in Puerto Rico

All of the big named American cell phone companies should work in Puerto Rico, including:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • T-Mobile
  • and more.

Even the smaller American carriers should work on the island because these smaller carriers often pay to use the infrastructure of the bigger guys; for example, Cricket gets its coverage from the AT&T network.

FYI, as you travel the island, you may see plenty of stores and advertisements for Claro Cellular. This is a Mexican-owned company that is popular in the Caribbean islands. There is also a second company, called Liberty Latin, which recently purchased AT&T’s island network. You won’t need to worry about these companies unless you plan to live on the island for a long period.

Who Has the Best Cell Phone Coverage in Puerto Rico? 

All of the major American brands have similar cell phone coverage on the island. Coverage should not be a problem in the major coastal cities, along the coastal beaches, and on major highways. However, coverage does decline rapidly for all brands if you drive into the forested, mountainous interior. 

Technically, the local cell provider Claro has the best coverage of any company as their network reaches into some interior areas. Switching over to Claro should only be considered if you are planning to stay inland for a long period of time.

A woman is dressed in a blue bathing suit, sitting on a wooden lounge chair, with a white cell phone in her hand. She is on a white sandy beach with blue water and a palm leaf is hanging near her

Is AT&T Good in Puerto Rico?

Yes, AT&T is popular among residents and tourists of the island. Coverage should be great unless you travel into the mountainous, forested interior. Puerto Rico is considered to be a domestic location so there should be no extra charge to anyone with a mainland domestic plan.

Technically, AT&T sold its Puerto Rican assets to Liberty Latin in 2020. However, AT&T maintains an agreement that allows its customers to use the Liberty network when on the island.

Is Verizon Good in Puerto Rico?

Yes, Verizon is also popular among residents and tourists of the island. Coverage should be great unless you travel into the mountainous, forested interior. Puerto Rico is considered to be a domestic location so there should be no extra charge to anyone with a mainland domestic plan.

Technically, Verizon does not own network infrastructure on the island but has an agreement that allows its customers to connect to the Claro network.

Does Verizon Have Towers in Puerto Rico?

Technically, no, Verizon does not own network infrastructure on the island but has an agreement that allows its customers to connect to the Claro network. This is a technical nuance that should go unnoticed by Verizon customers traveling to Puerto Rico.

Does Verizon Charge Extra in Puerto Rico?

No, Puerto Rico is considered to be a domestic location so there should be no extra charge to anyone with a mainland domestic plan.

A woman is sitting on a blue towel on a white sandy beach. She has a cell phone in her hand, taking a picture of her own feet.

How is the T-Mobile Cell Phone Service in Puerto Rico?

T-Mobile is another popular cellular company in Puerto Rico, and the company has developed its own network on the island. Coverage should be great unless you travel into the mountainous, forested interior. Puerto Rico is considered to be a domestic location so there should be no extra charge to anyone with a mainland domestic plan.

What is Claro Cellular in Puerto Rico?

If you travel the island, you may see many stores and advertisements for Claro Cellular. This is a Mexican-owned company that is popular in the Caribbean islands. Claro made a large investment in its network after the 2017 Hurricane Maria and now operates the strongest cellular network on the island. Claro does not have a strong presence on the US mainland, so Claro is not a good option unless you plan to live on the island for a long period.

WIll Prepaid Cell Phone Plans Work in Puerto Rico?

The major cell phone companies (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc) consider Puerto Rico a domestic location. As such, prepaid domestic plans from these companies should work fine on the island.

If you are using Prepaid SIM cards, then there is a wide variety of options available for Puerto Rico. Just make sure to read the fine print to ensure the plan covers Puerto Rico. In some cases, you may have to add an international calling package to your pre-paid plan. 

If you want, you can even wait until you get off the plane and pick up a SIM card at a major retailer on the island.

Budget-Friendly Cell Phone Options in Puerto Rico

All of the major carriers have their own budget brands such as Cricket, Metro, and Visible. Customers with these plans should not have a problem connecting on the island as these companies consider Puerto Rico a domestic location. 

There are many other MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that offer inexpensive cellular services by leasing the network infrastructure of the big cell companies. And like the big companies, these MVNOs consider Puerto Rico a domestic location so service on the island should not be a problem. 

Top-rated budget carriers that offer Puerto Rico coverage include:

  • Tello
  • RedPocket
  • US Mobile
  • H2O Wireless
  • Republic Wireless
  • Mint Mobile

Related: 17 Pros and Cons of Retiring Puerto Rico