Ways to Stay in Touch.

Low cost calling card:
Call DR for only 4.9/min 

Call from your hotel.

Direct.
If your hotel room has a phone and you plan to make long-distance calls from your room, let reception (the front desk) know when you register.  Even if you have an open credit card with the hotel, some will not free up your room line for long-distance calling unless you specifically request it. The person that performs this function might not be immediately available to open your line so don't wait until you are ready to make a call to have this done. Hotel charges for direct dial international long-distance can be much more expensive than the alternatives.

If you happen to be visiting a local business or home, the current rates for calling the USA from the Dominican Republic are US$0.37-44/min. depending on the time of day, US$0.15/min. to call a Dominican cellular phone or to Santo Domingo from Boca Chica.

Major carrier.
Check with your local carrier prior to heading to the Dominican Republic for local access numbers. For example, AT&T has a toll-free number that can be called from anywhere in the Dominican Republic and once connected, you can you your regular calling card number. This is still an expensive option but cheaper than calling direct. Expect to pay more than US$1/minute.

 

Calling Card (the lowest cost method).
Some calling cards can be used to initiate international calls from within the Dominican Republic. These can be significantly cheaper than using the calling card from your major carrier back home.  

Below are the best deals I've found.  Note that there is a $2 service charge for card orders under $40, but they are still the best deals I've been able to find (Buy them now over the Internet, receive your PIN by E-mail):

Call DR for only 4.9/min

Be careful when purchasing calling cards not listed on this page.  Many, if not most cards, have hidden charges such as connect fees, minimum call times, monthly maintenance fees, etc.  Also be aware of the billing increment and note that per-minute costs vary significantly depending on the country from which the call is initiated.  Few vendors or even their distributor representatives know the details of the cards they sell, making it a problem.  A 1-minute call can actually end up costing several dollars.

Calling the Dominican Republic from home.
Below is the easiest and cheapest way for frequent calls to the Dominican Republic from any country, directly from your land-line or cell phone.  It's free to try it (get a free 5-minute call):

Calling centers.
In every tourist area and in major metropolitan areas, you will find multiple calling centers. They typically charge between US$0.25-$35/minute to call the United States. You enter the calling center and sit down at any unoccupied cubicle. The phone in the cubicle will generally have special dialing instructions. Most will ask you to lift the receiver and press a special button on the phone, then dial your number normally. After your call, walk over to the receptionist, tell her your cubicle number, she will pull up your calls and charges on her terminal, and tell you how much you owe. Most of these places also double as a cash exchange (cambio) and will exchange small amounts of foreign currency, usually at very good rates. Note that at some calling centers, it can take several minutes for calls that you make, to become available at the terminal of the receptionist.

Cellular Phone.

Rent a Cellular.
You can rent a cell phone from Codetel at the Santo Domingo airport or at their main offices in Santo Domingo. At the airport, go upstairs after exiting the customs area. You can obtain up-to-date information or reserve yours by calling 800-353-8271 or 809-220-1111. A major credit card is required.

Rental cellulars are also available at the Costa Lunga Hotel in Boca Chica and can be delivered to your hotel and picked back up at the end of your trip for noextra charge.  

You will be provided a cellular phone with AC and DC battery chargers, complete and activated with your own private phone number. Rental costs about US$1.25/day. Outgoing calls are billed at US$1/minute for calls anywhere within the Dominican Republic and US$0.50/minute plus long-distance charges for international calls. Incoming calls are billed at US$1/minute.

Rent a Cellular - Delivered to your hotel.
BocaChicaTelco will rent you a cellular phone for US$5/day.  It comes with a private phone number for receiving calls (free) and calling cards are used for outgoing calls.  Calling cards are available throughout Boca Chica at colmados, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.  Click on the link above, call 809-292-7287 (Milagros, Spanish), 905-252-5166 (Jeff, English), or E-mail at BocaChicaTelco@BocaChicaBeach.net. The rental price includes the preprogrammed phone, AC charger, delivery and pickup.  Phone cards are available in a variety of denominations.

Outgoing only with YOUR cellular.
Phones that are compatible with the analog system used throughout the United States (800 Mhz AMPS/NAMPS) can  be used in the Dominican Republic for outgoing calls, even if they are not activated for use in the Dominican Republic. Calling cards are widely sold at pharmacies, colmados (small convenient stores), and Codetel calling centers under the name ComuniCard. Just follow the instructions on the back of the card, which are in both English and Spanish.  Current instructions say to dial 311 with your cellular phone, enter the calling card number, and then dial the number you wish to call. Calls to the USA cost about US$0.85/minute.

Note that analog cell phones have the ability to use either the A or B carrier. Make sure you know how to select the B type carrier on your phone. For example, on a Motorola Startac, FCN * is used to select the carrier type. Most phones will allow a preference such as AB, which means if an A type signal is encountered, use it, else use the B signal. HOME usually means use only the carrier type to which you subscribe. Codetel is the B carrier. If your phone is using the A type system by default, when you try to make your call, you will get a message from the other phone company, TriCom, indicating that your phone has not been activated, and you will not be able to make your call.

Digital Phones.
Many new phones are both digital and analog (800 Mhz AMPS/NAMPS).  I found that some digital phones are programmed so that when "analog only" is selected as an option, you cannot select between carriers A and B and the default carrier type is not even shown.  

To solve this, program your phone with a fake second number, and give a bogus system id and type.  When you switch to the second number (RCL-# on my Motorola StarTac), you will then be able to switch between Analog carrier types A and B (RCL-* on my Motorola StarTac).  If you plan on using a digital cellular that has analog capability, I suggest you make sure you are able to switch to carrier type B analog.  If not, stop by one of the cellular stores and give them this information.  They should be able to help you out.

Incoming and Outgoing with YOUR cellular.
Another option is to have your USA analog compatible phone (800 Mhz AMPS/NAMPS) activated in the Dominican Republic. For about US$50, either of the cellular phone companies (Codetel or TriCom) will activate your cellular phone for use on their system. Almost all cellular phones have an option called "dual nam", which simply means it can be programmed to use two different phone numbers. You can select whichever you want to be current so your phone will still work when you bring it back home, as long as you know how to select your home number ("nam").

For this option, you have to take your phone to a Codetel or TriCom calling center. Every major tourist town I have visited has a calling center by one or both of these companies  They will either program it for you on the spot, which will take up to 30 minutes, or more than likely, they you will have to leave it for a day or two. The phone will get sent out to a main office where it will be programmed and returned, or perhaps you will just have to wait until a specialist is available to program your phone. Your phone will be programmed with a local Dominican Republic phone number on its second "nam". On the simplest plan, there is no monthly fee, incoming calls will be free, and outgoing calls must be made using a calling card, which can be used manually each time, or cards can be "loaded" into your account at the time they are bought by following the instructions on the back of the card. TriCom sells the Amigo card and Codetel sells the ComuniCard. Both are widely sold at pharmacies, colmados (small convenience stores), and their respective calling centers.

If you elect this option, your card must be used for outgoing calls at least once every 60 days, or your phone will become inactivated and you will lose your personal phone number. Of course, each company has a variety of call plans available.

See Codetel on the web at www.Codetel.net.do.
See TriCom on the web at www.TriCom.net or contact Ana Catalina Garcia, Gerente de Toll, Mercadeo at 809-476-4178.

Other types of portable phones.
Note that there are many different types of cellular phone systems. Most of Europe uses one system, there are new digital systems, etc. For the most part, unless your phone works using the USA analog system, it generally cannot be used in the Dominican Republic however, some of those phones have been known to work just fine in certain parts of the Dominican Republic. There are currently a variety of digital, alternative, and even roaming phone services being implemented in the Dominican Republic, but most of these services are not yet widespread, so one cannot say for sure whether any particular phone will or will not work in the Dominican Republic in any specific area.  You can be sure however, that if it works in the USA with the analog carriers (800 Mhz AMPS/NAMPS), it will work in the Dominican Republic. 

Pager - Skytel.
For those that subscribe to Skytel, service is available in the major metropolitan areas of the Dominican Republic, including Boca Chica (Santo Domingo). As of this writing. you must pay a small monthly fee to have this international paging service available as an option. Before you travel, you call an 800 number and indicate what international destinations you will be traveling to and the dates that you will be there. Your pages can be forwarded to the Dominican Republic and Skytel voice-mail can be accessed via a long-distance call from the Dominican Republic. Contact your Skytel representative for details.

New Information.
If you have specific information about cellular phone use, services, or other ideas about staying in touch while in the Dominican Republic, please contact us at Webmaster@BocaChicaBeach.net so we can include this information.

Don't want somebody to know you are calling from the Domincan Republic?