Calling the United States from Ecuador is cheap and easy. In this FAQ, we discuss the best ways to call the US without breaking the bank.
The most common mode of communication within Ecuador is WhatsApp. Most people use it as their primary communication tool because it’s free with most of the mobile phone carriers; they don’t charge for any messages or data related to WhatsApp or Facebook.
The main benefits of WhatsApp are that most people outside the United States use it so as you meet people from around the world, you can easily exchange numbers. You can also send text and voice messages, as well as make voice-only or video calls. And it works on all smartphones.
Aside from the privacy issues that have recently come to light, the major downside to WhatsApp is that whoever you call or message also needs to have the app installed on their phone. WhatsApp isn’t very common in the US so you may need to convince your friends and family back home to set it up, but ours were fine doing it.
We pay $2.99/month for the basic Skype International Plan. We have it setup with our US-based phone numbers (that we still have, see WiFi Calling below) so calls look like they’re coming from those numbers in the US. There are no funny international ringtones or expensive international calling fees.
The main benefit of Skype over WhatsApp is that you can call any phone number, not just another WhatsApp number. We mainly use Skype to make business related calls for Amelia’s job and my web design clients.
If you, as well as your friends and family, are Apple product lovers, you can use FaceTime to make free video calls to the United States from Ecuador.
The major downside is that both sides of the conversation need to have an Apple device because it doesn’t work with Android or any other mobile operating system.
Whether you use Facebook anymore or not, you probably still have your Facebook account. That means you can use Facebook Messenger to send and receive chat messages, or make video calls. And since most people have a Facebook account, it’s easier than using WhatsApp to communicate with people in the US.
Zoom has exploded in popularity for business use since the pandemic began, but you can also use it for personal calls to get the whole gang together for a face-to-face virtual hangout.
With the free Zoom plan, you can host up to 100 participants in a 40 minute hangout. Not bad!
Amelia still works for the same company back in Denver, and I still manage a dozen web design clients, so we still have our US based phone plan with Verizon for business reasons.
The nice thing about Verizon (and a few other mobile carriers) is that they offer a Verizon WiFi Calling feature on their mobile phones. As long as we’re connected to the internet via WiFi, we can make and receive calls just like we were connected to a cell tower back in the US.
This option has two major downsides, though. First, it’s expensive! We still pay $84/month for our two phones on our Verizon plan. Compared to our $23/month Ecuador phone plan with Claro, that’s really expensive!
Second, in order to set it up, you have to be connected to BOTH a Verizon cell tower AND have a WiFi connection. Since Verizon doesn’t have any cell service in Ecuador, you won’t be able to activate it here.
This may not be a big deal if you’re bringing your phone with you, but we had to replace my phone and we can’t activate the WiFi calling on the new phone until we return to the US and can connect to the Verizon network.
Google now has their own mobile phone service called Google Fi. It’s basically a standard mobile plan with WiFi Calling and a Google SIM that you can plug into any unlocked smartphone.
The main benefit is that it works almost everywhere in the world because Google has negotiated deals with most mobile carriers in nearly every country. And it also works if you’re connected to WiFi.
However, the major drawbacks are many. First, it comes with a monthly bill just like every other mobile service, plus varying per-minute rates for international calls.
Second, while Google says it will work with most unlocked smartphones, it’s optimized for “phones designed for Fi from Samsung and Motorola.”
Third, and most importantly, you have to sign up and activate the plan while you’re still in the United states. You can’t get the SIM and activate the service from outside the US.
You can read all about the features and pricing on their FAQ page.
Similar to WiFi Calling, magicJack is a Voice Over IP (VoIP) service that allows you to make international calls without the international fees of a traditional phone carrier.
With this service, you have two options for making calls to and from the United States. The first option requires a dongle that plugs into a standard USB port on your computer and to a standard telephone jack. That means you will actually need a landline to use it, which many places in Ecuador don’t have.
They also have a magicApp for mobile, which allows you to make free magicApp-to-magicApp and magicApp-to-magicJack calls anywhere in the world.
The main drawbacks of this option are that you need a landline for the magicJack, and the service has an annual fee plus international fees for several countries. You would also need to buy the magicJack dongle while you’re back in the US or have it muled to Ecuador.
Best Options for Calling the United States from Ecuador
While all of these options (and more) will allow you to call the United States from Ecuador, we think WhatsApp is the best option since it’s free and you’ll need it to communicate with most other people you’ll meet in Ecuador.
Zoom is a great option if you want to have a video call with a group of friends or your geographically dispersed family, especially since it’s free for up to 100 participants.
If you have a job or business clients back in the US, you will likely need a Skype account that’s attached to your US-based phone number, especially if you don’t want them to know you’re outside the country. This means you’ll need to keep your US-based phone, which may also provide you the option of using WiFi Calling.
The bottom line is that it’s REALLY easy and mostly free to call the United States from Ecuador. You have a lot of different options so there’s no need for concern.
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