Mexico loves cell phones!
There are probably two or three times more cell phones
in Cancun than regular ‘land-lines’, partly
due to the fact the Mexico’s phone system was in
a shambles until about a decade ago, the same time that
cell phones began to see wide-spread popularity. Many
residents, Mexicans and ex-patriots alike simply use a
cell phone and don’t have a normal land-line at
most cell phone calling plans in the USA and Canada require
a long-term contract and a monthly calling plan, a majority
of the cell phone plans here are ‘pay as you go’,
which makes it especially attractive to people only spending
a few months here or those who don’t have a fixed
residential address (such as vacationers who may move from
one place to another occasionally). While the monthly calling
plans are available here, most choose the pay-as-you-go
method, so that is what we’ll cover here.
The most widely-used network is TelCel,
followed by MoviStar and USACell. Here in Cancun, TelCel
seems to have the most towers and best reliability, and
also allows you to hear and read important messages from
the provider in English (such as warnings when your credit
is nearing depletion). There are cell phone stores literally
EVERYwhere..inside every supermarket and at least two in
each mall, on street corners, in stores literally no wider
than an alley. You can buy phones starting at about 300
pesos and running as high several thousand, with as many
or as few of the bells and whistles as you like, from manufacturers
like Motorola, Nokia, LG, and more.
Purchase of a phone usually comes with
some free airtime to get you started, and it’s not
unusual to spend 300 pesos for a phone and get 300 pesos
in airtime free, hence, a basically free phone. Once you’ve
depleted your calling credit, you buy more at any other
store and even in many ‘mom-and-pop’ type corner
stores all over Cancun.
Calling credit is available in 100, 200,
300, 400, and 500 peso increments and at various times of
the year promotions offer, for example, 450 pesos credit
when you purchase 300 pesos worth. The card you purchase
for credit has a scratch-off strip (like a lottery ticket)
which will reveal a long string of numbers…dial these
numbers into your phone (usually preceded by a couple other
digits, depending on the provider), hit ‘send’,
and listen for the voice telling you you’re credit
has been added.
IF YOU ARE BRINGING A CELL
PHONE WITH YOU FROM THE USA OR CANADA, you may be able to
use your cell phone here for inexpensive calls back home.
Check with your provider BEFORE you depart for details.
If so, you’ll probably be able to use it here for
‘local’ calls as well, though it’s likely
to be expensive.