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Cell Phones in Cancun

Apr 11, 2012 | No Responses

Everyone says they’re not going to use a cell phone while on vacation, but rarely does that ever happen.  There are multiple reasons why a cell phone is a good investment when traveling in Mexico.  For one, the roaming charges are astronomical!  A few years back I came for a week, and left with a $500 phone bill.  I used the phone randomly, but to my disappointment I got slammed with this bill.  I learned the hard way.

If you plan on road tripping then I highly recommend a cell phone.  Although major highways are beautifully paved you will come across dirt roads that pass through small town with nothing more than a few shacks and convenient store.  There’s no dealership to come rushing to your aid if something happens.

The details on cell phones in Mexico…

In 2011 the Mexican government required all users to register their cell phones with a CURP (identification number Mexicans have).  Even though you can buy a phone from the convenient stores and the phone company it’s probably easiest to go directly to the phone store.

There are 2 main companies that monopolize the market here in Mexico, Telcel and Movistar.  Telcel is the largest, and has the most reliable coverage, but you must register your passport at the head office on Avenida Tulum in the downtown core.   Movistar, on the hand, would be the better option for travelers.  Once you purchase the phone it’s activated.  I believe they’re supposed to ask for identification, but all my friends who purchased one had no problems.

If you’re staying in the Hotel Zone you could easily pick one up at an Oxxo, or Kukulcan Shopping Centre.  You can’t miss the shopping centre.  It is beautiful, modern, and massive!  Your basic of basic phone will cost you no more than $35US, and that includes the chip (phone number).  You pay per use which makes budgeting much easier, but beware minutes expire a month after adding, so don’t over spend you’re you’ll lose out.

Topping up is easy and cheap!  There is a 20 peso minimum which will last a few texts and a local call here and there.  If I’m not mistaken I spend about 5 pesos/minute to call Canada… not bad.  Make sure you memorize your number.  At the cash of every Oxxo and Extra you can add credit to your phone.

When calling overseas (Canada or the United States) dial 00 (country code) and then 1.  The same goes for if you’re texting.  Of course, with the rise of the internet you can easily use Skype for free, but sometimes when you’re out it’s handy to have a cell.  Also, if you plan on returning often you might as well splurge on a phone.

Author: Janelle Brandon

As our dedicated travel writer, Janelle scours Cancun and the Riviera Maya for all the cool things to do around here. From working and living to getting around, and, of course, the best beaches (she loves her sun and sand). Janelle lets you know how it is. As our Chief Operations Officer she makes sure we are not skipping out on work to laze on the beach (although sometimes she joins us). She's a pleasure to have around and always making us laugh with her crazy stories.

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