Friday, June 12, 2009

Mexican Cell Phones Play Hard-to-Get

The Mexican government changed the rules for getting a cell phone in 2009, requiring anyone signing up for a new account to provide complete documentation. While it’s still possible to purchase a Mexican cell phone or SIM, the requirements have taken the convenient storefront or kiosk cellular dealer out of the picture. You’ll need to go to a corporate-owned cellular store, show them your passport, and fill out an application, including for Prepaid, and even just for a SIM, if they will sell it to you. The problem is most cities only have 1 or 2 such official stores in each town, with several in Mexico City. This makes the Mexican cellular phone a less desirable choice for roaming in Mexico.

The good news is that once you acquire your cellular account, most convenience stores can refill your account with their store computer. This eliminates the need for you to deal with Spanish-speaking prompts on the phone, you only need to show them your Mexican cellular number and a few hundred pesos.

In my case, I was able to refill my Movistar Prepaid account, which has yet to expire after almost 1 year of non-use. But I am not willing to take the time and expense to travel across town to get a new TelCel account ‘by the rules’. Yes, it means we’re going to start paying even more roaming charges by using our US-based phones more often. After the problems we had last year, even .99 a minute seems reasonable considering the challenges of the alternatives.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried T-Mobile Hotspot service there. If it works that would make life a lot easier

Oz Andrews said...

Oh yes! As do Skype and other broadband phones. However, you need an open wi-fi signal and most resorts and in-town stores require a password or WEP Key. Our resort charges $40USD a week for their password. It makes Roaming charges look cheap.