2014/10/06 12:00:19
jkirk

Cell phone suggestions

I've got a Verizon cell phone that will work in the Roo but I would have to buy a SIM chip and then load it with Telcel time... from what it looks like it would cost about $10-15 U.S. for the chip and $10-15 U.S. for some time.  However Verizon is $.99 a min.... so is it really worth getting the local sim?  Maybe for data?
Also, my father has an old non-gsm phone, so his won't work.  Does anyone know how much it would cost to by a cheap (cheapest) phone at an OXXO or Walmart or some place like that?
 
Thanks!


20 comments Leave a comment
FinsUP
I bought one of the cheapest phones...mistake, I'm ready to toss it, cause most people text, and it's the old keys with letters numbers, etc and pain in the butt to tap through to get letters, etc.  Not worth the money.
 
I got my iphone 4 unlocked and bought a mexican SIM card and phone number for it and can load it up with minutes from any oxxo, or chomak etc.  For the cost of the SIM and minutes - not even sure why you're questioning it - it's peanuts, and gives you data time.  You'd spend that on a dinner at TBC or Cueva....right?
2014/10/06 12:28:47
Wifey
We have Vorizon phones and added the international plan which is $15 per month.  Calls to Mexico and Canada are free.  I didn't get charged extra for the texts either.  I logged on to the wifi in our room for internet.  You could add the plan for your trip then take it off when you get home. 
2014/10/06 12:34:06
jkirk
Wifey - Unfortunately I don't have the "more everything" plan.  We have an old plan that is grandfathered in that has a much cheaper rate and more data than if we switched... 
I'm mostly trying to determine if I'm really going to make more than 20 min worth of calls while down there.  If I make less than 20min, then it would make sense to just use my regular phone and pay $.99/min.  If I make more than 20 min, then it would make sense to spend the $20 on a new sim and telcel minutes. 
 
But for my dad, he doesn't even have a phone that would work...so he either has to "rent" one from Verizon for $20 + s/h or he could just buy one down there.  So, that's why I'd like to know how much the cheapest one is... he doesn't do texts or internet, so he just needs the most basic phone in case he needs to make calls.  We'll have wifi in the condo, so we can do skype or facetime as needed... but he'd like something for when we are out and about and separated.
2014/10/06 13:42:28
FinsUP
You can also buy a 'minutes card' at your hotel (I think they still sell them), they're 20 USD, and you use them at the payphones in the lobbies, to call.  Enter the pin and then dial - and  the minutes come off those cards.  20 for 30 minutes or something.
 
2014/10/06 14:41:02
jkirk
We're supposed to have a phone at our condo (not sure if it's in the room or in the lobby)  So that's not too big of an issue for making local calls.
2014/10/06 14:45:37
Wifey
We used to use our ATT international pay as you go phone.  I think the phone was about $25 and we just put minutes on it. That worked well too.
2014/10/06 17:30:09
el gran chico
it would cost about $10-15 U.S. for the chip and $10-15 U.S. for some time.

 
You get some initial time included with the chip (known in much of the world as a SIM card, although in Mexico "chip" - pronounced like "cheep" - is the usual term).   I understand a Telcel chip costs 150 pesos and gives 100 pesos of Amigo credit.  I also understand the base rate is about 3 pesos per minute so that works about to just over half and hour of talk time if that's all you want.    Also in Mexico, the caller/texter pays so you'll be able to receive calls/texts too without affecting your amount of talk time.
 
Your Verizon phone will need to be unlocked to use a Telcel chip.   If it's not already unlocked, there will be a cost associated with doing this.
 
If I make less than 20min ...

 
150 pesos works about about $11 US.   So I think you need to consider "If I make less than 11min ..."  Of course if you need to pay to unlock your phone, the math will change again.
 
PS.   I haven't actually been able to personally confirm the Telcel info above but I'm researching it at the moment for my trip in March.
2014/10/07 12:37:18
jewlsinfinity
jkirk - I'm not sure if you are renting a car, but the transportation service I use rents cell phones for dirt cheap. Check out Cancun Valet.
 
From their site
"USAGE: Our phones will call to anywhere in Mexico, the United States and Canada, if you wish to call other countries, please contact Cancun Valet for further information.

RATES: (All charges and rates are expressed in $US) All calls are charged at $0.69 cents of USD per minute, with a $5.00 per day minimum. In other words, if you have a phone for six calendar days and never use it , you are still liable for $30.00 upon its return, so you might as well make 42 minutes of calls -- you paid for them!

SERVICE CHARGE: To reserve, and to cover the cost of setting up, delivering and picking up the phone(s), there is a $10.00 fee per phone. This amount becomes non-refundable 48 hours before your requested start date.
"
2014/10/07 13:16:51
snorkelphile
I just decided to dump Verizon - for the first time ever, we had trouble with it last trip to the Roo.  I'm going to T-mobile which has unlimited data and texting in Mexico and the US for $50 per month.  Talk is .20 per minute in Mexico, but I am using less and less talk time with my phone these days, so this seems like a seamless deal, no sim card switches or different phone numbers.
 
2014/10/07 23:47:45
katzgar
Skype is very popular with expats in MX
2014/10/08 06:58:59
NoleInParadise
I was going to say, with my American cell phone, I have T-mobile but I use a VoIP app and just call people when I have wifi. Rebtel, Google hangouts, Sykpe, etc. Then you can use minutes for emergencies when you don't have wifi. Much easier than figuring out everything just for vacation (SIM card, unlock phone, new plan, etc). I live here and switched from Verizon to T-mobile because Verizon was way too expensive.
 
I can't help with basic phones. I went to Telcel and bought the cheapest smart phone and got a SIM card so I would have a Mexican cell phone for local calls. I am sure Walmart would have the basic, pay as you go. With Telcel, you can "recharge" your minutes at any Oxxo and at the loncheria.  
2014/10/08 08:01:18
jkirk
So, just to be sure... If I install the Rebtel app on my phone and my son installs it on his... as long as we are both on WiFi, we can talk for free.... even though we are in Mexico.... ?  Is that correct?
2014/10/08 08:54:18
NoleInParadise
For Rebtel, I use it to call land lands in the US (when I don't want video). For example, I call it when making calls for work, calling businesses in America, etc. The video calls (google hangouts, skype, etc) you both need the app. With Rebtel, you call the number just as you would with a cell phone. You do have to sign up for an account. Check out their website. 
 
Another app that I have used (for voice or video) is WeChat. 
2014/10/08 09:02:44
BClews
Check out Skype's subscription plan.  It's $2.99 per month for unlimited calls to the US and Canada.  Set it up before you go and cancel it when you get back -- it can all be done online.
 
Of course, it does require wifi.  If I'm away from my hotel I can usually find an Internet café were the wifi is free if you buy something (like a can of soda).
2014/10/10 14:00:23
DonEnrique
Report on T-Mobile: We have been here 2 days now and the phones are working great. As soon as we arrived in the airport, we received messages about being connected in Mexico,and welcome, etc. We use WiFi to call. We have checked in with the kids and I also had to call a company in California. No charges. I did have to call the America rental car company yesterday, and that went through for 20 cents a minute. The calls are crystal clear - we are quite surprised. And you can't beat the cost.
 
Oh almost forgot to mention, we have free texting and data. Data is only 2G but it works quite well for emails, simple searches, even GPS.    
2014/10/13 17:15:48
DonEnrique
P.S. We have the Simple Plan for T-Mobile. Eighty bucks a month for two phones. (I do not work for T-Mobile, just informing!)
 
2014/10/13 17:21:16
snorkelphile
Thanks for the T-Mobile review Enrique!  Sounds like I made a good decision!
 
2014/10/13 23:11:27
Alaskans
So does anyone know if a US ATT Go phone will work in Mexico?  Tried to research it on line and it seems to say it will but talk and text rates will go up to about .25 a minute.  That's not bad.  I have old go phone.  Also considering getting a sim card for my old IPhone 4s if I can get ATT to unlock it.  The IPhone option is better since it has wi-fi and I can use that for data and emails. Our condo has wi-fi as does La Buena Vida and other places.   Used to use the ATT add on features which worked great but switched to new provider last summer and they do not have any international plans to add. 
2014/11/04 20:48:04
zamagirl
I have an ATT gophone (Samsung, 2 years old) and so does my husband (Razor, 5 years old).  They are both pay-as-you-go, with no plans, no special SIM cards.  We can text back and send pics back and forth 24-7 using our regular phone numbers without wifi from him in Minnesota to me on the beach when  we vacation separately, for about 20 cents a text, and about 25 cents for a pix.  Yeah, it's pokey with our number style keypads, but we can convey that we're OK, or that plans have changed.  When we travel together, we can set a meeting place if we get separated.  To call a US number on your gophone from Mexico, you need to use the 001 access code  in front of the US number.  There's a different access code to call a Mexican number from your US gophone; I think it's 1.  When I forget, I just ask Char at Superchomak...she knows everything and is happy to help.  Voice calls run about 25 cents a minute.  So to make a dinner reservation, you might talk 3 minutes max and spend under a buck.  No need to tie yourself in a knot over this.  My advice: when you pick up your rental car, or check into your condo, try making a call right there and then to the person standing there with his Mexican phone.  Then you will know it works.  Either write down the access code, or enter it into your contact list on your phone so you won't lose  it.   Oddly, for years we thought our phones wouldn't voice call down there until Char showed us how to use them.  Our ATT store was totally clueless.  These phones do not work in Europe, however; that really does require a different format that our phones.
  I'll be testing all this once more in 6 (hallelujia!!!!!) days, in Akumal  
2014/11/04 23:07:35
Alaskans
Doing the sim card switch seems like a good way to go with little hassle.  Better then using the GO phone or buying a sim card or Amigo phone in Mexico. Mexicosimcard.com looks to be the best deal if you have an unlocked phone and want to deal with it before you travel.  They even have a deal if you pay an extra $4.95 you get to keep the sim card active for 14 months.  It says a year but I chatted with Vincent their worker bee and he said it is 14 months.  Keeping it active means you do not have to buy a new sim card each year.  Instead you can simply add minutes to you existing card and each year.  Minutes are real cheap compared to buying the card over and over.  They ship quickly out of Canada and use the Amazon network for shipping. 
 
So now if I could only get the ATT unlock procedure to work for my old IPhone 4s so I have an unlocked phone.  Unlocking is a real hassle.  To cover the possibility I cannot get the unlock to work on time, we depart in 13 days, I found another site that actually sells Mexico sim cards for ATT phones that is reasonable.  Check it out.  http://www.cellularabroad.com/mexicoSIMcard.php
2014/11/07 16:24:36

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