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cell phones in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, cellular phone service in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Puerto Vallarta loves cell phones!

There are probably two or three times more cell phones in Puerto Vallarta than regular ‘land-lines’, partly due to the fact the Mexico’s phone system was in a shambles until about a couple 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 all.


Whereas 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 Puerto Vallarta, 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 pesos, 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 Puerto Vallarta. 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.

You can now also reload your phone with as little as 20 pesos at OXXO convenience stores...just give the clerk your cell phone number, pay up, and usually within 60 seconds your phone is "charged up" with pesos and calling time.

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.


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