Puerto Vallarta loves
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
Many residents, Mexicans and
ex-patriots alike simply use a cell phone and don’t
have a normal land-line at all.
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.