Saving Money With a Mexican Cell Phone Plan

For the first six months that we lived in Mexico, we still had a cell phone plan from the U.S. that included coverage in Mexico. That plan cost us around $120 USD a month for two phones– an amount that I thought, at least at the time, was pretty reasonable.

I changed my tune when I did some research and learned that we could have a similar plan in Mexico for two phones for less than $25 USD a month. That savings was too big to pass up, so we made the change.

The Plan We Use

The plan that we switched to is called Plan AT&T con Todo damos Más. It’s not a group plan, so we had to set up each phone separately.

It includes unlimited calls and texts anywhere in North America (Mexico, United States and Canada) and 3 GB per data per phone. Certain popular phone apps are not applied toward data usage: Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter and Uber.

The key to maximizing the savings with this plan is to pay for 12 months up front. When you do that, you automatically receive an additional 12 months at no cost. So, for $5,388 pesos ($262.57 USD*) per phone, you get 24 months of cell phone service.

I know that might sound like a lot of money to plop down all at once, but you have to keep in mind that you won’t pay one cent more for cell phone service for the next 24 months. And, if you break the numbers down, you’re really only paying $224 pesos ($10.94 USD*) a month for each phone.

That’s a pretty sweet deal.

* U.S. dollar amounts were calculated using the exchange rate at the time the article was written: 20.51 MXN to 1 USD.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Now, before you jump on the next flight to Cancun and head to the nearest AT&T store, keep in mind that if you take advantage of this plan,. you’ll be given a Mexican phone number. That means that anyone calling you from the U.S. or Canada will be charged for an international call — unless, of course, they have a phone plan that includes Mexico.

Since we live in Mexico full-time, it makes sense for us to have a Mexican number because the majority of our calls are to people and businesses in Mexico. Whenever we want to gab with friends and family members in the old country, we either call them directly or use a voice/text/video chat program like Whatsapp.

By switching phone plans, we’ve already saved over $3,500, and as we like to say down here, “That’s a lot of beer money.”

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

43 Comments on "Saving Money With a Mexican Cell Phone Plan"

  1. Wow. Thats excellent. If we were here all year we would do that!

  2. That doesn’t differ markedly from Telcel’s Sin Limites plan. 100 MXN/17 days. See https://www.telcel.com/personas/telefonia/amigo/todavia-no-tienes-amigo#!tarifas

    • Thanks for sharing that link.

      The thing that I like about the AT&T plan is that after we paid, the woman helping us at the store said in Spanish, “See you in two years.”

  3. Do you recall how much it cost for you to purchases phones?

    • We used our U.S. phones for the first year and Linda just bought an unlocked phone recently. They are pretty much the same price as they are in the U.S. if you buy them without a service contract.

  4. We have a similar pre-paid plan with TelCel. $200 pesos per month gets us unlimited calls anywhere in North America. We also get 1.5 GB of data with unlimited use of social media sites like FB, Whatsup, Twitter, Uber, etc.

    For our friends who do not have international calling plans we use a wifi based app called TextNow. It gives you a US based telephone number where people can reach you without having to dial your Mexican phone number. You can dial out or they can dial you anytime you are on wifi. They also have paid plans starting at $9.95/month USD if you want to make calls using the cellular network.

    Best benefit of the TelCel plan over the ATT plan is that you don’t have to prepay for an entire two years of service. Downside is you only get 1.5 GB, not 3 GB. However, for me, that isn’t important as I don’t use much data when I’m away from my home wifi.

  5. Sounds great. I currently have T-Mobile and my two iPads and Apple Watch 4 are also on that plan for $10 additional each month, so I would need to see what the AT&T plan would do about those services.

  6. You can keep your American number by porting it to Google Voice for a one-time $20 fee and answering calls and texts through Google Hangouts. Works great and you have both numbers on the same phone!

  7. This is very helpful! I just moved to Merida, and am still using my $70/month U.S. AT&T plan that covers all North America. I’ll switch to the lower cost local AT&T plan at some point, but so far haven’t wanted to give up my U.S. cell phone number.

    I’m finding that a number of sites I still need to log in to back home –especially financial sites for my bank accounts and credit cards — recognize that I’m no longer logging in from NY and do the extra security step of texting a code to my cell to verify my identity. I don’t think they’d send the text to a local Mexican number. (Whenever I’m given the option, I ask to have the security code sent to my email, which won’t change, but sometimes it’s a text or nothing).

    Even when I use a VPN, the U.S. site can tell I’m logging in from somewhere different than my previous NY location. I’m hoping that after I’ve done this a few times, the sites will stop asking for verification, and I’ll be able to let go of my U.S. cell number and switch to a local one. I wonder if anyone else is dealing with this?

  8. Hi Paul, any experience using a US Google Voice number to forward to your Mexican phone number? I’d think that way your US friends could call that number without having to pay international rates to call your Mexican phone.

  9. We signed up for the Con Todo Damos Mas plan also. When we saw that we had voice messages, we couldn’t retrieve them. We went to the AT&T store and were told we had to pay a fee of about 10 pesos for a day of voicemail. We paid for 5 days. I asked if there was a way to pre-pay, and they said no, there wasn’t. Has anyone else had the same issue?

    • That’s crazy! Actually, we’ve never had much use for voicemail because we communicate with most people using Whatsapp.

  10. Thanks Paul! I have actually been researching this myself this week, since Verizon changed their international plan to $70 for one month use (was $25 previously). One question, are you required to have temporary or permanent residency status to obtain this plan?
    … Lisa

    • No, they don’t ask for any immigration documentation.

    • Marc Mittelstead | November 14, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Reply

      When I came down for a month and paused Verizon, they charged me a $65 reactivate fee. I am disgusted with them and USA prices .
      I’d like a Mexico plan that works in USA for 6 months a year as I’m snowboarding.
      PS…thanks Paul for your great blog.

  11. I would like to do that. Except my U.S. phone number is tied to many of my accounts. So sometimes when I log in on my laptop to a site it sends a verification code via text message to my US phone number. Then I enter the code it sends and gain access to my account. How do you get around that?

  12. Another person mentioned porting your US number to Google voice. I have a dual SIM phone so I don’t mean transferring but porting. One SIM would be MX number and one the ported Google voice number. If I’m right that should allow you to keep US number.

    Also wanted to point out that you can get 5 gigs on that plan for 549 pesos per month or 7.5 gigs for 899 ppm (like, if you happen to be a teenager or something) 🙂

  13. Thanks for sharing all this great info!

  14. We are moving down permanently next month and still have a year left on our AT&T contract in the US. Is there any known issues keeping it until the contract is up? I got nothing from AT&T.

    • According to the AT&T (USA) site, there is an early termination fee of $325 + $10 for each month left on the contract.

  15. I don’t need quite as much data so I pay only $150 pesos a month with Telcel on a pay-as-you-go plan. Yes I have to go online once a month to recharge (which takes about 1 minute with the MiTelcel app) but it’s hard to beat the price and there is no long term commitment. I’m full time in Mexico but for people who are only here part time it makes even more sense. If you don’t use or recharge it, you still keep your phone number for up to a year. Recharging resets the counter.

  16. Great information. Thanks!

  17. Ethel Merts aka Fran Clark | November 14, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Reply

    What a savings!! That is great! I still have a ‘dumb’ phone, but plan to get the Apple Smart Phone as a Christmas present to myself. Everyone tells me it is time to ‘get with the program.’ My frugal husband purchased an Apple and that is what he recommended me to get. It would be nice to save about $30.00 as you do. My plan does give me unlimited talk and text, but I’m not sure about the GB data since I don’t use it, but I think that is what my hubby gets.

    • It might be worth looking into. We’ve never exceeded our allotted data usage and we use our phones all the time.

  18. Mark in Merida | November 14, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Reply

    We have the same AT&T plan and just renewed for another two years. AT&T has great coverage, but the one issue has been, getting VM, multiple trips to the store and the helpful people list to all of the options on the phone menu (because apparently there is no English option) and they haven’t been able to help us with how to retrieve. Had not heard about the per day cost – no one mentioned it, so that is a new one also. So decided to go old school, if I don’t hear the phone ring, there is no message…

  19. I did exactly that in April 2017 for 2 years, paid in full. After 1 year, April 2018 they stopped coverage. I still have a year left but have been the last 7 months without service. I just returned a week ago and went to AT&T to try and get it sorted but their computers were down. Will try again tomorrow. Stay tuned.

  20. For those asking about the banks sending a verification code, my bank allows me to use a international number. In fact, I am allowed to have several numbers, so when we went to Europe to visit family, we used their phone number for texting the verification code while there.

  21. Linda Shaffner | November 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Reply

    Just got back from AT&T. No luck with getting the second year that I paid for. Apparently the man I dealt with took the money and ran, and I wasn’t the only one. They did offer to sell me another plan. So much for standing behind your product.

    • Do you still have the receipt that shows that you paid for 12 and got 12 free? It has a date that it extends to. It sounds like they marked it as paid for 6, got 6 — which is an option.

      If you do have the receipt, you can always make a complain with the consumer protection folks here in Mexico, PROFECO. They are actually very effective here in Mexico.

  22. Paul, we’ve just moved permanently to Play del Carmen from Canada and also wish to purchase this plan. Could you tell me which AT&T outlet you went too?

  23. Regarding at&t cell plan. When you go to the United States can you use you phone ammediatley. No changing chips. ?

    • The chip works all through North America. The only thing you have to do is change the settings to allow roaming so it will connect to the other AT&T network.

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