Saving Money Just Comes Easy in Mexico

Source: Q-Roo Paul

We woke up to a cloudy day with scattered showers so we decided to make it an administrative day.

As I have said many times before — our daily plans depend heavily on the weather. A perfect, sunny Caribbean day necessitates that we drop everything and head to the beach. It’s not a law or anything — just a code that we live by.

We decided to take advantage of the first rainy day in over a week and we headed into Playa del Carmen (PDC).  PDC is located about 25 minutes north of where we live and we only go there when we need to shop, see a doctor, or satisfy a particular food craving. We just don’t like to deal with all the traffic on a regular basis.

On this particular day, we had to stock up on bulk items at City Club and renew Linda’s cell phone plan before it expired. This article will be focusing on the latter.

Saving Pesos Wherever We Can

We went to the AT&T store because they have great coverage both where we live in Mexico and where we visit in the U.S. The plans also cover all of North America, so there is never an additional charge for us to call the U.S. or to use the phone when we are there.

We decided on a plan with unlimited calls, unlimited texts, and 3 gigs of data. With this plan, social media applications like Facebook and WhatsApp don’t use any of the data, so there was no need to buy additional gigs.

They said that if we paid up front for 12 months, we would get 12 months free. The thrifty side of me just couldn’t pass up that deal. It’s like paying a nickel more to go from a 22 oz Slurpee to a 44 oz one –it’s a no-brainer.

Since I haven’t been in the U.S. in awhile, I’m not sure what this plan costs there, but here it cost us about $269 USD for two years of service at the current exchange rate (20:1). Broken down monthly, that comes to a whopping $11.20 USD a month.

What I do remember from my former life in the U.S. is that cell phone companies would often advertise a low rate, but the final bill would be much higher. That’s because that advertised price didn’t include all of the taxes and fees the government throws in there.

So what about here in Mexico?

Once I recalculate it adding all of the applicable taxes and fees the amount still comes to $11.20 USD a month.

Amazed? Don’t be.

In Mexico, the law requires that all prices exhibited include all taxes, fees, commissions and any other charge required to obtain the product or service. The law is designed to protect the consumer and I think the U.S. should enact something similar.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Before moving to Mexico, the prices that we paid for goods and services in the U.S. seemed reasonable to me — in most cases. However, now in comparison to what we spend in Mexico, they seem outrageously expensive.

Before all my friends back in the U.S. run to Mexico to get phone plans, just keep in mind that you would have a Mexican cell phone number. That means that although your plan would work fine in the U.S., you would have to remind your friends to dial +52 and your number. It could also be a long distance call for them — depending on their cell phone plan.

You can get around having your friends incur long distance rates by calling you by using phone apps like WhatsApp.

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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. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

15 Comments on "Saving Money Just Comes Easy in Mexico"

  1. Since arriving here we’ve been amazed by how low the prices have been as well. We’re slowly getting more and more spoiled, I think returning to the US is going to be a shock!

    With your AT&T plan do they allow you to tether a laptop to your phone, to utilize the data? I’m thinking of switching to a Mexican plan for the savings, but I can’t find the answer to that online (for both Telcel or AT&T).

  2. WOW! We have a similar plan with AT&T, unlimited calls, unlimited texts, 3 GB data + 3 GB data free and rollover. It costs us about $95 a month for 2 lines. That’s stunning. Our next trip down to northern Baja, we may just have to switch prior to our move.

  3. I just want to know the weather forecast for tomorrow and the best site I can go to for the next month
    Ps your right a wet one today

  4. Tethering is a function of your phone, not the provider. Just keep in mind that you can eat up your data allocation pretty fast if you start downloading large files.

  5. So what type of Visa do y’all have? Was just curious about the requirements for an ATM plan.
    It is a good thing that the exchange rate is so good right now; just wonder how long it will last!
    When we moved to Mexico 14 years ago, we were losing money everytime we withdrew money from the ATM!

    • oops AT&T plan 🙂

      • We have resident visas but there are no residency requirements to get a phone plan here. It’s like walking into the AT&T store wherever you live with your phone in hand and choosing a service.

  6. Miguel Tobias | November 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm |

    Do you have to be a resident of Mexico in order to get the deal? I will be in Mexico next month and would love to lower my phone bill.

    • No, you don’t have to be a resident. Several friends of our’s only came on tourist visas and got the plan.

  7. Ten more months to go . Very excited.
    One question about your cell plan .Did you bring your own phone from the states or did you obtain one in mexico. I’m planning on bringing mine and purchasing just the plan there. Or are you expected to purchase their phones.

    • We brought one the first time and purchased the plan. When that phone died, we bought a Mexican cell phone. There are familiar brands here but some of the models are not found in the U.S.

  8. Pabo Parigini | November 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm |

    We have the Sin Limatate plan for our cell phones. 100 pesos for 23 days (weird huh?) unlimited calls and texts to Mexico, US and Canada. We don’t need the extra data they also offer.

    We had AT&T phones/plan from USA when we moved here 4 years ago. So expensive! Paid off the plan, put the phones away. Recently took them out, went to Telcel and purchased a Mexican SIM card and signed up for the 23 day plan. Now we just go to Oxxo on the 24th day, pay 100 pesos for each phone for unlimited use. Easy Peasy! Gotta ❤️ LOVE ❤️ Mexico!

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