Mexico Carriers
US Phones in Mexico
How to Make Calls
Calling Tips
Phone Setup

( Hacer llamadas en teléfonos celulares en México )

You can turn on your wireless phone in Mexico and hope it works or you can go there equipped with the latest inside information to make and take your calls without getting cut off...or ripped off.
Also, check the procedures for Making Local and Long Distance Calls in Mexico.

  • In Mexico, The Calling Party Pays. With a Mexican phone or SIM, that means if you make the call, you're the one paying for the miniutes (unless you have a "Free Number" Feature). That means the call recipient usally does not pay any per-minute fees. This does not apply to US phones roaming in Mexico, but if you call a Mexican cell phone with your US phone, the call is charge-free for the recipient. Also, normal charges for calls to cell phones are significantly higher than to land line numbers, unless you have a special discount calling feature or a US wireless phone with a fixed rate to all Mexico phone numbers.

  • When you are calling your voice mail or any US number from Mexico, you must enter "001" (or, alternatively, "+1" on GSM phones) before the number called to access a US-based phone, even if it that phone is roaming in Mexico. Most likely, the number programmed for voice mail in your phone will not work. Call "001" and then your own number for voice mail access.

  • The number for emergencies is not 911. The general number for emergencies in Mexico is "066". If you are using a GSM wireless phone, some of the more common emergency numbers are already programmed for you. So if you can only think of "911", or the European version, "112", it may convert the call for you. Be ready to speak Spanish. If you have trouble being understood, try calling your hotel and ask them for help. Program in their number as soon as you arrive.

  • You need some Spanish skills to use a Mexican cellular phone efficiently. Even if you have the prompts on your phone service switched to English, most messages beyond the balance and refill access are still in Spanish. Most Mexican cellular vendors and their customer service do not speak English. Be prepared. The best to way to set up your account is to get a brochure or bring up the Mexican cellular provider's web site, and have someone translate to you what is available and how to ask for that plan or product. One great source for translating is your hotel concierge or front desk. Even small hotels have a concierge, but they work almost solely on commission, so if they help you set up your wireless service, a small tip would be fair. A nicer tip could get that person to call customer serivce and make all the adjustments necessary.

  • In most cases, calls to your own US cellular service provider ("611" or their normal customer service number) usually do not incur any charges. Check with your carrier before you leave to make sure. They may be able to help with some of your Roaming problems in English. Ask for their non-"800" number in case you need to call them Collect.

  • Mexican corporate cellular retailers may not sell you just a SIM. If not go ahead and buy a phone, some stores offer a promotional phone for as low as $20US, and with that you can just use the SIM.

  • Many cellular retailers offer pre-activated phones and SIM's for the convenience of tourists. Don't be afraid to ask.

  • Consider having one party call the other back based on who has the cheapest rate. A person calling your US wireless number may only be calling a local (to them) number. Charges for long distance calls from the US to Mexico can vary widely, some as much as $1.00 per minute.
  • While the carriers claim your Mexican prepaid account and number will expire after 60 days of non-use, we have refilled both TelCel and Movistar accounts as much as 1 year after their "expiration".

  • Some of the rules and charges are different along the Mexico/US border. Sometimes charges are lower, or you might access a US cell site. Watch your Roaming indicator. Some US carriers charge lower roaming rates in Baja California.

  • Mexico Roaming must be activated with phones from most US carriers. This is usually done for free by customer service and you should be able to contact them toll-free from Mexico, either by their listed (non Toll-Free) number or 611.

  • Billing that crosses international borders isn't 100% accurate or timely. Keep your "Mexico" plan until all the charges show on your bill. You might also have calls that are never charged.

  • Caller ID does not work on all networks in all places. You may not be able to choose which calls you answer and which you ignore. Our experience has been Mexico GSM carriers usually transmit Caller ID, CDMA carriers often do not.

  • There is often a per minute charge with US GSM carriers for roaming calls that go to voice mail, even if your phone is off and even if no message is left. You can have your home carrier temporarily disable voice mail. Make sure your own network knows when you are "home" by turning on your phone once you arrive in the US. Some carriers, like AT&T, don't charge for these calls if your phone is turned off.

  • Calls to US toll-free "800" numbers (001-800... in Mexico) are not free. Per minute (or per call) rates apply, but long distance charges do not.

  • These are observations we and other contributors have noted while calling in Mexico, yours may be different, and prices are subject to change. If so, we'd like to hear from you.


  • How to Make Calls in Mexico

  • Our Recommendations

  • Setting Up a Phone for making economical calls to and from Mexico.

  • Wireless Carriers in Mexico

  • Data Roaming Dangers