How Can I Make Telephone Calls to and from Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico and What Are the Typical Rates?
HOW. Hopefully you’ll get to leave the cell phone behind, but just in case, here’s some simple (??) rules.
From a US cell phone (in Mexico ) to a US phone number (anywhere):
001 + US area code + phone number
From a US phone (anywhere) to a Mexican hard line:
011 + 52 + MX area code + phone number
From a US phone to a Mexican cell phone (add a 1):
011 + 52 + 1 + MX area code + phone number
- Mexico – 52
- United States – 1
Local Area Codes:
- La Paz – 612
- Cabo – 624
HOW MUCH? The two primary service providers in Baja are TelCel and Moviestar. If you have an unlocked phone with 3G capability, for about $15 you can get a SIM card to use with either service provider on a short term basis to make local calls. If you buy the entry level phone it usually comes with a SIM card and a few minutes. You can then very easily “recharge” your card. For example, for 5,000 pesos you get a 5,000 credit and a 5,000 peso bonus. The bonus account has some limitations (as you might expect, namely the ability to use the credit for international calls). You can buy a card at an authorized dealer. They are fairly ubiquitous. Calls from a TelCel to TelCel mobile phone are [free/cheap?] as are calls between Moviestar phones. Calls to the US are about $1+ a minute. Income calls are generally free unless you are roaming. Keep in mind that you may be roaming by simply leaving the vicinity you acquired your card.
If you are planning to stay for more than a few weeks, TelCel offers a “Pay Per Call” service for TelCel’s ‘Amigo’ phones and SIM’s. For about $1 US you can call FROM Mexico TO the US for up to 20 minutes! Currently the rate is 11.5 pesos for 20 minutes. See TelCel’s por llamada This is a big change from the $1/min. Also, mobile-to-mobile calls are .50 US for up to 20 minutes as well. The problem with this plan is it takes 2-3 weeks to get authorized and if you don’t use it fairly frequently (once every three months?), it gets shut off. Additionally, if you are out of the region you signed up, you’re back in the $1+/min zone. Officially, refills last 3 months, then the SIM “expires” 2 months after that. Like many things in the Mexican telecommunications networks, “it depends.” I would imagine Movistar & Iusacel would match the price, but they don’t have a US toll-free number to find out. Movistar used to have a similar “pay per call” plan available known as “Moviestar por llamada.”
Unfortunately, Movistar has a reputation of being difficult to deal with at the retail level while TelCel has many more independent agents; however, it is my impression that Moviestar may have a better presence south of Todos Santos (Cabo) and TelCel north (La Paz). With TelCel, f you can’t get a useful answer from one, there’s usually another just down the street. If you plan on making lots of local calls, consider what the people you are calling are using as this will reduce your cost. Generally, 612 is TelCel and 624 is MovieStar but that’s not an absolute rule.
There is a $381/month TelCel peso account which will get you 1.5MB of data for your Blackberry and, I think, 50 min of national calling; however, international calls are $.72 pesos a minute so not sure whether this is simply a dead end.
New info as of April 2009 - TelCel is offering a special for Blackberry users. Send a text message and get email and data for any length of time you want on their 3G network. For example, assuming you have a pre-paid card, you can get 7 days for 142.50 pesos, 15 days for 238.17 pesos and 30 days for 429.49 pesos. Reportedly the usage is unlimited. Beats the US rates and there’s no contract required on this special. Incidentally, Telcel also offers a wireless card for your laptop for the 429.49 month on their 3G network. This one requires an 18 month commitment.
*may vary for some cell phone networks
Possibly Related Posts:
- FAQ Index
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- What is a Pueblo Magico?
- Is There a Bus Between Todos Santos and the Airport?