Reading Dean asked me about what I’m doing for cell service in the US and Mexico as he is going to be living in Mexico and wants to avoid having both a US and Mexican phone.
Enter TelCel’s brand new “Sin Frontera” plan that lets you use a phone with a TelCel SIM card in Mexico, the US, and Canada at the same rate as if you were in Mexico, as long as you’re on a roaming partner network. In the US, that’s T-Mobile. I’m not sure about in Canada, but it’s got to be one of the big ones. Right now, I’m actually on AT&T and still using up my pesos as though I was back in Mazatlán — that’s for voice, text, and data! You can also call between the three countries at the same rates. I made one call to Canada at three pesos per minute, or 0.23CAD. A long distance call with SaskTel costs me 0.35CAD… Yes, I can call Canada more cheaply from Mexico than I can call Quebec from Saskatchewan!
This plan is brand new, there isn’t much information about it yet online, and not all the TelCel employees are familiar with the details so I feel a bit like a guinea pig.
Now, how does one get onto that Sin Frontera plan?
In my case, I started with an unlocked iPhone. SaskTel gave me the phone back in February of ’14 when I switched to them from Verizon. I paid about $70 to unlock it before leaving for Mexico the first time. This means I can switch out the SIM card and use one from any carrier I want. What I’ve been doing is getting an AT&T Go plan SIM when traveling in the US, and a TelCel SIM in Mexico. That means three different numbers, two of which change frequently since I would get a new SIM for every trip. But at least I’m using the same phone. So Dean, if you love your phone, find out if you can unlock it and then you can use it anywhere.
When I got to Hermosillo last fall and went into a TelCel store, I asked for a new Amigo SIM card. Amigo is TelCel’s pay-as-you-go plan that is very popular. There, I was advised that for a few pesos more (something ridiculous like 50 pesos), my account could be set up with Sin Frontera. That’s it!
The piecemeal rates for an Amigo Sin Frontera plan are:
3 pesos, per minute/MB/text. Which is dismal if you use your phone regularly, I know, but you can get a number of plans at better rates. I’m going to check out the WiFi in Moab tonight and if it’s unacceptable, I’ll get a 3GB package for my phone so I can use it as a hot spot. That will be cheaper than getting an AT&T SIM card and data plan for my current needs. If I needed more data, then I might have considered going with the unlimited AT&T plan.
Now, this pay-as-you go plan is good for light users. I basically only use it to have data on the go so I can look up things. Yesterday, I was able to research hotels and use Gas Buddy, but I wouldn’t have started watching YouTube! It also gives me piece of mind that I can call out if I have an emergency.
If you are in Mexico full-time, then you’ll want to consider a proper monthly phone plan with much better packages. These plans can also include Sin Frontera. I was going to upgrade my iPhone when I got home, but now that I’m not spending the summer at Haven and firmly intend to move to Mexico next spring, I’m going to wait and get a better deal in Mérida.
I’m going to keep my current TelCel line active for a bit because it’ll be nice to be able to use my phone if I do any runs into Montana this summer before leaving for Europe. And I am also considering considering canceling SaskTel altogether if my TelCel SIM works on their network — but only as I’m heading out to Europe. No sense paying them $80 a month for the next nine months to keep a plan I won’t need anymore. There are lots of possibilities to consider.
The only issue with using TelCel as my main phone while still living in Canada or US is, of course, having a Mexican phone number. But if you’re primarily living in Mexico, then a phone plan that you can use at no extra charge the odd time you’re in the US or Canada makes perfect sense and is the option I will be going with.
I don’t believe that Movistar, TelCel’s competitor, has anything similar to Sin Frontera.
Dean, I have no idea if any of this made sense to you. Please drop me another comment if there’s anything else you need explained. 🙂