TELCEL – Mexico – Buying A Prepaid Plan

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AUGUST 2016:

Why not read our Mexico Retirement Reviews.


If you are considering buying a mobile phone prepaid plan in Mexico, you will most likely end up buying one from TELCEL.

TELCEL has the widest coverage.


I plan to travel in Mexico for 4-5 months. I will be travelling to some remote places. I need TELCEL’s wide coverage.

I do not call or text often. When I do, I am happy to pay by the minute.

I need a prepaid Data Only plan that allows me to connect to and communicate through the internet.

I arrived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and I went down to the official TELCEL Store.

I asked for a 1 Month, 2GB Data Only plan. This is the GRANDPAcking Standard package that I get in every country.

They charged me MXP150 for my new TELCEL SIMcard and MXP300 for a 30 Day, 2GB Data Plan. A total of MXP450.

After 10 days I started receiving messages (in Spanish) telling me that my plan had expired. It was a bit of a worry, but the data still worked. So, I assumed that the texts from TELCEL were in error.

After 2.5 weeks in Mexico, I needed to make a couple of phone calls. But, I had a zero balance.

I knew that I needed to renew my Data Plan soon and that I still had another 3-4 months in Mexico, so I decided to load MXP500 to ensure that I always had a good balance going forward (to buy more data or make the odd phone call).

I tried to load MXP500 online at TELCEL’s ‘’ website. The transaction failed. I have a New Zealand Visa card which it didn’t like.

I went down to the local OXXO store and paid MXP500 in cash. OXXO loaded it to my phone and I got a text from TELCEL to say that MXP500 had been received. I checked my new balance … it was zero. ???

I went back to the MyTelCel website and tried to change my ‘recharge method’ to credit card. The authorisation of my credit card failed. MyTelCel wants a 5 digit Zip Code and we only have 4 Digit ones in NZ … so the TELCEL end wouldn’t let me continue without entering a 5 Digit code … and, if I added an extra ‘0’ on the end of my 4 Digit one, it was refused at the NZ end because it was not the Zip Code registered against my Credit Card back in NZ.

I went to the nearest official TELCEL Store to sort it out.

The Store looked at my account and told me:

  • Puerto Vallarta had sold me a Promotional ‘MXP50’ Package with my SIMcard
  • Puerto Vallarta had, then, loaded a 30 Day 2GB Data pack on top
  • The MX50 Package only lasts 10 days
  • The MX50 Package had expired
  • When I loaded my MXP500 in cash, the TELCEL system automatically used that money to purchase an ‘MXP500 Package’
  • The automatic purchase could not be reversed
  • The automatic purchase was not refundable
  • The new package was, now, running in parallel with my 2GB Data Package
  • My packages all expire in 28 days ???

This ‘MXP500 Package’ lasts 50 days and comes with 1.5GB, unlimited calls, and unlimited texts.

So, even though

  • I had never approved automatic package re-purchasing
  • TELCEL never texted me to ask my approval of this MX500 purchase
  • I had never purchased an MXP500 package before
  • I didn’t want the MXP500 Package

There was absolutely nothing that I could do until all of my packages expired. Then, I had to go back to TELCEL and ask them to change my ‘charging scheme’ from automatic to manual … something that cannot be done online!

Given what happened to me, I thought that I would explain how it works so that you can avoid making a similar mistake.


These are the ‘Amigo’ plans available as at August 2016.TELCEL Prepaid Plan Options


TELCEL have a 4-tier structure:

  • Tier 1: Your Credit
  • Tier 2: Your Plan / Package
  • Tier 3: Your extras / add-ons
  • Tier 4: Your gifting

This structure works ‘top-down’.

If you load credit onto your phone, the TELCEL system looks to see if you have an ‘active’ package. If not, the system will automatically use that credit to purchase a package. It assumes that the amount that you have loaded directly relates to the package that you want to buy.
In my case I loaded MXP500, so TELCEL took it all and gave me the MXP500 Package.

If you have an ‘active’ package, your credit stays in Tier 1 and you can use it to purchase extras (such as more data) or gift it to other people.

I assume that, if you have credit in Tier 1 when your current package expires, the system will automatically sell you the most expensive Package that your credit can afford.


You can buy addition data to ‘sit on top of’ your ‘active’ Prepaid Plan.



So, what happened to me becomes clear:

  • My initial, promotional MX50 Package expired
  • But my 2Gb 30 Day Data package continued working fine
  • My MXP500 cash automatically purchased the MXP500 Package
  • This MXP500 Package did not start from the date of purchase … it was back-dated to the date that my promotional MX50 Package ended

The end result? I paid a whopping MXP500 for 30 days of only 1.5GB of data.


The free wifi in hotels, restaurants, and bars around Mexico is much better than what I experienced in S.E.Asia … perhaps I won’t need 2GB every month.

I would suggest that you are best to just load the exact amounts for what you want to buy. Then, the automatic system will work properly.

For me, the best option would have been:

  • Purchase a SIMcard for MXP150 (with  promo if possible)
  • Buy the cheapest 30 Day Package – the MXP150 with unlimited talk & chat and 400MB of Data
  • Every 30 days, load MX150 so that my MXP150 Package automatically renews
  • When the 400MB of my ‘MXP150 Package’ runs out, load MXP130 and buy a 30 day 1GB Data Only add-on (or load MXP199 and buy 2GBs if I need more) … repeat when necessary


When you first arrive in Mexico and don’t speak Spanish, these things can happen.

Perhaps the lady in Puerto Vallarta tried to explain this to me – I will never know – I didn’t understand a word that she said.

I have managed to survive successfully for 18 months in 6 different S.E.Asia countries without a problem.

The problem here, in Mexico with TELCEL, is that you don’t send an SMS to buy the package that you want … the TELCEL system automatically decides for you.

To control that, you need to load the right amount of money at the right time.


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