Living in Mexico. EVERYTHING you need to know (and then some)
tips on paying your Mexico bills especially if you don’t have a local bank account
August 3, 2020
A common frustration about living in Mexico is paying bills, especially for those who only reside in the country part time. Trying to live here without a resident card can be tough since most banks will not open accounts for non-residents.
Having a local bank account in Mexico certainly does make life a lot easier. Not only for online shopping, but also for paying bills. Another frustration about paying your Mexican bills is the due date. If you’re new, you may not know that bills cannot be carried over into the next month.
All bills (often with the exception of water) need to be paid by the due date written on the factura. If it is not paid by midnight on the due date Mexico City time, that particular service is automatically cut.
Albeit your TelMex / TelCel, internet, cable or CFE electric bill, it will be cut, no exceptions. To get the service reconnected (in most instances), you only have to pay the bill. Usually within a hour or so, the service will automatically be reactivated.
So, what is the best way to pay your Mexican bills when you don’t have a local bank account? A lot of businesses now take credit cards, something they did not do even several years ago. However, I continue to read and hear of American / Canadian card holders having their Mexican payments rejected.
So, another way to pay your local bills in Mexico is to prepay them. I’ve done it for years and will continue to do so because it works and keeps life really simple, especially if you’re super busy and tend to forget due dates.
The best way to prepay your bills is to arrive at the main office in person. If you want to prepay your water, telephone, electric bill, you will need to go to their office and pay the current outstanding sum. You also cannot pay partial bills here. They’re either paid or they’re not…so pay your latest bill in full.
Once that transaction is complete, you can then tell the teller that you want to prepay say 1,000 peso against the account. It’s common so they will understand what you’re asking.
For myself, once a year I stand in line to prepay my water bill since the monthly amount is relatively consistent. I go to a wicket in person, pay the current bill, get that receipt cleared to zero then hand over 1,000 peso. The teller then puts that as a credit toward my account.
On my next 10 or 11 water bills, I show “minimo a pagar” or “minimum to pay” is 0.00 and an outstanding credit that is deducted from each month until I use it and get an actual bill that needs to be paid, at which time my Minimo a Pagar will reflect a real figure other than 0.00.
You can see from my bill above. At the very top of the bill you can see my current owing is 198.15 peso. At the bottom, “Saldo a favor” means “positive balance”. So during that particular billing period I had 1,000.61 peso credit…minus my 198.16 owing leaves me “Saldo a Favor Actual” or “current credit balance” of 802.46 peso.
The system does work. I do prepay bills not because I don’t live here, but because I do live here and I hate standing in line (especially now with covid), but the prepaid method means an effort once a year instead of 12 efforts a year, and best of all, it means no worrying about having a service cut if you forget or if you’re away.
One last thing you need to understand is that if you move, that credit stays with the house. Here, cars are insured, not drivers and houses are billed, not necessarily the owners, so if you’re renting, especially short term, this may not work for you, but for long-term rentals or for homeowners, the prepay method will certainly do the trick.