Paying your utility bills in Panama is getting easier every year.
Ten years ago, we had to visit each individual utility office. Then wait in line to pay.
Sometimes the lines were long, and did not move fast.
Pay At Grocery Store
These days, we simply take our bill to Romero’s grocery store where they have a counter dedicated to accepting utility bill payments.
Pay At Mall Kiosks
In some parts of the country, mostly in or near Panama City, there are also Rapid Money and E-Pago kiosks in malls (as well as in supermarkets). You simply give the clerk the bill and pay them directly. Keep in mind that, Rapid Money payments can take several days to be credited. The E-Pago payments only take a few hours.
There is also a bill paying center in downtown Puerto Armuelles where you can pay all your bills (see photo)
You can also pay your bills online. You can initiate payment with your Panama bank or the utility company itself.
However, there can be a few requirements for paying online, depending upon the utility. For instance, some only accept payments from specific banks. If you don’t have a bank account at one of those banks, you cannot pay online.
Getting your bill
All our bills are hand-delivered by an employee of the utility company. If you are home, they will hand it to you. If not, they may leave it rolled up in your fence like they do at our house.
There is no home mail delivery in Panama, except for utility bills.
Luckily, the pay centers and utility companies also keep records of what you owe. So you don’t need to have your bill in order to pay.
Keep Your Receipt!
Make sure you get your bill stamped paid when you pay it.
These days the utility companies do a good job keeping track of your payments However, not always.
In the past, you could never count on your payments showing up in payment system.
If there is a problem, you will need to produce your paid – and stamped paid – bill. It will easier, faster, and result in fewer headaches and much less time spent if you do that.
In the case of garbage, a person comes to your house to collect the money. At least that is the only way I know that it happens in Puerto Armuelles.
The monthly garbage bill is only $3 in Puerto Armuelles. This month I paid through December and it only cost me $15. $15 for 5 months of garage sounds good to me. They pick the garbage up every Tuesday in our neighborhood.
How We Pay Our Utility Bills
Except for Internet, we pay all our utility bills in person. As I mentioned above, someone comes to our house to collect payment for garbage service.
I pay the rest of the utilities at the beginning of each month at Romero supermarket. When we are out of the country, we have someone else pay them for us.
Pay for Internet & Phone – Online
In the case of our internet & phone bill, our service is through Cable and Wireless Panama. We pay it online using our bank account in the States.
We pay Cable & Wireless $35 a month for 4mbps Internet and a land line.
Cable & Wireless will promise you a higher speed if you pay more. Don’t believe them. That is their maximum speed, at least in our neighborhood of Puerto. Other Internet provider such as Cable Onda or Planet Telecom you can get 10mbps.
Paying for Internet – The Old Way
I still grimace to think about how horrible the experience was of having to wait in an interminable line at the Cable and Wireless office in Puerto Armuelles. This office used to only be open on Tuesdays and Thursday. Back then, Puerto didn’t have enough Internet customers to merit an office with regular daily hours, and Portenos were treated as if purchasing internet service were some sort of a grand privilege, rather than a business.
Cable & Wireless and Other Internet Providers
Now it is easy to do. We still don’t have a Cable & Wireless office in town. Cable & Wireless has been at a stand still for the last 3 years. They haven’t made any investments in their system due to the road construction (which keeps knocking out their lines) and the selling of their company. Cable & Wireless was finally sold about 2 months ago and the road expansion project is almost done. So perhaps Cable & Wireless will improve soon.
Luckily, new Internet companies are increasingly popping up these days. Companies that promise faster and better service. But faster and better service, I mean 10mbps and internet that does not cut out on a regular basis. We will have to write about it soon.