March 2019 I decided to go backpacking in Yucatan Mexico for the second time in my life and of course I bought a sim card to avoid high roaming costs. That is what I would recommend every tourist to do when traveling to Mexico. Buying a sim card in Mexico is easy and straight forward and can save you a lot of money. In this guide I will compare all the available Mexico prepaid sim cards and point out the best one for traveling.
In March 2019 I landed in Cancun Airport, where I started my Yucatan Peninsula itinerary and visited places like: Isla Holbox, Valladolid, Rio Lagartos, Mahahual Costa Maya, Cozumel and many more. At Cancun Airport I found places to buy a Mexico sim card, but I can tell you already that buying sim cards at airports is never the best idea. The easiest place to make money on unknowing tourists is when they just landed. In Europe I did research for almost all countries buying sim cards for tourists: UK, Spain, France, Germany and even Paris, Brussels, London, Amsterdam, Rome
I already wrote a guide for buying a sim card in Playa del Carmen and I went to several mobile internet shops in Cancun as well in order to find the best Mexico sim card for tourists. First I will give you all the prices, then I will compare the 4G coverage maps for all mobile internet providers in Mexico and I will tell you where to buy the Mexico sim cards.
Mobile internet providers Mexico
There are 3 main mobile internet providers in Mexico who all sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. Telcel is the market leader followed by Movistar and AT&T who recently bought Unefon and Nextel. These last two networks are now part of AT&T Mexico.
Where to buy a prepaid Mexico sim card?
Whenever you travel to Mexico you will find out that buying a sim card in Mexico is the easiest thing there is. There are mobile internet shops around everywhere. Especially in the tourist areas you will find multiple Telcel, AT&T and Movistar shops as well as in shopping malls and airports. Telcel charges 80 pesos ($4) per sim card, Movistar 60 pesos ($3) and an AT&T sim card is free. Mexico sim cards are ready to use, so there is no activation time and costs.
Unlike most other countries around the world you don’t need your passport or ID when buying a Mexico prepaid sim card!
Prices prepaid sim cards Mexico
In Europe when buying a sim card the prices are the same in every single shop you go and they offer you the same data packages. Not in Mexico! Im kind of used to this practice as finding the best sim card in Vietnam, Indonesia or Thailand is even worse. Every shop will offer you something else.
All the Mexico prepaid sim cards have the following attributes:
- The following social media apps are free (unlimited use) in Mexico: Snapchat, Facebook, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Twitter. Youtube is NOT unlimited!
- The available surfing data can be used in: Canada, USA and of course Mexico.
- Available calling and texting credit can be used in: Canada, USA and Mexico.
This counts for either an AT&T, Movistar or Telcel sim card you buy in Mexico.
To make it easy: 20 pesos is $1 USD.
Telcel sim card Mexico
Telcel is the biggest mobile internet provider company in Mexico and claims to have to best network, we will see that later when comparing the 4G coverage maps of Mexico.
Buying a Telcel prepaid sim card will cost you at least 80 pesos ($4). Strange but true, at some Telcel shops this 80 pesos sim card includes 50 pesos credit, in some Telcel shops it doesn’t. I found this out when looking for a sim card in Playa del Carmen.
However Telcel offers the same data packages in every shop, these are the available Mexico data sim cards.
The below picture is the proof that in a different official Telcel shop they offered suddenly different prepaid sim cards with data for traveling in Mexico.
AT&T sim card Mexico
The AT&T shops in supermarkets and shopping malls I asked where able to sell me Mexico prepaid sim cards for tourists with unlimited data, though in official AT&T shops in Cancun and Playa del Carmen I never found these offers.
AT&T Mexico prepaid sim cards with unlimited data:
- 100 pesos - unlimited internet - 10 days valid
- 150 pesos - unlimited internet - 15 days valid
- 300 pesos - unlimited internet - 30 days valid
But in most shops I was offered the following AT&T prepaid sim cards for tourists.
Movistar sim card Mexico
At several different Movistar shops I was offered the following Mexico prepaid sim cards. At some Movistar shops they wanted to charge me 60 pesos for the sim card, some shops did not. Below are all the Movistar Mexico prepaid sim cards I found across several shops.
- *for this Movistar sim card you will be charged 60 pesos for the card, 1GB Youtube/Netflix included.
- ** 1GB Netflix included
4G coverage Mexico
As you can see from the above the prices for prepaid sim cards in Mexico are kind of similar. The best value for money you get when you buy a XX Mexico prepaid sim card. But do they also have the best network. You don’t want to loose network as soon as you go off the beaten path in Mexico.
4G coverage map AT&T
AT&T has its own network but in the below graphics it is still defined as two seperate networks: Unefon and Nextel.
4G coverage map Movistar
4G coverage map Telcel
From the above Mexico 4G coverage maps we can clearly see that the Telcel network is by far the best. If you for example go on a Yucatan roadtrip it is strongly adviced to buy a Telcel Mexico sim card. If you stay in places like Mexico City, only go surfing in Puerto Escondido or enjoying the beach in Cancun you are fine with any Mexico sim card as all mobile internet providers have good 4G coverage in the main tourist destinations in Mexico.
Best prepaid sim card Mexico
There are always prepaid sim card deals in Mexico, but to find out which shop has ongoing offers you kind of have to ask personally for up to date prices. In general you can rely on the above prices and packages as of March 2019. For finding the best Mexico sim card for tourists I think the network coverage is even more important than the price.
Therefore I came to the simple conclusion that a Telcel sim card is the best Mexico prepaid sim card!
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My experience buying a Mexico sim card
First of all I loved the fact that Mexico sim cards come with unlimited use of social media. I reckon most of the data I consume is through these apps. As a professional travel blogger I constantly want to be online updating my Instagram stories. Most of the time my Telcel sim card was working pretty fine. May be not always at super speed, but pretty fast at least. When buying a Mexico sim card I wanted to have a Telcel sim card because of its extensive network, far better than the others. For example when traveling to Mahahual in the South of Yucatan, there is only a Telcel phone signal available, the same for when traveling to Rio Lagartos to see Las Coloradas Pink Lake.
The above package of 300 pesos ($15) is what I bought for getting me through my Yucatan itinerary. In total I traveled a little over 1 month in Yucatan and because of the ongoing Telcel promotion (not every Telcel shop offered me this) I got 7 GB and unlimited social media for 33 days. A pretty epic deal for using the best network in Mexico!
I hope the above tips for buying a sim card in Mexico were helpful. May you have additional questions let me know, Im happy to help. Looking for more Mexico travel tips? What about these amazing Yucatan tourist destinations? Travel to Holbox for its sunsets, visit Rio Lagartos for Las Coloradas Pink Lake, read more about scooter rental in Cozumel or for the most authentic travel experience in the Yucatan travel to Merida Mexico. In total I visited 21 places in the Yucatan peninsula, click on the following link to find my Yucatan itinerary!
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