Traveling to Mexico soon and preparing for your trip? Don't get stuck with high roaming charges or slow overseas data roaming packages which limit the internet speed. Get yourself a local prepaid sim card or an e-sim card for Mexico, it is cheap and you get the best 4G/5G network connection, fastest data speed and big data bundle packages for much less than overseas data roaming plans.
This is a complete guide for buying a sim card for traveling to Mexico with where to buy a sim card, the best 4G/5G network in Mexico, up to date prices as per January 2024, the best e-sim cards for Mexico, information about international sim cards and everything else you need to know.
The first thing I do when arriving in a new country is either buying a local prepaid sim card or getting an e-sim card. Staying connected makes traveling so much easier and more fun.
As part of my journey to travel to every country in the world I wrote already more than 200 sim card guides including countries like: USA, Canada, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and many more.
At Cancun Airport you can buy a prepaid sim card for Mexico, but these sim card deals are pretty much tourist traps. The easiest place to make money of unknowing tourists is when they just landed. So I recommend to buy a sim card for Mexico from an authorized sim card shop or on the internet. Read more about it in my guide for buying a sim card in Playa del Carmen.
Flying to Mexico City then check out my guide for buying a prepaid sim card at Mexico City Airport.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your next holiday destination. Bookmark me and let me help you save money!
Why buying a sim card in Mexico
Being connected to the internet makes life simply much easier and that counts also for traveling in Mexico. With a working data connection you can easily order a taxi through a taxi app, find a nearby restaurant with good reviews or get direction from Google Maps. Also in case of an emergency or checking your banking apps, pretty much everything requires a data connection.
Staying connected when traveling to Mexico is easy. Prepaid sim cards are cheap and you can buy them in all popular tourist destinations in Mexico and e-sim cards for Mexico are widely available on the internet.
For those traveling from the USA and Canada there is NO NEED buying a sim card in Mexico as your USA or Canada sim card should have FREE DATA ROAMING in Mexico, but double check it with your provider at home.
When swapping sim cards and changing phone numbers does not have your preference you can look into getting a portable WiFi device. Personally, I am not the biggest fan, but I admit they are a good way to get WiFi on the road. Check the link for my HONEST review about using a pocket WiFi.
Traveltomtom recommends a Telcel sim card for Mexico. Telcel has by far the best 4G/5G network coverage in Mexico and for around $10 USD you get unlimited social media apps, calling minutes and 6 GB data for surfing the internet.
Local prepaid sim cards are cheaper than e-sim cards but you can only buy them on arrival in Mexico and they only offer physical prepaid sim cards, no e-sims for tourists. If you want to arrive prepared then check out the following.
Traveltomtom recommends buying an e-sim card for Mexico on the internet. There are several e-sim providers but Airalo offers a Mexico e-sim card with 10 GB data which is now on sale for just $24.50 USD.
If your phone is not e-sim compatible then Traveltomtom recommends looking into buying an international sim card for traveling in Mexico. You can order them directly online, they get delivered to your home address before your trip and are automatically activated from the moment you land in Mexico.
Best e-sim cards for Mexico
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Mexico is an e-sim cards. Simply because you don't need to visit a sim card shop anymore and no need to swap physical prepaid sim cards.
You order an e-sim card for Mexico on the internet, you receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and within less than 2 minutes you have a Mexico e-sim card installed on your phone.
Upon arrival in Mexico it automatically connects you to an available network and you enjoy data on your phone pretty much when the plane lands.
Make sure your phone is e-sim compatible before ordering an e-sim card for Mexico.
For more info about using e-sim cards in Mexico check out my complete guide with everything you need to know before ordering an e-sim card for Mexico in 2024.
Airalo is a reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used them in more than 50 countries around the world. Check out the Airalo e-sim card plans for Mexico in 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $8 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $15 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $32.5 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $24.5 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Mexico from Airalo.
Airalo always has ongoing e-sim card promotion deals so worth checking. For example at the moment they give 50% on the 10 GB e-sim card plan for Mexico.
The above Chorro Fon e-sim cards are data-only e-sims and valid only in Mexico. They operate on the 4G/LTE network of Movistar, AT&T and Telcel.
SimOptions is another reliable e-sim card provider. They sell several international e-sim cards valid in multiple countries. Check out the following 2 international e-sim cards from AIS and Orange.
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $39.90 USD
Click here to order any of the above SimOptions e-sim cards for Mexico.
The SimOptions e-sim card plans for Mexico are more expensive compared Airalo and therefore it is not Traveltomtom's first pick.
A third e-sim supplier for Mexico e-sim cards is Nomad.
Here are the Nomad e-sim card plans for Mexico:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $14 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $29 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Mexico from Nomad.
You can also still buy a physical sim card for Mexico. For example: 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD. Click here to order this Mexico sim card online or see all the offers and info.
My biggest trip to Mexico was when I rented a car from Mexico City and traveled more than 4,000 kilometer through the country and visited almost 20 different states in Mexico.
Find all those travel tips in my blog about the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico in 2024.
Where to buy a prepaid Mexico sim card?
When you travel to Mexico you will find out that buying a prepaid sim card in Mexico is fairly easy. You just have to locate the nearest shop to your hotel or buy a sim card at the airport on arrival.
The easiest way to buy a sim card for tourists in Mexico would be at the international airport on arrival. Unfortunately in Mexico they do not have many facilities in place at the airports. You won't find many sim card shops at the airport in Cancun or Puerto Vallarta for example.
Sadly, because it would be a great place to buy a sim card as a tourist. In Mexico City Airport there are some convenient stores that sell prepaid sim cards but it is not the ideal place obviously to buy a tourist sim card.
Traveltomtom also wrote a specific guide for buying a prepaid sim card at Mexico City Airport in 2024 or click here for my guide for buying a prepaid sim card in Playa del Carmen in 2024.
Official mobile internet stores
All the mobile internet providers in Mexico: Telcel, Movistar and AT&T have stores in the bigger shopping malls anywhere around Mexico. You will also find them in the popular tourist destinations in Mexico.
In the official stores of the mobile internet providers you obviously get the best service and the staff will help you set everything up. Traveltomtom always advices to double check if everything is working before leaving the sim card shop.
How to find them just use Google Maps to locate the nearest one to your hotel or ask the hotel staff where to buy a prepaid sim card.
As I mentioned before in Mexico you can buy tourist sim cards in convenient stores. Prepaid sim cards don't need to be registered and therefore you can simply buy a sim card. Convenient stores that sell prepaid sim cards for tourists are: Oxxo, 7-Eleven, Extra and Circle K.
Don't expect much service here as the staff is busy enough to sell other stuff, but if they have a free moment they will help you setting things up. If buying a sim card in a convenient store you need to buy a the sim card first, then add credit and then activate a data package. It is like a do-it-yourself kind of thing.
Last but not least you can buy a sim card for traveling in Mexico on the internet as well. Traveltomtom definitely recommends using e-sim cards for traveling to Mexico. If you are interested to learn more about e-sims then check out my complete guide with everything you need to know before ordering an e-sim card for Mexico in 2024.
If your phone is not e-sim compatible you can buy a physical prepaid sim card on the internet, a so-called international sim card. These sim cards will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Mexico. It is plug and play and as soon as the plane lands you have data on your phone without having to pay for roaming costs.
Buying a prepaid sim card in Mexico is the easiest thing ever as you do NOT even need your passport or ID. A prepaid tourist sim card in Mexico is not registered on your name or passport.
You can buy a prepaid sim card from anywhere and it works like plug and play. Meaning that as soon as you put the sim card in your phone you are instantly connected to data. The tourist sim cards are pre-registrated.
Be aware! Using a Mexican sim card only works if your phone is UNLOCKED!
If you are not sure about this contact your provider in your home country before your trip to Mexico! This also counts for using international sim cards and e-sim cards in your phone.
Traveling onwards through Central America? I traveled for more than 6 months in all of the Central American countries, an amazing adventure. That is why on Traveltomtom you will also find sim card guides from: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.
Mobile internet providers Mexico
There are 3 main mobile internet providers in Mexico: Telcel, AT&T and Movistar. AT&T is the market leader followed by Movistar. AT&T took over Unefon and Nextel and now all operate under the name of AT&T Mexico.
All mobile internet operators sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. The prepaid sim card plans are a little different per provider but in general come down to the same. The big difference between the mobile internet providers in Mexico is the 4G/5G mobile data network coverage.
None of the mobile internet operators in Mexico provide e-sim cards for tourists. You can only buy a physical prepaid sim card in Mexico. If you want an e-sim you will have to order an e-sim card for Mexico on the internet.
Prices prepaid sim cards Mexico in 2024
In most countries around the world when buying a sim card the prices are the same in every sim card shop. Not in Mexico! They will charge you something different depending where you buy a tourist sim card.
All the Mexico prepaid sim cards have the following things in common:
- The following social media apps are free (unlimited use) in Mexico: Snapchat, Facebook, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Twitter. Youtube and TikTok are NOT unlimited most of the time!
- The available surfing data can be used in: Canada, USA and of course in Mexico.
- Available calling and texting credit can be used in: Canada, USA and in Mexico.
This counts for all AT&T, Movistar and Telcel prepaid sim cards you buy in a store in Mexico.
At the time of research in January 2024 $1 USD = $17.3 MXN and $100 MXN = $5.8 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/5G coverage maps of Mexico.
As per January 2024 the above prepaid sim card packages are still valid. However, on the website it says you get double data at the moment as part of a promotion. This promotion is already ongoing for more than two years.
Meaning for 500 pesos ($29 USD) you will get 12 GB data + free social media apps.
Buying a Telcel prepaid sim card will cost you an additional 80 pesos ($4.6 USD) at some stores. Most shops charge this additional fee as an activation fee. Strange but true, at some Telcel shops this 80 pesos sim card includes 50 pesos credit, in some Telcel shops it doesn’t.
Telcel Mexico sim cards are sold all over: Oxxo, 7Eleven and any random phone shops. You will find the Telcel sign everywhere. For more info check the Telcel website.
Telcel does not support e-sim cards for tourists, they only provide physical prepaid sim cards.
AT&T sim card Mexico
You can give it a try, but in official AT&T shops in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Mexico City they were only able to offer me the following prepaid sim cards:
- 0.5 GB data + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 5 days = $50 MXN ($3 USD)
- 1.5 GB data + 0.75 GB data for TikTok and YouTube + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 14 days = $100 MXN ($6 USD)
- 4.6 GB data + 1.15 GB data for TikTok and YouTube + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 25 days = $150 MXN ($9 USD)
- 6 GB data + 1.5 GB data for TikTok and YouTube + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 30 days = $200 MXN ($11.5 USD)
These are the AT&T prepaid sim card offers for tourists, have a look on the AT&T Mexico website for more info. AT&T does not support e-sim cards for tourists, they only provide physical prepaid sim cards.
Movistar sim card Mexico
Some Movistar shops will try to charge you 60 pesos ($3 USD) for the sim card registration, some shops do not. These are the latest Movistar sim card deals for Mexico:
- 0.5 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 7 days = $50 MXN ($3 USD)
- 2 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 12 days = $80 MXN ($4.5 USD)
- 2 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 15 days = $100 MXN ($6 USD)
- 3.5 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 26 days = $150 MXN ($9 USD)
Latest updates for a Movistar prepaid sim card in Mexico is that you can also find a sim card for tourists for 200 pesos, including 9 GB data and unlimited social media apps valid for 28 days. But this prepaid sim card deal is randomly offered at stores around the country, sometimes yes, sometimes no! For more info check the Movistar Mexico website.
Movistar does not support e-sim cards for tourists, they only provide physical prepaid sim cards.
Best 4G/5G network coverage Mexico in 2024
As you can see from the above comparison of Mexico prepaid sim cards the data plans and prices are kind of similar. Prices are a great indication but to determine the best prepaid sim card in Mexico we have to also consider the 4G/5G network coverage.
Is there 5G in Mexico?
Yes, 5G has finally arrived in Mexico but don't expect too much yet. Telcel is pretty much still the only provider that offers 5G in Mexico. Although Movistar and AT&T also offer 5G, you can only find it in the 3 biggest cities. There is still a very long road to go for Mexico to cover the country with a 5G signal.
The Mexican government launched an initiative to get more people connected and came up with Altan Redes, a joint network that is accessible regardless which mobile internet provider you are using. It is however, still pretty new.
From the below 4G/5G coverage maps we can clearly see that it pretty much only benefits Movistar and AT&T users. The Telcel network is the strongest and best mobile data network in Mexico, without a doubt.
4G/5G Network coverage map Altan Redes
4G/5G Network coverage map AT&T Mexico
4G/5G Network coverage map Movistar Mexico
4G/5G Network coverage map Telcel Mexico
Although the above mobile data network coverage maps are updated for 2024 they are not 100% accurate. However, they are a great reference to compare the 4G/5G networks of the mobile internet providers in Mexico in 2024.
From the above Mexico network coverage maps we can clearly see that the Telcel network is by far the best in Mexico in 2024. If you for example go on a Yucatan road trip it is strongly adviced to get a sim card from Telcel or an e-sim card that operates on the Telcel network, like an Airalo e-sim card for Mexico.
If you are planning a city trip to the amazing Mexico City or just go surfing in Puerto Escondido or enjoying the beach in Cancun or Puerto Vallarta you are fine with any Mexico sim card.
All the mobile internet providers have good 4G/LTE network coverage in the main tourist destinations in Mexico. But are you traveling around in Mexico: TELCEL!
Best prepaid sim card Mexico in 2024
There are always ongoing prepaid sim card deals in Mexico, but to find out which shop has these offers for tourists you have to shop around.
However, depending on your kind of Mexico trip the network coverage is more important than the prices for prepaid sim cards. Movistar and AT&T Mexico have a much smaller 4G/5G network but prices are more or less the same as Telcel sim cards. Telcel has by far the best 4G/5G network in Mexico.
Therefore it is a simple conclusion that Telcel is the best Mexico prepaid sim card for tourists in 2024 and it is Traveltomtom's first recommendation when buying a prepaid sim card in Mexico.
That said, you can only buy a Telcel sim card in Mexico and not on the internet. If you want to arrive prepared in Mexico and your phone is e-sim compatible then simply order an e-sim card for Mexico. You are all set in just a couple clicks.
In my complete guide with a comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Mexico in 2024 you will find amazing Mexico e-sim card deals for tourists.
On all my Mexico trips in the past I have always bought a Telcel prepaid sim card on arrival, but on my trip to Mexico last year I got myself an Airalo e-sim card. I was also only staying for 10 days in Mexico so it was just easy, fast and convenient to get an e-sim.
On longer trips to Mexico when I would need more data I would buy a Telcel prepaid sim card again on arrival in Mexico.
It is also possible to buy a sim card at Mexico City Airport and lately a Traveltomtom team member got herself a Telcel prepaid sim card for $200 pesos ($11.5 USD) and got 3.2 GB data + unlimited social media apps, texting and calling.
Order a prepaid sim card for Mexico online
If your phone is not e-sim compatible and you still would like to order a sim card for Mexico on the internet then look into buying an international prepaid sim card. These physical prepaid sim cards are pre-activated and will be delivered to your home address. It is plug and play on arrival in Mexico.
If you like a lot of data this a great international prepaid sim card for you offered by SimOptions
Hotspot available so you can share with friends/partner/kids! Click on the link above to see all the online sim card deals for Mexico or order one directly online.
A lot of North American sim cards can also be used in Mexico. Check my article about the best prepaid USA sim cards or best prepaid Canada sim cards to find out which ones have free data roaming in Mexico. However, they limited the data speed on international data-roaming plans.
Therefore Traveltomtom still recommends Americans and Canadians to get a Telcel sim card or an e-sim card for Mexico.
My experiences buying a Mexico sim card in Cancun
First of all I love the fact that Mexico sim cards come with unlimited use of social media. 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 and my TikTok videos.
I always used to buy a Telcel sim card for my Mexico trips and I have always been very content with it. May be not always at super speed, but pretty fast at least.
When buying a sim card in Mexico I always go for a Telcel sim card because of its extensive network, far better than Movistar and AT&T.
Here is one of my experiences buying a sim card in Mexico when I was traveling in Yucatan for 3 months.
Initially I purchased a package of 300 pesos ($17 USD) for getting me through my Yucatan itinerary. In total I traveled a little over 3 months 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!
On my last trip to Mexico I got myself an Airalo e-sim card with 10 GB data for $24.50 USD just because it was convenient and I didn't have to buy a prepaid sim card in Mexico anymore.
I hope the above tips for buying a sim card in Mexico were helpful. If 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 more than 20 amazing tourist destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Go check it out if you need some travel inspiration or check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow my journey to visit every country in the world. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 out of 197 countries.
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