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 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 May 2023, 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. 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, etc.
At Cancun Airport you also can buy a prepaid sim card for Mexico, but these deals aren't great at all. However when buying a sim card at Mexico City Airport, you will find great prepaid sim card deals for tourists. The easiest place to make money of unknowing tourists is when they just landed, so I recommend to buy from authorized dealers only! I also wrote a guide for buying a sim card in Playa del Carmen.
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 restaurant with good reviews nearby and get direction from Google Maps. What in case of an emergency? You will have to ask other people to use their phone quickly?
Buying a local sim card in Mexico is easy, fast, reliable and cheap!
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 buying a Telcel sim card for Mexico. Telcel has by far the best 4G/5G network coverage in Mexico and for less than $10 USD you get unlimited social media apps, calling and texting plus 6 GB data for surfing the internet.
Not convinced or you rather prepare in advance for your trip to Mexico? Then Traveltomtom recommends looking into buying an international sim card that covers Mexico. You can order them directly online, they get shipped to your home address before your trip and are automatically activated from its first use. Click on the link above for more info and to order directly online!
However, the easiest way to stay connected when traveling abroad in 2023 is an e-sim card. Traveltomtom definitely recommends e-sim cards for traveling to Mexico, but they are much more expensive than local prepaid sim cards.
Best e-sim cards for Mexico
Traveltomtom recommends e-sim cards for traveling to Mexico in 2023 simply because of its convenience. You arrange everything online within just a couple minutes. It is the fastest way to get connected. Order online, receive a QR code, follow the steps and get connected in less than 2 minutes.
Check out the following e-sim card deals for Mexico:
- 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 = $32.50 USD
Click here to directly order a Mexico e-sim card online.
The above Chorro Fon e-sim cards are data-only and valid only in Mexico. They operate on the 4G/LTE network of Movistar and AT&T.
More expensive, but there are also international e-sim cards that are valid in more than 70 countries including Mexico:
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
Click here to order an international e-sim card for your trip to Mexico.
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.
Over the last years I made uncountable trips to Mexico. Check out my Yucatan Peninsula itinerary with places like: Isla Holbox, Valladolid, Rio Lagartos, Mahahual Costa Maya, Cozumel and many more. Just recently I visited Mexico again and traveled more than 4,000 kilometer with a rental car through almost 20 States in Mexico. This resulted in my latest Mexico travel blog with the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico.
Where to buy a prepaid Mexico sim card?
Official retail stores
Whenever you travel to Mexico you will find out that buying a sim card in Mexico is very easy. 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.
The bigger International Airports like Cancun and Mexico City have sim card stores in the arrival hall. You can find specific guides for buying a sim card at Mexico City Airport in 2023 or a guide for buying a sim card in Playa del Carmen in 2023 on my website.
You can also buy sim cards online for staying connected when traveling to Mexico. International prepaid sim cards are a great way to stay connected to the internet, but e-sim cards are the easiest way to get data on your phone when traveling abroad in 2023.
Buying a sim card in Mexico is the easiest thing ever as you do NOT even need your passport or ID. Your new Mexican number and sim card is not registered on your name. You can buy it from anywhere and it works through plug and play, meaning that as soon as you put the sim card in your phone you are instantly connected to data.
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 4 months in all of Central America, an amazing adventure. I also wrote guides for buying a sim card in: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.
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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 bought Unefon and Nextel. These last two networks are now part of AT&T Mexico.
Prices prepaid sim cards Mexico in 2023
In most countries around the world 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 was even worse. Every shop will offer you a different pacakge.
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 and TikTok are 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 all AT&T, Movistar and Telcel prepaid sim cards you buy in Mexico.
At the time of research in May 2023 $1 USD = $18 MXN and $100 MXN = $5.54 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 May 2023 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 a year.
Meaning for 500 pesos ($25) you will get 12 GB data + free social media apps.
Buying a Telcel prepaid sim card will cost you an additional 80 pesos ($4) 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.
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 ($2.7 USD)
- 1.5 GB data + 0.75 GB data for TikTok and YouTube + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 14 days = $100 MXN ($5.4 USD)
- 4.6 GB data + 1.15 GB data for TikTok and YouTube + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 25 days = $150 MXN ($8.1 USD)
- 6 GB data + 1.5 GB data for TikTok and YouTube + unlimited social media/texting/calling for 30 days = $200 MXN ($10.8 USD)
These are the AT&T prepaid sim card offers as per May 2023, have a look on the AT&T Mexico website for more info.
Movistar sim card Mexico
Some Movistar shops will try to charge you 60 pesos ($3) 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 ($2.7 USD)
- 2 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 12 days = $80 MXN ($4.3 USD)
- 2 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 15 days = $100 MXN ($5.4 USD)
- 3.5 GB + free social media/calling/texting for 26 days = $150 MXN ($8.1 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 9GB 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.
Best 4G/5G Network coverage Mexico in 2023
As you can see from the above comparison, the prices for prepaid sim cards in Mexico 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. You don’t want to loose signal as soon as you go visit the best places to see in Mexico, so let's have a look at the Mexico 4G/5G coverage maps.
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. 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 much stronger than the Altan Redes network.
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
From the above Mexico network coverage maps we can clearly see that the Telcel network is by far the best in Mexico in 2023. If you for example go on a Yucatan road trip it is strongly adviced to buy a Telcel Mexico sim card to guarantee you the best coverage and signal when traveling.
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. But are you traveling around in Mexico: TELCEL!
Best prepaid sim card Mexico in 2023
There are always prepaid sim card deals in Mexico, but to find out which shop has ongoing offers you have to check their websites or stores in Mexico. Depending on your kind of Mexico trip the network coverage is more important than prices for prepaid sim cards. Movistar Mexico has for example a pretty small 4G/5G network and prices are more or less the same as Telcel, which has the best 4G/5G network in Mexico by far.
Therefore it is a simple conclusion that Telcel is the best Mexico prepaid sim card for tourists in 2023!
On all my Mexico trips I have used Telcel. Lately I got my Telcel sim card at Mexico City Airport for $200 pesos ($9 usd) and got 3.2 GB data + unlimited social media apps, texting and calling.
Reminder that you can still order a sim card for Mexico online and get it shipped to your home address before your trip. Check out all the Mexico sim card deals in this link and order directly online or get yourself an e-sim card for Mexico.
Buy a sim card for Mexico online
If you don't want to waste your precious vacation days getting a prepaid sim card in Mexico then get yourself an international prepaid sim card online and get it shipped to your home address before your trip to Mexico.
If you like a lot of data this a great option for you: 10 GB data sim card valid for 14 days = $49.90. 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.
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.
But a last reminder for those with a mobile phone that is e-sim card compatible that they can also get an e-sim card for Mexico.
My experience 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. 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. I always buy a Telcel sim card for my Mexico trips and I am very content with it. May be not always at super speed, but pretty fast at least.
When buying a Mexico sim card I go for 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.
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 ($16.6 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!
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!
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 May 2023 I have visited more than 155 out of 197 countries.
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