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Mexico SIM Card: My 2024 Guide

Worried about getting around Mexico without internet on your phone? Here’s a detailed guide on how to get a Mexico SIM card.

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, you’re in for a treat – this country has so much to offer, from colorful markets to ancient Mayan ruins, and everything in between. But let’s face it: staying connected while you’re on the go can be a challenge. Whether you need to make a call or use mobile data, relying on your home country’s SIM card can lead to steep international roaming fees.

That’s why it’s a smart move to get a Mexico SIM card when you arrive here. Not only will you save money on phone expenses, but you’ll also have the convenience of a local phone number and access to affordable rates for calls, texts, and data. Trust me, it can make a big difference when you’re trying to navigate a new city or stay in touch with your loved ones back home.

In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how to get a SIM card in Mexico, including where to buy one, what to look for, and how to activate it. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, getting a local SIM card is a must-do when you’re exploring this beautiful country.

mexico sim card - phone in mexico

Why You Need a Mexico SIM Card

Before we get into the details, let us take a second and consider if you really need a SIM card in Mexico.

Having a Mexico SIM card will allow you to have internet data on the move, that means access to Google Maps (to find your way around), Whatsapp, and apps to access your hotel bookings. You’ll be able to communicate with locals, call an Uber or taxi, and stay connected with friends and family back home.

Mexico isn’t a developed country, so don’t expect to find WiFi everywhere you go. Some parts of Mexico like Holbox island and Puerto Escondido don’t have stable WiFi, so if you need to work remotely then yes you definitely need a Mexico SIM card. If you plan to do a Oaxaca road trip or drive all over Guanajuato, having a Mexico SIM card will make it easier to navigate, contact hotels and find restaurants to eat at.

mexico sim card - using google maps

Check Your Current SIM

Many US and Canadian service providers allow you to use their roaming service in Mexico so it’s worth checking with your telco company before you leave. This means you’ll be able to connect to the internet using the SIM card you already have, so in this case you might not need to buy a Mexican SIM card.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all offer free roaming services in Mexico. It does depend on the plan you have though, so make sure to check on their website. If you’re struggling to find it online, give their customer service team a call. There’s no point spending the money on a SIM card in Mexico if you can use the one you already have.

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using internet data on the move - buying a sim card in mexico

Unlock Your Phone

Some phones will be locked to the network provider and they won’t let you use other networks SIMs. Before you leave you’ll want to check if your phone will allow you to use other network SIMs.

To unlock your phone, simply contact your network provider who will be able to unlock the phone for you. This is usually free of charge but it is dependent on what network you are using.

iphone sim card - best sim card mexico

Types of SIM Cards in Mexico

Here are some options for what type of SIM cards are available these days. I’ll go into details further on how to get each type of Mexico SIM cards.

eSIM Cards in Mexico

With a Mexico eSIM (digital SIM card), you can toss out your physical cards and simply activate it on your phone through an app! An eSIM is a digital SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from your carrier without having to use a physical SIM. You can install eight or more eSIMs on an iPhone and use two phone numbers at the same time. 

I personally use eSIMs wherever I travel these days as they are SO much more convenient – you can do everything online, and don’t need to go to the shop or activate it through the store. eSIMs are also really affordable too, with prices that vary according to the duration.

Most phones are compatible with eSIMs, including all of the new iPhones, Samsung, Google and Huawei phones. For a comprehensive list of phones compatible with eSIMs you can check out this article

airalo esim - best sim card mexico

Pre-Paid SIM cards in Mexico

A pre-paid Mexico SIM card allows you to call, text, and use the internet on your phone. You’ll get a local Mexican number and easily call and receive phone calls without requiring an internet connection. As well as this, when you get a Mexican SIM, most network providers give you free coverage in the US and Canada too.

Pay as you go SIMs (or prepaid plans) is a short-term option and you basically pay for your credits upfront and top it up as you go. If you’re just traveling around Mexico or you’re a digital nomad staying for an unknown period of time, I recommend getting the prepaid Mexico SIM card.

telcel prepaid sim card

Post-Paid SIM cards in Mexico

Postpaid plans are Mexico SIM cards with a monthly billing cycle. You can only get a postpaid plan if you have a temporary resident visa in Mexico. The process is super easy as a resident and it can be done within an hour!

This is what I have in Mexico and it works very well. I just went to a Telcel store with my passport and residency card, and right then and there, I got a postpaid sim card for which I get automatically billed every month.

How to Buy an eSim

I have bought many eSIMs on Airalo and they have all worked perfectly. Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store and it has eSIMs from over 190 countries and regions around the worlds.

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In my opinion, eSIM cards will completely phase out physical SIMs over the next few years, especially with Apple announcing the iPhone 14 will only have eSIM functionality.

Check out Airalo’s Mexican eSIMs here. 

Pricing: 190 MXN (US$9.50) – 540 MXN (US$27) depending on local or regional plans. Local plans only allow you to use the eSIM in Mexico, while regional allows you to use it also in US and Canada.

airalo esim - digital sim card mexico

Best Mexican Networks

1. Telcel

Telcel has the best network coverage in Mexico. The only downside is that their pricing isn’t the most competitive, but you are paying for quality and reliability. I’ve used Telcel for almost two years now and have never had any problems with service or reception, even in some of the more rural areas.

It’s easy to buy a Telcel SIM card online or at any OXXO shop in Mexico. A prepaid SIM card itself costs between 29 and 149 pesos (around US$1.5-7.5). 3GB of data valid for 30 days on the sin limite plan (unlimited) costs 200 pesos (US$10.) That will also give you unlimited calls, texts, and most social media within North America. 

Pricing: 20 MXN (US$1) – 1200 MXN (US$64)

Check Telcel’s prepaid plans!

telcel sim card mexico

2. AT&T

AT&T is the second-largest network in Mexico and offers good coverage in most areas, although it’s not as good as Telcel. There is a lot less variability in terms of packages available compared to Telcel and Movistar, but it does offer the cheapest plans.

Pricing: 50 MXN (US$2) – 200 MXN (US$10)

Check our AT&T’s prepaid plans!

AT&T store - best sim card mexico

3. Movistar

Movistar is the third-largest network in Mexico and offers good coverage in most areas but is more limited than the two former networks.

Movistar is a lesser-used network throughout Mexico and I haven’t met many people who use them. From what I’ve been told, their service is good but not as reliable or widely available as Telcel or AT&T. There aren’t as many Movistar stores around as Telcel and AT&T.

One thing that is great about Movistar though is the number of prepaid plans they offer. They have a better choice of plans compared with Telcel and AT&T. 

Pricing 20 MXN (US$1) – 500 MXN (US$20)

Check out Movistar’s prepaid plans! 

movistar - mexico sim cards

Where to Get a SIM Card in Mexico

If you’re the type who likes to be ready before a trip, you can always buy a prepaid SIM card online (links above) or an eSIM as mentioned. 

Otherwise, it’s easy to buy one when you arrive. You can get a SIM card at the airport in Mexico. Generally these are a little more expensive than the stores outside of the airport. But if convenience is what you’re after, then they are a great option to get you set.

You can also get SIM cards at OXXO convenience stores — there is literally one in every street corner. You can also buy them at Walmarts, large grocery stores and some convenience stores. 

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A Mexico sim card usually costs US$5 including an activation fee. They will also ask you to top it up before purchasing. US$10 unlimited data is usually enough as an initial top-up.

oxxo shop - where to buy sim card mexico

how to Install & Activate a SIM Card

This is totally dependent on the type of phone you have. I have an iPhone so you need a special SIM opening key (earrings work too!) to pop the SIM holder out and place my SIM in there. Each phone is mostly unique though so if you are struggling just type the name and model of your phone into google and there will be a SIM installation tutorial video you’ll be able to find. Here’s a quick example of a SIM installation for an iPhone and Android.

If you buy it in the official store in Mexico then ask politely for the staff to help you change your SIM card and activate it. Most of them are happy to do so for you without extra charge. If you get your card online you can log onto the official carrier’s website and follow the instructions there.

How to Recharge Your SIM

You can buy more credits online or at most OXXO shops. Alternatively, go to the website of your telco company. There they will ask for your activation code which is on the back of your SIM card. Then you can log into your account and purchase whatever plan you wish. Once the plan runs out, you can go back into your account and purchase another plan.

Is it Worth Getting a Mexico SIM Card?

As you can see above, getting a SIM card in Mexico is pretty straightforward. For me, getting an eSIM is the easiest and most convenient option. It saves you the trouble of wasting time at the airport or running around looking for an OXXO to buy a physical SIM card.

But if your phone isn’t compatible with eSIMs, then I suggest buying a Telcel prepaid SIM card on Amazon before your trip. Again it’ll save your time and give you internet data the minute you land! Telcel has the best coverage in Mexico and its rates aren’t too bad either.

I hope this guide has been helpful and gives you a better understanding of how to get a Mexico SIM card. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

For those who wish to explore more of Mexico, here are more Mexico travel tips posts:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

7 thoughts on “Mexico SIM Card: My 2024 Guide”

  1. How many days does a TelCel phone number last for until you have to put more money on it?
    That is, when is that number no longer yours?
    Can you get eSIMS that provide a Mexican number and data? Which company? Thanks!

    1. hi Jim, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your questions. I have a TelCel Mexican number and data that needs to be topped up every month. I’ve used it for 2 years now but I use it every month, so can’t tell you when it’ll stop functioning if you don’t top it up.

      All the eSIMs I’ve bought from Airalo don’t have numbers attached to them, but I just took a look at TelCel’s website and I think they can provide eSIMs with numbers.

    1. hi, it depends on which telco you’re using. If you’re using Telcel like me, you can send a message to 7878. The easiest way is probably just using your phone to call another Mexican number, that way they’ll see your number. If you have an eSIM, most of the case you won’t have a number as it’s just a data plan.

  2. Hi,
    I’m a bit confused by the rates for TelCel you’ve posted- There’s a linked list of plans starting at $30, but you’ve also written– A prepaid SIM card itself costs between 29 and 149 pesos (around US$1.5-7.5). 3GB of data valid for 30 days on the sin limite plan (unlimited) costs 200 pesos (US$10.)

    So If I were to go to OXXO I would only pay a max of $17.50 USD for a card and 30 days of data? This is the plan I’d like.

    Thinking of buying one in Canada before I go, but they cost $42 CDN (~$35 USD) for 2gb. Wondering if this will truly save me money if I get one once I arrive in Mexico instead. Thank you very much!

    1. hi Narlua, sorry to confuse you! TelCel has so many kinds of plans that honestly are confusing. Yes you are right, if you were to go to OXXO or Telcel, you would pay only a max of US$17.50 for the SIM card with 3GB of data. The linked list of plans is for people who sign a contract with Telcel and have an ongoing plan with automatic recharge each month. You’ll need an address here for that and two references (we don’t even use that living here).

      And yes it will save you money getting one when you arrive here. The only thing is that OXXO folks are not gonna help you install the SIM. I would suggest getting an eSIM, that’s what I get everytime I travel. It’s super convenient, I don’t have to swap out physical SIM cards anymore and just activate it when I land. AND it’s cheaper than getting the physical SIM card. You’ll find the links above to buy them.

      Good luck!

  3. It seems like the e-sim is still more expensive? Cheapest one from that link for 30 days is $21 USD. I think I’ll opt for the physical card from OXXO. We also need two, so this seems like the most economical option. Unless I’m missing something? Thank you, really appreciate your prompt reply!

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