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Using your home phone network in Mexico can work out to be expensive. A top tip for saving money and reducing roaming rates is to switch to a local SIM card to take advantage of cheaper deals, tariffs and plans. Mexico has some of the best SIM card deals in North America, and you can get 1GB of data for as little as MXN200 (US$11.20). So, cut down costs on your next vacation by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com.
There are three main telco providers in Mexico: Telcel, Movistar and AT&T. All three operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate, and each one competes with the others to offer the best deals. Their services have all been tried and tested by both locals and travelers, and can be trusted. According to OpenSignal’s country coverage map, Mexico has good coverage around the main towns and cities, but the farther out you head, the more unreliable the signal will become.
Mexico’s market leader is Telcel, followed by Movistar and AT&T. All three operators offer prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official stores, as well as at the Mexico City and other international airports. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card machines around various towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets.
Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Mexico.
Telcel is the largest provider in Mexico and offers the best prices. It provides customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Internet speeds are fast and network coverage is good. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers, but you will have to show your passport and register the SIM card with the retailer before it can be activated. Credit can be purchased from the same retail outlets or at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations.
Prepaid SIM cards are called “Amigo” and can be purchased for MXN149, which comes with MXN75 credit. Better voice and data plans can be purchased within packages. SIM cards come in all sizes, but some might have to be cut to fit the nano or micro slot in your phone.
Credit can be added in the following denominations: MXN20-MXN500, and each top-up amount is valid for six months from the time of upload. Make sure you only buy credit from the official websites or purchase credit vouchers with the official logo printed on them. Dial *133# to check your balance.
Telcel’s “Amigo” prepaid SIM cards can also be used in the US and Canada. The following options can be purchased:
All calls received in Mexico, the US and Canada are free. Data is charged throughout Mexico, Canada and the US at the rate of MXN0.85 per MB. Packs supply better data rates.
This plan offers deals that can be used in US and Canada. There are a number of plans available that include international call discounts, cheap roaming and social media packages. Dial *264 to change between plans.
The following packages are available:
|Price||Data||Voice SMS||Time||Social apps||Activation Code|
|MXN30||20 MB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||5 days||WhatsApp|
|MXN50||50 MB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||12 days||Facebook|
|MXN100||300 MB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||25 days||SL 100|
|MXN150||350 MB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||30 days||SL 150|
|MXN200||500 MB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||30 days||SL 200|
|MXN300||800 MB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||30 days||SL 300|
|MXN500||1.5 GB||Unlimitedtexts and calls||30 days||SL 500|
Telcel’s APN: internet.itelcel.com, and website: http://www.telcel.com
Movistar is the second-largest provider in Mexico with extremely competitive rates. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Internet speeds are fast and network coverage is good, although it can deteriorate the farther out you head from the main towns and cities. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official outlets or approved resellers, but you will have to show your passport and register the SIM card with the retailer before it can be activated. Credit can be purchased from the same retail outlets or at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations.
Prepaid SIM card starter packs are called “chip prepago” and can be purchased for MXN60, but check stores at time of purchase because there are often promotions that will help cut the cost. Credit can be purchased in many different variations between MXN10 and MXN500, which gives you 10 to 90 days of validity.
The best prepaid SIM card available at present is the “Prepago Doble Ilimitado” SIM card. This enables the customer to use services in Mexico, the US and Canada, plus social networks. The following amounts can be added to this SIM card: MXN10 for 1 day, MXN20 for 2 days, MXN30 for 5 days, MXN50 for 10 days, MXN100 for 25 days and MXN150-MXN300 for 30 days.
The standard data rate is also affected by different credit amounts: MXN10-MXN50 is charged at MXN1.25 per MB, MXN100-MXN150 is charged at MXN0.70 per MB, MXN200-MXN250 is charged at MXN0.50 per MB and MXN300 is charged at MXN0.40 per MB. The same prices apply when roaming in the US and Canada.
The following data packs can also be added, and different packages may have access to WhatsApp (WA), Twitter (TW) or Facebook (FB) as shown:
|2 days||60MB||MXN20||WA||2 dias|
|7 days||200MB||MXN49||TW, WA||DIAS7|
|15 days||600MB||MXN99||FB, TW, WA||15 dias|
|30 days||1GB||MXN149||FB, TW, WA||DIAS30|
|30 days||2GB||MXN249||FB, TW, WA||3GB|
The following “illimitado” combo packs are available and can be used in Mexico, the US and Canada:
Dial #100# or *100 and select the relevant pack to activate.
Movistar’s APN: internet.movistar.mx, and website: http://www.movistar.com.mx in Spanish
AT&T is the smallest provider in Mexico but is expanding quickly after a multi-billion-dollar investment. AT&T offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Internet speeds are fast and network coverage is good, although it can suffer the farther out you head from the main towns and cities. AT&T has also forged a roaming pact with Telcel to allow customers the use of wider network coverage. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers, but you will have to show your passport and register the SIM card with the retailer before it can be activated. Credit can be purchased from the same retail outlets or at supermarkets, corner stores and service stations.
Prepaid SIM card starter packs are called “Unidos Prepago“. The following packages are available:
|MXN100||350MB||28 days||Unlimited calls and texts to all networks in Mexico, the US and Canada|
|MXN150||600MB||30 days||Unlimited calls and texts to all networks in Mexico, the US and Canada|
|MXN200||1.2GB||30 days||Unlimited calls and texts to all networks in Mexico, the US and Canada|
|MXN300||2GB||30 days||Unlimited calls and texts to all networks in Mexico, the US and Canada|
|MXN500||3.5GB||30 days||Unlimited calls and texts to all networks in Mexico, the US and Canada|
|MXN1,000||7GB||60 days||Unlimited calls and texts to all networks in Mexico, the US and Canada|
The standard data rate is charged at MXN0.75 per MB. Please note that lusacell, Unefon and Nextel are all operated through AT&T in Mexico, and the same packages are available on those networks.
AT&T’s APN: Unidos, and website: http://www.att.com.mx
TripAdvisor reviews can help guide you through which SIM cards have been tried and tested in Mexico.
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this option, contact your service provider before you set off on your travels.
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