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. UPDATED October 2020!
In February 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. In October 2020 I traveled more than 4,000 kilometer with a rental car through almost 20 States in Mexico.
At Cancun Airport I found places to buy a Mexico sim card, but these Mexico sim card deals aren't the best. However buying a sim card at Mexico City Airport, you will find great deals.
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 and airports are the worst!
I also 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 network coverage maps for all mobile internet providers in Mexico and I will tell you where to buy the best sim card for Mexico in 2020.
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Buy a Mexico sim card online
If you don't want to waste your precious vacation days getting a prepaid Mexico sim card then order one online and get it shipped to your home address. There are a bunch of options available online, mostly offering 5 GB data and some calling time. Prices differ so click below to find your preferred Mexico sim card from a bunch of different providers.
If you like a lot of data this a great option for you: 60 GB data only sim card valid for 30 days = $90. Hotspot available so you can share with friends/partner/kids!
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 do NOT need your passport or ID when buying a Mexico prepaid sim card!
Prices prepaid sim cards Mexico in 2020
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.
Telcel Mexico sim cards are sold all over: Oxxo, 7Eleven and any random phone shops. You will find the Telcel sign everywhere. Below is a price overview of the Telcel sim cards they offer at Oxxo stores in 2020.
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
Latest updates for a Movistar prepaid sim card in Mexico is that you can already find a sim card for tourists for 200 pesos, including 9GB data and unlimited social media apps.
These are the latest price, however if you buy one of the packages on the right hand side on the picture above you need to pay a registration fee of 200 pesos. If you buy the prepaid-only $200 pesos tourist sim card no there is no registration fee.
Network coverage Mexico in 2020
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.
Network coverage map AT&T Mexico
Network coverage map Movistar Mexico
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 2020. If you for example go on a Yucatan road trip 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 in 2020
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 October 2020.
Finding the best Mexico sim card for tourists in 2020 I feel the network coverage is most important as prices for prepaid sim cards do NOT differ that much. Movistar Mexico has a great deal and offers more value for money. However their network coverage is not great!
Therefore I came to the simple conclusion that a Telcel sim card is the best Mexico prepaid sim card for tourists! For my trip in 2019 I relied on it and it worked perfect. In October 2020 I bought 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.
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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 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!
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