Best Mexico SIM Cards for Tourists: 2024 Detailed Guide [+Internet & WiFi] 

This article is for international tourists visiting Mexico seeking info on easy and affordable mobile internet access via local Mexico SIM Cards. Travelers often struggle to stay connected abroad due to high roaming fees or lack of WiFi.

The goal of this post is to guide readers on buying prepaid Mexico SIM Cards for their travel needs, the best networks, and setting up local SIM cards or eSIM for cost-effective mobile internet in Mexico.

everything about mexico sim card

I. Should You Get a SIM Card in Mexico?

Certainly yes. Traveling to Mexico offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, and staying connected is key to making the most of your journey. 

A local SIM card can be a practical and cost-effective solution for several reasons:

  • Cost-Effective Rates: Using a local Mexican SIM card can save you from high roaming charges. Get local rates for calls, texts, and data.
  • High-Speed Internet: Mexico offers good coverage and fast internet, especially in cities and tourist spots. A local SIM card provides better connectivity to navigate maps and share updates easily.
  • Easy to Obtain: Getting a SIM card in Mexico is simple. Buy one at the airport, stores, or phone shops with just a photo ID.
  • Stay Connected: Stay in touch with a local SIM card without relying on hotel Wi-Fi. Make calls, send texts, and use data on the move.

Opting for a local SIM card when traveling to Mexico is a smart choice for tourists who prioritize ease, affordability, and the comfort of constant connectivity. 

Pro Tips: 

  1. Before purchasing a Mexico SIM card, ensure your phone is unlocked to use prepaid SIM or eSIM cards in Mexico or abroad.
  2. Ensure Mexican mobile operators' frequency bands match your phone for optimal service and no connection issues with your new SIM card activation.

II. Types of Mexico SIM Cards for Tourists – Which One is the Best?

types of mexico sim cards for tourists

There exist 2 kinds of prepaid SIM cards tailored for tourists visiting Mexico: Physical SIM and virtual SIM.

Below is a comparison chart of physical and virtual SIM cards designed for Mexico trips to assist you in selecting the most suitable option for your needs:

Types of Mexico SIM CardsPhysical SIMVirtual eSIM
What is it?A small chip card that contains your SIM details gets inserted into your phoneA digital SIM profile gets downloaded to your eSIM-enabled phone, no physical card is needed.
Data Plan OptionsBoth data-only plans and plans with data + voice + text are availableMainly data-only plans are available currently
Ease of PurchaseRequires visiting a store in Mexico to buy. May need to show an IDCan buy online from anywhere before your trip and set up remotely
Ease of UseSimple to insert in your phone slotRequire WiFi or cellular data to download the eSIM profile on your device
Phone CompatibilityCompatible with any unlocked phoneOnly compatible with phones that have eSIM technology built-in
PortabilityNeed separate physical SIM card per deviceOne eSIM can work across multiple compatible devices

As you see, physical SIM cards work with any phone but need a store visit in Mexico. On the other hand, eSIMs are easier to set up before your trip from anywhere, as long as your phone supports eSIM technology.

▶ Our Recommendation:

  • If your phone lacks eSIM but you’re fine with traditional calls/texts, get a physical prepaid data-only Mexico SIM.
  • If your phone has eSIM, consider a prepaid data-only eSIM for Mexico to avoid physical SIM drawbacks.

III. Best Mexico SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price

best mexico sim card package for tourists and price

Good to know: 1 USD = 17.196 MXN and 100 MXN = 5.84 USD (Feb 14, 2024)

1. Best Mexico Telcel SIM Card Plans and Price

Here are Telcel data plans and prices:

  • 100 MXN ($5): 1.2 GB Internet valid for 17 days
  • 150 MXN ($7.36): 2 GB Internet valid for 28 days
  • 200 MXN ($10): 3 GMB Internet valid for 30 days 
  • 300 MXN ($15): 5 GB Internet valid for 33 days
  • 500 MXN ($25): 10 GB Internet valid for 33 days

Insight: The step-up pricing model of Telcel’s unlimited data plans seems economical and appeals to users with varying internet needs, but the most value appears to lie in the 500 MXN plan which provides a substantial increase in data for a relatively moderate price increase.

2. Best Mexico Movistar SIM Card Plans and Price

Here are Movistar data plans and prices:

  • 100 MXN ($5): 1 GB + 450 MB extra Internet valid for 21 days
  • 150 MXN ($7.36): 2 GB + 750 MB extra Internet valid for 28 days
  • 200 MXN ($10): 2 GB + 1,200 MB extra Internet valid for 30 days
  • 250 MXN ($12): 2 GB Internet +1,450 MB extra valid for 33 days
  • 300 MXN ($15): 2 GB + 1,800 MB extra Internet valid for 35 days

Insight: Movistar’s prepaid mobile data plans in Mexico offer reasonable value, with the lower cost options providing over 1GB of data usage valid for 3 weeks or more. The plans present a decent option for staying digitally connected while traveling in Mexico with their supplementary data bonuses extending the base allowances. 

3. Best Mexico AT&T SIM Card Plans and Price

Here are AT&T data plans and prices:

  • 100 MXN ($5): 1.5 GB Internet valid for 14 days
  • 150 MXN ($7.36): 2.3 GB Internet valid for 25 days
  • 200 MXN ($10): 3 GB Internet valid for 30 days
  • 300 MXN ($15): 4.5 GB Internet valid for 30 days
  • 500 MXN ($25): 7.5 GB Internet valid for 30 days
  • 1,000 MXN ($50): 15 GB Internet valid for 30 days

Insight: AT&T offers reasonably priced mobile data plans in Mexico, with options starting at $5 for 1.5GB valid for two weeks. The plans provide decent allowances of data to address basic connectivity needs for both short and longer-term trips to Mexico.

Note: The specifics and costs of plans may change. For the most up-to-date information, check your selected carrier's website.

Recommendation: Telcel would be the best overall operator due to the strong value of its 500 MXN plan. Movistar and AT&T also offer fair options. I would recommend Telcel for extended/heavy data use trips and Movistar or AT&T for shorter trips with lighter data needs.

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Mexico?

where to buy a sim card in Mexico

Tourists have 04 ways to buy a Mexico SIM card.

1. Buy a prepaid Mexico eSIM card online before traveling

  • How: Order a Mexico eSIM card from online providers before your trip. You’ll receive a QR code via email.
  • Where: Websites of eSIM providers
  • Pros: No need to hunt for SIM cards after arriving; already activated. Save time & hassle.
  • Cons: Limited to certain providers’ networks; may need eligible devices.

2. Buy physical Mexico SIM at Mexico airports

buy physical mexico sim cards at airport
  • How: Purchase SIM cards at airport shops upon arrival at airports like Mexico City International Airport.
  • Where: Convenience stores at airports
  • Pros: Immediate access to the local network.
  • Cons: Limited options; SIM activation process required; not all airports offer.

3. Buy physical Mexico SIM in the cities

buy physical mexico sim cards in cities
  • How: Purchase SIM from official stores or convenience chains like Oxxo across cities.
  • Where: Telcel, AT&T, Movistar stores, etc.
  • Pros: Easy access to all local SIM options. Support available.
  • Cons: Require SIM activation process; needs device compatibility check.

4. Buy Mexico eSIM online

buy mexico esim online
  • How: With an eligible device, order eSIM online from providers. Scan the QR code to activate upon arrival.
  • Where: Websites of eSIM providers like Gigago
  • Pros: Convenient activation; wider choice of data packages & providers’ networks.
  • Cons: Require a compatible device; not a physical SIM.

Recommendation: The best choice for travelers in Mexico will vary based on what matters most to them:

  • If you’re watching your budget: Opting for a Mexico SIM card in urban areas offers various affordable plans with competitive rates.
  • If you have a phone that supports eSIM: Getting an eSIM online before heading to Mexico can save you time and the hassle of switching SIM cards. See the list of phones compatible with eSIM.

V. How Much Data Is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Mexico?

Determining the right amount of data for a prepaid tourist SIM card for Mexico can largely depend on the kind of traveler you are and how you use your internet. To give you an idea, 1GB of data allows you to engage in a variety of activities:

  • Browsing the web for about 12 hours
  • Streaming standard-definition video for approximately 1 hour
  • Streaming high-quality music for about 8 hours
  • Posting around 40 photos on your social media platforms
  • Sending or receiving about 1000 emails without large attachments

With these benchmarks in mind, let’s consider what a suitable data plan might look like for different kinds of users:

1. Heavy Users

  • Opt for plans with 5GB or more
  • Frequent video streaming, online gaming, or uploading and downloading large files

2. Medium Users

  • Plans of 2GB to 5GB should suffice
  • Daily social media use, moderate video/music streaming, and navigating with GPS

3. Light Users

  • 1GB to 2GB could be adequate
  • Occasional email checking, web browsing, and social media updates

For different user categories:

  • Average Tourists: 2GB to 3GB, as most tourists will likely need internet for maps, restaurant reviews, and social media sharing
  • Businessmen: At least 3GB to ensure seamless video conferencing, frequent email communication, and online transactions
  • People Who Want to Share WiFi with Other Devices: 5GB or more depending on the number of devices and the kind of activities they will be used for

Tip: Always consider purchasing slightly more data than you anticipate needing to avoid such hassles.

VI. Mexico eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in Mexico

gigago mexico esim

Visitors heading to Mexico can get online in different ways, such as roaming, free Wifi, pocket Wifi, or a Mexico SIM card. Yet, opting for an eSIM for Mexico brings unique benefits:

  • Easy Setup: Get and activate your eSIM online on your phone before your journey, skipping the hassle of dealing with a physical SIM card.
  • Instant Connection: Enjoy data as soon as you land in Mexico, no need to search for SIM cards.
  • Cost-Effective: eSIM plans come at lower prices compared to daily roaming fees.
  • Secure Access: No worries about using unsecured public Wifi networks when you have reliable eSIM internet access.

If you’re in Mexico or planning a trip there, looking for a reliable eSIM service? Gigago is always the top choice. 

Gigago offers several data plan options for Mexico, ranging from $9.90$38.00 .

 Their entry-level 1GB/7-day plan starts at just $9.90 . With this range of affordable plans, Gigago can accommodate any type of user and trip length in Mexico. 

Whether you only need occasional internet access or plan to stream extensively, Gigago has a Mexican eSIM plan to fit your needs and budget. Buying Mexico eSIM from Gigago now!

VII. Which Mexico Mobile Networks Are The Best for Tourists?

Mexico has three key network carriers: Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T. These carriers provide wide coverage in Mexico, fast Internet, different packages, and good prices. 

Here’s a quick look at these Mexico network providers:

OperatorCoverageSpeedPriceeSIM Available
TelcelBestSuper FastExpensiveYes
MovistarGreatFastAffordableYes
AT&TGoodFastCheapYes

1. Telcel

telcel coverage in mexico

Rank: #1

Network: 2G/3G/4G/5G

Famous for:

  • Widespread Coverage: Telcel boasts the most extensive network coverage in Mexico, reaching even remote areas.
  • Reliable Speeds: Telcel consistently wins awards for its consistently fast download and upload speeds.
  • Customer Service: Known for its strong customer service and support network.

Awards:

  • Won the Coverage Experience Award in October 2023, with a score of 8.8 (far ahead of competitors).
  • Won four awards in the April 2022 Opensignal report, including Video Experience, Download Speed, Upload Speed, and 4G Coverage.

Speed: Telcel’s speedtest ranking fluctuates, but it generally falls within the top 50 mobile networks worldwide.

2. Movistar

movistar coverage in mexico

Rank: #2

Network: 2G/3G/4G. 5G rollout is still ongoing in select cities.

Famous for:

  • Competitive Pricing: Movistar often competes with attractive promotions and data packages, appealing to budget-conscious users.
  • Growing Coverage: While not as extensive as Telcel, Movistar’s coverage continues to improve, reaching more areas each year.
  • Digital Focus: Movistar invests heavily in digital tools and online services, offering a user-friendly experience.

Awards:

  • Opensignal Video Experience Award: Won in April 2023, highlighting its strong video streaming capabilities.
  • Best Mobile Network for Entertainment: Awarded by Ookla Speedtest in 2022, recognizing its consistent performance for streaming and gaming.

Speed: Movistar’s speed ranking varies, but it generally falls within the top 100 mobile networks globally.

3. AT&T

at&t coverage in mexico

Rank: #3

Network: 3G/4G/5G

Famous for:

  • Cross-Border Connectivity: AT&T excels in seamlessly connecting users between Mexico and the US, with plans offering unlimited calls, texts, and data in both countries.
  • Customer Service: Known for its responsive and helpful customer service, especially for English speakers.
  • Wide Range of Plans: AT&T caters to various user needs with diverse plan options, including prepaid and postpaid.

Awards:

  • J.D. Power 2022 Mexico Wireless Network Satisfaction Study: Ranked highest in customer satisfaction for postpaid plans.
  • Opensignal 2023 Mexico: Video Experience Award: Recognized for its strong video streaming capabilities.

Speed: AT&T’s speed ranking varies, but it generally falls within the top 150 mobile networks globally.

Recommendation: It’s hard to conclude which operator is the best. But here are some notes:

  • Your location: If you travel frequently to remote areas, Telcel might be the best choice for coverage.
  • Your budget: Movistar might be the best option if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Your need for cross-border connectivity: If you travel between Mexico and the US frequently, AT&T might be the best choice.

VIII. How to Use Mexico Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM?

You’ve picked the top network provider and data deals for your Mexico visit. Let’s find out how to connect using Mexico prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs in this section below. 

1. Using prepaid Mexico tourist SIM Cards

To begin, buy a prepaid SIM card for Mexico. Here’s what to do next:

  1. Switch off your phone and insert the SIM card.
  2. Turn it on and follow the instructions.
  3. Adjust network settings (if required) to get online.
  4. Dial the provider’s number on the SIM package to check your balance and plan.

2. Setting up and activating Mexico eSIM 

To get started with a prepaid eSIM in Mexico, just follow these steps:

  1. Check if your phone supports eSIM and is unlocked.
  2. Register for an eSIM plan online. You’ll receive a QR code via email.
  3. Access your device’s eSIM settings, scan the code, and follow the instructions.
  4. Restart your phone – your eSIM is set up for Internet access.

IX. FAQs about Mexico SIM Cards

Can I use my US phone in Mexico?

Yes, most US phones will work in Mexico. However, you need to get a Mexico SIM card to avoid expensive roaming charges. With a local SIM, you’ll get cheaper call and data rates.

How much data do I need in Mexico?

Most travelers get around 1GB-3GB of data per week. Having enough data allows you to use maps, check social media, and browse while on the go. Larger data plans are available if you want to stream music or videos.

Can I use my Mexico SIM card in other Latin American countries?

No, Mexico SIM cards will only work within Mexico. If traveling to other countries, you’ll need to purchase local SIM cards for each new country to avoid roaming charges.

What happens when my Mexico SIM card expires?

If the credit on your Mexico SIM expires without a top-up, your number will be deactivated. However, you can usually reactivate it within a certain period by purchasing a new top-up credit. Make sure to use up any remaining credit before leaving Mexico.

X. Conclusion

In conclusion, using prepaid Mexico SIM cards and eSIMs can keep you connected while traveling. Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T are some major carriers with good coverage and affordable plans. Accessing data and call/text services online will be convenient. For those with eSIM-enabled devices, an eSIM is the top choice.