Mexico beach scene
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Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Mexico

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Stunning beaches, great surfing, ancient ruins, dense jungle, incredible food, friendly locals. There are so many reasons to plan a trip to Mexico, it’s surprising that even more people aren’t doing it.

With a very wallet-friendly cost of living, especially outside the tourist areas, there’s no need to rush. This is a big country that’s best experienced over weeks or months rather than days..

If you’d like to stay connected on your travels around this beautiful part of the world, the good news is that buying a local SIM card or travel eSIM is easy and doesn’t cost a fortune. Here’s what you need to know.


  • I recommend Telcel for most travelers who want a physical SIM
  • An eSIM from Nomad is the best option if you only need data

There are four cell service providers in Mexico: Telcel, Movistar, AT&T Unidos, and Red Compartida. Telcel is the most expensive, but has the most subscribers and widest coverage, so that’s the company I went with.

Movistar often has a less-congested network and cheaper plans, but you won’t get coverage in as many places.

AT&T is a relatively-recent addition with a smaller coverage area, although it’s growing quickly and provides roaming on the Telcel network to help make up for service gaps.

There’s no 3G in Mexico any longer: you’re looking mostly at LTE networks, with 5G being rolled out in cities and larger towns.

Travel eSIM for Mexico

Given how cheap Mexico can be for other things (street tacos, I’m looking at you), mobile data was more expensive than I expected. Fortunately travel eSIMs provide some stiff competition: for many visitors, they’ll be cheaper than local rates.

Even if they weren’t, the ease of being able to walk off the plane and be connected before you hit the immigration line would make them a compelling option for people who have better things to do on vacation than hang out in phone stores.

Of the better companies out there, Nomad consistently has the best prices, so that’s who I’m recommending here. 5GB of data will likely set you back under $20 USD, which is plenty for shorter trips. There’s a comparison table below with the latest info.

Like most travel eSIMs, it’s data-only: you don’t get a local number. I use apps for everything from communication to transport these days, so the lack of a local number very rarely matters to me, but you might have different needs.

If you’re new to eSIMs, they offer big benefits to travelers in terms of how quickly, easily, and (often) cheaply you can get connected when you arrive in a new country. Most recent phones support them, and you can read all about them here.

How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Mexico

I’ve visited Mexico twice, and purchased a Telcel SIM each time.

From the Oxxo

On my first visit, I flew into Puerto Vallarta airport and didn’t notice anywhere selling SIM cards in the terminal. There may well have been, but in the end, it didn’t matter. I was able to do everything I needed in the Oxxo store a couple of blocks from my hotel.

Similar to the 7-11 convenience stores, there seems to be an Oxxo on every corner in Mexico. They offer alcohol, snacks, groceries, and most importantly for me, phone services.

Unless you’re able to speak a reasonable amount of Spanish, you’ll probably have the most success purchasing a new SIM card in tourist areas where English is more widely spoken.

It’s apparently possible to get it working yourself by calling the Telcel activations department. Since it took the guy behind the counter about ten minutes of rapid-fire Spanish to do it, however, I was pretty happy I’d asked him to help.

To buy the card, simply walk into the store with your phone and ask to buy a new SIM (chip). When the process was complete, a confirmation message arrived by SMS and I was good to go. No passport or other identification was required.

At the Airport

On my second visit, I arrived at Mexico City’s sprawling airport and purchased my SIM from the Telcel store on the first floor of Terminal 1 as soon as it opened (it operates from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm).

If you’re looking for it yourself, head up the escalator between the international and domestic sections of the airport. The store is pretty big, with the company logo emblazoned all over it, so is easy to spot.

Outside of a store with Telcel branding at Mexico City airport. Signs saying "cerrado" (closed) are visible on the door, and the lights are turned off inside.
The Telcel store in Mexico City Airport, Terminal 1… before it opened.

The process was a little confusing. I told one person what I needed, got served by a teller who did most of the setup, paid a third person at a cashiers desk, then returned to the teller to be given the actual SIM.

It all worked smoothly enough, though, and I had a working service within fifteen minutes. Not everyone spoke English, but a different staff member stepped in to translate whenever necessary.

The teller asked for my passport, then copied my name and other details to use on the contract I needed to sign.


In many countries there’s not a lot of difference between the various travel eSIM companies, but that’s not the case in Mexico: I’ve been surprised at the variation in prices.

While Nomad is usually the best choice, promotions can and do change things. Take a look at the table below for the latest prices and data packs for Mexico.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

Price (USD)

  • $8

  • $15

  • $21

  • $32.50

  • $55

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

Price (USD)

  • $6

  • $11.50

  • $15.50

  • $23.50

  • $42

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

  • 10 GB

Price (USD)

  • $8

  • $14

  • $18

  • $28

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs

The SIM card (called a “chip” in Mexico) costs between 29 and 149 pesos (~$2-9 USD) by itself, depending on which package you buy.

Telcel’s prepaid offerings are all under its Amigo brand, with the most-expensive sin limite plan including extras like North American roaming. Whichever SIM pack you buy, you’ll need to add a call, text, and/or data package to it.

Telcel has at least ten different data options, ranging in size from 50MB to 6GB, and in validity from 1-30 days. Options and prices vary somewhat depending on which SIM pack you have.

To get 3GB of data valid for 30 days on the sin limite plan, for example, you’ll pay 200 pesos (~12 USD.) That will also give you unlimited calls, texts, and most social media within North America.

Run this page through Google Translate to find the package that fits your needs. Look out for special promotions as well, that often add some free extra data into the mix.

If you’re buying from a Telcel store, the staff will likely activate the data package for you. You can also purchase packages online, and in theory at least, the site should work with international debit and credit cards.

Either way, you should receive a confirmation text within a minute. Turn your phone’s cellular data off until you’ve purchased a data package, as the casual usage rate is very expensive.

If you need calls and texts as well, the sin limite pack includes both for free, and the above pricing page has various bundles that include them for the other Amigo packs. Otherwise, just add a little extra credit and pay the casual rate as needed.

Topping Up


I ended up spending close to six months in Mexico on my first visit, so had to top up regularly. Buying credit was a simple process, and even my kindergarten Spanish was enough to get the job done at an Oxxo store anywhere in Mexico.

As mentioned above, you can also do it online, but since I walked past an Oxxo pretty much every day, it wasn’t something I bothered to try out. Once the credit was added, I just texted the code for the pack I wanted to buy, and it activated immediately.


Topping up with Nomad (or any of the other travel eSIM companies) is done by logging into the website or app. You just select your Nigeria eSIM, hit the top-up button, and buy the same package again.

The top-up packs have exactly the same pricing and duration as the original eSIMs: there’s little difference between topping up your current eSIM and buying a new one, other than not having to activate it.

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Coverage and Data Speeds

If you have a North American phone, you’ll get 5G with Telcel where it’s available, and LTE anywhere else there’s service. International phones are less likely to support the 5G frequencies in use, but LTE is usually still fast enough for pretty much anything.

Speeds were good in Mexico City, usually around 25-30Mbps. They were slower but still perfectly acceptable in Oaxaca and other smaller cities, along with beach towns on both coasts.

Nomad uses both the Movistar and AT&T networks as needed. Between the two, you should have as good if not better coverage than using Telcel by itself.

Oaxaca Telcel LTE speed
Oaxaca Telcel LTE speed

Check out our guides to SIM cards and eSIMs in 65+ other countries here.

Main image via Joe Cooke

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  1. Avatar Going to Mexico in two weeks says:

    Do you know if they have 4GLTE service? Or just 3G…?


    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      The first result on Google for ‘Telcel LTE’ was this page — looking at the coverage map linked from there, it looks widespread.

    2. In mexico, for Telcel 4G isn’t available everywhere only in a few cities (just a heads up), 3G is in almost every city once outside city limits the 4G/3G signal will cut off.

      1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

        Yeah, the link I gave redirects to the one you list. Either will work.

  2. Avatar Mark Gason says:

    Good article. I read the information below on another site which would seem to make things rather difficult. Is this true?

    “In a move to curtail drug cartels and their use of burner (single-use) phones, it’s now mandatory that SIM card purchasers are registered to their Mexican home address. A hotel address isn’t good enough, which is understandable, but not very helpful for tourists.

    After visiting official mobile phone shops, electronics retailers and a warren of tiny phone shops and touts we were still out of luck. In the end I found a market trader who had no qualms about registering my SIM card under his name and address.”

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      That was very much not the case in September last year when I bought mine, but I can’t speak for what may have changed since then…

  3. Hello my friend. there is nano-SIM in OXXO store?

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      Oxxo didn’t have nano SIMs when I bought mine around this time last year – you had to go to a Telcel store or cut it down to size yourself. It’s worth asking about it in-store, though, in case that’s changed in the last twelve months.

  4. What can you say about roaming within Mexico? I bought a SIM card to use in Mexico City, can I go ahead and use the same one in Puerto Vallarta?

    From what I can tell, the only difference will be that I will be charged for incoming calls that aren’t from the same region as my SIM card. Outgoing calls will be charged the same. I do not know about texting or data- and texting and data are what I use the phone for mostly.


    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      With Telcel at least, I bought my SIM in Puerto Vallarta, then used it in Sayulita, Gunajuato and all over the Yucatan without a problem. I may have been being charged for incoming calls, but since I received so few of them, it made no difference to my monthly spend. Data and SMS worked fine.

      1. Thanks Dave!

  5. hi im bringing my own cell – iphone 4. i want to get a sim card with phone min and i want to be able to text unlimited internationally. Can i get this at oxxo? or do i have to go to telcel? approx how much would that be? gracias

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      I can’t speak for the cost — I don’t know if there are any plans that offer unlimited international SMS, as it wasn’t something I was in the market for. In terms of being able to buy a SIM for your iPhone 4, though, you should be able to do that at the Oxxo. Just make sure your phone is unlocked, otherwise you won’t be able to use it.

  6. What if you dont want to unlock your phone? Won’t that void my Verizon warranty? If so, what are options then? Buy a phone and plan from Telcel? I’d love to be able to do this but really don’t want to tamper with my phone. Or am I confused?

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      If Verizon won’t unlock your phone for you, and you don’t want to do it yourself, then yes, your only options for using a local SIM card are to either buy a phone and plan from a local provider, or buy an unlocked phone before you go and use it instead of your existing Verizon one. I recommended a few of the best (unlocked) budget smartphone options for travellers recently, if that’s what you decide to do.

  7. Avatar Muhammad Naqvi says:

    Thank you for this. Were you able to sign up for a voice / SMS plan as well? Do you know what the different packages / costs for those are?

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      I didn’t sign up for a voice/SMS plan, as I use Skype/Google Voice/WhatsApp for almost all of my voice and text. The few calls and texts I sent and received made no noticeable difference to my spend.

      My Spanish isn’t good enough to work out whether there are any voice and text packages available with Telcel, or whether you just pay a standard rate — sorry!

  8. FYI, here is the Telcel web page for their Amigo(Pay as you go) packages. Click on the Paquetes Amigo 100 y 200 option. Unfortunately, the “conditions” page states that Blackberries are not compatible on the Amigo system.
    This page gives their methods of recharging. #8 is the list of distributors of their products.
    Has anyone tried the Telcel SIM in Oaxaca state?

  9. Also wondering if calling to Canada is included in the Amigo packages?

  10. Dave…great info, thanks!! One question. I was told that an iphone4 was not compatible with Telcel’s plans. Do you know? May have been a sales pitch my friend got. We have unlocked an old iphone4 and want to be sure we can use it there. Can’t find any info online. Any help…much appreciated!!

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      I’m not aware of a technical limitation on Telcel’s side, but it sounds like the kind of thing a Verizon rep might say regarding an iPhone 4 sold by that company, since they didn’t start including SIM slots in Verizon iPhones until the 4S model. If your iPhone 4 has an unlocked SIM card slot, however, it should work with Telcel for calls, texts, 2G and likely 3G data.

  11. Thanks for sharing your experience with buying a SIM card in Mexico! I will be traveling to the Yucatan next week and am looking to buy a card for an unlocked iPhone 4S. I speak very basic Spanish… Did the people working at OXXO where you bought your card speak any English?


    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      I bought my SIM card in Puerta Vallarta, which is quite touristy, and the person behind the counter spoke pretty good English — certainly more than enough to help me buy and register the card.

      I’d expect you’ll find someone who can speak English at many OXXO stores in the Yucatan, especially Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and probably elsewhere as well. If not, maybe write down what you’re after in Spanish with a bit of help from Google Translate and see what happens. 😉

  12. Thanks to this post, when I saw an Oxxo I went inside and ordered a Telcel SIM card. It didn’t work on my unblocked (African) phone, so I bought a Telcel handset also. No activation seems to have been required for the SIM, I just wrote my name and signature on a form.

    I also bought some credit, which gave me a little tag that is somehow tied to my number. Apparently, this needs to be scanned to send new credit top-ups to your phone.

    Texting the code Alto30 to 5050 billed 399 pesos and topped me up immediately with 3GB data for 30 days.

    Thanks again!

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      Pleased it helped! It’s interesting there didn’t seem to be an activation process — maybe they’re coming pre-activated now, or it’s something the teller can do themselves instead of making a call. Either way, anything that speeds things up is good!

      I’ve seen those little tags too — you don’t strictly need them to top up your phone, it’s just easier to quickly scan it rather than read out and confirm your number to the teller. 🙂

  13. All;
    Thanks for the info. Live in Vancouver BC and just bought a sim card at Sanborns in Roma Sur in the DF.
    150 MXP gets you the card and a 75 MXP credit for calls/sms/data. Certainly enough for casual use for a week. An extra 150MXP gets you 350 MB data for 30 days. I’m just about to explore what it takes to keep the sim card alive for longer periods via web topup. I have a US sim that I keep alive by trickling 10$ in at a time. Great help when you land somewhere to be able to be connected.

    1. where did you get the US sim card? i am bringing an iPhone 4s that i bought in mexico, back to the US and want to “trickle 10$ at a time”. i don’t use the cell a lot, but may want to use the internet a bit more than i have in the past.

  14. Avatar Barry Reeve says:

    Brilliant information. We are going to Cancun from the UK in a couple of weeks and you’ve helped a GREAT deal. The data plans seem very cheap – great for the tourist (and the wife that loves to instagram!)

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      Glad it helped, Barry!

  15. I used the Amigo pay-as-you-go paquete last December but the 30 days ran out. Can that SIM still be used again and recharged online? or do we need to buy a new SIM?
    Also, does anyone know if there is a Telcel store in terminal 2 at MEX airport?

    1. George, the Amigo kit pay-as-you-go plan is good as long as you use your chip. By making calls, sending messages and recharging your chip. An unused chip will be deactivated in about 6 months. Credit on your chip will expire in about 60 days after purchase whether used or not. A few of our guests will take their phone/chip home and make calls once a month and add credit, others, we have 4 now, leave them here and we make calls and add credit until they return.
      We avoid DF airport at all costs sorry can’t help you but if I were to guess you should find one somewhere close.

  16. Dave Dean….you do not have to buy a plan with Telcel. If you are on vacation why would you? Go into any store that sells Telcel products, ie: Telcel, Oxxo, Walmart, or several ma and pa stores and you can buy an inexpensive Phone for around 25 dollars or 300 pesos. Included with purchase will be free airtime. It is good to go. You can have them activate the phone. If not when you make calls you will get a short Spanish message prompting you to do so after your call will go through. It will not delay messages. When more time is needed you can purchase time at just about every store. There are two ways. First a card with code number sold in increments of 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos. Scratch off the code and enter it after dialing “star 133 pound.” The message will be in Spanish but that can be changed to English. Listen to the whole message and at the end it will prompt you select English. Or have the clerk change the language when you purchase the phone. Second at most stores big and small and pharmacies you can buy airtime for as little as 20 pesos up to 1,000. Give them your number and they will enter it on to their system and in 10 seconds your phone will show the purchase.
    My friends and guests use their own phone without problem. Best is to contact your provider before you leave telling them your travel plans. Yes a Telcel phone and chip can be used country wide. Signal can be limited in certain areas although.
    Best thing about buying a cheap phone for your vacation is when you leave. You can give it away. Without use your sim card will expire. Normally around 7 months.
    First time tourist here 1984. First time purchase property 1987. Moved here 1999. Playa del Carmen.

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      Just word choice on my side — “plan” equals “package”, as in some prepaid calls, texts and data for a month (or however long people are in the country for). As you say, there’s no need to sign up for a long-term contract or plan, if that’s even possible as a tourist.

  17. ….purchased a new unlocked Acer phone at a Costco in Canada, and brought it to Mexico with me. A new sim from a vendor in Colima, there was no hassle, address or passport needed, at least for me, but your milage may vary. A new sim cost 100pesos and there was even 50 pesos worth of ‘time and calls’ to use up. Telcel has now gone sin LADA and and sin fronteira, meaning no long distance and no frontiers anywhere in or from Mexico, Canada or the USA with their new plans and packages. This means Telcel has negotiated a no roaming fees agreement with major providers in Canada or the USA. The good part is price. For 50 pesos you can have 15 days of unlimited calling and texting and WhatsApp, and data to Mexican, USA or Canadian numbers OR from while in Canada or the USA to Canadian USA or Mexican numbers all for less than $3.50 for the 2 weeks. If you need longer, 100 pesos gets you a month of the same with a bit larger data package. Check the PACKAGES not plans on the TelCel Amigo website. Text the 5050 SL50 or SL100 packages when you buy the Amigo Card or get a Telcel vendor to do it for you if your not sure.

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      Useful info — thanks Richard!

  18. Hi All,

    Just back from Puerto Vallarta and Gudalajara (May 2016). Your original article helped a ton, although I opted for an AT&T (iusacell) SIM. This was due to easier activation and simpler Canada/US roaming — or my understanding thereof — after reading the websites.

    The AT&T SIM was $80 pesos, and I added $100 pesos. The $100 pesos provided 350 MB and unlimited talk & text to/in Mex/Can/USA, for 28 days. See prepaid plans here: No ID/passport was required to purchase from the AT&T store in Plaza Caracol.

    There are Telcel authorized distributors almost everywhere in PV, and in central GDL. I asked several to see if any were perhaps independent and also distributed AT&T SIMs; none did, but all were reasonably friendly and told me where to find AT&T.

    I was happy with AT&T coverage in PV and GDL. 3G data seemed faster than at home on Telus. My phone isn’t 4G, so no info about that. Outside citites and towns AT&T coverage was minimal; I gather Telcel is preferable if you’re staying in rural areas.

    The AT&T sim worked 100% with no configuration changes in LAX, SEA, and YYC. Roaming was on AT&T in the US (duh), and Telus in Canada. No additional SMS, activations, APNs, or calls to customer service were necessary to roam. Voice, SMS and 3G data all worked flawlessly when roaming. Having checked my account, there do not appear to be any extra charges for roaming; as advertised.

    I’d happily go with AT&T again, but a Telcel SIM would be easier to acquire if you’re not near an AT&T store. I’m planning to keep the AT&T SIM for travelling in Mexico and the USA.


  19. hi this article is exactly what I was looking for, just one question ? do I just call my cell provider to unlock phone or how can I do that? thank you so much?

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      The method varies by cell company, but yup, start by calling/contacting them and asking about it.

  20. Avatar Gregg Senchuk says:

    Should I unlock my phone before going to Mexico or can I do it there with no problem?

    1. Dave Dean Dave Dean says:

      It’s best to start by asking your carrier to unlock it for you, so it’s probably easiest to do that before you leave.

  21. All LTE3 and after iPhones are unlocked.

    Verizon now has very inexpensive coverage anywhere in Mexico and Canada when you get their “NEW PLAN,” which means subscribing to 8GB plan minimum.
    With that plan, you are getting unlimited calls and texts, and since the plans are pro-rated, just switch back to what you were using when you return to the states.
    They also have another plan for only a few days’ trip, which is $2.00/day, and you use your current plan’s data and voice subscription.

  22. Avatar Laurent262 says:

    Hello there
    I had a hard time trying to get a Telcel chip work from Oxxo in Valladolid, Yucatan. There were two choices either a 3G chip for 29 pesos or 4G chip for 150 pesos. I asked for the cheap one and asked for a 100 pesos paquetes plan. I inserted the chip onsite in my phone. The chip was recognized by the phone and the service never activated. When the employee tried to top up my number she received an error. The manager called Telcel support but after many trials (among them one with another chip) we gave up and they fully refunded me. I did not try the 4G chip as the manager told me Telcel support thought something was wrong with my phone… I ended up using WiFi provided by every hotel I visited even the one close to Calakmul bisophere park in the middle of the jungle. Overall phone failure but made friends with Oxxo staff !

  23. Avatar Samantha Ethridge says:

    Does your phone need to be set up in anyway for it to work? I’m about to arrive in Mexico and
    Meant to get a international SIM card before leaving (because I’m also going to Peru, Colombia and Belize) but didn’t end up having time so now I’m in a bit of a frantic trying to figure out if I can get a SIM card for my Mexico City portion since I know I’ll
    Be taking Uber’s around the city. I have an iPhone 7. Thoughts?

    1. Your phone needs to have GSM support, which your iPhone 7 will, and be unlocked (either because you bought it that way, or because your carrier has done so for you). Check out this post for more info. Otherwise, no, there’s nothing you need to do beforehand.

  24. I bought a moviestar sim card and topped up a coupleof times. That was almost a year ago. Surprisingly i was able to receive phone calls and texsts both in Mexico and Canada though I couldnt make outbound phone calls. Just wondering how long this will last without topping up again as i like to have a Mexican phone no and i use fongo or talkatone to make calls. Any ideas?

    1. It’ll last until Movistar deactivates the SIM card, but I don’t know how long that is — it varies by company. You’ll need to ask them, I’m afraid. Longer than 12 months is unusual, though.

  25. Hi i am from Philippibe.My concern s, If they installed the sim on ur phone is the wallpaper of the phone will gone too??

  26. Avatar John Zwiebel says:

    Telcel Mexico and Telcel USA are NOT the same company. The SIM I purchased at a Telcel dealer in Tulum was suppose to do calls to the USA but it did not work. On the Telcel Mexico site, I could not get anyone to type back English. ON the TelcelUSA site, they refused to help. The Sim apps were all in Spanish.

    People were unable to call my phone from the USA, or they couldn’t figure out the right combo of numbers.

    I -believe- that if I had purchased the SIM through Amazon before I left it would have been in English and USA calls would have gone through.

    We had another phone (iPhone2) and we bought an ATT sim for it at the local SuperMall. We were able to call the US. Unfortunately, Hurricane Franklin disrupted the service.

    So I tried to install Skype on the iPhone2. It took several tries because Microsoft thought they could buy Skype and then use a single username and password. (We had used the Skype app to make a couple of calls from a Mac, in Mexico, to an Android phone in CA, so the cash was on that account NOT the one that ms-live kept wanting to sign me in on.)

    Without going into a lot of detail, that was a huge mess. But once I figured out that my Skype name and my MS live name were NOT the same and so they still required two different passwords, Skype calls could be made over Wi-Fi. (Note, when one tries to log into Skype, my keychain insisted on using the live name and password so I had to manually type that in.) The Skype app user interface pretty much sucks. But then I haven’t found any iPhone apps that have a useable UI.

    So, one last useless piece of information.

    I used Skype on iPhone2 to call the TelcelMEX number on my iPhone. That worked, but then iPhone1 reported that a FaceTime call had been missed. (Huh?)

    Oh, one more useless information bit. The phone call made yesterday on iPhone2 using the ATT sim shows up in the Skype app. I “guess” that’s a good thing.

  27. ‘VERY helpful! Thanks! NOTHING is better than local knowledge–or someone who’s been there and done that. LOL (I tossed my chip from GTO when I left–about a year ago. But, lo and behold, I’m headed back Oaxaca, to live. And I’ll be at the Mexico City airport for several hours. Alas, 11:30 pm to 7 am. LOL So, I’ll buy at a store in Oaxaca. What you said, though, was a good reminder of everything I did before.)


  28. Hello, I kindly ask for little help.
    I will be in Yucatan next week and I would like to know what is the best operator and prepaid only for the internet connection. I need minimum 5GB of data. Telcel? or better choose something else?

    Thank you in advanced for any recommendation.

  29. Hello

    I just travel to Mexico couple of weeks ago and use this service ” ” . I received the sim card in my hotel and use the data plan without any problem. It was a better option and more practical than buy it in a store and works perfect for me. Just make sure that your phone is unlocked and that’s all. I don’t know what was the brand of the sim card but I really recommend it.

    1. It looks like it’s just reselling a Telcel data package, so you’re paying a bit under twice the price for the convenience of not going to the store. That might be worth it for some short-term visitors who want to maximise their time, less so for others.

  30. Tks Dave for your sharing. Did you have experiences using a AT&T sim bought in US in Mexico? I read on the website of AT&T that it can work with package above $45/month. But I wonder whether it may charge more. I will have a trip to the US and Mexico at the end of this month, so it would be prety convenient if I can buy only one sim in the US and use in both the US and Mex. Thank you in advance!

    1. I don’t have experience with that, I’m afraid, although we did discuss T-Mobile’s equivalent package here.

      1. This T-Mobile package is too costly for a tourist like me 😉 Anyway, thank you so much for the writing 🙂

  31. My son is going to school in Montery City for the second half of the year. He has Sprint iPhone 7 right now and as you can imagine uses about 5-6 GB of data. All his friends will be in the US until he settles in. He also wants to do some traveling when he is there. Which SIM card would work the best for him ? Thank you

    1. Telcel has the best coverage around the country, but the largest data package it offers is 4GB, which costs 500 pesos and lasts 50 days. Social media (Facebook, Twitter) and chat (FB Messenger, WhatsApp) don’t count towards the data allowance, but if that still won’t be enough data, he’ll need to look at some of the third-party resellers like Virgin Mobile, Unefon, or others, who offer larger data packages. I don’t have first-hand experience with buying SIMs from or using those resellers, I’m afraid, as I’ve always used Telcel while in Mexico.

  32. Hi,

    I will be going to Mexico for a week soon and will be landing in the Cancun Airport. Do you know where in the Cancun Airport I can buy a Telcel data sim?


    1. I don’t believe there’s a Telcel outlet at Cancun airport, so you’ll need to buy your SIM elsewhere. There are a few Telcel stores in downtown Cancun, and as mentioned in the article, you should also be able to buy one at Oxxo convenience stores.

  33. Avatar Robin Friedman says:

    I’m going to Puerto Vallarta, we have a lay over at Mexico City can i get a SIM card there without leaving the security area, as i don’t want to go through security to get to the next flight.

    1. That wasn’t an option when I last went through there – the only place to buy it was after security.

  34. I am travelling to Los Cabos tomorrow, and out of option to rent a wifi units
    Do you think I should be able to grab one of these telcel simcard and use data pre-paid way?
    what problems do you expect for me to overcome with?
    I think I am more afraid of topping up and choosing right data plan.
    I found 3 Oxxo locations nearby my hotel, so I am not too much worried about buying sim cards, but website seems to be panic to understand what to do… do you think I can somehow manage this? (I don’t speak Spanish at all)

    1. I can’t really tell you what problems you’ll need to overcome, but as long as you can find someone who speaks reasonable English at either an official Telcel store, or an Oxxo, they should be able to explain the package options, install and register your SIM card, and confirm it’s working.

      I spoke very little Spanish when I first bought a SIM (from an Oxxo in Puerto Vallarta), and got through the process fine. As long as your phone isn’t locked to your carrier back home, and you can find someone who speaks English as mentioned, you should be OK.

      1. Thanks Dave, I will leave a review once I am back to town. 🙂

  35. Avatar Barth Siemens says:

    I just returned from a resort, a little north of Puerto Vallarta. Thanks to the post and comments, my phone service worked like a charm. The Oxxo Decameron in Bucerias charged me ~150 pesos for the Telcel Amiga Chip, and the INT50 plan that I activated was perfect for my needs.

    I will note that the clerk demanded an extra 50 pesos for activation, for which he took about 30 seconds to enter my SIM # onto a website. (I installed the SIM and activated the plan myself.) Is this common or did he take advantage of me?

    1. It’s not unheard of to be charged a little extra for the service. 50 pesos seems a bit high, though.

  36. Avatar Mary Lou O'Bertos says:

    We bought and used ATT SIM cards on prepaid “plans” last Jan to March in Mexico. Haven’t used them since. Is it more cost/time effective to track down an ATT store (we are in Nuevo Vallarta) to reactivate them – if that is possible – or are we just as well to go TelCel and have them switch out the cards? We would like data as well as talk and text. Thanks for any advice!

    1. You might save a little bit by already having the AT&T SIM (if it’s still active), but I doubt there’d be much in it. Personally I’d probably just find the nearest Telcel outlet to my accommodation.

      If you did want to try your luck with the AT&T SIM, though, Google Maps suggests there are both AT&T and Telcel outlets in the Lago Real shopping mall outside Nuevo Vallarta — so if you did want to try to reuse the one you had and found you couldn’t, you’ve then got the choice of buying a new one from AT&T, or getting a Telcel one instead. Of course, that’s all assuming Google Maps is correct!

  37. Avatar TOBIAS LEENAERT says:

    thanks for the info. fyi, i got a prepaid sim, unlimited date for ten days, for just 100 pesos, at an AT&T outlet

  38. Just got my SIM card from the Mexico City airport yesterday and get the 200 peso package. However after 8 hours, the data plan stop working. I can see still see my phone on the 4G network but I can’t get on the internet on any forms. Any suggestion?

    I don’t think I could use up my data in 8 hours and most of the social media is unlimited usage in my package.

    1. Hmm. I don’t know for sure what’s causing that — usually I’d say that the package wasn’t activated properly and you were using data at the casual (expensive) rate, but that seems relatively unlikely if you bought it from the official airport store. If simple things like rebooting the phone don’t get it working again, unfortunately you’ll probably need a trip to a Telcel store to sort it out.

  39. Hi! I’m looking to buy a huawei mifi 5885 as I need strong internet for video calls. Several of the amazon reviews alude to it not working in Mexico “if you use a carrier without open service like Telcel Mexico- it won’t work for sure.” Can’t find any other info on how to deal with this ahead of time, worst case try Telcel and have to get something else if it doesn’t work? Love your opinion, thanks!

    1. Hi – do you have a link to the Amazon product listing for the E5885 with the reviews you mention? The only one I can see on the US Amazon store has a passing mention from someone using a Google Fi SIM in Mexico saying it didn’t work, but a few others saying local SIMs work fine.

  40. Avatar patrick barbour says:

    I just bought a movistar chip at a movistar shop in ensenada. It was $10 for 4 GB, good for 28 days. Speed was ok in ensenada but getting what seems like 2g speeds at various beaches here and there. Is there any real downside to just buying both a movistar and a telcel chip and switching them out as necessary?

    1. Unless you’ve given the numbers out to people who happen to call while the other SIM is installed, nope, no downside at all.

  41. Avatar A Certain Mexican Commenter says:

    This information should be updated soon. The Union Congress aprobated a law modification (to the Telecommunications Federal Act) that requieres to all the people buying a new SIM card in Mexico the next year to register in a record. To get a SIM card you will need to provide a copy of your passport and biometric data like fingerprints and iris scanner, media also says you need to provide a sample of DNA.

    1. There doesn’t seem to be an official deadline for this to be implemented yet, or exact details of what it will entail, but we’ll definitely update the article when it becomes mandatory.

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