Mexico SIM Card for Tourists: What to buy and how to buy
Everything you need to know about Mexican SIMs for tourists
· 6 min read
Mexico is a diverse and beautiful country known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality. But, the truth is, staying connected as you travel through the colourful markets and ancient ruins can be difficult if you don't have a SIM card that provides you with data connectivity in Mexico.
The good news is that getting a data SIM card that gives you connectivity in Mexico isn't difficult. And, it does not have to be expensive either. Let's take a look at the various options out there for you to stay connected in Mexico - from international roaming, to local tourist SIMs for Mexico, or travel eSIMs for Mexico.
Why You Should Get a data SIM in Mexico?
If you were hoping to be able to get around in Mexico solely relying on public WiFi, we hate to break it to you that it would unfortunately be really difficult. The infrastructure in Mexico is not as sophisticated as some countries, and public WiFi isn't readily available. Even if WiFi was available, they are not always the most stable.
So, if you are going to have to stay connected during your trip in Mexico - so that you can navigate and find your way around, or to use your favourite social media apps - getting a SIM card with data connectivity is your best bet.
Can I use my home SIM card for data in Mexico?
Yes, you can. And in fact, if you are from the United States or Canada, you might want to check with your carrier if your plan already includes free roaming in Mexico. Providers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all have plans that offer free roaming in Mexico, and if you are already on those plans, then you wouldn't need to get an additional SIM card or pay more for data in Mexico.
If your plan does not include free roaming in Mexico, or if you are not from the US, turning on international roaming is also an option - provided your home telco offers that service for your plan. However, it is important to note that international roaming is often expensive, so it is recommended that you first check how much international roaming costs for Mexico, and if your home carrier has roaming plans that offer better packages.
What Mexico SIM card should I get?
There are three main mobile network operators in Mexico, namely Telcel, AT&T, and Movistar. Of the three operators, Telcel is the largest operator and known to have the best coverage, but is also the most expensive. AT&T is the second-largest operator and has rather good coverage, though it could be less stable in the rural areas; and Movistar, while not as big, also offers decent coverage. AT&T and Movistar offer plans at much more competitive rates.
The three telcos don't have tourist plans per-se, but they do offer prepaid cards that are available for tourists to purchase.
How much are the Mexican SIM card for tourists?
The prices of the Mexican SIM cards vary depending on provider. It is important to do some shopping on the various websites, or at the physical shops, to find the available plans and prices. As a guideline:
- Telcel: You can get a 1.2GB prepaid data SIM at approx. USD5.
- AT&T: You can get a 1.5GB prepaid data SIM at approx. USD5. There is an ongoing promotion where you can get 4GB of extra data.
- Movistar: You can get 4GB of prepaid data at approx. USD5.
The packages provided by all three providers typically include unlimited data for certain applications, which usually include WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook. Some plans also include data allowance for multimedia streaming.
However, it is important to note that these are the charges just for the data bundles. Network operators mostly also have a separate charge for the physical SIM card and activation.
Where can I buy a tourist SIM card for Mexico?
If you are planning to buy a tourist SIM card for Mexico, here are some ways you can do so:
- Buy from kiosks at the airport: The network operators have kiosks at most international airports. You can easily pick a tourist SIM from any of these kiosks, but do note that the cost of SIM cards at the airport could be more expensive at the airport than in the city center.
- Buy from network operator kiosks in the city center: The network operators have many kiosks all over the city center. You can simply pop by one of them to pick up a SIM card.
- Buy from the convenience stores: You can pick up a SIM card from Oxxo, the Mexican convenience store, or Circle K The stores that have SIM cards available will usually have a label of the telco's logo, so keep a look out for that.
- Buy online before you arrive: It is possible to buy a SIM card online before you arrive. However, this involves buying a SIM card from e-commerce sites such as Amazon, and they are often provided by a third-party and can be more expensive than if you were to buy it directly from the operators after arrival. If you will be buying the SIM card online, remember to check if the SIM card you are purchasing is an empty SIM card, or if it comes with data included - and remember to also cater sufficient time for the SIM card to be shipped to you.
How do I top up my Mexico SIM card?
Since you will likely be buying an empty Mexican SIM card, it is important for you to learn how to recharge (or top-up) your SIM card so that you can get connected.
To top-up your Mexican SIM card, you will have the following options:
- Visit the kiosks: You can go to the kiosks of the network operators to recharge your SIM card. When you first buy your SIM card from the kiosks, you can also ask them to do the top-up from the get-go.
- Top up online on the telco's website: Go to the telco's website and recharge. However, their websites are mostly in Spanish, so you might need to use a translation plug-in on your browser if you cannot read the language.
- Top up at a convenience store: Another option is to head to the convenience stores to top it up. Simply let them know which plans you would like to top up.
Get Nomad's Travel eSIM for Mexico
If you are going to Mexico, consider getting Nomad's travel eSIM for Mexico instead of a local SIM card. If you are not sure what an eSIM is, it stands for embedded SIM, and is a digital SIM that is embedded within your device.
Using Nomad's travel eSIM provides a variety of advantages over getting a local SIM card, including:
- Get your eSIM even before you arrive: You can buy and install your eSIM even before you get to Mexico, so that you can get connected as soon as you land. You do not have to worry about having to pick up a SIM card at the airport, or to find a way to get to the city center before being able to get connected. You also don't have to worry about shipping like you would if you had to get one from the e-commerce sites.
- No hidden costs: Prices are transparent, and what you see listed is what you get - you don't have to worry about additional costs required for activation or for different costs depending where you purchase your SIM. Although Nomad's data cost is slightly more expensive than if you were to get a local Mexican SIM, they are relatively similar if you were to add in the extra charges that might be incurred with a local SIM.
- Keep your home SIM card active: With an eSIM, you can keep your home SIM card within your phone so that you can continue to stay connected on your primary line. You don't have to worry about having to swap SIM cards, or to even take out your SIM tray.
- Automatic network switching: Nomad's eSIMs for Mexico hooks on to the AT&T and Movistar networks, and it will be automatically switch to the network that has a stronger or more stable signal. Compared to getting a SIM card that is locked to a single network, the ability to switch networks provide better stability, and is less susceptible to any network outages.
How much is a Nomad travel eSIM for Mexico?
Nomad has a variety of data plans for their Mexico travel eSIMs, each with different prices and volumes. Prices range from USD2.90/GB, which is only slightly more expensive than if you were to pick up a local SIM card.
And if you will also be traveling to United States and/or Canada, Nomad also offers regional plans for North America from USD4.00/GB, which allows you to freely travel between the three countries while staying connected with a single eSIM.
What do I need to use a Nomad Travel eSIM for Mexico?
To use a Nomad travel eSIM for Mexico, you will need to make sure that:
Once you have confirmed that you can use your eSIM on your device, you can easily purchase a Nomad travel eSIM for Mexico from the web store or the Nomad app on iOS or Android. After you have successfully bought a Nomad eSIM, you will receive an email containing installation and activation instructions for your eSIM.