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Getting a SIM card in Mexico is EASY and CHEAP. Seriously. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest places I’ve ever gotten data in, and that says a lot. The process is super simple and the internet packages are actually impressive, coming with way more perks than you’re probably used to.

Since it’s so easy to get a SIM card in Mexico, you likely won’t have to ‘roam’ with your current provider, which will save you lots of cash and headaches.

 

This blog is going to go over everything about SIM cards and cell phone plans in Mexico with such detail, you will think you’ve already done it yourself. I’m going to walk you through exactly how to get a Mexico SIM card, which company to go through, how much it should cost, how to get data/minutes, even what the deals are for internet packages.

How To Buy A SIM Card in Mexico

The best SIM card to buy in Mexico

Before we jump right in…to get a SIM card in Mexico, you'll need an unlocked phone. Most phones these days come unlocked right from the store, but if yours isn’t, get it unlocked before you travel. Just call your cellphone provider at home and they will help you unlock it over the phone

Cellphone plans in Mexico are CHEAP. Coming from Canada, we have the most expensive mobile data costs in the world, so getting to enjoy incredible cheap plans in Mexico is a real treat! For people from the USA, you’ve been spoiled with affordable cell phone plans for years, but the ones in Mexico are still usually cheaper.

Companies that offer pre-paid SIM cards in Mexico:

  • Telcel
  • AT&T
  • Movistar
Tecel is the best SIM card and pay as you go phone plan in Mexico

Telcel is the best of the three. It's not that AT&T or Movistar are bad, it's just that Telcel is the most popular, has the best coverage, and is the easiest to use. If you can, go for Telcel.

Ways to get a SIM card in Mexico:

  • At an OXXO store in Mexico
  • At the airport in Mexico
  • Online & shipped to you before your trip

Without a doubt, OXXO is the cheapest and easiest way to do it.

  • If you get one after landing at the airport in Mexico, you will likely be charged anywhere from 2x's-10x's more than it's actually worth.
  • If you buy one online (let's say on Amazon) and have it shipped to you, it's again more expensive, and good luck if it actually works. We bought TWO online before our trip and they didn't work, so we just had to go to the OXXO anyway.

 

Buy your SIM card at any OXXO in Mexico

Just choose OXXO. 

This is Mexico, there is an OXXO on every street corner. Where we are living in Mazatlán we have 4 of them on our street, let alone the dozens more in our area of town. OXXO is where you can do it all – get SIM cards, snacks, coffee, pay bills, send or receive international money transfers, put cash onto debit or credit cards, and even buy bus tickets.

Go to the nearest OXXO store to buy your SIM card. This is also the place you can top up your account or add new phone packages, but more on that later

How to buy a SIM card at OXXO

If you speak Spanish, you’ll know exactly what to do and what to ask for, but if you don’t speak Spanish, here are a few tips:

  • The people working at the OXXO might refer to the SIM as a ‘CHIP’. Point to your phone and say both ‘SIM’ and ‘CHIP’, they will know what you want.
  • Now say “Telcel” so they know to sell you a Telcel brand SIM card. This should be M$50, so you might hear them say “cincuenta pesos”.
  • Paying M$50 for this SIM equals $3.43 CAD or $2.62 USD. Cheap right!

They will hand you a little plastic card that has your SIM on the inside. It looks like this:

where to get a SIM card in Mexico

Now, depending on the type of phone you have, you might require a different SIZE of SIM card. The 3 most common sizes are: Standard SIM (15 x 25mm), Micro SIM (12 x 15mm), and Nano SIM (8.8 x 12.3mm).
Don’t fret, the SIM card you just bought at the OXXO comes in all 3 sizes. You just have to ‘pop out’ the size your phone uses from the plastic card they give you. So easy!

Your new phone number is also on the outside of the plastic card you receive, so don’t lose that! Put your new Mexico phone number in your contacts in your phone so you always have it.

Note: When you buy a SIM at the OXXO, it will come with the tiniest bit of data so that you can basically go online to purchase a ‘pay as you go’ package. So, for the most part your phone is ‘empty’ and needs a to have a plan/package put on it.

How to buy minutes/data packages on your Telcel SIM

Buying minutes, data or a pay as you go phone plan is called a ‘recarga’, and you have two options on how to purchase one: In-person at the OXXO, or online at MiTelcel.com

Recarga at the OXXO:

Since you’re already at the OXXO buying your SIM card, you might as well put a package/recarga on right then and there. Here is how to do it:

  • Go to the front counter and say: “recarga por favor”.
  • Then say: “Telcel”.
  • They will pull up a screen with all the Telcel packages on it. They are all called by the name of how much they cost. If this is your first time, you likely won’t know what each package gives you, so just go with a mid-range one like M$150 or M$200 (“ciento cincuenta” or “doscientos” in Spanish).
  • Then they will ask “numero?” which is asking for your cell phone number. If you don’t speak Spanish, just show it to them on your phone or write it down.
  • They will apply the package within seconds and collect your payment.
  • You will immediately get an SMS text confirming your package. It will be in Spanish, but you can always copy/paste it into Google Translate if you want to know exactly what it says.
  • Anytime you need a recarga, simply go into the store and repeat this process. They do hundreds of these a day.

Recarga online at MiTelcel.com

This is the method I used, because I wanted to browse the different packages. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to MiTelcel.com and register an account with your new phone number. If you don’t speak Spanish, right click on your browser and hit ‘translate to English’ and your browser will update all the text on the page.
  • Confirm your account through a password they will text to your phone.
  • Then, login and click on (English): ‘Packages’ then ‘Unlimited Friend Packages’ (Español): ‘Paquetes’ then ‘Paquetes amigo sin limite’. Yes they call your phone your ‘friend’ with Telcel, so don’t get confused thinking you are buying minutes for a buddy of yours.
  • Next you will see all kinds of different packages. You simply choose the one you want and go through the motions of selecting it and checking out with your credit card. You will receive a SMS text message as soon as the package goes through.

↓ In English:

↓ In Spanish:

The best cellphone plans in Mexico

Again I think Telcel has the best plans! 

Here is an example of just some of the plans that are available with Telcel in Mexico. To keep you from dozing off, I am ONLY including the very cheapest plan, the mid-range plan I always get, and the most expensive plan they offer. This way you can see the range and get a good idea of cost.

Cheapest plan/recarga Telcel offers:

M$20

($1.40 CAD or $1 USD)

Okay this one isn’t really a PLAN, since it only last 24 hours, but it gives you a functioning phone for a day if you are super low on cash.
It includes:

  • 100 MB of data
  • Unlimited calling and SMS to Mexico, Canada and USA
  • 200MB for Social Media
  • Lasts 24 hours

Best mid-range plan/recarga Telcel offers:

M$150

($11 CAD or $8 USD)

This is the plan I always top up with. I don’t know why, but it’s my favorite.
It includes:

  • 2 GB of data
  • Unlimited calling and SMS to Mexico, Canada and USA
  • Unlimited Social Media app use
  • 500 MB for ‘Claro Musica’ (which is like a Mexican ‘Spotify’)
  • Lasts 26 days

Most expensive plan/recarga Telcel offers:

M$500

($35 CAD or $25 USD)

This is the most expensive plan I have seen Telcel offer. It’s pretty loaded with data, so it’s good for heavier users.
It includes:

  • 6 GB of data
  • Unlimited calling and SMS to Mexico, Canada and USA
  • Unlimited Social Media app use
  • 500 MB for ‘Claro Musica’ (which is like a Mexican ‘Spotify’)
  • Lasts 33 days

Perks with Telcel Pre-Paid Plans:

Free social media 

Just note, you might not need as big of a data package in Mexico as you usually do in Canada or the USA. With MOST Telcel packages, you actually get free social media data when using the apps. Here’s what I mean: They don’t count most of your social media use against the MB’s in your data package.

You can do mostly everything on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram without it using up your own data. You can do things like browse the timelines and feeds, send messages, upload photos, like or comment on things, etc. The one thing that doesn’t seem to be included in this is video streaming on social media.

Unlimited Calls and Texts to USA and Canada

With all of these Telcel plans, you also get free unlimited texts and calls back to Canada or the States. What a crazy good deal!

Free Roaming

Telcel has FREE ROAMING when you travel to Canada and the USA!

Yes! With Telcel, most of the (already incredibly cheap) packages actually come with FREE ROAMING! That means if you make a trip home to Canada or the USA, your Telcel plan will work seamlessly without extra charge.

All of the 3 packages I mentioned above have it, even the tiny one.

Checking data/package usage on Telcel

check MB usage on Telcel

There are many ways to check your usage, but don't worry, Telcel will text you when you're almost out. 

If you want to check on your own, you can do it two ways:

  • You can simply login to MiTelcel.com (the same site where you buy packages) and check your consumption. It's easy to find on the first page of your dashboard.
  • If you have a Google Play or iTunes account set up associated with your new Mexican phone number, you can download the MiTelcel app.

Data Speeds with Telcel

The speeds are great! I have been using my phone daily without any complaints. You'll usually get 4G across the board.

Actually the home internet provider we had at our condo in Mazatlan was HORRIBLE, so I had to use my cellphone to hotspot almost daily. (We’ve changed it now to fibre-optic, but for the first 3 weeks we had a torturous download of 1 MBPS and upload of 0.20 MBPS.)

Speed test on Telcel Mexico

I just took a few speed tests on my Telcel mobile account and here is the average result:

The highest DOWNLOAD test came back with 50 MBPS, but with an average result around 25-30 MBPS.

The highest UPLOAD test came back at 25 MBPS, but with an average result around 12-18 MBPS.

Buying a Cell Phone or Smartphone in Mexico

If you lose or damage your phone, Mexico is a great place to get a cheap replacement. You can find them at convenience stores, malls, grocery stores, or Walmart. 

You can get a cheap burner phone with a few basic functions for M$349. ($24 CAD or $18 USD)

If you need a Smartphone with all the bells and whistles, you can pick up a Motorola Moto E5 for only M$2,290. ($158 CAD or $120 USD)
It runs on Android, has an impressive camera and a big beautiful display. It’s a great replacement for a lost/damaged Samsung that won’t break the bank.

We hope this guide has given you step-by-step directions on exactly how to get a SIM card in Mexico! 



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