Getting a Mexican SIM Card: Everything You Want to Know

Getting a Mexican SIM Card is incredibly easy. Whether you want to get one before you arrive in the country so that you can start using it as soon as you get here or you are heading here last minute and don’t have the time to wait, I promise it’s very simple.

There are a few companies to choose from and a few ways to top up depending on where you’re going to be based and how long you plan to be in Mexico.

You may not even need a Mexico SIM card if you are from the USA or Canada and have a provider that works within North America. I’ll talk more about that below.

What Mexico Sim Card Companies Should I Use?

I recommend using Telcel. They have the largest network setup in the country. You get service almost anywhere and you can pay as you go very easily and cheaply.

The other two companies that you’ll likely see a lot of information about are AT&T and Movistar.

Movistar is probably the cheapest, but it’s also the most unreliable and drops out when you leave major cities.

If you’re just going to be staying in major cities like Mexico City or Guadalajara, then Movistar is fine. It’s easy to buy a SIM card and to top it up.

AT&T is pretty good.

The coverage is better than Movistar, however, it’s cheapest if you get yourself a contract and pay for an entire year upfront.

If you are going to be staying in Mexico City or another major city in Mexico for an extended period of time, this may be your best and cheapest option.

They do also offer reasonably priced month-to-month options similar to Telcel, but the packages vary slightly. In general, they are a good option if you want to stay in the big cities, but I have found coverage to be average at best in more rural places.

how to get a sim card in mexico

What to Know Before You Arrive in Mexico

Is your phone unlocked for international use? This is mostly aimed at American travelers. Most European phones are sold unlocked. However, regardless of where you are based if you have a phone contract and you are still paying your phone off, you will likely have to call your provider and ask them to unlock your phone.

Be sure to let them know that you are unlocking it for international use only. You are not asking for it to be unlocked so that you can switch national providers. You only want to make sure that you will be able to put international SIM cards in it.

If you’re unsure of what type of SIM card you have, you’ll also want to find that out. Do you have a regular, micro, or nano-SIM card in your phone? You’ll need to know this so that you buy the correct one on Amazon or once you arrive.

how to get a mexican sim card

Getting a Mexican SIM Card Before You Arrive

If you have time and are set on getting yourself a SIM card, I think the easiest thing to do is to order it on Amazon.

You can order a Telcel SIM card and have it delivered to your house before you set off for Mexico.

That means once you arrive in the country, all you have to do is head to an Oxxo or 7-11 to top up your Mexico SIM card.

This particular SIM card comes ready to top up. It costs $17, which is about $5 more expensive than you would pay if you were to purchase it once you arrive in Mexico.

However, if you don’t speak any Spanish or you won’t be in the country for very long, getting it before you arrive is worth the $5 in my opinion.

Using my Mexico SIM card to order an Uber

If you would rather not even have to deal with topping it up when you arrive, you can also purchase one that comes with credit on it.

This SIM card comes with 3 GB worth of data on it. It includes free calls and texts within Mexico as well as free use of Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram without tapping into your data usage.

That’s a huge amount and will last you up to 30 days. You can always top it up again if you’re going to be staying for longer. That package costs $35.

All of those Amazon purchases come with a normal, micro, and nano-chip, so you don’t have to stress too much about purchasing the correct one when ordering online.

where to buy a mexican sim card

Getting a Mexican SIM Card Once You Arrive in Mexico

If you aren’t in a rush to get a Mexico SIM card until you arrive in the country (or you’re already here), then the best place to grab a cheap SIM card is either Oxxo or 7-11.

Oxxo is basically the exact same as 7-11, it’s just the Mexican version (well technically it’s owned by Coca-Cola Mexico). You can find exactly the same things in both – beer, snacks, soda, ramen noodles, etc. Some even have tacos! (although I very much do not recommend eating them).

Simply go into your nearest Oxxo or 7-11 and ask for a Telcel chip (not a SIM, they call it a chip in most places in Mexico). You may have to specify.

Using my Mexico SIM to take photos of Mexico and post them on social media on my phone

If you are arriving in the country at the Mexico City airport, you can actually go straight to the Telcel shop which is located on the second floor (or first floor if you class the bottom floor as ground) of Terminal 1.

It’s located up the escalator between the domestic and international area. If you can’t find it, just ask someone.

If you go there, they will set it all up for you and ask you what sort of top-up you want. They may ask for your ID to set it up, which they don’t do if you purchase it in Oxxo or 7-11.

Make sure wherever you buy it, that the card has been activated. You’ll struggle to activate the Mexican SIM card on your own if you don’t speak much Spanish.

frequently asked questions about Mexico City

How to Top Up a Mexican SIM Card

Topping up a SIM Card is even easier than purchasing one, even if you don’t know a ton of Spanish.

The Spanish for top-up is recarga.

They will ask you what company you use. Tell them (Telcal, Movistar, AT&T). Then they will ask you how much you want to top up. I usually use 200 Pesos a month, so I say doscientos.

You can check what all of the up-to-date top-ups available are here.

That link will take you to the Telcel website where you can read how much data and unlimited each amount will give you and how long it will last.

The prices are in Pesos. My boyfriend usually tops up 200 Pesos (about $10 USD) which gives you 1.5 GB, unlimited usage on social media apps and Whatsapp, as well as unlimited phone calls within the country. This lasts for 30 days.

how to get a sim card in mexico

Do You Even Need a Mexican SIM Card?

Let me let you in on a little secret. I have been living in Mexico City for three and a half years and I never canceled my phone plan in the US.

My phone contract is with Sprint and I can use my phone pretty much anywhere in the world for no extra cost.

I pay not a penny extra to use my phone as normal here in Mexico. Free calls, free texts, free low-speed data (which really isn’t that low-speed) at no extra cost.

I use Whatsapp to text and call people who don’t have US numbers without any problems (pretty much everyone uses Whatsapp in Mexico).

This was the same for when I went to Costa Rica, Colombia, and across the pond, to the UK. I wrote a full post about why Sprint is the best phone company for American travelers here.

Using a Mexico SIM card to listen to Spotify while I travel Mexico

Regardless of where I take my phone in the world, I get free low-speed data, free text messages, and when I leave North America, calls are only $0.20 per minute. 

I have a friend who came to visit me last year and she has a contract with AT&T. She wasn’t charged anything extra to use her phone as normal in Mexico either.

So you may not even need a Mexican SIM card.

If you are only coming to Mexico for a short period of time and you aren’t going to cancel your phone plan back home, then call your phone company and find out what it will cost you to use your phone in Mexico.

However, if you are moving to Mexico, it will definitely be cheaper to wait out your plan back home and then simply buy a Mexican SIM card once you arrive.

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How to get Mexican Sim Card - traveling to Mexico and wondering whether or not you should buy a Mexican SIM card? Let me answer all your questions about whether you need one or not, how to buy one before you arrive and where to buy one once you get to Mexico!

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28 thoughts on “Getting a Mexican SIM Card: Everything You Want to Know”

  1. I’m definitely cancelling my AT&T plan, right now I pay $160.00 for my phone and internet. It makes no sense to pay that price if I can pay $20.00 especially just for the phone service using TELCEL. I wonder if the number will eventually get disconnected since I will not be back in Mexico to use the Mexican number for another 60 days? I hope not..

  2. I’ve been in Mexico and using a sim card since January. I’ve recharged it several times and now it will not accept my payment. I’ve tried with multiple cards that I know are good. I’ve contacted my bank and my cards are good on their end. We also have 2 other cards purchased at same time that are having the same problem. Do the cards expire? Are you not able to keep recharging them indefinitely? I’d rather not get a new card/phone number, as I’ve given out this number to people already.

    • dont you/wefind it strange that there is no sim card that allows people from other countries, UK, Europe call in or, for us to call out. E.G A bank send a confirmation message to a mobile number, so, if we have no number????What next???Any ideas????

      Thanks for the blog and good info ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Iโ€™ve Iโ€™m from Canada and just bought a telcel sim card but Iโ€™m not able to make calls to Canada, is it normal? Thanks

  4. I have an AT&T Mexican sim card but trying to change it to English. All the info is in Spanish. How do I change it to English?

    Thank you

    • You’ll have to go to the language settings on your phone and change it back into English I would assume. If it’s an iPhone, go to Settings, then General, then Language and Region. Hope that helps!

  5. hi, thanks for the great info about sim cards for mexico. we are going to cabo next month and might want to purchase it thru amazon, however you said in you article the 35 dollars chip is for 30 days. i just checked and it says 26 days?? am i looking at the wrong chip? its telcel on amazon. thanks rob

  6. What if I donโ€™t want to cancel my plan at home ? Iโ€™m here for three months only and was planning on removing the sim card once I return to the US. Iโ€™ve done this before in Spain. Does putting in a new Mexican sim mean I am nullifying my existing plan?

    • You won’t lose your existing plan as long as you don’t cancel it. You can just put your US sim card back into your phone when you get back to the US. Just make sure that your phone is unlocked before arriving and you’ll be fine ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Definitely the best article I’ve read on the Mexican Sim Card. Your writing is quite clear and straightforward. Does a Mexican Sim Card allow for calls to the US? Can my phone be unlocked here in Mexico? (I’m already here).

    • Thanks, Nancy! Happy to help. Most Mexican SIM cards (including Telcel and AT&T) allow you to call the US and Canada without a problem. I don’t know if your phone can be unlocked from here- you have to call your provider back in the US and see if they can do it remotely (Sprint were able to do mine while I was already here in Mexico).

  8. Just got to Monterrey Mexico from Canada! Went to and AT&T Mexico store. Got a chip and plan for 100 pesos (6.75 cad). Includes 1gb and unlimited Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Snapchat! With unlimited Mexico US calling and texting. Was there for 10min!

    • AT&T is definitely a cheap option and great if you plan to stay in the cities, but in my experience the coverage is pretty terrible in beach towns and anywhere outside of the city center, especially here in Mexico City.

  9. Have you used mexico sim in the US – what is the reception like? I am in Mexico for about 10 days then spending a few days in NYC afterwards. Telcel allows the use of your Mexico Sim in the US but I wanted to know if it was good reception/speed wise? thanks.


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