Mobile data in Mexico
February 5, 2018 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I are traveling to Mexico for 12 days next month and would like to know about the easiest and most cost-effective options for mobile data for our smartphones while we're there. (Whether that's a SIM card, an international plan, etc.) We both have iPhones. She has AT&T and I have Verizon (both based in the U.S.). Not particularly concerned about talk & text—just want to be able to get online. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about AT&T, but my basic Verizon plan includes international data. Mexico is $5 a day and includes access to your normal talk/text/data plan. I just used it last month - it was pretty reliable. I didn't have to do anything special. It just kicked in automatically when I landed.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 9:44 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

AT&T offers free roaming in Canada and Mexico on some of their plans (AT&T Unlimited Plus or AT&T Unlimited Choice). They also have free roaming on their prepaid plans at the $45 or $60 level.
posted by muddgirl at 9:48 AM on February 5, 2018

The indispensable Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki has a Mexico page which explains your options. I was just there a month ago and found the Telcel Amigo prepaid plan very useful. If you're mainly interested in data, here's how it works:
  1. Buy a SIM pack from an Oxxo convenience store for something around MXN 100.
  2. Buy additional credit from the store for your phone. Choose how much to buy given the Amigo internet bundles ("paquetes"). For example MXN 200 gets you 1500 MB that expire in 30 days.
  3. After the credit is loaded on your account, you have to buy the packet in question using the USSD code described in your SIM packet or when you first connect.
  4. Have fun!
If you want voice or SMS messaging, you will probably want to buy an Amigo Sin Límite bundle instead or in addition to the Amigo internet paquete. Minutes, texts, or data outside one of these bundles are quite a bit more expensive than within the bundle.
posted by grouse at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Also I found with my prepaid service that the free roaming was automatic. If you have one of the unlimited plans you may need to manually activate the service (called Roam North America) through That is also where you can add it to any other AT&T plan. I am still trying to find the price to add it to another plan - it is different from AT&T's unlimited international roaming which is pretty expensive.
posted by muddgirl at 9:57 AM on February 5, 2018

I have a family plan on Verizon and turned on TravelPass before I went -- I called but I think you can set it up yourself, too. Here is the email I got after signing up:

"Thanks for signing up for TravelPass. Here are some quick reminders about how it works:

Use domestic allowances (talk, text & data) while traveling outside the United States.
Mexico and Canada are included in your plan without a daily fee, and $10/day in more than 120 other countries.
Your 24-hour session starts after your first call, sent text, or data usage."

However, I was in Europe and South America this summer and needed to pay $10 extra a day to use my talk, text, and data. It's not ideal because it can get expensive but is good to have in a pinch. I've traveled before without TravelPass -- it was fine but using even a smidgen of data can cost hundreds of dollars. With Travel Pass, I turned my iPhone to airplane mode when I didn't need the data because you can skip days if needed. However, it appears that you can roam in Mexico without paying anything extra! Just call and see.
posted by smorgasbord at 10:18 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Verizon offers two good options for use in Mexico (and Canada):

(1) The $5/day ($10/day for anywhere not Mexico or Canada) Travel Pass that allows you to use your domestic plan and allowance in Mexico/Canada. If you are on a Go or Beyond Unlimited plan, Mexico and Canada are free.

If you do have one of those unlimited plans, forum posts online indicates that Verizon will throttle your data to 2G speeds if you use over 512 MB a day, which I would think is unlikely unless you're constantly streaming movies or TV.

(2) A $25/month plan that gives you 1 GB of data in Mexico and Canada. Additional data is $20 per GB.

Verizon also offers plans with 100 MB of data, but if you're anything like me you will rapidly blow through 100 MB over a 12-day period.

For this trip, you'd have to see what's worth it. For me personally, I'd go with option 1 if I had a Go or Beyond Unlimited plan (since it's free), and if not otherwise I'd go with option 2 because I tend to use my phone daily, not necessarily for huge amounts of data, but it would probably connect to the Internet every day.
posted by andrewesque at 11:03 AM on February 5, 2018

Should point out the cost of the Mexican SIM option I described in is around USD 16 per phone for your whole trip, so it compares well to any sort of daily charge times 12 days.
posted by grouse at 11:10 AM on February 5, 2018

I've done the Verizon thing by day and it has worked well. The only hassle I had a year ago was that I had to "turn it on/confirm that I was traveling" when I got to the other country. That wasn't a big deal in Mexico but was a PITA in Canada when we were headed into the wilds of BC and I was trying to grab a cell signal in small towns.
posted by ITravelMontana at 11:31 AM on February 5, 2018

AT&T has a plan where for 10 dollars a day you have the same level of access as you do in the states. you can activate it on the website.
posted by evilmonk at 1:22 PM on February 5, 2018

If you do decide to get a Mexican SIM, Telcel has by far the best coverage, supposedly. You can get a SIM at a phone store and top it up at any Oxxo (ubiquitous, like a 7-11). 4G data is cheap, and you get bonuses for Facebook, etc. No net neutralityin Mexico.
posted by wnissen at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2018

What grouse wrote above is what my husband and I do while we're traveling in Mexico.
posted by vivzan at 5:20 PM on February 5, 2018

You might have better luck than me with the SIM cards, but when I was in SE Asia I attempted to use local SIM instead of roaming (since it's a $10/day Travelpass charge there) and could never get it to work. I wouldn't want to rely on that option if having data access is important to you.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 9:58 AM on February 6, 2018

I went with option (b) as described by andrewesque. Worked well. My partner did something similar with AT&T.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:23 AM on March 25, 2018

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