Are you planning a trip to Mexico and wondering if your phone will work there? You’re not alone!
Many people have the same question, especially those who rely heavily on their phones for work or personal purposes.
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen and finding reliable cell service was pretty much my number one priority after touching down in Mexico!
And since then, I’ve become very familiar with the ins and outs of using a cell phone in Mexico.
In this post, you’ll find out if your phone will work in Mexico and I’m also sharing some tips on staying connected while visiting, as well as what to expect in terms of coverage and service.
So whether you’re visiting Mexico for a beach vacation, are a digital nomad, or just planning to spend an extended amount of time in the country, I’ve got you covered.
Read on to find out – Will my phone work in Mexico?
Will my phone work in Mexico?
Your phone will most likely work in Mexico. It depends on your carrier, phone model, and whether or not you have an international plan.
If you have AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile, then you will probably be able to use your phone in Mexico with no problem as long as you have an international plan. These plans typically give you unlimited texting, calls, and data while in Mexico.
If you don’t have an international plan, you will still be able to use your phone in Mexico, but you will be charged international roaming rates for everything, which can get very expensive.
It’s best to check with your carrier before you travel to find out what their policies are and to see if they have any special offers or plans for international travelers.
Popular US Cell Phone Carriers
Here’s a quick breakdown of the major US cell phone carriers and their international plans for service in Mexico:
Will my T-Mobile phone work in Mexico?
If you have international coverage included in your T-Mobile plan, then your phone will work in Mexico.
T-Mobile offers two international plans for coverage in Mexico – Essentials and Magenta. With both of these plans, you will get unlimited talk, text messages, and data in Mexico (and Canada).
The main difference between the two plans is that with Magenta, you will get up to 5GB of 4G LTE access. The Essentials plan just has 2G data.
Most T-Mobile unlimited plans automatically have Mexico and Canada coverage included but you’ll want to double check your specific plan to make sure.
I personally have a T-Mobile (formerly Sprint) plan in the United States and have had no issues using my phone in Mexico.
Once you land in Mexico, you’ll automatically receive the text message below stating that you’re able to call, text, and browse at no extra cost.
I do, however, make sure to use a WiFi connection whenever possible to avoid going over my international data limit.
T-Mobile international plans are not intended for extended international use so if you plan to stay in Mexico for a long time without returning to the United States, you’ll want to look into other options like a local SIM card.
Will my Verizon phone work in Mexico?
Your Verizon phone should work in Mexico as long as you have international roaming turned on. Verizon offers an international plan called TravelPass.
With this plan, you will be able to use your regular Verizon service in Mexico (including unlimited text and data).
You will be charged a daily fee (around $5 USD per day) for each day that you use Travel Pass, but there is no long-term commitment. Additional international monthly plans are also available for an additional cost.
TravelPass can be added to your plan on the Verizon website, through the Verizon app, or by texting “Travel” to 4004.
You can also use Verizon’s International Trip Planner tool to verify coverage and find the best international plan for your trip.
Will my AT&T phone work in Mexico?
Your AT&T phone will work in Mexico if you have an eligible unlimited plan. AT&T offers an unlimited data without borders plan, where you can use your plan in Mexico just like in the U.S.
This allows you to use your eligible AT&T Unlimited plan, including talk, text, and data in Mexico without data usage limits or roaming charges.
As AT&T is also available in Mexico, you’ll use the same network but speeds, signal quality, and connectivity may differ in Mexico.
Will my Cricket cell phone work in Mexico?
Your Cricket phone will work in Mexico if you have a Cricket Wireless Unlimited plan.
All Cricket unlimited plans now include roaming data services plus unlimited calls and texts to and from Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
Coverage in Mexico is provided by AT&T Mexico and Telcel.
Mexican Cell Service Providers
Here’s a quick overview of the major cell phone companies in Mexico:
- Telcel: Telcel is the largest cell service provider in Mexico with over 60% of the market share. When you land in Mexico, your phone will most likely connect to a Telcel tower, as they are partnered with most of the major networks in the United States. Telcel has the fastest and most reliable data speeds in Mexico so you’ll likely experience the same speeds you are used to in the United States when in the major cities in Mexico. And if you need a local SIM card, then Telcel is the absolute best option.
- Movistar: Movistar is the second largest Mexico cell service provider. While cheaper, Movistar generally has less coverage and lower speeds than Telcel so you’ll want to avoid using them if possible.
- AT&T: AT&T is the third largest cell service provider in Mexico. AT&T acquired Iusacell in 2014, so they have been rapidly expanding their network. If you have an AT&T account in the United States, you’ll be able to easily connect to the same network.
How’s the cell phone coverage in Mexico?
If you’re staying in the main tourist areas in Mexico like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, or Mexico City, then you will most likely have good cell service and high-speed data.
The major service providers all have good coverage in these areas and provide up to 4G speeds.
If you really need to stay connected, then you’ll want to consider using a wifi hotspot for reliable service even in areas with poor cell service.
But in general, you will be able to find decent service in most places you go in Mexico.
What to Do if Your Phone Doesn’t Work in Mexico
Here are some options if your phone does not work in Mexico:
If for some reason you can’t get your phone to work in Mexico, you can still get by by using your phone as a Wi-Fi device.
This means that you will only be able to use apps that don’t require a data connection (like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Google Hangouts, etc.) and you will need to find free wifi in order to connect.
Buy a Mexican SIM Card
Buying a Mexican SIM card is the best option if you need reliable data speeds and will be in Mexico for an extended period of time without returning to the United States.
📱 What is a SIM card? A SIM (subscriber identity module) card is a tiny metal chip that you insert into your cell phone, which connects your phone to a local mobile network. With a local SIM card, you will get a Mexican phone number (+52 area code) and will be able to use local data services.
If you have an American phone, then you will need to make sure that your phone is unlocked before you leave for Mexico.
You can then purchase a Telcel SIM card on Amazon before you leave and pop it in your phone once you arrive.
This is one of the best ways for long-term visitors to stay connected while in Mexico, as you will have a local cell phone number and will be able to take advantage of cheaper rates.
Use an e-SIM Card in Mexico
If your phone is compatible, you can also use an e-SIM card while in Mexico. This will allow you to have a data plan without having to buy a physical SIM card.
An e-SIM card will only give you data, not a local number, but you can still use Whatsapp or other wifi apps for calling.
To use an e-SIM card, you will need to have a compatible phone and will need to purchase an international travel E-SIM plan from an e-SIM provider like Holafly.
Once you have your e-SIM card, you will need to enable it and then will have a data plan without having to use a physical SIM card.
Buy a Mexican Cell Phone
As a last resort, you could also buy a burner phone in Mexico for around $20 USD.
Cheap cell phones in Mexico can be purchased at Oxxo convenience stores or in most shopping malls and will come with a prepaid SIM card.
With a Mexico cell phone, you will be able to make calls and use data, but you will have a Mexican number. This will at least allow you to stay connected in Mexico until you return home.
Tips for Using your Phone in Mexico
Follow these tips to stay connected while in Mexico:
- Check with your service provider: Before you travel, it’s always a good idea to check with your service provider about international roaming rates and coverage. This way, you’ll know what to expect in terms of costs and will be able to plan accordingly.
- Download Whatsapp before you go: Whatsapp is the number one messaging app in Mexico and is used by pretty much everyone in the country for calls and text messaging. When connected, Whatsapp uses wifi so it’s a great way to save on data usage. Plus, it’s the primary way to connect with locals, businesses, and service providers ➡️ Download Whatsapp here
- Use wifi: Whenever possible, take advantage of free wifi at your hotel, resort, or local coffee shops to save on data usage. Free internet service is becoming more and more common in Mexico, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a connection.
- Take advantage of airport wifi: If you have any issues getting service after you land in Mexico, take advantage of the free wifi at the airport to coordinate or meet up with your chosen airport transportation service.
- Use a VPN: If you’re worried about security, consider using a VPN while connected to public wifi hotspots. This will help protect your data from being compromised. VPNs also allow you to connect to your favorite streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime and get access to all your favorite shows while abroad.
- Download offline maps: If you’re going to be traveling in areas with spotty coverage, then make sure to download offline maps on Google Maps before you go. This will allow you to continue using your mapping apps even when you don’t have a high speed data connection.
- Consider using a wifi hotspot: If you’re traveling to some of the more remote destinations in Mexico, then you may want to consider using a portable wifi hotspot. This will give you a private, secure connection that you can take with you wherever you go, even in areas with poor cell service.
- Never leave your phone unattended: Petty theft is not uncommon in Mexico so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and never leave your phone unattended. When you’re out and about, a belt bag is a great option for keeping your phone and personal belongings close and secure.
Can I Use My Phone in Mexico: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cell phone usage in Mexico:
Will American phones work in Mexico?
Yes, American phones will work in Mexico as long as you have international coverage included in your cell phone plan.
If you are planning to stay in Mexico for an extended amount of time and want to buy a Mexican SIM card to use in your American phone, you will need to make sure that your phone is unlocked before you leave for Mexico.
Once it’s unlocked, you will be able to buy a Mexican SIM card and use it for cellular service and data while in Mexico.
Which cell phone carrier works best in Mexico for tourists?
The best cell phone carrier for tourists in Mexico is Telcel. Most major carriers in the US partner with Telcel to provide cellular data and network coverage.
Telcel has the best coverage throughout the country and if needed, their prepaid SIM cards are readily available at most Oxxo or 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Are there T-Mobile stores in Mexico?
There are no T-Mobile stores in Mexico so you will be out of luck if you are a T-Mobile customer and need in-person assistance while in Mexico.
When I was visiting Cabo San Lucas with my Mom, she needed a new SIM card and was unable to find a T-Mobile store to restore her service–she blindly ignored all the warning messages before her trip!
Make sure to check with your provider before you leave to ensure that you’re good to go and that your service won’t be interrupted abroad.
Are cell phone plans expensive in Mexico?
No, cell phone plans in Mexico are very affordable. Monthly plans with Telcel can be as low as $25 USD per month with unlimited calls, unlimited app usage on social networks like Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as 6GB of data.
And if you need more data, you can always purchase a data add-on or top-up at a local convenience store.
Do I need a SIM card for Mexico?
You only need a SIM card for Mexico if you don’t have international coverage or are planning to stay in Mexico for an extended amount of time.
If you’re only visiting for a short trip, then your American SIM card will probably work just fine.
If you do need a SIM card for Mexico, you’ll first want to make sure your cell phone is unlocked. And then you can purchase a prepaid Mexico SIM card from Amazon in advance of your trip.
That way you can just pop the SIM card in your phone once you land and have immediate access to data and calling.
👉 Order your prepaid Mexican SIM card on Amazon ahead of time by clicking here!
Conclusion: Will My Cell Phone Work in Mexico?
I hope this article has provided some clarity on using your mobile device in Mexico and staying connected while abroad.
Don’t forget to check with your cell phone provider before you leave to ensure that you will have service in Mexico and avoid a costly phone bill!
And if you need a Mexican SIM card, you can purchase one online before your trip from Amazon–get the best one by clicking here!
Most likely, your American cell phone will work in Mexico as long as you have international coverage included in your plan.
In that case, you should have no problem using your phone in Mexico and staying connected during your trip.
Traveling to Mexico soon?
These are the Mexico travel resources I use and recommend:
✈️ Flights: I recommend using Skyscanner for the best Mexico flight deals. Be sure to sign up for their price alerts for your preferred travel dates.
🚗 Rental Cars: I like to use Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, car condition, and overall time spent.
🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: I recommend booking a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation for the quickest and most hassle-free option!
🤿 Tours & Activities: I always use Viator or GetYourGuide for booking tours and activities in Mexico. You can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour for a full refund, plus they have excellent customer service if you were to have any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: After my Dad broke his hand in a taxi accident in Playa del Carmen, I always recommend buying travel insurance before your trip for added peace of mind! I recommend Travel Insurance Master for short trips or Safety Wing for digital nomads.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Don’t forget to add biodegradable sunscreen to your Mexico packing list! Regular sunscreen is prohibited when swimming in the ocean and cenotes in Mexico, so you’ll need to pack some biodegradable sunscreen for sun protection. I recommend Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free.