How to use my cell phone in Mexico? Tips and tricks.
Something very common that can happen during holidays, and that we usually forget, is that not all telephone companies in our country work in the destinations to which we go on vacation. If you come to Cabo and you have the need to stay connected because of your work, family or simply because you cannot get off your mobile device, here we tell you the options that exist so that you are never disconnected.
One of the most comfortable, practical and simple solutions is to get a Mexican SIM arriving at the airport or at a cellular distributor in the city where you arrive, often for around MXN 50.
Mexican SIM cards can be used in unlocked phones; all unlocked smartphones are compatible with Mexican data systems. WhatsApp and Viber are widely used.
Mexico’s main cell-phone companies are Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T Mexico. Telcel has the most widespread coverage, and both Telcel and AT&T Mexico offer both roaming and calling in both Canada and the United States without extra charges. If your cellphone is not unlocked, many Mexican cell-phone stores can unlock it for around MXN 400.
Roaming in Mexico with your phone from home is possible if you have a GSM, 3G or 4G phone, but it can be expensive. Roaming Zone is a useful source of roaming arrangements. Several cell-phone service providers in the USA now offer packages that allow customers to roam in Mexico at no (or a small) extra charge.
Cellular service in Mexico has improved significantly within the last couple of years. Also, roaming rates for travelers from the United States has significantly decreased or has been eliminated but, with some warnings. For example, T-Mobile and Sprint both boast free data usage while in Mexico. While regular cell phone use (data/calling/texting) is available through most of the carriers, some of the smaller carriers do not offer any service.
Verizon adds free Mexico and Canada roaming to its cheapest ‘unlimited’ plan. Both new and existing Go Unlimited customers will get free talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada, up to a limit of 500MB per day at LTE speeds.
The company is launching a new roaming feature that will allow customers to use their cell plan’s talk, text, and data inclusions internationally, without the usual exorbitant pricing. Verizon’s TravelPass lets you roam in Canada and Mexico for $2 per day, and in a further 65 countries worldwide for a $10 daily charge.
Domestic wireless roaming is free on all nationwide Verizon Wireless plans. While no additional fees are incurred during Verizon Wireless roaming, these roaming minutes are treated like your regular Verizon Wireless minutes.
As long as you have an LTE device (a smartphone), you can get free but very slow data while in Mexico. Sprint allows travelers to Mexico to “enjoy” free data (if you call slow as molasses internet speeds enjoyable). Chances are, your frustration will lead to purchasing a faster data plan at $2 a day or $10 for a week. Calls are $0.25 per minute, in and out, and all text messages are free.
If you are an AT&T Unlimited or Premium customer, you can automatically use your phone in Mexico without incurring roaming fees. If you have other plans with AT&T, specifically, older or out of date plans, we recommend that you contact your carrier to upgrade your plan as older plan rates are extremely expensive.
If you are a T-Mobile customer and you are on the Simple Choice plan or a T-Mobile One plan, coverage in Mexico and Canada are already part of your plan and you will not pay for roaming. However, while data is free, you will only get 2G speeds which is only fast enough to check and send emails and send messages on WhatsApp. If you plan on having a browsing experience that is anything other than frustrating, you will need to either consider adding an LTE option to your plan or using a different solution altogether. Please note that other T-Mobile plans are extremely expensive. You can pay $15,000 per GB on some of the other T-Mobile plans. Again, before going to Mexico, check that you have the right plan or simply use a different solution.
Before your trip, inquire with your cell phone service provider about international calling and data plans. Most providers have packages available at a much lower price than you would normally pay for roaming, and this will save you a lot of money and headaches if you know you’re going to need to be using your phone frequently.
If nothing of this is an option for you, there is always the WiFi option.
If you’re not expecting any urgent calls and you don’t need to be connected all the time, you can turn off roaming and the data on your phone, and just use a WiFi connection when you can get one in cafes and restaurants, and hopefully at your hotel. Apps like Skype and Whatsapp will allow you to make calls over a WiFi connection without using your data plan, so you can make calls home for free when you have a good WiFi signal. Make sure you have a communications app installed on your phone before you leave, and familiarize yourself in its use ahead of time to avoid any communication snafus during your trip.
Finally, remember that the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Try to stay as far away from the phone and networks during your vacation to live every second to the fullest.