Mexico is the third-largest country in North America. Unlike the United States and Canada, it is a non-English speaking country. It is cheaper than the other two big countries as well. What is not affordable in Mexico is the international roaming charges. If you are a tourist it is better to buy a local SIM card. SIM cards and their plans in Mexico are more inexpensive than in many countries in the same region. Mexico has several SIM card providers out of which 3 are the major mobile operators and the rest are MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). However, in the coming sections, you will only learn about the top five we think are worth using.
Telcel is the largest wireless carrier in Mexico with a consumer market share of about 60% to 70%. Now that’s a big number for a single company when there are 6 more players in the market. Telcel is a brand in Mexico by the telecom giant Américan Móvil which is also known as Claro in South America and Central America. Although Telcel has a huge market share, it is certainly not the best mobile operator in the country on all parameters. It receives lots of complaints about not fixing the quality of services and customer grievances. However, it is still considered the best option in Mexico and that’s why it has a high price.
Telcel operates on 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE frequencies. It has the best coverage and the widest 4G/LTE reception across the country. A Telcel SIM card is called Amigo and you can buy it for 79 MXN (Mexican Peso) which gives 50 MXN default credit in it. Its SIM card can be bought from Telcel SIM cards and recharge vouchers are easily available from official shops, grocery and convenience stores, and even at the international airport of Mexico City. The recharge vouchers are also available in the same stores throughout the country.
Movistar México is the second-largest wireless network provider of SIM cards in Mexico. In the past, it was the only toughest competitor of Telcel until 2015 when AT&T entered the telecom market of Mexico. Movistar is also active in Spain, Central America, and South America. In Mexico, it operates on 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE frequencies offering the best 3G coverage in the country. However, its 4G/LTE is of substandard quality. Even some MVNOs in Mexico have better 4G/LTE reception than Movistar.
Movistar SIM cards are available for 50 or 60 MXN in every Movistar store along with grocery stores, convenience stores, etc. Do note that its SIM cards are not available in the international airport of Mexico. Its recharge vouchers are also available in the same stores. You can also recharge the Movistar SIM using your international debit or credit card. You may also use the Movistar MX app to recharge. The app is available on Google Play Store (for Android users), Apple App Store (for iOS users), and Huawei AppGallery (for Huawei users).
You can call AT&T Unidos México, the smallest major wireless carrier in Mexico, only “AT&T”. AT&T entered the Mexican telecom market in 2015 after buying Lusacell and Nextel México. It has a huge market in the US already, and it is the world’s oldest telecom company. It is important to note that while AT&T has very less market share as compared to Movistar, the former’s 4G/LTE coverage is still much better than the latter. However, the company shut down its 2G operations in 2017. Now it operates only on 3G and 4G/LTE networks and its 4G/LTE has the best reception among all its competitors.
You can buy an AT&T SIM card for 150 MXN having 150 MXN default credit in it along with 2 GB of data. A 200 MXN SIM card gives you 200 MXN worth of credit along with 3 GB of data. It also offers eSIMs at the same rate as its regular SIM card. However, it works with only selected eSIM-compatible devices. To recharge the AT&T SIM cards, you can buy top-up vouchers from any store like a grocery store or an electronic store. You can also use the POS system to reload the card visiting these stores. To reload anywhere and anytime, you can use the Mi AT&T mobile app that can be downloaded on Play Store, App Store, and Huawei AppGallery.
4. Oui Móvil
Oui Móvil is an MVNO of Telcel and a brand by Elektra. In Elektra stores, its SIM cards are available for free. However, you need to either buy a plan or pay a nominal fee on the spot to get the SIM card for free. In the same Elektra stores, you can buy its top-up vouchers too. The recharge vouchers are available for 10, 15, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 MXN.
All the top-ups have the same 100 local minutes, 100 local SMSes, various amounts of data, and validity for 7 days. You can also reload your phone with the POS system in which you visit the store and ask the retailer to recharge the balance on your phone. You can also reload using the Oui Móvil app, which is available for Android and iOS users.
5. OXXO CEL
OXXO CEL is a Telcel MVNO. It is a brand by a popular convenience store chain in Mexico called OXXO. The company is also active in some other countries such as Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, and the US. In Mexico, you can buy OXXO SIM cards for 29 MXN in the official convenience stores. However, you need to reload it with 50 MXN to activate the card, resulting in a total of 79 MXN. In the same stores, you can buy recharge vouchers too. You can top up using the POS system and the official mobile application called the OXXO CEL app, available for both Android and iOS smart devices.