If you’ve ever been on a cruise or been abroad before and you don’t have “International” as a part of your smartphone plan, whether it’s T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, etc., you probably noticed that your phone goes a bit haywire once you’re outside the U.S. What does that mean exactly, and will you be able to use your phone in Mexico?
Unless you have an international plan with your service provider, your phone will only be useful when you are around WiFi hotspots in Mexico. Outside of that, you won’t have access to the internet, and while you can make phone calls, you will be charged excessively for doing so.
The most important step you need to take before starting your journey is to contact your service provider, lay out your plans (length of visit and where), and find out what your options will be while in Mexico.
Does Verizon Work in Mexico?
It would be best if you had an “unlimited plan” because all of Verizon’s unlimited plans include roaming in Mexico or Canada. Roaming includes talk, text, and data. Unfortunately, this is just a basic feature that comes with all of the unlimited plans, and it’s limited.
You will get high-speed data up to .5GB per day, and then it will drop to 2G speeds. Fortunately, you have some better options than that, especially if you spend a lot of time on your smartphone each day.
Verizon offers TravelPass, which is basically the ability to take your existing plan to Mexico with you for an additional $5 per day. It’s as simple as that. Whatever you use here in the states will be available in Mexico, so long as you call Verizon and initiate it before you leave.
The $20 International Plan is also something that Verizon offers. Still, it only allows you to use 50MB of data per day while in international waters, whether on a plane or a cruise ship.
Does AT&T Work in Mexico?
AT&T Mexico is the lone United States service provider with a division in Mexico. Though its coverage isn’t as broad as Telcel, AT&T already has towers set up, and an AT&T phone shouldn’t have any problems working in Mexico.
With AT&T, it’s a lot simpler. All you need to do is ensure that you have the right plan. Certain AT&T Unlimited plans have features for international travel to Canada and Mexico.
Call AT&T and see about changing your plan for a month, depending on the amount of service you will need while in the country.
Does T-Mobile and MetroPCS Work in Mexico?
T-Mobile’s Essentials and Magenta Plans have you covered if you are traveling to Mexico. The only thing you need to consider is if the plan you are currently on will be enough, depending on what you want to use your smartphone for.
The T-Mobile Essentials plan provides unlimited 2G data and unlimited talk and text while you are in Mexico. Now, 2G is pretty slow, so that you will want one of the Magenta plans, so you will get 5G or 4G data for up to 5GB, unlimited talk and text, and unlimited 2G data when your 5GBs is up.
Metro is a brand that is owned by T-Mobile and was formerly known as MetroPCS. As a T-Mobile brand, MetroPCS coverage was extended into Mexico by T-Mobile back in 2015. The coverage extension includes data service.
So any former MetroPCS and Sprint owners have the full coverage and weight of everything that T-Mobile offers when traveling abroad, specifically in Mexico and Canada.
Can You Use Prepaid Phones in Mexico?
When it comes to prepaid phone use in Mexico, you have two options—purchase a SIM card when you arrive in Mexico or purchase a prepaid phone when you arrive in Mexico. Either way, you choose to go; both should work just fine.
If you already have a prepaid phone, so long as it has a slot for a SIM card, you’re good to go. You can purchase a SIM card in Mexico (easy to find at the airport, cruise terminal, or a cell phone retailer in Mexico) for about 50 pesos, which is only a couple of bucks USD.
Related article: Best Way to Get Mexican Pesos
Cell Coverage and Service in Mexico
Mexico has three primary cellular service companies—Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T Mexico. Of the three, Telcel offers the broadest coverage area, especially if you want LTE coverage, because there isn’t much in the way of 5G in Mexico right now.
Suppose you have a US phone and you have set your phone up through your carrier for a trip to Mexico. In that case, your phone will use whatever cell towers are set up, whether Telcel, Movistar, or AT&T, without charging you for roaming. So you don’t need to worry about that.
Cancun is a major tourist destination, and all of Mexico’s primary carriers have good coverage. If you use a US phone, roaming will always have you linked to the best tower. With a Mexico SIM card, you should have no problems, regardless of carrier.
Related article: Can You Drive to Cancún From the United States?
Cozumel is another major tourist destination, especially for cruise liners. Coverage here is extensive across the board, regardless of your carrier, whether it’s a US phone or a SIM card purchased in Mexico.
Playa del Carmen
Telcel has the best coverage here, but there are no major complaints from Movistar or US customers who visit the area. In Mexico, you can almost always depend on Telcel within cities, but rural locations are more sketchy.
AT&T Mexico and Telcel easily have the best coverage here. Movistar is in and out, depending on where you are. On the northern side of the city, Movistar is a little better, fading to nothing when you head south.
All Things Considered
It’s not too difficult to get your smartphone ready for a trip to Mexico, so long as you do the leg work with your respective service provider before you head out. And, remember, you have options in Mexico as well, such as a SIM card or a new phone.