Getting a SIM card in Playa del Carmen doesn’t have to be hard (if you know what to do). Mexico has lots of great options when it comes to SIM cards and pre-paid plans that you can buy in Playa.
You can get great deals for a relatively low cost. Regardless of whether you are staying a week, month, or more, Playa del Carmen has different providers located through the Centro area depending on which one you want to go with.
We were originally planning on purchasing a SIM card when we arrived in Cancun. But the airport was so busy and to be honest, the sellers so overwhelming – we decided to just wait until we arrived in Playa.
After finding our shuttle from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen and arriving at our airbnb accommodation, the next thing we did was head to get a new SIM card.
SIM Card Playa del Carmen
Most of the providers offer relatively similar plans. The main difference for us was making sure that it would always be easy to go and recharge whenever we needed.
You can top up online, however, it would seem that you need a Mexican bank card because none of our cards worked, including Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Revolut. If you are living in Playa del Carmen for any length of time, you will find that online services usually only accept Mexican cards.
You can recharge or top up your internet packages at places like OXXO, small Tiendas, and even some Pharmacies.
The only issue for us was often the cashier was unwilling to recharge our data (we don’t know why) or we had a hard to communicating which package we wanted to buy.
So we recommend making sure that whichever SIM card you choose to buy, you ensure the provider has stores near you. This way you can just drop on through and just point and choose the package you would like to recharge.
You can also be confident they won’t refuse you unless they don’t have change for you, which did happen a couple of times.
Mobile Internet Providers in Playa del Carmen
There are 3 main internet and cell phone service providers in Mexico, all of which have dedicated stores in Playa del Carmen.
These 3 are Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T.
All 3 of them claim to have good internet coverage all over Mexico, but in our experience, Telcel had the best service.
Of course, at all of the tourist hotspots, you will find that they all have good coverage and reception.
Telcel had the most expensive packages of all 3. Movistar at the time we were there had the best deal, being slightly cheaper than the others.
AT&T is the least popular amongst residents, but they are well known all over the world which is why a lot of expats and tourists buy their SIM cards there.
We ended up choosing Telcel due to the fact of them having better coverage across Mexico and they have more stores located throughout Playa del Carmen by far!
Best Pre-Paid Sim Card Playa del Carmen
So the golden question is…
…which is the best SIM card to buy?
Depending on how long you are staying in Mexico, you can choose from a range of different plans for the number of days you need.
If you are staying for over a month like most digital nomads, you can choose a monthly pre-paid plan that suits your needs.
One of the annoying things that we noticed about each of the following companies is that they are the kings of spam texts. You will see that they will send a promotional text message almost every day.
This got so annoying for me that I turned off my notification for iMessage because I just didn’t want to see them each day!
Movistar SIM Card Offers
Movistar offers a range of plans with very good deals. They are the best in terms of what you get for how much you pay.
Almost all of their pre-paid plans have unlimited social media including the major social media apps, WhatsApp, and Messenger.
The benefit here is that for the majority of people, this is where you would spend most of your data. Since they are unlimited use, you can opt to get less data overall – making the plan cheaper.
All Mexico pre-paid plans can be used in Canada, United States and Mexico.
So this means you can also use your Movistar pre-paid plan in the United States and Canada.
However, your unlimited social media bonus will not be available and the use of social media will be deducted from your data balance.
AT&T SIM Card Offers
AT&T is competitively priced, similar to what Movistar offers. The benefit of AT&T is that you tend to get more days on each of your plans for a cheaper price.
This can make AT&T a good option for those staying in Playa del Carmen for longer periods.
Like Movistar you will be able to use your call minutes, texts and data in Canada and the United States.
Your unlimited social media bonus will only be available in Mexico, so if you do use it in other countries it will be deducted from your data.
Telcel SIM Card Offers
Telcel also offers deals that include unlimited social media, provided you are recharging for a 30-day or more plan. It’s also important to note that in every plan, even the smaller ones, WhatsApp is unlimited.
This means that if you primarily use WhatsApp and are only in Mexico for a few days, you can get a smaller plan because you will always have WhatsApp.
The 30+ day plans are also quite good with unlimited social media and enough data for everyday use. We found that the 2GB plan was enough for us because we could use social media unlimited
As with the other two companies, with Telcel, you can use your pre-paid plan while traveling in the US and Canada.
The unlimited social media is only available in Mexico so any use of social media in other countries will be deducted from your data balance.
How to Buy a SIM Card Playa del Carmen
Theres lots of different places to buy a SIM card in Playa del Carmen. You can buy them from all of the big convenience stores such as 7/11, OXXO and independent tiendas, however, we found that a lot of these stores are often out of stock, so you may not be able to go with the cell phone service that you want.
What we recommend is going to the store of the particular SIM Card that you want to buy. This is better because you can be confident you will be able to get exactly what you want!
You will also be speaking to the sales rep directly, so they will help you set up your new SIM card and choose the right plan for you.
Trust us, doing this will likely save you a lot of hassle down the track!
PRO TIP: Immediately after you buy your sim card, take a photo of your new numbers. As digital nomads, we’re always buying new sim cards and this is the easiest way to keep track of the numbers.
Location of SIM Card Stores in Playa del Carmen:
Here is a list of the location for each of the 3 cell phone carriers.
We recommend choosing the SIM card company you want first then go to the store that is closest to you for that company. Even if you have to travel a little further to get to the company you want, it will be worth it because you only have to go once!
Recharging your plan can be done in lots of places, even online. So choose the company you want to get the plan that suits you best.
Movistar Playa del Carmen Store Locations:
There are a couple of Movistar stores in Playa, but there is only 1 main one in the Centro area. Depending on where you are staying, you may have to take a taxi or walk a little while to get there:
- Address: Av Benito Juárez 368. Mzna. 22, Lte. 8, Loc 3, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
AT&T Playa del Carmen Store Locations:
AT&T has 2 store locations within the Centro area. Both should be within comfortable walking distance if you are staying in the middle of Playa del Carmen.
- Address (main AT&T store location): Sid Mega Playa Del Carmen Cun, Avenida Constituyentes 101 Int 0, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
- Address: Av 30 Norte, Centro, 77710 Solidaridad, Q.R., Mexico
Telcel Playa del Carmen Store Localtions:
There are a lot of small dedicated Telcel stores located through central Playa del Carmen. So many you could probably just go for a walk in your area and find one.
These should all be fine and they will likely should you a list of available plans. Just point and choose the one you want and the staff will set it up for you.
I listed the 2 stores that we visited specifically below:
The above address is for Mega Soriana superstore but as you walk inside the building on the bottom floor you will see a Telcel store that is usually not that busy.
This is actually where we purchased our Telcel SIM Cards.
Price of a SIM Card Playa del Carmen
The cost of living in Playa del Carmen is pretty good. That doesn’t change with SIM cards.
When you go to your chosen provider to buy your SIM card you will have to pay a fee just for the SIM card itself. You might find that with some of the SIM cards they will offer you some free data, texts and call minutes with it.
Expect to pay about $40 to $150 pesos (approx $5-$10 USD) depending on the SIM card provider you have chosen and the promotions they have available (if any).
We paid 149 pesos just for the Telcel SIM and then recharged then and there for the 3GB, 30 day plan.
In total, we paid $449 pesos (22 USD) to get set up and started with Telcel.
Do I Need a Passport to Buy a SIM Card in Mexico?
I don’t know about you, but I cringe every time I go to a new country, walk into a store to buy a SIM card and the person behind the counter asks to make a copy of my passport.
As digital nomads, we know the importance of protecting our passports at all costs. Having someone you don’t know in a foreign country make a copy of it, has never sat well with me.
In Mexico, a passport is NOT required when purchasing a SIM card. Phewww!
You can just walk into the store, ask the sales rep for a new SIM card, choose the plan you want, pay and walk straight back out again. Easy!
How to Recharge Your Sim Card Playa del Carmen
There are quite a few ways to recharge your SIM card in Mexico. You can go back to the store (or one like it) where you originally purchased your SIM and they should be able to “Top-Up” for you.
Most of the companies also allow you to recharge and top up online. You head over to their website, click on the recharge area and follow the prompts. This allows you to do it anytime and also allows you to pay with card.
We tried to do this a few times unsuccessfully. It seems that a Mexican bank card is required, Revolut and Wise both didn’t work.
We did have a fellow digital nomad friend who was able to do it with their Canadian bank card. So you might be able to do it if you have a Canadian, US or Mexican bank card.
The last way is to do it at an OXXO store (or other convenience stores). We did it at OXXO most times as they are trustworthy and located on almost every street corner in Playa del Carmen.
Simply walk up to the register and ask the cashier for “Recarga”.
They will then ask you how much and you can tell them the amount based on the above plan you want to recharge. Hand over your phone or number and they will do the rest.
It’s quite fast and easy!
Best SIM Card Playa del Carmen
SIM card Playa del Carmen has a lot of relatively well-priced options depending on what you need.
We found most staff to be helpful and cell phone services to be quite reliable.
Each company has its own perks and promotions, so be sure to shop around a bit before you make a decision.
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