Some of our Canadian customers have requested information on Canadian solutions for Mexico cell coverage. Apparently, their cell phones from home didn’t work in Mexico. We investigated and found out what you need to know if you want to use your Canadian cell phone in Mexico.
The Big 3 carriers and the popular smaller ones work in Mexico. Those customers who experienced difficulties probably didn’t activate an international roaming plan before they left.
All cell phone companies have remarkably similar plans, except for Fido, which offers a freebie. The one thing they all have in common is that you have to “activate” an international plan before you leave Canada. Mostly you can do this online or through your phone via a menu or text. If you do not activate a plan, you might as well sign over your house to the phone company because international calling without a plan is the equivalent of information highway robbery.
We find the best cell phone plans for an extended stay in Mexico come from Mexican carriers. The two top carriers are Telcel and Movistar.
You’ll need an additional phone–either locked to them in Mexico or an unlocked GSM phone that allows you to insert your current Sim card and their new one.
You can buy very inexpensive cell phones locked to either carrier at: Walmart, Soriana, Best Buy, OXXO convenience stores, from kiosks in shopping malls (if they are open) or stand-alone cell phone stores in downtowns.
Some Canadians get American cell phones because their plans are less expensive than the Canadian companies if they call Mexico and the USA. We will follow up with an article on American cell phone carriers too.
Canadian Solutions for Mexico Cell Coverage: But I Like My Phone!
But you already have a nice, shiny new, expensive cell phone with all your family, friends and contacts in it. You don’t want to buy a new phone. That’s okay. We’ll tell you what to do.
Keep Your Phone, Get A Plan
Here are some solutions from the Big 3—Rogers, Bell or Telus, and three smaller companies.
Rogers—Their “Roam Like Home” plan might be good for short trips, but it’s only good for 15 days and is pricey. $8.00 a day in the US and $12 in Mexico. They have a $5 a month add-on for US & International calls but it’s only good for call originating in Canada. So, you can call Mexico, but cannot call from within Mexico.
Bell—Their “International” plan offers unlimited talk and text plus you can use data from your account for $12 a day in Mexico, $8.00 a day in USA. You can call to and from Mexico. There do not appear to be (at time of writing) any time limitations.
Telus—Their “Easy Roam” plan is remarkably like Bell’s. $12 a day for Mexico. $8 for USA.
Fido –“Fido Roam” changes the same as the others, BUT only charge you for the first 15 days of roaming. After that, they say the rest of your billing cycle is paid by them.
Virgin Mobile—has a “Roam Sweet Roam” plan with unlimited talk & text and use the data from your plan for $8.00 a day USA or $12.00 a day Mexico. I should point out that Virgin uses a CDMA network and you cannot transfer your information to an unlocked GSM phone. I tried.
Koodo Mobile—has what they call the “Easy Roam” plan for (you guessed it) $8.00 USA, $12.00 Mexico. It is not unlimited like the others. You use your data plan you signed up for.
Canadian Solutions for Mexico Cell Coverage Conclusion
For a short trip, adding a plan to your existing phone contract is probably the easiest solution. It is way more expensive than getting a Mexican phone or getting a dual sim card phone. But it’s easy to do. When you get back, some plans require you to cancel the plan, others say they can figure out that you are back in Canada. Regardless, make sure you know the rules before you get a plan.
If you are going to stay in Mexico for a month or a season, the Canadian plans cost several times what a Mexican or even an American plan costs. Fortunately, an upcoming article will cover other alternatives, including dual sim card phones. Stay tuned…