When you head south of the border into Baja Mexico, you probably want to bring your cell phone along as it’s the best way to stay in touch with friends and family, find local information on things to do and directions on how to get there as well as capture photos and videos of your travels.
If you look at a cell service coverage map for Mexico you will quickly see that most of the 800+ mile long peninsula does NOT offer any cellular service whatsoever!
However, if you are heading to one of the more popular tourist destinations down here, you will find that most – not all – do in fact offer high speed cellular and data service.
Bahia de Los Angeles is one notable exception but high speed fiber optic landline service is available with many local establishments there offering you Wi-Fi access.
Cell service roaming in Mexico can be tricky and it’s important that you understand your phone’s contract features regarding international use.
Here are some suggestions on how to stay connected while you are in Mexico while staying on budget…
For starters, your service agreement may already include international calling and data service under certain conditions and Mexico may be included as part of your extended service area.
Even if Mexico is not included as a service area in your plan, many cellular service providers have international features available as package add-ons that may allow you to use your cell phone in Mexico without getting dinged with expensive international roaming rates.
Best to check with your service provider first as to what your plan includes, other service options available and their associated costs before you leave for Mexico.
Use Wi-Fi Service
Another option some travelers take advantage of is only using their cell phones in areas where they area able to connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Having data access on your phone over Wi-Fi can connect you via email, social media and calling via Messenger and Whatsapp. If you’re not worried about being connected 24/7, this may actually be your best option.
Afterall, you’re going to be on vacation and disconnecting while travelling can be quite liberating; although it may take you a day or two to stop stressing over not being connected 24 hours a day.
If you are planning on using the Wi-Fi option, we suggest you make sure Wi-Fi access is definitely available where you are planning to stay, or at minimum readily accessible at a coffee shop or restaurant nearby.
Purchase a Mexican SIM Chip
Another great option is to simply bring down an older model smartphone that’s not locked into a contract carrier and purchase a SIM chip from a local Mexican carrier.
This could be your least expensive route as Telcel – Mexico’s leading cell phone service provider with best coverage areas – offers some very inexpensive pay-as-you-go service plans.
The SIM card will cost you no more than 5 dollars and you can prepay for a Paquete Amigo Sin Límite 200 service plan that will cost you the equivalent of about $10 USD and includes unlimited calling and SMS messaging for calls placed to the US, Mexico and Canada as well as unlimited social media apps and 3GB of general web surfing.
And it’s good for 30 days!
How to Dial the US or Canada from Mexico?
Mexico officially went to standardized, 10 digit calling and today uses the same dialing format as the rest of the world.
To make an international call from a cell phone while in Mexico, first dial the international code of the country you’re calling, followed by the standard, 10 digit phone number.
If you’re calling the US or Canada from Mexico:
Dial “+1” (the country code for the US and Canada) and then the full 10 digit phone number, including the area code.
On many of the modern cell phones, dialing the plus sign “+” is as easy as holding down the number “0” for a second and the plus sign should appear on your dialing screen.
Dialing a Toll-Free Number
If you wish to dial a toll-free number in the US from Mexico, you will have to replace the toll-free dialing prefix for the call to go through. Here’s how:
Dial + 1 880 and the 7 digit phone number
Dial + 1 881 and the 7 digit phone number
Dial + 1 882 and the 7 digit phone number
Dial + 1 883 and the 7 digit phone number
Dial + 1 884 and the 7 digit phone number
Dial + 1 885 and the 7 digit phone number