Cellular service in Mexico has improved drastically within the last couple of years. In addition, roaming rates for travelers from the United States has significantly decreased. Some carriers even offer the same exact rates for calls and data in Mexico as you get back in the US. For travelers who do not have a carrier that offers great rates (or coverage at all for that matter) or for those who need other solutions such as a SIM card for you iPhone or Wi Fi, here is some useful information. First, let's review the current offerings that are available for Mexico from the main carriers in the US - Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint.
Verizon offers a service called the Travel Pass. The Travel Pass costs $2.00 per day for travelers to Mexico and uses the same plan that you enjoy in the US. For example, if in the US your plan offers 5GB of data, you will have 5GB of data in Mexico. This plan only charges you on the day that you use your cell phone. For travelers to Canada, the Travel Pass also works under the same conditions.
Most Sprint customers who travel to Mexico do not take advantage of the low rates that Sprint offers. That is because if one simply googles Mexico roaming rates for Sprint or the equivalent, chances are you will land on a page that offers rates listed at $2.29 per minute (plus tax). To make matters worse, if you are a subscriber of "Sprint Worldwide Voice," a plan that Sprint offers to travelers that is supposed to offer lower roaming rates, you will pay a whopping $4.99 per minute so with tax that is about $6.00 per minute. There are many Sprint travelers who have this older plan who, plain and simple, are paying high rates who believe they have the best plan. Sprint is certainly not going out of their way to communicate to people that have this plan that now there are better roaming plans for Mexico.
Currently, the best roaming plan for Sprint customers who travel to Mexico is called International Value Roaming. Making and receiving calls is $0.20 per minute, which is not great compared to other options but significantly better than $5.00 per minute. This plan also offers free 2G data service. This is fast enough for emails, Twitter, Instagram but certainly not for Google Maps, Skype or browsing the web. If you are traveling to Mexico and are a Sprint customer, make sure you ask them if you qualify for this plan. Alternatively, Cellular Abroad offers unlimited calling and unlimited data for Mexico.
If you are an AT&T Mobile Share customer, you can roam in Mexico for no fee unless you go over 1GB of data. 1GB is enough for most travelers, particularly if they are cautious. If you need unlimited data, you should consider purchasing a SIM card for use in Mexico If you do not have a package, the rates are $1.00 per minute for making and receiving calls and over $2.00 per minute for data.
If you are a T-Mobile customer and you are on the Simple Choice plan, coverage in Mexico and Canada are already part of your plan. If you are on another plan, for $10, you can add Mexico to be part of your plan. The World Class plan, which many travelers activated in order to get better roaming rates in Mexico, costs a whopping $15 per mb for data and $1.79 for voice (making and receiving phone calls).
If there is one important bit of information to learn from reading this is that you need to be extremely sure of what plan you have before venturing off to Mexico with your phone. Almost all the main carriers, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile, offer affordable and even free roaming in Mexico. However, they also all have older plans that offer extremely expensive roaming rates in Mexico. If you don't ask for the cheaper plans, they certainly are not going to volunteer it. Here is another great tip. If by chance you roam to Mexico and incur huge roaming rates, call your carrier and ask them if they can activate retroactively a better plan and charge you accordingly. If they are not willing to do so, get a supervisor on the phone and remind them that there are other carriers in town.