Arranging a mobile phone plan in Canada is a crucial step most newcomers tend to in their first week.
If you plan on staying in Canada for more than a year it is worthwhile to join a phone company with a mobile plan.
Click any of the items from the list below to learn more about how to pick a mobile phone plan in Canada.
The phone companies with the majority of the nationwide market share are Telus, Bell, Rogers and Fido. These companies offer special rate plans and usually offer discounts on handsets if you commit to a one or two-year mobile phone plan.
However, there are new up-and-coming cell phone service providers, like Koodo, Freedom Mobile, Mobolicity and Public Mobile. These are giving their bigger counterparts a run for their money by offering cheaper rate mobile phone plans.
Their phones are pretty basic, but if you don’t care about having the latest Blackberry or iPhone, then these companies might be right for you.
If your plan does not have unlimited calling then beware that the monthly limit will be used for incoming calls as well as outgoing calls.
Note: Freedom Mobile and Mobilicity now support most new smart phones (like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5) but do not support other common models such as the iPhone 4S. Michael contacted us on our Facebook forum to tell us about this website, where you can check which network will support your phone.
Are you planning to work in Canada? It’s recommended you sign up to a mobile phone plan with data and unlimited texting and calling, at least for local calls.
You will probably find that it gives you greater freedom and opportunity to establish yourself and network. It might also save you money in the long run, as you will not incur additional charges beyond the monthly fee.
How much will I pay for a mobile phone plan in Canada?
Probably more than you’re used to paying in other countries. Each year, regulators commission a report that compares costs in Canada to other countries. It usually finds that those looking for a mobile phone plan in Canada pay more.
Average mobile phone plan costs:
- Canada: $48.68
- USA: $53.33
- UK: $37.36
- France: $38.92
- Australia: $46.40.
These are 2015 figures, for average call volumes, plus two features, and 300 texts per month. You may find you require a more comprehensive mobile phone plan than this.
The good news is that costs are a bit cheaper than they used to be. In 2010, that Canada figure would have been $53.49.
What’s different about a mobile phone plan in Canada?
Most newcomers are surprised to learn that features like voicemail and caller ID are not included as standard in Canada. Depending on your mobile phone plan these may be included in the cost, but you’ll have to check.
Pay-as-you-go costs a lot more in Canada than most other countries. Most pay-as-you-go plans charge you for receiving calls — a bizarre concept for many immigrants.
Freedom Mobile, Mobilicity, and Koodo are newer telecommunications companies in Canada. They offer extremely cheap phone plans without a contract.
There have been complaints in the past that their coverage is poor outside the main cities, meaning you get charged a roaming rate for use outside city limits.
However, these companies say they have made improvements to their networks. If in doubt, research their coverage maps and compare them to rival providers.
Other low-cost providers.
Petro-Canada offers pre-paid mobile phone plans. Other cheap providers not mentioned above are are Fido and Chatr (both owned by Rogers).
Canada is a big country, and many of the cheaper mobile phone plans don’t include long-distance calls. This means if you want to call outside your city, you may incur big charges.
Ask which locations are included in your mobile phone plan. Is it limited to your locality, or is it Canada-wide? And if it’s limited, where is it limited to?
There is some good news here. Many mobile phone plans include international calling or texting in the cost, so you can keep in touch with home. If not, you may be able to get it included as a cheap add-on.
If you travel to the US often, it may be worth considering purchasing a US SIM card or using your foreign SIM card as Canadian roaming rates are very expensive.
Questions to ask
It is crucial you ask lots of questions when you’re buying a mobile phone plan in Canada.
- Where can I call as part of my mobile phone plan? Will I incur extra charges if I call outside of my local area, or use my phone in another city?
- What will it cost to terminate your contract for your mobile phone in Canada? Termination fees can no longer be charged. However, if you received a discount on your phone when you signed up for your mobile phone plan, you may have to pay back a portion of this discount.
- Is caller ID and voicemail included?
- Are there roaming fees?
- What happens in the event of damage? Who pays? And what damage is covered under the contract?
Where to next?
Moving2Canada helps newcomers make their move to Canada, and settle once they’ve arrived. Explore our website, and check out the links below.
- Download our Getting Started Guide – a free 17-page magazine with all you need to know about your move.
- Construction and engineering jobs – Moving2Canada Recruitment is now called Outpost Recruitment.
- Where to buy travel insurance for Canada (note: this is mandatory to get a working holiday visa in Canada).
- Learn how to rewrite your CV, and discover the resume format in Canada.