While there's no such thing as the perfect cell phone plan, Canadian customers have access to better and better plans as the market in this region becomes more competitive. Before choosing a plan, consider whether you use more daytime minutes or evening minutes, and whether features like text messages and wireless data are important to you. Also keep the associated fees for long distance in mind. Once you have determined your needs, it's time to begin reviewing plans to find the best deal.
Cell Phone Plans from Canadian Providers
As you compare different plans, keep in mind that regional carriers can sometimes offer a better deal than their nationwide counterparts. Note that plan information provided here is current as of April 2013. Contact any carrier you are considering directly for current options and prices.
Most major carriers tend to package the voice and data together as a single unified plan, but this may not be the best solution for everyone. Some people need more minutes but less data, or vice versa. In this way, the plans from Telus that segregate voice and data needs could be among the most flexible in Canada.
Customers start by choosing a monthly voice plan. Each plan includes unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited family calling, call display voice mail, call waiting and conference calling.
- The $25 plan includes up to 100 daytime minutes and pay per use messaging.
- The $35 plan includes 150 daytime minutes and unlimited messaging.
- The $55 plan includes 500 daytime minutes and unlimited messaging.
Data add-ons start at $15 for the Data Lite Flex 15+.
- Includes 150MB of data and ramps up based on monthly usage
- $25 for 150MB to 300MB
- $35 for 300MB to 600MB
Any data beyond that is charged at $.02 per MB. There is also a larger Data Flex option starting at $35 a month for up to 1GB, and going all the way to 9GB for $90, based on usage.
Compared to what is available from other major carriers in Canada like Telus and Bell, the $39 Smart Plan from Fido offers one of the most aggressive values on the market. It provides a good amount of data and voice, among other features, at a price that undercuts many other offerings. This plan is available to monthly subscribers or customers who have a two-year Tab24 agreement, as would be the case with several of the Android smartphones from Fido.
The $39 Smart Plan includes:
- 450 anytime minutes
- Unlimited nights and weekends
- Unlimited messaging
- 400MB of data
- Call display
- Canada-wide long distance
- Circle Calling for free local calls between subscribers on the same account
Customers who need more minutes and data may consider the $60 Smart Plan for unlimited anytime minutes and 2GB of data.
None of the major nationwide Canadian cell phone carriers provide unlimited calling for just $20 a month, but you can get it from Wind. Heavy talkers in major Canadian cities will find that Wind has among the lowest prices in town.Their coverage area includes Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto, among others, but the network is continuing to expand.
All of Wind's base plans are generally less expensive than those from Bell, Telus and Rogers. Aside from the $0 per month "Pay Your Way" plan where minutes, texts and data are charged on a per-use basis, the main Wind plans run $40 per month, or less.
- The $20 plan includes unlimited local calling and unlimited messaging, but data is charged at $5 per 100MB.
- The $30 plan has unlimited province-wide calling, unlimited texts and unlimited data.
- The $40 plan offers unlimited Canada-wide talk, text and data under the fair usage policy.
Much like Wind Mobile, Mobilicity is centered around major metropolitan areas with limited coverage outside of major cities. The key feature of Mobilicity's cell phone plans is that they are unlimited in many ways. Even the $25 starter plan includes unlimited province-wide calling and unlimited North American text messaging.
Nearly everything is unlimited with the $40 Unlimited Value Plan. To achieve a comparable number of minutes, text and data from a major nationwide carrier would easily cost double, if not more, particularly because the major carriers typically don't provide unlimited data at all. That makes this plan is one of the best deals in Canada today.
The $40 plan includes:
- Unlimited calling
- Unlimited global text messaging
- Unlimited long distance to Canada and the United States
- Unlimited data
- 30 minutes of North American voice roaming
Best Prepaid Cell Phone Options in Canada
If you are searching for the cheapest cell phone plan and you are an infrequent user who doesn't need a smartphone, you may want to consider a pre-paid option that is not provided through one of the major Canadian carriers. For example, SpeakOut Wireless and Speak Out 7 Eleven offer low-cost prepaid plans in Canada.
These types of low cost cell phone providers use the network infrastructure of a major carrier, but sell their own cell phones, offer their own plans, and handle their own customer service. If you do not need access to a large number of minutes or a data plan, one of these options may be your best choice. There are other pay-as-you-go options available in Canada as well.
Canadian Satellite Phone Plans
For areas where conventional cell phone coverage is not available, a satellite phone is often the only option for communication with the outside world. Not surprisingly, satellite phone plans in Canada are substantially more expensive than conventional mobile phones.
A basic Iridium phone subscription, as ordered through Roadpost.ca, is $59 per month, including zero minutes. A rollover 30 minute bundle is $35 per month, going up to $220 per month for a rollover 240 minute bundle. These charges are on top of the basic subscription charges.
Consider Negotiating with Your Current Carrier
Realistically, the best cell phone plan in Canada may well be the one that you negotiate with the retentions department of your current carrier. Retention plans are sometimes better than the plans that are offered to new subscribers. That's because the wireless provider is motivated to keep customers since it's less expensive to retain a customer than it is to sign up a new one. As you get close to the end of your contract, you can try negotiating with the retentions department for a better plan, telling them that you may be able to find something better elsewhere. Just be sure to arm yourself with information about alternatives from other carriers and negotiate accordingly.