Before choosing your next mobile plan in Canada, you should weigh your specific usage case. Think about how many minutes you need, how much data you want, and if additional features like long-distance are valuable. The information provided here is current as of March 2018; inquire with individual providers for the latest offerings.
Unlike most traditional cell phone carriers, Public Mobile operates largely on a self-serve platform. It does not have a traditional retail presence and does not sell or subsidize the actual cell phones themselves. Instead, transactions are conducted via the Public Mobile website and customers provide their own unlocked phones with which to use the company's SIM cards.
The $45 for 30 days plan is one of the best deals. This already includes a $2 AutoPay reward discount when you pay via a pre-authorized credit or Visa debit card. With this plan, you get unlimited province-wide talk, unlimited international text and picture messaging, 2 GB of 4G LTE data, voicemail and caller ID.
You can earn additional savings by referring friends ($1 off per month for every friend you refer) and by staying with Public Mobile ($1 off each month after one year, $2 off after two years, and so forth).
Previously operating as Wind Mobile and owed by Shaw Communications, Freedom Mobile provides 4G LTE coverage in Vancouver, Toronto and Southern Ontario, Calgary and Toronto. You can save on new devices using the MyTab system and by trading in your old phone.
The Freedom Big Gig Plans are attractive for people who desire a lot of data. For $60 per month, you get 10 GB of fast LTE data, unlimited minutes to Canada and the United States, and unlimited global text messages on the home network. While on the away network in Canada, you have 500 MB of full-speed data, unlimited text, and 2,400 minutes of talk time.
A subsidiary of Bell Canada, Virgin Mobile boasts a number of "member benefits" that help to differentiate it from its competitors. Membership is included when you are a customer with Virgin Mobile. New benefits are added all the time, like discounts at popular retailers, exclusive contests and giveaways, and advance access to event tickets.
Plans range from BYOP (bring your own phone) up to Platinum plans that give you up to $700 off a new phone when you sign a two-year agreement. Progressively higher-tier plans cost more for the same amount of airtime and data, because you are getting a discounted phone.
The $65/month Gold plan is a good compromise. This includes 1 GB of data, 500 Canada-wide minutes, unlimited evenings and weekends, unlimited global texting, voicemail, caller ID, and My Peeps. You also get up to $500 off a new phone with a two-year contract.
SpeakOut Wireless (7-Eleven)
Prepaid phone plans are an excellent option for customers who either do not qualify for or do not wish to have a conventional, post-paid monthly plan. One of the better deals in this space is through SpeakOut Wireless, which is sold through 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country and operates on the Rogers wireless network.
The mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) frequently offers a promotion where you can get a free SIM card and $25 in bonus airtime when you make a $100 airtime purchase. While there are 30-day value plans and data options, light users will appreciate the affordable pay-as-you-go rates of 30 cents per minute and 15 cents per outgoing text message to Canadian and U.S. numbers.
All plans include free voicemail, caller ID, call waiting and unlimited incoming text messages.
Canadian Satellite Phone Plans
For areas in Canada 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 are substantially more expensive than conventional mobile phones.
A basic Iridium phone subscription, as ordered through Roadpost.ca, starts at just under $70 per month for only ten voice minutes and ten text messages. This is on a pay-as-you-go basis and includes both voicemail and call display, but does not include the satellite phone itself. Larger plans are available for more minutes and texts.
Negotiate With Your Current Carrier
Retention plans are sometimes better than the plans offered to new subscribers. Realistically, getting the best possible cell phone plan may require negotiating with the retention department of your current carrier. As you near the end of your contract, call your wireless provider to see what they can offer you.