Compare the Best Cell Phone Plans in Canada
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With 33.7 million mobile internet users reported in 2021, Canada is home to North America’s second-largest mobile phone market with a market share of $14.8 billion according to NAFTA.
Here is a small guide to help you navigate the market and find the best cell phone plan for your needs.
How do cell phone plans work?
A cell phone plan is a paid agreement with a cell phone carrier. It allows your cellphone to use the carrier’s network to make and receive calls, send text messages and use the internet through mobile data. Cell phone plans typically come in three different formats: pay-as-you-go plans, prepaid plans and a postpaid plan.
- A pay-as-you-go plan allows you to purchase a bundle of minutes or unlimited phone usage for a given day. The bundle will be used up according to a predetermined rate by your carrier that charges you a fixed amount for calls, texts, and internet access or for the entire day’s usage. This rate is typically higher than prepaid and postpaid plans.
- A prepaid plan sees customers pay for their plan upfront every month upfront at a fixed rate with the possibility of cancelling at any time. This rate typically encompasses phone calls, texts and internet data. Charges will be incurred when phone usage exceeds the amount paid for on the plan.
- A month-to-month, or postpaid plan, sees customers enter into a contract typically over the course of 12-24 months where they pay each month for a set amount of minutes and/ or data. If this amount is exceeded, cell phone services will continue but customers are liable to be charged for their extra usage. Postpaid plans are the most common and often entitle customers to cellphone upgrades pending on their type of contract.
How to choose the best phone plan?
The best deals on cell phone plans for a given customer depend upon their needs and those of their family and dependents.
Customers who rarely use their cell phones may want to opt for a pay-as-you-go contract, ensuring as little obligation as possible while not opening themselves up to the possibility of recurring charges. If you hardly use your phone, this is also the cheapest option out there.
Other customers may want to have the more comprehensive coverage provided by a prepaid plan, but retain the flexibility of cancelling the plan at any time.
For customers who want something more reliable and long-term, a postpaid plan typically has the most competitive rates and advantages, including phone upgrades depending upon the carrier. Customers can also purchase a family plan which provides cellular services to multiple phones for a reduced rate while also allowing parents to place controls on how their children use the internet.
Who offers cell phone plans in Canada?
Canada has sixteen primary Mobile Network Operators who offer cell phone plans, some with their own subsidiary operators. They are as follows:
- Airtel Wireless
- Bell Mobility (including Includes Virgin Plus, Lucky Mobile, Bell MTS, PC Mobile, Bell Aliant, Northwestel, and Wundle Mobile)
- Eastlink Wireless
- Freedom Mobile
- Iristel (including Ice Wireless)
- Keewaytinook Mobile
- Rogers Wireless (including Fido Mobile, Chatr Mobile, Cityfone, Primus Wireless, Zoomer Wireless, SimplyConnect, Speakout Wireless, Phonebox Mobile (Postpaid and prepaid), Petro-Canada Mobility)
- SaskTel Mobility
- Sogetel Mobilité
- TbayTel Mobility
- Telus Mobility (including Includes Koodo Mobile, Public Mobile, and DCI Wireless)
- TNW Wireless
- Vidéotron Mobility (including Fizz Mobile)
- Xplore Mobile
What is an MVNO?
An MVNO is an acronym used to refer to a Mobile Virtual Network Operator. The term describes a mobile provider that does not own or operate its own mobile network. MVNOs are also often referred to as virtual networks.
MVNOs typically purchase or lease the network services of a parent company so as not to have to deal with the expensive overheads of installation and maintenance. Savings are then often transferred to consumers, with MVNOs often undercutting their parent company competitors.
For example, Koodo Mobile is an MVNO of Telus Mobility, while Fido Mobile is an MVNO of Rogers Wireless.
How much does a cell phone plan cost?
Today, Canada’s three largest providers Virgin Mobile, Fido Mobile and Kidoo Mobile charge $45 a month for a postpaid plan with 6GB of data and unlimited domestic calls and texts.
The cost of a cell phone plan varies depending upon the kind of coverage you want as a consumer and pivotally, whether you want to purchase mobile data. While prices were much higher in Canada than in other countries, government intervention in 2019 mandated that providers slash prices by 25 percent over the next two years and prices have since stabilized.
Who has the cheapest cell phone plans?
The cheapest cell phone plans in Canada are offered by Public Mobile and come in at $15 per month, with unlimited texts, 100 minutes of calls and 250MB of data.
How much data does your phone plan need?
The amount of data your phone plan needs depends on how often you use the internet and whether access to mobile data is indispensable to your life.
Public Mobile’s $15 per month plan allows for very little data usage and could be perfect for someone who is actively trying not to use the internet. According to a report released by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association in 2020, 60 percent of Canadian consumers opt for a plan including 5 GBs of mobile data or more. If your job requires you to be on the internet often, you may wish to opt for a plan with more data – Kidoo Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Fido Mobile all have plans with 20GB per month at $65.
Are month-to-month cell phone plans cheaper?
Month-to-month cell phone plans, also referred to as prepaid plans are often competitively priced especially when provided by MVNOs, but typically come with fewer extras such as phone upgrades and/or insurance. For the best rate all around, a postpaid plan is usually the best value.
Which cell phone plans have unlimited data?
Eight different mobile carriers offer unlimited data plans in Canada, however, they vary in price depending upon the download speed guaranteed to a service. Every single one of these plans has a fixed amount of downloads at a guaranteed speed, before reverting to throttled speeds for the rest of the month. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, Chatr mobile offers a plan between $25-70, although once the proportion of guaranteed speed downloads is used up, it reverts to 64kbps, which is approximately the speed of dial-up-internet. On the more expensive end, the Rogers Mobile plan comes in at between $85-175 but is much faster when it reverts to a throttle speed of 512kbps.
What are talk-only cell phone plans?
A talk-only cell phone plan typically consists of a monthly prepaid or postpaid billing structure without mobile data that allows a customer to make, send and receive unlimited calls and texts. Koodo Mobile provides such a plan for $15 a month with 100 outgoing minutes a month and unlimited texts.
Who has the best senior cell phone plans?
A senior cell phone plan typically has less data than other plans, emphasizing texts and outgoing minutes. The best value senior cell phone plan at the moment is offered by Cityfone’s Unlimited Talk & Text plan, which features unlimited texts and minutes inside Canada for $22.50 per month. The plan relies on Rogers mobile network, which provides telecom services to more MVNOs than any other mobile network provider in Canada.
Who has the best family bundle cell phone plans?
A family bundle cell phone plan allows customers to add additional cell phone lines to a single payment plan at a reduced rate. The payment structure usually has a set amount of calls, texts and data dedicated to each phone line with an additional shared bundle of data available to phone lines when their set amount of calls, texts or data is exceeded. It is a competitive way of paying for multiple plan plans at once.
Rogers Infinite 25GB data plan features unlimited calls and texts throughout Canada with 25GB of data for $85 per month with the possibility of adding extra phone lines for an additional $55 with 5GB of dedicated data. Alternatively, Rogers also has a plan with 30GB of shareable data for just $190 per month ($63.33 per line per month). Elsewhere, Telus provides 50GB of data for $80 per line for at least four people with unlimited calls and texts throughout Canada, which amounts to the largest family discount in Canada when data usage is taken into account.
Which cell phone plan has the best parental controls?
Parental controls allow parents to determine what kinds of content their children can access via their smartphones. They can also be used to control how much time children spend on their devices and to what ends, allowing parents to monitor the kind of content their children have access to while ensuring costs do not spiral out of control.
Parental controls are typically not provided by the cell phone carrier itself, but instead are facilitated by a series of apps readily available on both iOs and Android app stores. These apps include the following:
|Parental controls app||Price|
|Google Family Link||Free|
|ESET Parental Control|
|Norton Family Premier|
Can I bring my old phone to a new phone plan?
Yes. Almost all cell phone carriers allow for a Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) which is typically more price-competitive than a plan including a device and/or phone upgrades.
How do I port my number to a new cell phone plan?
The Canadian Wireless Code of Conduct guarantees consumers the right to retain their old number when switching to a new plan with the same or different cell phone carrier. The process involved is called ‘port forwarding.’ During this process, it is essential to not cancel your old plan before you have successfully transferred your number to a new plan, otherwise, your old number will go back into circulation.
Many carriers offer this as an option when signing up for a new plan online – just look for the ‘port forward’ option on their website. When the new SIM arrives, go online and login to your self-service account and activate the sim card in order to initiate the transfer. You will normally receive a text message from your old carrier looking for verification that you do want to move your number to a new carrier. Once this message is accepted, the transfer process should commence. As soon as your old SIM stops working and you insert the new one, the transfer should be complete, and your old plan cancelled.
For more information about how each carrier allows for ‘port forwarding’ options, it is always helpful to review each carrier’s dedicated FAQ page which provides more specific information.
How do I cancel my old phone plan?
Most cell phone providers provide a hotline customers can call to cancel their plans. While some plans may involve paying a cancellation fee, the CTRC has capped cancellation fees for consumers who have been on a plan with smartphone financing for three years or longer.