Okay, I’m hot and bothered right now. Over the past week, I’ve had one sole purpose. I want a secondary mobile phone. Perhaps you want a mobile phone in case of emergency or you want a phone that provides a greater coverage area than the service you currently have. If you’re greedy like me, maybe you want a mobile phone that can double as a data stick. The question I’m trying to answer is this:
If I want a mobile phone in Canada, what is the very least that I can pay?
If you’re like me, you’re wanting a smartphone or cell phone but you simply do not want to be sucked into the monthly expense. See that’s the trick with mobile phones and the plans that are offered. You get sucked into a monthly commitment because frankly that’s just a good business model. You can’t blame the companies like Telus, Rogers or Bell for that. They exist to make money.
Ultimately I want complete control over what I pay for my mobile phone. Yes I need to buy a cell phone or smartphone but once I own it, I want to limit my calls as much as possible in an effort to save money. In reality we use mobile phones all the time, but in realistic terms we can limit the use substantially. For starters how about keeping your mobile phone number to yourself? That’s trick #1 but naturally it’s too late for most of us to do that now. You can always not answer in those instances and let voice mail or call history take over but that’s a bit unfriendly.
When I say the very least to pay, I really mean it. If you’re good at this game, you can have the advantage of a mobile phone but avoid the constant nagging bills that come with it. Right now I’m wanting the following features:
- pay by the minute
- call display
- call forwarding
- voice mail
- flexibility to add data on any given month
- data tethering / mobile wi-fi hotspot
Of course most of the prepaid or pay as you go plans also offer 3-way calling and call waiting as a freebies. So right now based on my criteria I can’t look at Wind Mobile because they want an absurd $8 per month for voice mail. In addition they have the worst coverage out of all the pay as you go options out there. Email me if you find any worse coverage please! Data is something that’s critical for what I want in a pay as you go plan. What I’ve found is that tethering (using your phone as a wifi connection for another mobile device such as a tablet or laptop) is not typically a feature in these plans. Petro Canada Mobility confirmed with me that no, they do not support or allow tethering or wifi hotspots with their data addon. This is also the policy of 7-11 Speakout.
Let me just say that I’ve had a 7-11 Speakout phone for a couple of years. No real issues other than I gave that phone to a relative and they own it. I’m back in the market for the cheapest possible pay as you go phone in Canada. With my recent experience in the past week, I am regretting simply not going back to 711 Speakout.
Here is what I’ve discovered about pay as you go or anytime plans in Canada. I’m going to possibly save you some real frustration but perhaps I’m in the ignorant minority group on this. The fact is a lot of the pay as you go plans give you time limits to use your minutes. Think for a moment about this. You wanted the phone to save as much money as possible, yet you have to use the minutes you paid for in a certain time limit or they go bye-bye. If you’re attempting to do what I’m doing, then this should be your #1 consideration in which pay as you go plan to choose. In other words if you’re very clever and very efficient in using your any time minutes, you’re not going to be benefiting because the clock is ticking. In fact you would be surprised just how short a time you have to use your minutes up. What I’m discovering is that the less you top up on your phone, the less time you are given to use your minutes. In general, pay as you go plan top ups at $100 generally get you a 365 day expiry. The more you spend, the more generous the expiry. If you’re thinking of spending a small amount for airtime? Expect that your expiry will happen quickly unless you’re with 7-11 Speakout.
PC Mobile was my first choice this week. I was excited and they have one of the cheapest per minute charge of .20 cents. After an ordeal in actually getting a PC Mobile sim card, it wasn’t until I sat down and looked at the $25 talk time minutes card fine print that I realized my mistake. Sure it’s printed on the front of the card, but somehow that white print on gray background at the bottom of the card hardly seemed obvious. I didn’t see this information on the website when checking plans. That said, the card says that airtime expired 60 days after activation. This means? It meant a lot of anger and frustration. Understand that I came from 7-11 Speakout where your added airtime has a 365 day expiry. Imagine my surprise after speaking to PC Mobile support and they said the $100 card is valid for a year (balance can be carried over provided you spend on another top up), the $25 card is good for 60 days and the $15 is good for 30 days. Given that information, what is the point of bothering? It’s a good as a monthly plan. I call that misleading and aggravating for somebody like me who ignorantly expected more flexibility in expiry dates.
I will say that PC Mobile is disorganized. Their website is outdated and those self serve kiosks don’t even exists in any store I contacted. Instead they are being replaced with new “in-store” mobile phone shops/counter. Nice, but the staff were clueless about the PC Mobile sim cards. When I asked them about the PC Mobile prepaid phones they suggested they didn’t even have any. To anyone looking at PC Mobile, just be forewarned that their website and support appears to be on a completely different page than these new Superstore “in-store” mobile shops. I spoke to many different people at many different Superstore locations trying to track down the self serve kiosks and not one location said they had them. Based on my experience with the staff at these in-store mobile phone shops, I don’t know where you can buy the phones that are shown on the PC Mobile website. Good luck, you’ll need it. I should give credit for the phone support because they were excellent and able to answer my questions. The issue appears to be in the Superstore locations. Get on the same page people!
I’m working on a PC Mobile review because the experience so far is worthy. Let’s just say it’s been interesting so far! I did get a $10 credit so that SIM card which cost $10 basically was free.
As I mentioned earlier, 711 Speakout is pretty much the best solution out there for the cheapest prepaid plan or pay as you go solution. The biggest selling point is that you get a 365 day expiry date on airtime, regardless if it’s a small top up. It’s very unfortunate that the lack of competition in Canada for mobile phone plans has led to this situation. Perhaps you can suggest a theory why it is that for almost all the pay as you go plans in Canada, the only way you can get 365 day expiry is if you spend $100 for airtime. Considering that it’s across the board, it appears that these companies are cooperating with each other in this regard.
There is one major issue with 7-11 Speakout. Data usage. As of June 30, 2013 they are discontinuing their web/data plans. Their website suggests soon they will announce a new pay as you go data plan but on the phone they can’t give an idea when the announcement will come. Right now, I can confirm that 7-11 Speakout does not allow you to tether or create a wifi mobile hotspot. It’s hard to say whether this upcoming Speakout Data plan will include the option to tether. If it does, the 7-11 Speakout is a pretty clear winner in the Canadian prepaid market.
For my set of criteria, call forwarding doesn’t come with 7-11 Speakout. Perhaps not a deal breaker for you, but I really want that flexibility. PC Mobile (see below) does have it as a free feature.
Petro Canada Mobility
I’m sure some of you are just learning for the first time that Petro-Canada has mobile phones. It’s true! They run on the Rogers network. I think the closest comparison would be 711 Speakout which means this is a good option. For me, they unfortunately don’t offer call forwarding and do not allow data tethering. That said, this may be good option even though it’s essentially the exact same as 7-11 Speakout. You can add $10 for a month of unlimited mobile web browsing, but with 7-11 ditching their similar web browsing, I would think Petro-Canada will be changing or removing this option in the near future. The reason Petro Canada Mobile gets a decent review by me is because they have a bit more flexibility with their Anytime Plans and the airtime you buy. Spend $15 you get 1 month expiry, spend $25 you get 4 months expiry, spend $50 you get 6 months expiry and $100 gets you the industry standard 365 days expiry. In a head-to-head comparison, 7-11 Speakout still is the best option because they allow for a 365 expiry on a $25 top up.
Virgin Mobile Canada
If you want an exercise in frustration, go to the Virgin Mobile Canada website and try to collect the information about their prepaid plans. Better yet, see what you can find out about their pay by the minute plans. The information is scattered. That said, it appears that the Virgin Mobile Canada pay as you go (pay per minute) is very similar to that of PC Mobile. This makes sense because both PC Mobile and Virgin use the Bell network. For me, I’m looking at Virgin vs. PC Mobile.
I couldn’t establish whether Virgin Mobile prepaid gives you call forwarding and voice mail as a free feature. I can say that their per minute charge is .35 cents in comparison to PC Mobile is .20 cents. That’s pretty big! The data addon plans are priced at the exact same so no winner there.Â The all important expiry dates for purchased airtime? About the same I’m sad to report. If you pay $100 you will get 365 days to use the airtime, otherwise you’re looking at 60 day expiration dates.
As mentioned earlier, the biggest issue with Wind is their limited coverage. That said, I don’t know how their system works when you are out of the Wind Zone because when you have their regular plans, you get charged roaming. You get the coverage when out of the Wind Zone, but you pay per minute. Since on the pay as you go you pay .20 cents per minute, does that apply for areas outside their zone in the roaming areas? I’m not sweating it and perhaps you have the answer. Please let people know in the comments below.
So coverage aside, Wind Mobile prepaid isn’t for me. You have to pay $8/month for voice mail. In addition you can’t buy a data addon, but have to pay $1/MB used. They have the same $100 for 365 expiry, but they do have one option which provides a 180 day expiry. For me, these non available feature or paid addons are not acceptable to me. Remember I’m looking for the cheapest option out there but at the same time I have a set of features that I need.
Telus Mobility, Rogers, Bell, Etc.
I’m not going to bother sorting through hundreds of website pages trying to establish the pricing and options for prepaid or pay as you go with the big companies. Yes there are many others but they are owned by the big three. I think it’s far fetched to think there is a white knight among any of the other carriers. I’m not arrogant enough to think I know everything, so please contact me or add a comment below if you beg to differ or have found something super juicy out there.
Why Pay As You Go and Prepaid Plans In Canada Stink
I’ve come to the realization that shopping for mobile phones in Canada is frustrating. I’ve found it to be time consuming and I’ve found it very difficult to get the information I want from the company websites. Information is buried behind fluff more times than not.
My biggest complaint is with the bogus expiry dates on purchased air time. Please educate me on this. How is it possible that across the board, all the companies require you to spend $100 a year in order to get the 365 day expiry. Don’t you feel that 7-11 Speakout is going to get forced into conforming to the industry standard? It’s almost like a gas war. One company does it for a while, but then everyone magically settles into the same price. Notice that the deals go away? I wonder the reasoning for it. Perhaps it makes sense and I’m ignorant (I admit that) and completely out to lunch.
If you buy a gift card, those never expire thanks to serious consumer complaining. Why then are consumers getting shafted on having to use up their prepaid airtime in 30 days or 60 days? I understand that prices change and it’s not realistic to have no expiry date. That said, clearly on the PC Mobile air time cards it says the card itself won’t expire, but it’s only after activated that it will expire. Not sure, but sounds like a loophole to me. Imagine a gift card for Future Shop for $100. So imagine if you spent $30 one day on an item, suddenly that card has an active expiry in 60 days because you’ve “activated” or “used” it. Tell me I’m wrong, but this is nuts. Isn’t that exactly what the mobile phone companies are doing with these air time cards? The only way to make sense of it is that mobile phone companies in Canada don’t want people to have the ability to pay less for a mobile phone. I would suggest that there are many many thousands of Canadians who would love an emergency or secondary phone that they could use a few times a month and not pay $10 per month. That is really what I think.
Cheapest Prepaid Plan – Pay Per Minute Plan In Canada
If you break down $100 per year for pay as you go, it’s going to put you just below $10 per month. With 7-11 Speakout, you can spend $25 and have it last 365 days. That would put you at $2 per month for an emergency mobile phone or secondary phone with 7-11. When you consider that price variance of say $9/month vs. $2/month, you can see just how good the 7-11 Speakout prepaid plan is. That said, do you really think it’s going to last?
Which Pay As You Go Am I Choosing?
This has been a hard decision and I may change my mind in the near future. I’m not sure whether the 7-11 Speakout Data plan will give me what I need and only time will tell. I’m excited to see what they come up with. Although my ignorance initially caused me some anger towards PC Mobile, I’m pretty much stuck with them. Actually PC Mobile is a good choice for me because I can deal with the $100 for 365 days. The reason is because I need a data addon a few times in the year and spending $25 or $30 for a month of data comes out of my balance. I should have no trouble really using up my $100 in a year. Of course I need to evaluate this situation later, but for now they have everything I need and ultimately have the greatest number of features and the best data addon available in pay as you go.
Other Factors To Consider When Choosing Canadian Prepaid
If you’re like me wanting a pay per minute prepaid plan, there are a few other issues that may come up. Do you plan on letting the prepaid minutes on your phone expire or run out? The fact is you can lose your phone number. It seems every company has a different time frame as to when your phone number dies because of account inactivity.
Another important consideration is setting up a way for airtime to automatically be added to your phone if you run out of time. I’ve had a couple bad situations with my 7-11 Speakout phone in this regard. Imagine taking an important call or needing to make an important call and your phone says it’s out of airtime! You don’t want this to happen! Most, if not all prepaid plans and pay as you go plans have some sort of option for automatic top ups. This is very important.
If you want the cheapest mobile phone plan in Canada, be smart about it!
You’re going to get a new phone number for your mobile phone. Since you’re reading this article, you care about saving money. One way to defeat your savings it to share your new mobile phone number with every friend and relative that you have. What you can do is either keep it to yourself as much as possible or you can at least tell people that you pay by the minute only call for important issues. Instead of sounding rude, it’s probably best not to offer up your number in the first place. With my 7-11 Speakout mobile phone, I shared the number with my wife and my closest family only.
The fact is when you talk on these mobile phones on these plans, if you speak for 10 seconds, you get charged the full minute. If you talk for 1 minute and 2 seconds, you’re paying for 2 minutes. It might not sound like much but it can add up and deplete your air time rather quickly. The best advice is to get in and get out. If you find yourself needing longer phone calls or you’re simply getting to many calls, you may have to simply accept the fact that pay as you go isn’t best for you.
This is a work in progress so please check back…
I read with your post about “Cheapest prepaid pay as you go plan in Canada” and I’d like to know where you found a PC mobile SIM card.
Opposite of you, I can easily find kiosks here at Maxi’s in Quebec City. They carry phones (from PC mobile and other carriers), top-up cards,
and even SIM cards from Bell, Virgin and Solo, but none from PC Mobile. I have a strong preference for PC Mobile since they seem to be the only alternate carrier using Bell/Telus network, which offer better coverange in remote areas than Roger’s.
Keep up the good work !
Thanks for your comment and compliment!
In the Superstore that I went into, they had a cell phone counter within the store. No kiosk, but an actual person behind a counter. When I had called earlier, the people at the store didn’t know about the sim cards. The best way to describe it was like walking through a forest without a map. It took a while to get that sim card! That said, I’m not seeing Superstores in Quebec. Is there a Loblaws equivalent market out there? That’s my best guess at this point. Hopefully another reader might have some insight. Thanks for visiting the site!
I enjoyed reading your article, as it showed me that I have not kept up with technology one bit!!!! I presently have a Bell Mobility prepaid phone and use it mainly for emergencies and pay $25 + tax every two months and have accumulated over $150 in minutes. I don’t have any other options.
I live in the Burk’s Falls, Ontario area (about 10k from the main Town) and have really only kept the Bell phone because of the coverage. Years ago, the only carrier that could receive calls by cell was Bell.
I am going to the states, and of course, cannot use the prepaid there and it is becoming quite a nuisance.
What I’m looking for is a cheap plan that will give me perhaps on the odd occasion the ability to get connected to check my e-mails, and have a voice mail message system and be able to text if I need to.
I just don’t know what type of phone I should buy, which Company to go with, but I must bear in mind that I need to be able to receive and place calls from the Burk’s Falls, Ontario area to places in southern Ontario, and would like to be able to make some calls to Florida and South Carolina to speak with friends.
I’m hoping that you could at least steer me in the right direction. As I haven’t worked for the last 12 years, technology has gotten ahead of me and I simpily don’t understand the technological terms that are used today.
It certainly would be much appreciated if could provide me with some assistance in getting the coverage I want for the least amount of money, or for the least amount when I want to use an add on service. I don’t understand what a SIM card is – although I think it may have to have something to do with the supplier of service – it allows you to perhaps make calls to the USA from Canada? I really don’t know.
I hope you understand what I’m trying to say – because I’m not certain that I do!
Again, many thanks if you can be of assistance.
When you say pay as you go and keep your number private …. Do we also have to pay for INCOMING calls??
I’ve come up with the best and cheapest possible plan of my own. Heres the recipe.
1- Install FONGO app on a bell’s network compatble smart phone and get a free phone number from them or pay a one time fee of 25 $ to port your existing phone number.
2- Use PC mobile sim card ( dont bother aboit what number they give you, you’ll nevrr even use it to place calls) and 100 $/365 top up but call in to activate their 100mb/month for 5 $ add on.
3- If you want unlimited texting FONGO has them in-app for 10 $/6 months.
4- Ditch the smartphone default calling app. Only use Fongo from then on. You dont even need to know what pc mobile phone number you’ve been given, your phone justneeds it to get on the data network.
Now this setup gives you :
-unlimited free calls to 85% of canadians when your under any wifi network (in canada or abroad).remaining uncovered canadians cost 0,02 $/min.
-unlimited free calls from any canadians when under wifi (in Canada or abroad).
-225 minutes per month while under pc mobile’s 3g/4g/lte coverage ( in canada).
– virtualy unlimited text/photo messaging.
– free unlimited sized voicemail (will never be full and messages can have any duration)
– free unlimited call forwarding
Oh and regadless of where you go accross canada the rate will always be he same. Data is charged the same way wherever you’ll happen to be in canada.
I’ve been doing this for 3 years now and will never go back.
I second this.
However, in addition Fongo text plan ($1.67/month), I’ve signed up to Fido’s tablet plan, and use that SIM in my phone. Promo on now is 1gb of data for $15, if you go over that amount, total is $25 for 3gb of data, and a total of $35 for 5gb of data.
I ported my cell number to Fongo, and got a new number from Fido that I don’t use or give to anyone to ensure I don’t receive texts or calls at ridiculous pay per use costs.
My monthly bill: $16.67 + tax for 1gb of data, and basically unlimited calling and texting.
How do I get this deal
I like to copy what you did, I need to know if I can still use Whatapp via Fongo phone # [after you ported fido# to fongo, my thinking is you got fongo#, pls correct me if I am wrong];
and some said that via fongo, we can not get text message.
thx & rgds
-225 minutes per month while under pc mobile’s 3g/4g/lte coverage ( in canada)
The 225 minutes per month is this roughly 100mb/month of data Fongo would use to make calls?
How do you get 225 minutes a month? Is this the 100mb of data Fongo uses to make the calls?
This post has been such a huge help! I’ve added fongo already and am currently looking at data plans/SIM card options. Thank you!!
Thank you for this post! So helpful!
I don’t get good call quality with Fongo though. There’s always that delay like I’m calling the moon and back.
Best prepaid and ive tried lots is koodoos!! I use it for busines and personal! Awsome!!
What is the best prepaid phone, that your talking about I don’t have time to read the full article it’s rather long.
Seriously? You can’t be bothered to read the article because it’s “too long”?
Nice reply Bob, she was just being honest in my books. PC mobile is his choice, but like everyone on here, it really depends on what your needs are.
Telus pay and talk is the cheapest and most flexible plan in Canada bare none. If you have a smart phone, buy$10 plan and use it to purchase $5 text auto renew from your credit card so you don’t need to have credit on account , it will allow you to have a plan for 50 per year. The reason that Canada has higher cell phone plans is each company offers hot spots in just about any franchised restaurant and coffee shop across Canada, including airports. In my travels around the world. This is unique. So use hotspots for data and Google phone for calling and you are set to be communicating in Canada. If you have a situation where you need remote access you can top up daily or monthly into a plan that suits your needs. Just remember it takes up to 24 hours for the addon to be effective on a weekend.
Back when I had a landline, cable TV, and internet package from Telus, they overcharged me on nearly EVERY single bill. Not a huge amount, but it was so predictable that it could not have been error – either human or computer.
I wasted dozens of hours dealing with them. In my books they are crooks, and are ripe for a legitimate class action lawsuit.
OMG, Kenji – I switched from Shaw to Telus and have regretted it. I told them I have contacted the BBB and have an open file with them. I have spent countless hours with them and finally after threatening to go to the Media and McLaughlin on Your Side (CTV News), they cancelled my cell phone. Dirty, lying buggers said my cell was $30/month, my usage is next to nill, then they bill me $136! After much ado, Telus cancelled my cell and bill. They were daft enough to write in contradiction to the initial agent that oh, yes, there is a strong signal in the area you are moving to, that they can’t guarantee service. My reply is that they can’t guarantee payment then either, and I absolutely refuse as I’ve been at them for 6 weeks now to fix it. So, so fed up with these dishonest jerks! Hence, searching for the best bang for my buck on this site the author was good enough to spend so much time compiling.
Telus carries both micro SIm and nano Sim with NFS for touch pay using CIBC to TD app
I think overall with testing out all the phones out there the best pay as you go plan is TELUS because of the fact that telus is the only company that offers a flat rate pay as you go service,with the reg plans except no contract meaning. if i wanted more minutes and more time then regular pay as you go carriers then i can get UNLIMTED CALLING and TEXT with simply just adding $20 instead of paying by the minutes and having it wasted so quick. the only way to select these plans is to go to the telusmobility site when u have a pay as u go telus phone and select the plan that is best for u they have data plans calling,texting, w.e it is then u add it with ur prepaid telus card or credit card -they never charge a cent more and cant go over ur limit cause its blocked and always get ur complete service for 30 days till renewal, if your really smart you will go with telus pay as you go and select your plan best for you online or on a app with can vary from $5 – $45 — no other company has that option wher ei can have a pay as you go plan – get after 6 free calling get unlimted texting or 1gb data for a small good price- no taxes no overcharges ever – all the other pay as you go companies say give us $10 and we will give u 60 minutes- telus says gives us $10 and we will give u unlimted texting or 25- and unlimted texting and after 6 calling or 35 and free incoming calls unlimtied text w.e it is they have so many plans and options that u can pick from only at telus. never get a contract plan if u dont wanna get screwed over or stuck in a contract for 2 years- go with TELUS PAY AS YOU GO- create an account online or download telus app and pick the right pay as u go plan for you 🙂
Learn proper English before posting again, dude! Hyou are mostly incoherent!
Hi i was reading your article and i noticed that it does not talk about any of the $100 a year plans from the rogers companies like rogers,fido etc which gives you either unlimited text or unlimited evening and weekend calling for a year. This would be the cheapest for a prepaid plan at about $8.50 a month in canada
And 100 min. emergency per year free.
I agree. We have a Rogers unlimited texting plan for $85/yr and you get 10% off if you are on automatic payment.
Also have an old Telus pay as you go plan for 10/m and $5 extra for 250 text msgs. Great plan too but more costly than Rogers.
I had a Rogers – they constantly bug you and charge you for the pleasure. A pain in the rump to deal with – pay as you go. Migraine as you go was more like it… Cannot turn it off either, so you’re stuck with them burning through your minutes.
The PC mobile website was revamped yesterday and I found a 31 long FAQs about SIMs. To the question, Where can I get a SIM card ? the answer was: in a Mobile Shop. So I phoned one of the only two shops in the Province, 300 kms away. The salesperson there told me he’s newly open, 3 weeks ago. He doesn’t have any SIMs for prepaids, which connect to the Bell network. He tells me he’s got SIM cards for the phones with the new monthly plans, announced yesterday. He also tells me these new phones (you can get Nexus 4, Galaxy S4…!) will connect to the Telus network.
We finally have some nice weather over here and after work I was looking for an excuse for a motorcycle ride. So I went SIM hunting . One Loblaws and 4 Maxis later, I arrived at a self-serve kiosk with over a dozen of them on display. I was so happy, I purchased two ! Every other places, the kiosks had SIMs from other carriers, but none from PC mobile. I also asked at everyplace about SIM availablity, and could not get any definitve answer. So all I need to do now is find a cutter to trim down that SIM to micro size, and get ready for the phone which should be delivered next week…
That is a fantastic story! Thanks for the update. Would really like to hear how the rest of your story goes and your overall review of PC Mobile. Thanks!
I just started looking into switching companies. I received a noticed yesterday from Telus that the per minute rate on their prepaid plan will go up to $0.50 per minute.
I’ve been with them for about 5-6 years now and went with them initially because they had the lowest per minute rate ($0.25), so it will have doubled since joining them. If I get an “Add-on” however I can get a per minute rate of $0.15. Currently they have a “Messaging 250” plan for $5 every 30days (which includes 250 sent texts, and unlimited incoming).
As long as they don’t get rid of the Messaging 250 add-on, it might not be too bad, but still find it beyond ridiculous that they plan to charge $0.50 per minute…Oh and I never even use text messages, so I’d really be paying $5 just for a $0.15 per minute rate.
Looking into the different carriers, none have jumped out at me. Some have seemed decent, but only offer $15 cards for 30days. Virgin use to be $15 for 45 days, but I guess that changed.
Pretty disappointing when you actually start looking though. Both with what is “offered” on prepaid, or the lack of clear information on the carriers websites.
Thanks for posting that information. That rate increase sounds absurd. I remember the days when we paid per second, now it’s per minute. Technology gets smarter, and per second seems like “smarter” and per “minute” sounds like convenient and more profitable. I agree with you about transparency or lack thereof. The less time for us to use those prepaid cards means they aren’t worth it. We all might as well sign up for a monthly plan and therefore pay for things that we have no use for and commit $XX per month to the companies. The expiry on airtime really irks me if you can’t tell!
Thanks for your post and visiting the site!
It’s too bad the American companies decided not to come up here!
HELP US SPRINT, VERIZON, AT&T, WE’RE GETTING RIPPED OFF UP HERE IN CANADA!
AND THE BIG PHONE COMPANIES ARE LYING TO US THROUGH EXPENSIVE RADIO ADS!!
I travel to India at least twice per year and was absolutely SHOCKED to see the Rip off we are subjected to by the 3 biggies in Mobile phones. That’s notwithstanding that ‘things are cheaper in India’ but the difference in a Quad phone top of the line price versus what you pay here in Canada is awesome, thus I now buy my Mobiles in India. The ‘talk time’ well there is just no comparing the two areas. I’m lucky if I can use up 3-4 rupees of talks time in a couple of weeks… that’s calls in India and back home to Canada. BTW thanks for the detailed info on the above article. Great too read someone with the same ‘itch’ I have about the mobile rip off in Canada.
Same in Thailand easy peesie compared to here
It’s not 50c/min, it’s 30c/min, but text messaging coming in and out is 25c each.
Sorry Ed. It is 50c a minute.
Yup, 50c a minute. I just got charged $59 for 118 minutes with Telus and am far from impressed.
Same issue here. Looking at replacing Telus prepaid due to the ridiculous increase to 50 c/min. Regarding the $5/month text add-on, it is not a bad choice if one is a light or no text user. At the $10 minimum top-up, the total monthly cost will be $15. The $10 for voice at 15 c/min buys you 66 minutes talk time. Considering that one spends really $15, the “real cost” works out to be 22.7 c/min. Better than PetroCan or 7/11, except for the expiry issue. But at least you can carry the balance forward as long as you top up.
Here is an interesting twist. Get the $5 texting add-on and pay it out of the $10 top-up. You’re left with $5 balance at 15 c/min rate, which gives you 33 minutes, the same as the old 30 c/min for the full $10 top-up. Overall, you have the same number of minutes, but got a whole bunch of text for “free”. Am I missing something?
I have TELUS prepaid, and when I go into my account info, it says 50 c/min. But strangely, when I look at the calls I made, it would say 6 mins @ 50c/min and charge me 1.80 (the old 30c/min). So perhaps the increase does not affect you as long as you top up?
I have been using Telus pay and talk for years. It is the most flexible plan around. You do not need to buy 100 dollar card to have yearly expiry. If you buy a 10 card and use the addon feature 5 dollars for 250 texts. Each time the $5 text renews you get another 30 days, you pay for individual calls by the minute so you need to add onto the account periodically, but you balance rolls forward every month until you are at a zero balance. Any month you have more usage need you can upgrade to unlimited text voice and data, and let it expire after 30 days. I primarily text so for 50-60 dollars a year, i manage my cell use. I can always upgrade my phone when friends upgrade theirs. Now I have a smartphone that lets me access wireless hotspots for free so $ 50 gives me unlimited data and phone calls using web based Google phone and hotspots at shaw, bell or just about any franchised restaurant and coffee shop in Canada
You are a Saviour! Thanks for this extensive comparison, and also for venting about how hard it is to find information. Every time I’ve looked into switching from my Rogers contract, I give up because of the stress and cursing at how dubious & unaccountable these cell companies seem, so I know how hard it must’ve been for you to gather all this. BTW, every time I call Rogers to clarify the features we have grandfathered on our family plan, I got different answers….finally I asked someone to email me their answer, and I started saving chat sessions, so I could come back at them if they billed me wrong).
I’m so glad to hear that for cell contracts by Dec 2, 2013 Canada will have a country-wide code of conduct, but no mention of payasyougo expiry dates being waived. Apparently the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) is the place to complain. Perhaps we should try the online form at http://www.ccts-cprst.ca/complaints/guide ?
This month, Verizon (largest US cellphone co) is considering the purchase of Wind Mobile to become Canadaâs fourth major wireless provider, maybe gives us more options?
I notice PCMobile says if you don’t want to sign up to any monthly commitment the Anytime Plan doesn’t require to buy any minutes ahead of time – did you rule that one out for a particular reason? (Talk for 20Â¢/minute local calling. Outgoing standard texts within North America are 15Â¢ each (International texts are 20Â¢ each). Incoming standard texts are FREE.)
As of now, http://www.speakout7eleven.ca/ info is still unavailable so I’m waiting for that before I decide.
Great reviews! Very useful! I’ve been being screwed by Rogers for some time now ($17 to maintain my phone number even while I was out of the country because canceling the contract cost about the same), then being dinged for almost $45 a month for basic texting and calling until I went on a rampage and they gave me one of those ‘temporary reductions’ to $30/month. Thank god my contract is up now! I’m going to go with Petro Canada because I’m sure I’ll use less than 200 min/month but more than for an emergency phone. And all pre-paids have free voicemail, and Rogers doesn’t even offer that for free, it’s ridiculous!! They are crazy. That’s what you get with a monopoly. I hope Verizon comes up here and shakes everything up. Come Verizon, come!
………better the devil you know
I have Virgin pay as you go and now have over 400$. I am more or less stuck with them. I would like to change phones. All I would really like is to have wifi, take and send pictures, sync if possible my calendar from my ipad and occasionnely use gps or web by the minute. Phoning Virgin is a waste of time. Their web site truly sucks. I would like a phone like the Razr v. I would appreciate any help I could get.
You should be able to upgrade at any mobile shop or Virgin kiosk. I bought the Nexus 4 which comes unlocked from Google, so I can switch anytime. Virgin didn’t even charge me for the new sim card to switch to the new phone. Since it sounds like you’re not going to knock down that $400 balance anytime soon, you can get a $10 data plan which can be set up to draw from your balance so you aren’t paying extra for it.
Like you, I had accumulated over $350, but I found a way to reduce that amount without seeing it go to waste. You can donate the money by text message to various charities. Virgin has their own charity called Regen which you can find out about on their website.
You can donate $5 at a time by text message up to six times per month.
For example; Salvation Army text “HOPE” to 45678, or BC Cancer “FIGHT” to 45678.
There are many more charities, try Google search for Donate by Text.
I had the same problem with my $100 a year plan with Virgin. At the end of the year i still had $75 left over. Added another $100 / year for two more yearrs – you can see where this was headed! So I asked them to change it to a plan. They did and took my monthly amount from the accumulated funds till iyt went to zero.
I purchased a Rogers PayAsYouGo $100 card last August. I love the idea of no bills, no worry, and usually have lots of minutes remaining. Last year, they had a promo of 50%bonus with top up. I took advantage of it immediately, as it was about time for me to do so. Unfortunately, the blue tooth on our car used my phone as a connection rather than my husbands phone, and now I am out of minutes, and looking to buy Pay as You Go again. I rarely use my phone, text occasionally, and very few people have my #. What do you suggest?
I just started with wind prepaid. Free incoming minutes and text messages in the Wind Zone and 20c/min outgoing and 15c/outgoing texts.
If my phone switches to the “wind away’ zone (doesn’t matter where you are, the phone will automatically go to the strongest signal) you will get charged 20c/min for any calls.
With that, I keep the phone OFF roaming.
Call quality is spotty at times, and on certain occasions, even with perfect call clarity, the phone will drop calls. I blame the network because with the same cell phone with 7-11 it never dropped calls. I will say the call quality is awful and not good for business at all. For personal or occasional use, it’s fine.
Data is a bit of a bummer, but since I never had a data plan, $1/mb is fine when using Opera Mini. I get all the info I need for 1mb and I find myself aimlessly surfing to use up my mb for the day.
The unlimited incoming is the bonus. With a call back service, I’ve paid nothing on the phone for airtime. The only price I pay is the 1c/min I pay to the callback service, and they charge in 6 second increments.
I will probably sell out my airtime to another wind customer as I can port out my credit to another Wind user. This will reduce my fees to $15 over the 6 months depending on how much texting I do.
I’m currently on WIND Mobile with a $45/month plan that gives me unlimited international text, unlimited data, and unlimited local talk and caller ID, voicemail, etc. The usual stuff. Comes out to about $51 with tax. I have a phone on a “tab” with them that’d cost me about $200 to pay out if I cancel.
I don’t talk much – maybe 30 minutes a month, and I never use the international/US texting since people without a plan that includes these invariably prefer Whatsapp/iMessage/etc. I’m also constantly on Wi-Fi (work, home, etc) unless I’m driving.
Although I swore I’d never give them another cent, it looks like a switch to Rogers prepaid (the only one that allows US roaming) would be the best bet. They have a pay-per-use talk plan with no monthly fee (.75¢ for 911 aside) that has a 1¢/minute rate on weekends and evenings if you keep a $20 balance. To add 2500 outgoing texts for a month is $10.
So that seems like $10/mo would really be my only cost, plus per-use charges for the occasional phone call and possible addition of data packs ($10/mo for 100 MB or $5 for a 60 MB one week data pass).
If you’re already with wind, I would recommend that you stick with them if you’re into the US roaming.
Their rates are very reasonable. Basically the same rates as if you were in the away zone, which means to say 20c/min and 15c/text.
For formal calls that might require a voice mail, but no text, I give people out my fongo number which has free voice mail when I don’t pick up when it forwards to my cell phone.
And the local 1cmin outgoing on voip can’t be beat.
Please note, you may want to keep the 911 fees in mind.
Speakout 7-11 : “A monthly fee of $1.25 will be applied to your account for 911 calls. Minutes available will be reduced by the monthly $1.25 911 fee.”
PC Mobile : “The following provinces require us to deduct a
monthly e911 service charge from your account. Saskatchewan, 62 cents;
New Brunswick, 53 cents; Nova Scotia, 43 cents; PEI, 70 cents; Quebec, 40 cents.”
Rogers Pay as you go : “For Pay As You Go customers, a 75¢ monthly 9-1-1 Emergency Access Fee and applicable provincial fees are applied to your account.”
One other thing to consider in a 7/11 versus PetroCan comparison. With 7/11 you cannot check your usage online but have to keep track of it with the call log on the phone. This is very pathetic. PetroCan on the other hand appears to have proper online access to the usage via monthly statement.
I’m pretty sure you can check you balance online with Speakout now.
Usage and balance are different. 7-1-1 does provide balance online but you can’t access history (ie date and length of calls or other charges that are taken off account). Only way to do that is to keep track of calls on cellphone as you dial out or receive calls and texts.
any suggestion please? which one is better? 7-11 or PC Mobile?
I’d been using a Rogers SIM and activating it with a $100 Pay-as-you go for four years when I recently lost my little Blackberry Pearl, which I’d used in with different SIM cards in Serbia, Croatia, Italy and Brazil – in all of which,btw, cell phone service was excellent and cost all a fraction of what it does. I will replace it with an unlocked Blackberry Bold (the one phone which can do the US CDMA standard as well as GSM).
I’ll likely go with Rogers again, as reception has always been excellent and as I still have time I will be able transfer onto a new SIM-which will only cost me $10, instead of the $35 it cost four years ago. But since this will only close out in October, I may wait to see what Verizon will bring.
Does anyone have any thoughts on Mobilicity? mobilicity ca ? I’ve been toying with going with them, but now with the changes Telus has announced (no more 3 yr contracts, and better rates), I’m confused all over again!
One thing that wasn’t really mentioned was long distance charges. Because of my location I have to use the Bell/Telus network. For approximately seven years I’ve used Telus pay-as-you-go. Finally wanting a phone upgrade, and looking to save a little, I’ve decided to change. Most of my calls are long distance, and I want the option of adding data for skype and social media. Correct me if i’m wrong but Telus local 30c + 45c long distance = 75 cents a minute; where as PC mobile is local 20c + 25c long distance = 45c a minute…. a 30cents per minute savings. Using Skype can make it even cheaper for me. I’ve just recently changed to PC Mobile. Purchased my phone at a SuperStore, phones were available through customer service.
Epincall international calling cards, offers lowest international calling rates, webcall option is very simple too because it offers calling right from your browser, epincall sells calling cards, phone cards to India, China, Ukraine, Pakistan and more.
Perhaps if you are close to the border look at a US carrier, I know my brother who lives in the Vancouver area, has an unlocked phone, and slips across the border and buys pay as you go card which is good N America wide, at a fraction of what the bandits up here charge.
where does your brother buy cell phone service in the US? is it top up cards or sim cards? which company? I live near Vancouver and go to the states around once a month. thanks
I sympathize with all the Canucks on the bad pre-paid programs. Coming from the States, we have Tracfone/Net10 programs. They roll over minutes and you can extend phone service times. The website activation and real-time provisioning works and is 24/7. I have both my kids on Tracfone plans and it costs me less than $7.50/month for pretty much as much talk and text these young teens do. But come to Canada and look for a pre-paid and I made the mistake of picking Bell Mobility at a Bestbuy store. How hokey. The website is total crap, and slow, and full of way too much scripting and big-brother stuff and the cookies expire. And then the clincher is trying to setup some way to get a block of minutes to use. I pay less than 3 cents/minute USD for Tracfone down in the States. But Canada? Geez. 75cents/month min. payment plus 30 cents/minutes? WTF?!? No wonder standard of living in Canada sucks. Even us tech types that do real hard core kernel stuff and get paid the big bucks down in Silicon Valley balk at Canuck pricing.
You folks have a LONG way to go to advance into mobile civilization. And here I thought the US mobile pricing features were monopolistic. I guess less mobile while here in Canada and I’ll just shut up and go fishing while on vacation here and shut off my roaming phone.
I agree with techaholic’s conclusion that pay as you go plans are not very economically satisfactory in Canada.
For those who think it is as easy as “bullying” the phone companies into lower rates, or the government into legislating lower rates, consider that the our relatively small population means the market pie only has so many slices – there will not be 100 competing carriers in a small market, because 97 of them will go broke. And if you think the federal government should legislate cell phone rates – that is the opposite of a competitive market, which is what many of the posts suggest lowers costs in other countries.
While it is not possible for many people to consider this option, the financial journalists will all tell you “if you don’t like the cost of cell service prices, buy shares in cell service carrier companies”. The profit they are making from your phones makes their share prices and dividends go up consistently. Anyone who bought Telus shares 3 years ago has had free cell phone service several times over.
And for those who suggest we would be better off being in the U.S. – feel free to explain 50,000 murders a year as part of your argument.
If I hear another Canadian go on about why this country has crappy pricing due to the fact that it’s population is so small I’m going to burst a vein. Lots of countries with smaller populations have more competitive pricing. Arg….
You suffer from Stockholm syndrome. Google it.
Don’t know where you went for your holiday James L but the standard of living between the USA and Canada are very similar. Most rankings put both in the top 10 but it changes year by year. There is more to life than mobile computing. But if you are a Tech Nerd you aren’t likely to see it that way I suppose.
Couple things.. Live in Alberta and the “home zones” are very small in foot print.. That being said..I have used wind for 2 years unlimited long distance and found like all carries, some places good, some bad. If you are a normal person it’s a great, cheap plan. Have a child on Koodo and this is who I will go for next because of coverage. My job takes me to rural locations now and koodo offers free roaming where wind does not. The best plan i have found is with fido. $60 gets me 500 gb data plus 500 min canada wide with all the voice mail call display etc. Again would stay with this but the rogers net work is week in rural where they have placed lower watt towers. CDMA works better in this case.
GReat review of plans and I think I am going to go with the pc plan and pay the 100 fee. I found a iphone with telus so this looks like the best way to go to have a phone that has a number that I will not give out. Best route for a phone for my kids when they go out I thing as well. Thanks again.. oh and a tip for new people in a plan. Fido (rogers) will lower your rate if you call and talk to customer support before switching. It saved me $15/month for last 3 years which has added up. They will also lower your rate if you say you are switching away from them as well..:)
brent I think that’s 500MB of data not GB
Wow! Pity you Canadians. My poor third world country of the Philippines telecom companies (all of them) do not charge incoming calls or incoming text messages and no charge for tethering data. For $1.25 you can get 800MB of mobile data for 1 day. So you pay only for the data when you need it. Or you can pay for one month of data at 800MB per day for $25 (tax included). That’s 24GB of data for one month. Oh by the way, no roaming charges or long distance charges for the entire country if call is mobile to mobile regardless of the telecom company. They just use your airtime minutes for the call or pay per use per minute. A difference of a few cents perhaps if calling a different telecom subscriber but that’s it. Long distance charges apply only if you call from landline but only the caller is charged.
I used a Fongo VOIP number (most of the time free call) during my visit to Canada to save money. I used PC Mobile Anytime plan just to get 100MB of data at $10/month! I never used the number provided by PC Mobile. In my country that is already 10GB of data!
Coming from a country where 80 percent of subscriber are prepaid, it is frustrating getting a prepaid n Canada. So far, the cheapest that can give my needs is PC Mobile.
You mean 500M not G correct? That still 7x more expensive than in the U.S. but half a Gig is much better than what I have seen on Fido’s web site for pre-paid plans
One interesting “feature” is that your entire area code is considered “local”, including numbers with cross-area codes: If you are in BC, make sure you get a 778 phone number !
Since calls within your area code are all local (even if you have an area code that is split across a large distance), in addition to some normal cross-area codes that would be considered local. For example:
604 can call 604 & 778 locally
250 can call 250 & 778 locally
778 can call all of BC locally: 778, 250 & 604
416/647, 905/289, 519/226 are all local to each other
Additionally, none of your calling charges change no matter where you are physically located. People with a 416 phone cane make and receive calls while located in Vancouver exactly as if they were present in Toronto – calls to Toronto are local, calls from Toronto are local for the caller.
For long distance, I just use a calling card with a local access number – much cheaper than any long distance plan with only a minor hassle of having to pre-dial an access number. Also useful when making calls from payphones or work. We have been using a pre-paid account at tel3advantage for four years and I think we are still working on our first $40 deposit – here is a referral link that I think gives you a credit if you sign up (and me one too)
I am with wind and if your inside the zone, you pay no long distance as long as it is part of your plan. here’s my plan on wind. I get unlimited province wide calling, unlimited text, unlimited data(and I tether using a 10$blue tooth adapter which just tricks the phone thinking your computer is the phone)voice mail, call waiting for 35$ I have an unlimited international text+ international calling for 5 cents a minute in zone for 8$ extra. the unlimited data is awesome but after 5 gb your speed drops…who cares it’s free data. atleast I can download 300gb to my computer and not pay for it even if it is slow. I love this plan because I don’t go out of Edmonton much. if I do I won’t be needing my phone.
for me, wind is the best.
that said, I have come to the point where I will be traveling more and my residence now will be changing too for when I’m in alberta. good god. how absurd all the companies are. even wind for data. I’ve checked and 80$ at virgin for 3 gb is so bloody insane I want to slap the ceo. I’ve been coddled by wind for 2 years on data and now that I’m going out of my comfort zone, IT IS SO……….fill that in. makes me want to stay in Edmonton or Calgary or vancover ect. just so I can not be mad at these greedy corporations. because that’s what it is. they lobby OUR government to keep their hands in our pockets. And what does our spineless government do….exactly what the lobbiests want and not the population. it’s all well and good that these corporations want to make money. it’s a completely different thing to gouge. cell phones and data are almost needed nowadays. once you travel outside Canada, you’ll realize just how expensive and how ludicrous our plans are.
if there is one thing that people are going to be incredibly pissed about, it is this. right now I don’t see our Canadian government working for us in the least. they are spineless,greed,power driven monkeys. any politician who goes in thinking he’she will make a difference soon realizes that they are powerless if they are not apart of the inner circle. personally ,there are so many issues that the government drops the ball on all because business rules here in Canada. it’s time we take back our country that should be an open market for anyone willing to give the other guys competition. But our government feels the need to get their sticky little fingers into everything from interest rates, wheat prices, where a person can sell their wares, and so on. I’m done with party politics since it doesn’t work in this day and age. for those not thinking it is a political matter, who do you think makes the rules? we have freedoms but we are far from being free.
Do the PC mobile have nano SIM cards and if not will someone please explain to me how to cut a SIM card to a nano for a iPhone 5 thank you
You forgot to mention one company, videotron. Let me tell you something PC mobile offers for 25.00$ 150 minutes anytime talk and unlimited text.while videotron offers for 24.97$ 100 anytime mi utes and unlimited text but their is more everyday after 6pm untill the next day 6am unlimited talk and the weekends also so I say videotron is better 🙂
I use prepaid because I hate committing to a contract. I recently upgraded and changed to Telus. I bought a Samsung Galaxy prepaid phone on sale for $79.99 and have a monthly $20 plan which includes unlimited texting and 100MB of data with this plan my local calls are $0.15 and long distance are $0.50 per min. As I don’t usually talk on my phone much and in my first month I only used 70MB of data (use wifi whenever possible) this is the perfect plan for me. I put on $25.00 each month and it pays my plan (& 911 fees) plus leaves me a few bucks in case I need to talk these usually roll over each month as you get to keep your minutes as long as you top up before they expire which I do anyway because my plan is every $30 days. They do have a $30 plan which includes talk time, unlimited texting and 200MB of data which I would use if I was using more data or if I talked a lot. Either way it seems much cheaper than a contract.
In B.C. I have used Chatr (a Rogers subsidiary) for a very long time. I own my LG phone ($60) and it is unlocked ($20 for the unlocking). I am not signed up to any plan. I pay them $25 a month in advance, and that gives me unlimited talk time 24/7 and province wide calling. So, if I call my cousin on Vancouver Island and talk for an hour several times a month, I never have to worry about how long we’ve talked. I also have text messaging available, but as I rarely text I have no idea of how many I can do monthly, although I seem to recall something about 100 texts per month.
For my Nexus 7 tablet, I have Rogers, who provide a variable monthly rate for data of up to 10 Mb = $5, up to 100 MB = $10, up to 500 MB = $20, and up to 5 GB = $40.
Great discussion, very helpful. I live in the country side and coverage is an issue. From the above it appears that PC & Virgin use the Bell network. Petro Canada uses the Rogers network.
Can someone tell me the network used by 7-11?
7-11 uses Rogers, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_mobile_phone_companies
I used Fido prepaid for the last few year. Paying $10/month. Two years ago, The battery of the cell phone were getting bad. I need another phone, so I switched to Speak Out 7-11, which is $100 per year and get a new phone free. The problem is, 7-11 can not be used in US. While I travel in US 2-3 times annually, this is very inconvenience. From your forum, it looks like Rogers will offer the call from US. Is switching to Rogers a better way or simply get a second phone from across the boarder is the best?
Well after reading the excellent article on ”cheapest plans for cell phones” and everyone’s comment on what they use with clear information on prices and rates, I decided that 7-11 might just be the phone for me. I seldom use my cell phone; I keep it as an emergency phone (like if I am late going somewhere or confirming a meeting) so the 100$ a year plan for 365 days sounded really great.
EXCEPT this nice company does not service the province of Québec !!! (although I see on their map that there is coverage here). I am really upset because after having read back & forth all the tabs for services provided, it saw IN SMALL PRINT – ”available in Canada except Québec and the Northern territories”. I can understand the latter but the province of Québec is a bridge between the West and the East. So why are we being EXCLUDED?
Please no nasty comments about ”US” Quebecers. I am a proud CANADIAN born in Montréal (whose first language is French) which means I am a ”French-Canadian” and not a ”Québeçois”.
Marianne – Montreal
Petro Mobility is exactly like speak out (its all rogers). I’ve been with them for 5 years now.
I have been with Chatr wireless for about 3 years now and I have had absolutely no issues with it.
I am somewhat of a simpleton, though. I have unlimited text and talk. If I want to send or receive photos or video, I have to buy the data plan. All I really need is Canada-wide long Distance, text and talk. If anyone wants to send me photos or videos, they can send it to my email.
As far as coverage, dropped calls and technical issues, I have had absolutely NONE.
good luck in your search for the perfect wireless plan
Wish there was a prepaid company that offered +/- 1 Cent out going text & 1 cent calling anytime. Rogers offers 1 cent nights& weekend but a lot of extra fees…such as: minutes being taken off if someone leaves you a voicemail, and charging you to access your voicemail even from landline.
7/11 & petro doesn’t.. but has only plans 20+.
I went through the same process about a year ago when I bought a Chinese android phone (which is a great way to save money yet use a full featured smartphone). I finally chose 711 and I usually spend $5 a month. I remember coming across Sears Connect and was surprised they even existed and even more surprised by reasonable prices. I couldn’t use them because I don’t think they let you buy just a sim and I think you have to have a sears credit card. I am wondering if anyone has had any experience with them and would share their thoughts. thanks
I’ve been on PC for over a year now and it’s been ok. Not without faults; but you put up with it because there’s no other competition that’s close enough as far as free features and cheap anytime by-the-minute rate. As far as included free features is concerned, they say on their website that picture/video messaging and internet browser is included in all plans. Then you click on the details and find out that those features only work if you have the Internet Browser feature enabled ($10 a month for 100 MB). You tell me if that’s contradictory. One thing I really wish they would offer is pay-by-the-megabyte data usage. I figure if phone companies can have a 20, 35, 50 cent rate for talking, and pay-as-much-as-you-use texting, why can’t they do so with data as well? I would download the odd app or game or send picture message every now and then, but I’m not paying $10 each time. I have to say coverage is good and their phone selection at the kiosk (Camrose, Alberta) is decent, provided they’re not out of stock.
I decided to go with Koodo based on current rates. I did a similar comparison of what I was looking for in pay-as-you-go and you’re totally right about Rogers and Telus, they are a waste of time and their websites are maddeningly useless.
Thanks for a great synopsis.
I was many years with Rogers PAYGO $100 card but never used it up in the alloted time until they increased their prices, like Telus.
In researching for a possible new carrier I discovered all the things you did. Just a couple more things you could add is the cost of long distance, 911 fees and incoming call costs. Not every carrier has them. Wind, as long as you are in their zone, has no charge for incoming calls & the best, best customer service – how cool is that! Too bad for me I’m outta the zone.
For my simple needs (quick calls from the grocery store) my search ended with 7-11 & PC Mobile in a dead heat.
What I would really like is to see is the expiry of prepaid minutes abolished. They should NOT be able to keep your money and NOT provide a service for it. We changed the way gift cards expire and I believe PAYGO & PREPAID minutes should NOT expire either. So please inspire your readers to make their voices heard at
After living in several other countries I moved back to the one I was born in. Canada. And I have to say. They have the worst rip off plans on all aspects, whether prepaid, pay as you go or outrageous prison sentences of 3 year contracts for a refurbished piece of garbage phone and “reasonable plans.”
I find it laughable they had an add online recently stating canadians pay less for cell phone coverage in canada than USA. But they forget to mention they pay less and get less. But of course the canadian citizen will brag about it with no knowledge of the true facts.
The consumer gets ripped off here on every aspect. Even payless shoes(I never used the plastic crap even in USA) but they charge 19.99 there, and that same shoe here that will fall apart in two weeks is $49.99 up here.
The consumer in Canada always hears an excuse of shipping or cost of cell phone towers etc. And canadians really don’t make that much money compared to the cost of living.
So basically, Canada wants to make as much money in sales as the USA off of less citizens. Do the math. 36 million Canadians vs 317 million Americans. Thus corporations are very greedy here. And use government bullying to force canadians under some stupid regulation to pay it.
At least in USA you can have unlimited EVERYTHING on cell phone nationwide on prepay.
So unless canadians get better at math, see what’s going on, and actually bully the government into the consumer rights vs corporation greed, while allowing the ridiculous excuses of why they rip you off on everything here, nothing will change. Ever! Even Food is outrageous here. I took images of prices and sent to my friends around the globe. And all had same comments. OMG that’s so expensive!
And truthfully speaking I had better cell phone service and rates in developing nations. Now that is sad.
Very sad to say… Good luck on finding decent prices that you are looking for on cell phone airtime. It just wont happen. Because 36 million citizens just don’t care how much they are being ripped off at force, and are gullible enough to believe the latest online add about how lucky they are to have such affordable cell phone service in canada!
I can’t wait to leave again. Only not coming back foolishly after 25 years gone. And I will sit in my nice central american home/yard with a cell phone I can actually use, while having a fantastic morning “cafe con leche” enjoying life far away as I can get from this cold, miserable, corporate rip off nation.
Well said! I agree, this nation is full of corporate rip-offs at every turn. We’re too complacent as Canadians!
Wow, Mr Disgusted your chosen screen name certainly fits your attitude.
I didn’t know that the most important factor in determining the country one should live in is the price of a cell phone plan. You should let the United Nations know this. Then Canada wouldn’t be consistently ranked in the top 5 nations on earth to live in.
A list which doesn’t include any Central American or developing nations at this point.
But with your crappy attitude I for one will be glad to see the back of you.
I’ve never used a pre paid card before and have a few questions. If u buy a 100 Dollars prepay card with 365 day expiry would u be able to get unlimited calls from people or u have a certain limit on that too. Also can u use your home wifi with that? Thnx in advance
I have used more than 1 year and happy
call from canada to canada 0,25$ or Usa 0,25$
roaming to Usa call canada or Usa 0,15$
pay only 15$ annual fee to keep your number and roll over.
No minimum annual deposit
If I buy a prepaid phone from say future shop or target which has gsm of 850-1900 mhz, can I use a 711 sim card to activate it?
Petrocan is best for me. 100 bucks (don’t for get the tax) and a free phone and sim card.
That is about what I use in a year. The only improvement would be auto refill on expiry of minutes rather than auto refill on a certain date. Have had them now for 4 years, and no problems or troubles. Got my sister, my daughter and my brother to switch to Petrocan as well. averages about $10 per month hassle free. Hey, throw out the phone fee as a Christmas present from your spouse, great idea eh?
I buy $100 of prepaid time from BELL that expires in one year, can top it up and carry over unused time. just before expiry date. If I will be away from the home phone and expect an important call, I call forward my home phone to my mobile at no charge except for the incoming call. Mobile calls cost 30¢ a minute, texts 15¢ each .t I keep conversation very brie and only return urgent or important calls.f.
This has been quite helpful so thx! I have been with 7-11 Speakout for 4 years now and quite happy until recently when they got rid of the unlimited browsing option. They never called it “data” but as they piggyback on Rogers network, I was getting 3G or H speeds usually. I bought my phone second hand on kijiji (galaxy s2). It’s locked to Rogers but usable on 7-11 so I assume the same with Petrocanada. I’m not thrilled with the new rates and data limits so after reading the above I will probably go with petrocan until they inevitably start charging for data.
A note for 711 prosepective customers though. All topups as said above are good for 365 days. BUT when you top up again, the remaining amount rolls into the next 365 days.
7-eleven has just dropped their unlimited web browsing option and has replaced it with a much more limited package. It does advertise itself as an actual Data plan so pretty much any smartphone app will work with it. But the data cap is pretty small. I have been using 7-eleven’s speakout for a while now, but won’t be using it much longer after this crappy move.
That’s a GREAT article! Thank you! Just ordered a 7-11 SpeakOut card! Very Very helpful!
What a fantastic article although I do have a major criticism. As with any website that allows people to comment the whole purpose of the article has gotten distored.The purpose of the article was to discuss the absolute cheapest way to be able to have and use a cellphone for emergency purposes, not the cheapest to have a data plan and texting etc etc. etc.
This was a great article and I would suggest to everyone that the best way to save money is by being informed. I would be inclined to take advantage of different technologies and services in the same way that Ed has above although combining services from too many companies may be confusing for some people. There are some details about some of the services with Wind that I might try to clarify. I believe that Wind has offered (and possibly still does) a $40 prepaid voucher that is valid for 180 days, meaning that you could buy 2, $40 vouchers and be covered for about 360 days (almost a year). Since Wind still appears to include unlimited incoming texts (and calls, although not really advertised), I would also use a callback service to turn outgoing calls into incoming calls. The service that I would use would be something like callwithus.com. There are some programs available for smartphones to automate the callback process and callwithus.com allows you to adjust the number that you will be displaying when making callback or voip calls so that you can show the free Fongo phone number as opposed to your regular cellular phone number to others.
Fongo can be used as a free voicemail service as Ed mentioned above and I believe that you can also use them to send out text messages although I’m not sure if the text message would be from the Fongo number or the regular cellular number. Something to check into is if text messages can be received on the Fongo number or not. Another service which will be available now will be the Blackberry messenger service for various smartphones. If you have a data account or a pay per use data service, that could be good because I don’t believe that you will be charged for the text message by Blackberry and most text messages are about 3K worth of data and 1MB of data is equal to 1024K, so you can imagine how many text messages you can send with 1MB of data (about 340).
Another item to mention is that some users should consider using the services of a third-party long distance provider instead of paying the long distance company service rates. A company that I might suggest might be one like keepcalling.ca. They have a few different local access numbers for use in different parts of Canada and the USA as well as some toll-free numbers that can be used in some of the rural areas for a small surcharge.
Although Wind has free incoming calls in their Wind zones, it is good to understand something about SIP settings that can be inserted into some of the voip calling applications available on many smartphones today. That way you can take advantage of many different VOIP (SIP) calling service providers instead of only being limited to Skype. As mentioned earlier, I’ve used callwithus.com for callback and voip calls because it allows me to adjust the phone number that is displayed when making phone calls. The trend now is for more and more places to be offering free Wifi as a value added service for their customers at many shopping malls, coffee shops, fast food places, etc. This is something that you can take advantage of to help save on your airtime minutes.
this info is great I must say
however, I needed some advice from you guys
so my usage is like 300 local mins, 300mb data and unlimited messages…
ofcourse it has features such as voicemail, caller id etc
but right now I am paying a lot for it like 50$
can someone suggest me which prepaid connection will be better and cheapest according to my usage? thanks!
Thank you for the thorough detailed information! I discovered your very informative article through a Google search. I found that very few other articles that popped up even mention the existence of the PC, PetroCan or 7-11 cell phone plans.
I was looking for an inexpensive emergency cell phone and found that having 2 SpeakOut 7-11 pay-as-you-go cell phones works for me and my fiance. We currently live 2&1/2 hours apart and co-commute back and forth weekly. I do not need the data features or the $24.95++/month OnStar features in my GM vehicle! The base Alcatel356 cell phone has more features than we will ever need or use as well.
The day after reading your article SpeakOut 7-11 announced their current ‘$100. offer’ ($113.incl HST). The offer includes: the $49. Alcatel356 cell phone plus $125. worth of airtime (+$5. airtime for activating with a SpeakOut cell phone = a total of $130. worth of airtime)! To be activated by Dec.31/13 (@$.25/ min. Local & $.45/min. LD and @$.10/outgoing SMS text we’ll never use it all in a year!).
I bought 2 of the $100. cell phone offers in a heartbeat! We’ve been giving them a good initial workout for 2 weeks now and they’re doing fine. Hopefully the plan remains unchanged and next year we can just get a $25./365 day top-up, with the new 365 day expiry given to rollover minutes as well!, as / when needed. That works out to be very inexpensive for our emergency / low usage needs in almost all of Canada!
Thanks again for the great article!
I have been with PC telecom for at least 6 years and I find the prepaid/pay as you go a great alternative to expensive monthly plans. I am thinking about replacing my aging phone which I bought at a self serve kiosk at Superstore. Today, I went to two Superstores in Vancouver – the one on Marine Drive and the one on Grandview. The Marine Drive store doesn’t have a prepaid kiosk anymore and the one on Grandview had put theirs away. They had a couple of 4 year old phones in the customer service department and that was it. Apparently in order to get a new phone, I need to go to the North Vancouver store or the Metotown store. I am not sure what is going on, but a person at Superstore told me they only offer prepaid at “high volume stores”. Strange.
Hello, the pc sim cards are sold in the superstore Fredericton NB Isaw 9 of them just
yesterday. They have a prepaid counter and a moblie shop in this store.
I am looking for a cheap phone for my son, he has an ipod but wants to be able to
call when not in a wifi area. Where is the 711 phone from??
7-ll is the name of a convenience store.
Thanks for the great review of Canadian pre-paid cellphone packages. I did quite a bit of research myself a few months back, and I finally settled on Koodo pre-paid. But there is a trick to it. You need to get the smallest base plan ($15), and buy your talk time and data as add-ons, and here’s why. Your talk time and data add-ons roll over, as long as you maintain the base plan (minimum $15/month). I pay $25 for 500 anytime minutes, which allows me to call anywhere in Canada any time I want. A further $30 for 1GB of data. If I don’t use all my minutes and or data, I just keep the $15/month base plan active and my minutes/data will roll over. I bought 500 minutes of talk time, and 1GB of data when I activated my phone on the Koodo network (if the phone model matters, I have an HTC One) and after 3 months I still have minutes and data, so it’s only cost me $30 for the last 60 days. Granted, you’re still paying $15/month for service, but at least you’re not paying for data you never get to use. But that being said, it would seem that the other providers will cost you more than $15/month if you have to keep buying more data and talk time every month.
Thanks so much for this info. Didn’t even know about this option until you wrote about it. I have researched all of the prepaid plans and I will be going with Koodo.
Thanks for the info, greatly appreciated. Only thing we’ve seen that might be of interest to you (and others) seems to be the two FIDO 365 day plans for $94 a year. 100 minutes.
Sorry, I forgot to mention this in my previous post. I live in Newfoundland, and I should point out to customers in this province that Rogers only has coverage on the Avalon Peninsula. If you live on any other part of the island (and possibly Labrador), Rogers, Fido, Petro-Canada and any other provider that runs on the Rogers network are not an option for us.
I used to live in Newfoundland, but left 30 years ago. Some things never change.
What a ripoff. re: expiring minutes…
How can a company take all your money, and not even provide the service they’re charging for in the first place?
Can they not just charge a nominal network connection rate without draining the entire account? Of course they can.
That is stealing outright. Blatant theft. So how is this even legal?
Canadians are getting royally screwed by a bunch of damn criminals.
Petro Canada today cancelled their unlimited $10 per month data plan and replaced it with alimited 100 megs for $10. Not quite the same huh?
I seem to recall Telus did this with landlines and long distance a long time ago. We used to get unlimited long distance for $20.00 a month. It was good until too many businesses started using the service and Telus felt they were losing to much profit by allowing business and industry to get such a good deal so Telus then changed the plan to 800 minutes of long distance a month instead. Blame business and industry just like everything else they do in this country. Ruin everything for the customer and the people. I use Telus pre-paid but will now be looking to change to since they more than doubled the price of both incoming and outgoing calls from 15 cents to 50 cents a minute. Where is the government on this GOUGING of the consumer since it used to be against the law for any business to this when I was growing up.
Question which prompted my visit:
What’s the lowest cost solution for a couple needing two phones and a couple of hundred minutes per month, no data, no texts. Would be great if the minutes were pooled between the couple.
Any pointers welcomed.
Excellent information on this page, greatly appreciated. Very difficult to get straight informative answers about cellphones, so keep up the good work.
When I wanted to use a smartphone for casual use two years ago I was assured it couldn’t be activated for less than $40 per month. I was informed at one kiosk for instance that the reason this smartphone couldn’t be operated more cheaply was that it would automatically contact the phone company system and update itself, chewing up my minutes. It took hours of talk with several cell phone reps before I found out that a bell $100 card with a $3 sim would get me on air and the system could put a datalock on the phone so that it wouldn’t update itself. Also they wouldn’t erase my minutes at the end of a month. [They agree to only steal from me at the end of a year].
By the way, the best online calculators I used were
http://www.cellphones.ca/cell-plans/ – returned more plans but some were outdated
this article is fantastic stuff. I currently travel extensively the world and there is NO country I have come across , that is sooooo expensive with prepaid. I think a foreign tourist will never figure out these complicated, hidden plans + fees or add ons in Canada.
Most of the people here in the forum complain all about local call minutes, yet in rural areas one will almost always need to make long distance calls. 75 c/ min – no way, you must be kidding me !!!
NOT to mention fees for incoming calls !!! This is the greatest ripp off ever and also non existent in other contries.
I’m currently in NZ, there I buy a $ 2 sim card ( or the cheapest $19 phone which includes a sim card, and for just 16 $ add on I get 180 min calls, unlimited txt + 500mb data. This is a great offer and NZ has only 4 mill people vs 36 in canada !!!
yeah Canadas cell phone providers are hugely overcharging its customers and Canada is one of the few countries in the world that still INCREASE their prices!!!
I look forward to extend my travels as long as I can.
As I mentioned before my canadian home is in a remote area in BC, were – TO THIS DAY – is no cell phone coverage and so the land line is what I will have to use again ! Oh and did I mentioned that it will be dial up Internet again ? I’m not kidding you – this is for real ( unless I fork out the $ for a satellite). And dont think the fees would be low for such a slow internet, it cost as much s high speed. If I complain, the provider says, it is my fault alone that I choose a rural area to live in.
Anyhow a pay as you go phone would be really for emergency protection only, when one drives into the nearest town for shopping. Since this happens only 2-3x a month, a 365 day expiry term is the only way to even use a cell phone.
best article on this subject I cam across, keep up the investigation , maybe a miracle can happen.
merry xmas to all
Kim – I’ve had similar experiences. Using 2 degrees in NZ and Coop Mobile in Switzerland. When I got to Canada, I couldn’t believe how complicated and expensive it is to get a local prepaid SIM. As Sid said, it’s a swindle. I think the complicated plans are simply a strategy to make comparing plans difficult. This article is the most comprehensive summary I’ve come across and it does not make pretty reading.
Canadians – rise up and demand a better deal from your telcos!
That is the problem with Canada — too much land to cover and not enough people to pay for the service. Seems the remote areas are becoming more remote, as the cities get larger… It’s not only the cell phone service; seems to affect a lot of areas.
Great article. It answered several questions and has made my decision easier. I do have a question. First, some background. I’m moving overseas in about a month. Thus, I have cancelled my Bell mobility account. I have an iPhone 5 and I’m going to need about a month of phone service so I can keep in contact with friends and family before I jet. I am looking at Petro Canada’s cheap sim and monthly package which obviously expires without me having to worry about it. It might be enough. I understand that they carry micro sims, but not a nano sim. I guess I have 2 questions, first, in your opinion which should I choose, Petro Canada or 7-11? And second, do you or any of you fine readers/followers have experience cutting a micro sim into a nano sim? Thanks! B
I just posted with a related question about the nano card for my new unlocked iPhone 5. I decided to go with Speakout from 7-11 and tried cutting down the micro SIM card they sold me, but it’s very tricky despite what the youtube videos show. I trimmed it too much and it doesn’t fit in my phone’s SIM card tray. The Telus website suggested it was not a good idea to use a trimmed card in the iPhone 5 because if there were any damage, the phone’s warranty could be invalidated. There is are people around who charge around $5 to do the job for you (found one on usedvictoria.com).
I want a pay-as-you-go plan for talk, text and data that won’t expire. It looks like 7-11 is the best one, but since their the SIM card won’t fit my phone, I probably will bite the bullet and maybe go with Koodo. Any other suggestions?
Cell phone users in Canada should be rioting in the streets given how the telecoms are ripping off consumers. The websites and literature from the companies are confusing and incomprehensible and the explanations from the clerks in the stores not much better.
I was in similar spot last year. I asked friends if they or could help find an unused cell phone that I could use for a month or so. I had three SIM phones offered within 24 hours. Lots of people keep their older phones. One of the people with a phone said it was easy to unlock this particular unit (LG?) and activate the SIM (PCMobile) keeping the same number. He did it for me or I’d give details. Hope this helps.
Telus add-on text $5/month gives you 15 cents/min.
use Telus with $5 add-on text per month then you get 15 cents a minute
I got an unlocked iPhone 5s for Christmas and have been researching pre-paid plans. I have encountered all the frustrations mentioned here. I had decided to go with the 7-Eleven Speakout plan and bought a SIM card and $25 of time at a local outlet. Got home and realized that the SIM card is a micro and my new phone requires a NANO size. 7-Eleven doesn’t sell nano size which learned this after my non-returnable purchase. The clerk was useless.
t tried cutting the card down as per instructions on the Net but ruined it. Then read I should NOT use a trimmed card in my new phone because I could void the warranty. QUESTION: How can I get a decent (not that there is one) pre-paid plan that also will provide me with a Nano SIM card. Don’t want to go with the Big Three if I can help it. Any advice will be MOST WELCOME. Many thanks.
Get iphone 4s which uses micro sim. Speakout sells micro sim. If you are concerned about warranty, then activate the sim with any other phone’s IMEI and insert the sim after activating it. Also, the Apple cannot voic your warranty since Speakout’s micro sim is legit/ not modified.
I also had 5s, but returned it since it is over-priced for its functions compared to 4s.
to cut micro sim to nano, if you google it there are many references on how. If you want an expert to do it, search kijiji, there are some who offer the service for $10 to $15.
Does anyone know how to get free unlock codes for Samsung galaxy s3 and/or s3 mini? Many websites are out there, but they charge fees of $45 or more.
I just got S3 mini for $149 on special from Telus, but want to unlock it to switch to speakout.
After years with Bell Solo,I’m pretty happy with PC the last three years. I guess that’s not saying a lot since Bell is one of the worst companies for exploiting their customers. I did like the bell coverage and I still get it with PC, since it is carried on the Bell network. I keep my usage down by using my free call display to send all but a couple callers to (free) voicemail and retrieving it on a landline later. I’ll be buying another $100 card soon. Tip: buy it when Superstore has their no sales tax promo., which is approximately every two months.
I found your article by accident and I likely have the wrong place for my question. However, I cannot seem to connect with Telus. I use Telus pay as you go and have a Samsung phone. Today I bought a $50.00 update and was very surprised to see that: for $10 I would get 30 days use, for $25 I would get 60 days use; for $50 I also would get 60 days use. For $100 I would get a year’s use. I don’t get it. Why would anyone put $50 on their phone if they could get the same amount of time for $25. It makes no sense! I did get someone at Telus (sounded like a telemarketer) and told him about this problem. He just said that that was how it was set up. I asked him if it made sense to him and he said yes and repeated that that was the way it was set up and that’s the way it has always been. I asked if there were anyone there who could explain this to me and he said no — that is just the way it has always been. I asked if he had a supervisor I could speak with. He said no. When I pressed him, he said yes, he did have a supervisor but that they don’t come to the phone. Have you ever hear anything like this?
You can also use justdial.ca or g3telecom.com for cellular long distance. It costs pennies/min instead of $0.25- no expiry. You need to dial the local access no. though.
After reading all of these post. I am sure 7-11 is the way to go. I can sacrifice the data for a good saving. After all. I cannot justify spending $63 a month on cell phone bill any more. I will be making some serious adjustments.
Thank you all for your contribution.
Thank you so much for all of this information. I lived in Washington state and I am with virgin mobile. I pay $35/month for unlimited text and data with 300 min. I’m not much of a phone talker so this prepaid plan is perfect for me.
I’ve been searching all day today to find a cheap affordable plan and phone to get me through a weekend trip to Canada. I definitely need data and a smart phone for navigation. It was crazy looking at the outrageous prices! Wish I could find that service plan where you can buy time in the states for a Canadian phone.
Thank you for all the information!
Having gone through the article and all the comments, I appreciate knowing that I am not the only one in the situation. I live in the U.K. but come to Jonquiere, Quebec a couple of times a year. The price to use my own phone is pretty bad so have been looking to get a sim on PAYG just to use when I am there – as described by many above its a nightmare trying to find anything and it seems Rogers is the only thing that works in this area. I eventually got a Rogers sim ($10) but trying to get top-ups or even information on them is unbelievable. I love Canada but feel so sorry for you as regards being ripped off like this. I have spoken with Rogers ‘Live Chat’ who told me “They think” I get to keep my sim telephone number when my top up runs out after 30 days until I top it up again when I next come to Jonquiere – DOES anybody know if this is correct? Or when the top up runs out do I also loose the telephone number I presently have ? Any help much appreciated.
This is a useful site for newcomers to payasyougo though in the end the options in Canada are limited and none are cheap. 7-11 is cheapest at $25/year for those needing only occasional calls and texts but no data. Fido has a $35 monthly plan with unlimited local & intl text and incoming calls, evenings and weekends, and 100 daytime mins, good for a month’s visit to Canada. Rogers has $100 annual fee for 1c/min evenings and weekends (39c daytime), 25c texts (or get a plan from $3/month) and occasional data from $1/10Mb/day; roaming available but very expensive. Hope this helps.
As of now, Speakout still offers 365 days for all prepaid amounts. It looks like they will keep this to present themselves as the industry leader. This is why I am with them. If they were to change to be equivalent to all the others, I would probably leave. Why? Because, historically speaking, Petro Canada had better phones to offer. If I could get a better phone and get points from Petro Canada with everything else being equal to Speakout, it’s a no brainer.
Thank you sooo much for all this info!! – I just got my husband an unlocked phone and you saved me a cazillion minutes on Google! Well done!
I’ve heard a lot about ting.com in the US.
It’s essentially a post-paid service, which would be more along the lines of what I’d be interested in.
Anyone know of a similar service in Canada or if there’s ever a chance we could have something like that?
To joanne…. reason why i refuse to go back to telus. They will not let you talk to a supervisor. Im with bell . I have been lucky until recently. Unlimited txt. Unlimited evenings and weekends. 30c local per min. Unlimited data. Now they r putting me down to 1gb. Not to happy about that seeing i use that in two days.. I pay 42.50 a month.
Well just got back from the Virgin kiosk at the mall. The Virgin kiosk(s) no longer sell pay as you go plans or sell you a new phone for pay as you go. You can still buy the phone/plan online.
Found this excellent source of information trawling the web for the best pre-paid option in Canada, thanks so much!
I was leaning towards SpeakOut even before reading the review; however, I found out that it charges a monthly fee of $1.25 for 911 calls, and that minutes available will be reduced by this monthly fee. So again, we’re being punished for small top ups: if your top up is $ 25 for 365 days, that means that you effectively only have 25-(1.25 x 12) = $ 10 for usage, because a full $1.25 a month goes towards the 911 service (and apparently that can’t be waived).
Not sure what other companies’ policies re: 911 calls are, but this sounds like a bit of a dampener on SpeakOut.
That ideal pre-paid option seems to be as elusive as ever…
P.S. I didn’t mean to suggest to waive the right to a 911 call – I just feel that $1.25/month is a bit steep, especially when its a free call from a pay phone.
Petro Mobility does not charge for 911. You only pay tax.
I believe Petro is the cheapest way to go. On a $25 top up ($28.25 with tax) you get 180 days at $.25/min. If you buy gas at Petro get a PetroPoints card and collect points that can be used toward pirchase of top-ups. I use about 30 min./month of calls, which comes to about 7.50. That gets me three months of calling on one $25 top up. If I use less, any extra minutes roll over. About every 9 months I collect enough points for a free $25 top up. That’s $75 ($84.75 with tax) per year for 360 minutes of calling: in real terms that is less than $0.21 per minute, and about $5.00 per month on average. If you have a “dumb phone” and no need for data, this is the cheapest.
If you need data, Koodo pre-pay, as someone mentioned above, is the best way to go. I am upgrading to a smart phone and found the best deal for a decent phone is Koodo pre-pay. I will be getting a Moto G which gets excellent reviews, for $250 and the $15 unlim text monthly plan with the 500 min (at $0.05/min) and 1 gb (at $0.03/mb) boosters. They don’t expire. Given my infrequent calling and low data requiremnts (i will use approx 20mb a month since I mostly use wi-fi), I have calculated that my real monthly cost will be about $18-20/month for the year (that includes the amortization cost of the phone over two years — about the length of time I expect to keep it). It is more than the $5-$7 I currently pay, but is far less than the standard monthly plans ($35 and up) that give me far more minutes and data than I actually need. it is also worth it to no longer have my kids mock me.
By the way, if all you want is a phone for 911 emergencies, you do NOT need any calling plan at all. Any inactive phone will make a 911 call for free.
i needed a sim card for a GPS tracking that i want to put in my bike, so i needed the cheapest pay per use data, and i mean a real per use, where you pay by megabite or what ever, not by day, 711 now charges 10$ a month for ONLY 100MB that expires at the end of the month, WTF. and this is pretty much it across the board.
unless i missed something ?
Speakout at 7-11 has data plans! They start at $10/month for 100 MG with an expiry of 30 days. The website has a tag that says “NEW” beside the data plan. And they claim that you can access the web either through their data plan or via wi-fi hotspots, so that should help.
The best deal on pay as you go data is Koodo. You pay $15/mo. for unlmited text, then add the data “booster” for $30. That gives you 1gb data that never expires as long as you maintain your $15 monthly plan. That’s $.03 per MB.
I have just switched from Petro Mobility, which I have used for about 5 years because my old flip phone died and I moved to a smart phone. If all yu want is phone and text, this is the best deal. If you buy gas and use a Petro Points card you can earn poitns that can be redeemed for phone top up. For $25 you get 180 days of service for $.25 per minute. No 911 fees or network charges. Just HST on the $25 top up. About 2x a year I would have enough points for a $25 top up. Because I call so little, I was paying about $8 month. Hard to beat that. If they had better data plan I would stick with them.
By the way, you can call 911 from any deactivated phone.
Occasional Speakout users beware!
I got 7/11 Speakout for my parents, who come visit me from the US every few months. I thought this would be perfect for them since the minutes last 365 days.
BUT… the SIM card expires after 45 days of non-use, and any remaining credits expire with it!
You’ll then have to go get a new SIM card, because they can’t reactivate it. You’ll also have to buy another voucher.
And if you normally live outside of Canada, there’s no way to use your phone every 45 days, unless you mail it back to someone in Canada so they can occasionally use it until you return.
I just checked the fine print with Petro Canada Mobility and I think it’s similar — the SIM card expires 45 days after credits expire.
Another observation — 7/11s are running out of standard size SIM cards. I had to go to a few in west Toronto before I found one.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought SIM cards only expired 45 days after the expiry period of your airtime minutes. In other words, if I top up airtime today in any denomination, I’m good for 365 days + 45 days before my account becomes deactivated, regardless of whether I use the phone.
It would be very odd for 7-11 Speakout to cancel an account with airtime remaining. I’m looking for an “emergency/occasional use only” service, but it’s possible I wouldn’t turn on the phone for 45 days. Your comment seems to suggest that my SIM card would be deactivated, no matter if there are still days or months before the expiry of my airtime minutes.
As of March 2015, the SIM card stays active for 45 days after the 365-days-from-activation expiry date for your airtime, and you can buy new time good for 365 from activation as long as you do it by the 44th day; however, any unused air time from the prior year doesn’t get carried forward unless you do it on or before the (activation) anniversary date.
Either way, the $1.25 a month for mandatory 911 service comes out of your account on the same day of the month as the account was activated in the first place, and on the day you activate the additional time you get charged any back charges owing.
But the 911 service remains available to you as a free call (all 911 calls are free) until the SIM dies and you lose the number.
I think if you talk only about using technical way as cell technology, 7-11 wins.
BUT, if you use modern technology based on cell AND internet , 7-11 goes to trash.
What I mean, to use VoIP technology (SIP phone).
What in that case you need two things – Cellular Provider to cover ANY place where you are, AND Internet (not Wi-Fi from a cafe) from a provider.
In that case you use VoIP (SIP) phone with over 100 features (incl. voice boxes, caller ID, ID filters, etc. etc. etc. ) and more important rates to call (North America/US+Canada) like 5 bucks per month – unlimited IN / OUT calls, abroad around 1 – 10 cents per minutes.
AND your account NOT expired at all. AND Luxury quality of calls, Plus VIDEO calls between the same providers (VoIP).
In my expirience are two TELUS or BELL $10 / 100MB internet + any voip provider from google search.
I paid 12 dollars (Telus + Voip.ms) per month get UNLIMITED QUALITY calls IN /OUT per US and Canada in ANY place, 10 voice boxes, filters, SMS, 1 cents per minute international calls from my Telus cellular. Plus internet surfing, emails, faxing.
Paul: For high quality calls you need about 1MB/min of data. At $10/100MB that works out to about $.10/min for the data alone, plus whatever you pay for your VoIP/SIP plan. So it’s only “unlimited” when you get free data, e.g. over Wi-Fi.
As of May 2014 — 100MB for $10/ 30 days? I though the web site was a parody someone registered just for fun but in less than a minute reality sunk in that this is real? OMG 100MB? Is this the third world?
I just got a text from rogers pay-as-you-go
As of July 10/14, the /min rate for weekdays 8am-8pm will increase to 45 cents from 39 cents.
Ive tried all and koodoos is the best! Its my only phone for business and personal!
my question, im 63, might make 1 or 2 calls a year, cant afford a monthly bill, dont text, dont want internet, i might get a text or call a day as a couple people call me for a ride.
virgin got shafted 2 times ill never use them again ! 7-11 speakout was good, but no warning, the plan was over phone was dead, and could not reactivate it.
compaired, bought a telus lg phone, was to be good a year ect, only a month and its wanting more money ! and i put a 100.00 card on it a month ago,
You should talk to Telus – a $100 top up is supposed to last 365 days.
Does anyone have experience with an outfit called g3wireless? They seem to be geared toward travelers, but they offer SIMs with Canada numbers and calls from Canada to Canada (or to the USA) are 25 cents per minute – there’s no long distance surcharges. Funds (actually, the SIM card) don’t expire for 6 months, you can keep remaining minutes for another 6 months for a $15 fee, but that fee doesn’t add any minutes, it just keeps the SIM and any funds on it active.
And if you travel to the USA much, the costs drop to 9 cents per minute.
The down sides seem to be:
– data is way to expensive (65 cents per MB), but I plan to use WiFi
– I assume the prices on the website are in USD, so the exchange rate adds a little right now (and who knows for the future)
– limited area codes available
I have used G3 wireless for a number of years.
I gave my wife , daughter, grandson a cheap $15 phone, all with G3 wireless.
Unfortunately it now has sold to IROAM, and you guessed it prices increased %40.
But checking around it is hard to beat for price.
I have used it in Prtugal, England, India, USA
Prices are in Can, in canada for me , when used in good old USA it id ONLY 9c /min
Downside in US reception is spotty unless in built up areas they use TMOBILE.
In Canada they use Bell Telus, I remember making a call from weyburne AB to England no problem all for .25c /min
I live 70k south of OTTAwa where we get by fine with this phone.
There service is crappy, you have to figure things out yourself.
Just a comment on Raj’s statement regarding sim card expiry. We have had a Speakout phone for several years and spend 6 months in the winter in California when the phone is not used and have not had any problem with sim card expiring. We top up once a year in the summer with as much as needed and the service is always there when we come home in the spring.
I would also like to comment on the complaints about minutes expiring. This is also true for prepaid plans in the US although as pointed out, plans there are much cheaper (less than 10 cents per min in some situations, including country wide long distance). But there are many other situations where you pay the same amount whether you use a service a little or a lot, like cable TV. Try asking the cable company to give you an extra month free because you didn’t watch TV last month.
I did alot of research and the plan that I found that was priced well and covered all I needed was with Telus. My plan is as follows: Unlimited Local Weekend Calling + Messaging 20 30days Cost is $20.00 Features included:Call Display Call Waiting
Conference calling Voice Mail 3. 15 cents per minute local and 50 cents North America. Unlimited text North America. 75 cents 911 fee. You can look up your usage and add daily features as needed. As long as you top up before you expire you remaing balance will roll over. Great service and support. This comes from someone that would not have Telus as a home phone if they paid me. Had to eat alot of crow for using the,
As a follow up to my last entry on 26 April 2014: Petro Canada has now joined the Speak Out ranks and is also charging a monthly fee of $ 1.25 for 911 calls – see the small print at the bottom of the page at http://mobility.petro-canada.ca/en/features/401.aspx.
The hunt for the best no frills provider continues…
hi anyone ever herd of Skype is for pc and apple and other stuff it has epic pay as you go 2 cents per min good right
If you are not interested in using your phone for data or for wifi hotspot to stream videos, much of the following does not matter, except perhaps the first para.
Skype is an option, provided you have access to Wifi. Otherwise your readers might want to look at Roam Mobility and G3. Roam offers talk text and data but only in the US. It does not work in Canada. They, like G3, use the T-mobile network. G3 will work all over the world, including Canada. The rates offered by both companies are far better than any of the rates discussed in this thread. As I said if you just want to use the phone for talk and text, these networks may be of interest. You can look them up on the web. Data is a whole other kettle of fish.
T-mobile has the fastest data network in the States but t-mobile coverage there is not as extensive as say AT&T. However, for most of us, the coverage will be more than adequate. I am with G3, having chosen a Canadian number (only available in major cities). G3 roams in Canada with Bell or Telus.
My problem is that T-mobile uses the frequencies (1700 and 1900 AWS) but are updating (they call it refarming) many centres to use the 1900 frequency as well, for 4g service. This is important because many phones on the major networks in Canada use the 1900 frequency for what is called Lte or 4g like service. Wind uses 1700 and 2100 You need both to send and receive, whereas, as I understand it, the 1900 frequency handles both. Many Bell, Rogers and Telus phones come with 4g capability and the 1900 frequency. All this means if you already have a phone with this capability, you could get it unlocked to access the t-mobile network, or you could buy an unlocked phone with these frequencies to do the same. G3 and Roam offer devices that fit the specifications, however both of them have mysteriously stopped selling their respective mobile hotspots which may reflect their confusion as well over t-mobile coverage, or perhaps t-mobile is capping their download rates. I have so far been unable to get an explanation from either Company.
I never thought that when it comes to getting a prepaid phone line will be this exhausting compared to Kuwait. All I need is just an unli data plan on the go and call/txt be taken out of my load per usage.I just move here to work from Kuwait. I was shocked to find out that you get charged or taken out of your airtime minutes or text if you received an incoming call or text. What the…
In Kuwait, I had the Zain network. It’s prepaid. It comes in a Standard size sim card and in it as well, is an outline for the user to break it in nano size. No hassle of worrying how to trim it in nano size.
Just for a reference, 1Kuwaiti Dinar is $3.86 cad. I bought my Zain prepaid sim at $15.42 with a load of the same price, so basically the sim is free. Now here’s the clincher, for a $19.28, I get 1GB fup unli data for 30 days, which means, I get high speed data up to 1GB, once I used it up then my data speed will just slow down but still I can use the internet unlimited until the 30 days expires. There will be a notification too if you want to add-on another hi-speed 3GB or 5Gb. It’s up to the user if he/she will accept it. I just have to maintain 39cents on my load to have the unli data running. Though the call/txt is kinda steep and depends which network, it’s $1.31 per min/txt.
I wasn’t worried though since everyone I know uses VOiP such as Viber, Whatsapp and Kakao to get msgs across and all of us are in unli data or 100Gb plan. And oh, I could use my data plan for tethering to my laptop.
Now here in Canada, I am confused that pay as you go and prepaid are different. The airtime expires. In Kuwait, it just roll over depends how much you top up.
I might go for PetroCanada though. I hope that Canada telecommunications would scrap the incoming call/sms charges and will be available to offer unli data plan with fair use policy on prepaid plans.
First of all, thank you so much for this information that you published and also for all the additional comments. I’m moving from Texas to Victoria, B.C. for 2 years as a result of my teenage daughter winning a scholarship. Thanks to this blog, I unlocked our AT&T phones today and purchased my first sim card for my daughter’s phone. Our data plan seems to not be working and Googlemaps doesn’t load. I’m wondering if anyone else experienced this problem.
As I am going back to the U.S., and wondering what the best plan is short term to be able to call and text Canada. As I am on AT&T, I’m wondering if I should just start Facebook messaging my daughter, which would text her and look for a way to call…skype…or if anyone else has any ideas on the best way to go about staying in touch.
Thanks again for all your hard work and generous sharing of info.
One last question – I have an AT&T plan in the U.S. – Iis there a way to get monthly service without needing a SIN number and Canadian credit card?
I have been using Virgin’s prepaid service for the past 5 years. THE best deal if you use your phone for emergencies. $100 a year – $8 a month! I LOVE it!
I’m curious, but you find this a better option than the $25/year for 7-11 Speak Out? It’s $25 less $1.25 per month 911 fee, but that’s a bargain in comparison unless I’m missing something. Let me know.
I think the speakout has the best deal out there but im with Rogers prepaid as they offer the data add-on that I need. Nothing beats that $25 for a year though. Im happy with my $100-$200 usage for the whole year with SMS, light calls and data.
While other people are just paying $80/month nowadays for 24 months on plans they don’t even use. crazy.
I just callec Virgin Mobile. Their PAYGO is 15 dollars per month. There is no 8 dolloars per month.
I used to be a Virgin Mobile customer and their customer support is awful! From now I am with PC Mobile and they worth it!
I’ve been using prepaid Plans in Canada for the past 10 years. I am with Rogers. I have to top up a $100 which is good for 1 year and its pretty much what I need. I just get that $5 text messaging pack that provides me 250 sent text messages and unlimited received messages, My phone calls would be just .25 cents per minute and .15 cents after the 5 minutes which is not that bad. Now they increased it to .35 cents for the first five minutes and .15 cents after that.
Clearly, I just need text messages for my family and friends so prepaid really works for me. Im at work like 8-10 hours a day and rarely use my phone. My friends laugh at me coz im not with a plan. I tell them that prepaid has saved me almost more than a grand a year and I just buy a smartphone outright from bestbuy or any phone shops that offers a good deal.
Nowadays, you can get a great phone for like $250 which does data and everything pretty much. I signed up to a extra 100MB or 150MB for $10 or $15 bucks data with Rogers and it works like a charm for my emails. =)
Trust me prepaid will save you money if you know your ursage guys. Check out which works for you. I think most people that goes to work 8-10 hours a day does not need that new $80/month plan for 2 years. That is crazy.
I recommend getting a unlocked phone from SONY or Apple as they have 1 year warranty for these phones. Sony is the winner to me though as they have new phones this year in 2014 which are decent and only costs $199,$299, and the best are about $399.
Then, just get a SIM card from Rogers and add a text messaging pack for $5/month for 250 text messages and unlimited received texts messages. and get that $100 top up which is good for 365 days and you can extend another year if you top up another $100. Its like $1200+ bucks for 10 years of mobile service.
Those Sony or apple unlocked phones can have data services too for your email and social networking. You just need to have a data pack from the prepaid company that you are in which costs roughly $10-$15 bucks for 100-150MB of data. which is enough for basic emails on the go and light web browsing.
for like $5SMS + $15data = $20 bucks you get really connected. Not bad. Plus you are not locked up on a contract.
This might work for you but this does really work for me. I recommended it to all my family members and pretty much everyone in my family from grandma to grandchildren now uses pay as you go. They just buy phones outright for the kids and get a prepaid plan and kids have way to get connected with parents. fantastic.
7-11 Speakout is not available in Quebec.
I like the 25 dollar 365 day expiry…7 -11 offers
No other plan offers that here
So if u live in Quebec …u r outta luck..
Concerning 7-11 and Québec… you can buy a sim-card (which I did) and change the phone number on it. Take a drive accross the boarder and enjoy it… unfortunatly for me NO DATA 🙁
God Bless You
I too have Rogers PayGo for a few years now. I’ve been through the PC Mobile experience too, and ended up staying with Rogers for the data option (at that time I think PC Mobile didn’t have a data add-on).
Anyway, I managed to use my Rogers PayGo for less than a $100 every year, thus accumulating more than $100 at the end of a year. Top it up with another $100, to keep my number, and here I am with more than I need in air time. Of course, it would be easy to blow it: buy a monthly data plan for $10 and decrease the balance.
What annoys me the most with Rogers PayGo is the fact that they charge you for any messages left in your mailbox – that includes the “free” cruise and debt management annoying calls (for which there is no way to block – I’m almost sure these spammers are the telcos themselves or have some kind of arrangement) and therefore I disabled my “free” voice mail. This way I’m in control of my spending, and not the spammers. Plus, Rogers charges you by the minute to access your mailbox, so even if you don’t give your number to anybody, you still get spammed and need to pay both for the spammers’ minutes and yours to listen and delete them.
Lastly, as soon as I’m done with Rogers, I intend to go with Sears Connect or a similar offshoot of Rogers with a cheap monthly plan, as they often have double minutes and data promotions for very reasonable prices.
Thanks for that info. A lot of people should take note of what you said regarding voice mail spammers.
I cannot find a phone number anywhere. I would like to talk to someone on the phone.
You should take another look at wind mobile i have my kids on it and they can hot spot for there laptops unlimted texts and evening and weekends 6 kids costs about 35 dollars a month and thats with 10 gigs of data per phone
A word of warning about 7-11 speakout. I’ve been using it for about a year now and strange things sometimes happen to my iphone.. First I noticed that once I got on to speakout it somehow seemed to interfere with my phone accessing wireless. And recently, when I inquired about something, the text they sent me FROZE my phone. The text was huge, I couldn’t scroll to other parts of it, couldn’t leave that screen, and couldn’t even turn off the phone. I contacted Speakout and they said that their sending a text “couldn’t” have caused a problem with my phone and so we’re of no help. Maybe so, but I’ve had the phone for five years with no problems during which time I’ve received many other texts just fine. Enough strange coincidences are motivating me to move. Thanks for the informative site.
Interesting comments. Unfortunately, they mostly prove how easily Canadian telcoms deceive even wary customers…
I bought a Virgin Mobile phone soon after the brand appeared in Canada. Like most users, I was sucked in by the promise that all prepaid cards would have a 365 day activation period. They reneged on that promise in just three months, IIRC.
I complained to a PC magazine’s consumer columnist, and got to correspond with the Operations Director of VMobile Canada. That’s when I learned that Virgin Mobile is just Bell Canada in a bad wig. At the time, supposedly Bell and Branson co-owned the company 50-50, but that was just more malarky, because VM Canada was entirely dependent on Bell’s hardware.
Other promises were soon dropped – that of US roaming for prepaid users was one. More promises were made, such as the free texting between family members who both subscribed. I bought a subscription for my partner, and two more phones (having belatedly read the warranty limitations). IIRC, they dropped that plan within a couple of months of my getting sucked in.
Getting a list of you phone calls was almost impossible. It always took at least three weeks from the time you asked for the list, and it only shows when you called, never the other number, so you couldn’t use it to dispute long distance charges.
There was no caller ID either, so you’d pay for incoming SPAM and wrong numbers. So we used our phones only for text messaging. I don’t even want to think about how much each text ended up costing us.
The only economy you could make was to buy a $25 card, and at the end of the 60 day activation period (but not a minute afterward) change to the $10 monthly plan., which would usually let your run another two months on the initial $25 card.
VBell never allowed you to schedule that change in advance, and almost always, the system mysteriously timed out when trying to change the plan to save the $20+ credits you had left. At first it was just a “time out” you could never beat, but later on it became “no plans available”.
When this happened I had to rattle cages at the top to get my credits reinstated. Called plain old customer service, even talking to supervisors almost never worked. And this was never fixed, despite my repeated suggestions to national managers.
The last time I tried this, this past Fall, I discovered that the minimum monthy prepaid was now $25, which blew the whole plan out of the water. I note that they’ve now backpedalled and created a $15 monthly plan…
As it happens, I inherited a Rogers cell with a $100 prepaid on it, and though “nobody could be worse than Virgin Bell”. I WAS WRONG.
Rogers prepaid makes you pay for even incoming texts, unless you pay $3 a month. You get no voicemail (with Virgin Bell you pay to pick up voicemail by cell, but you can do it free via a landline).
Rogers prepaid support is unbelievably crappy. I spent an hour or so on the chat line to tech support trying to fix the inability to text a Rogers cell from a PC (ie. #######@pcs.rogers.com), something I’d never had a problem with at Virgin Bell. Then the tech told me, oh, we don’t support prepaid on the chat line, you have to phone in. Funny, I got to the chat option via the prepaid page, and there was no warning there.
So, I line up for phone support, claw my way through to a technician, who determines for himself that, yes, he can’t send me an SMS on my Rogers phone from a PC. He says he’ll kick it up to level 2 support where they’ll fix it in the morning, and asks how I’d like to be contacted. Naturally, I tell him e-mail. He says ok, but give me a phone number too, and I did.
The next morning I get an anonymous “do not reply” e-mail saying “problem fixed”, but it’s not. And telling to get back in line on the main phone number if there’s any problem. So I phone again, get some customer service monkey, and he wants me to tell him the whole damn story so he can trouble shoot it . I get a little frustrated, ask him what level of tech support he’s at (zero, of course) tell him I don’t waste my time on level zero when level two couldn’t help, and give him the reference number and tell him to pass it on to tech support.
I received no further e-mails, nor did anyone phone the number I gave. And guess what, the problem isn’t fixed yet AND I’ve found that the same problem occurs (I get the same error message) when I send text message from my PC to other people’s Rogers cell.
I’ve still got a $75 credit, and would have to “top up” this week to keep it, but have decided to drop kick Rogers into the waste basket. Ma Bell herself is even more expensive on prepaid, so it looks like I may have to hold my nose and buy another VBell card.
One thing everyone should be aware of is the content ownership clauses in cell terms and conditions. I haven’t read them all, but I have read Virgin Mobile Canada’s. And like Facebook and Google, when you subscribe to VMobile Canada services, you give them a PERPETUAL WORLDWIDE ROYALTY-FREE LICENCENSE TO USE AND MODIFY ANY CONTANT YOU TRANSMIT BY OR POST TO their system.
So if you’ve got a million dollar video of Bigfoot or little green men on your phone, or you just recorded the greates little song since raindrops on it, you’d better keep that in mind before sending it off to a potential publisher via your Virgin Mobile phone.
Amazing post. Thank you!
I found cheapest one in Cellcom 🙂
My head is just spinning with information!! I am not any closer to coming up with a decision about a prepaid phone!
I’ve never had a cell phone (nor do I want one now) but with the kids being teenagers now and going out without us, I feel it’s time to have one. My husband has a Bell $100/year prepaid: .39/min call, .20 text and .05/min evening & weekends and we are always left with 30-40$ at the end of the year ( yeah that’s how often we use it) but the plan he has no longer exists.
After finding this blog I started doing more research:
I was interested in the speak out prepaid, but there are no 7-11 in our province.
Petro seemed interesting, but the coverage seems iffy.
Rogers has a deal of 100 min airtime, 1 year unlimited text OR nights & weekends but .50/min after the 100 minutes are gone. After reading comments here, do I risk it?
All I want is a phone to give to the kids when they are out and we are not home.
I know eventually, when they are old enough to get jobs, they will get their own phone and probably use texting, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.
Any other advice?
One thing in Wind’s favour if you are in the coverage area is that all incoming calls are free.
I have been trying to figure out what to do for years. Here’s my situation:I work/live in Canada and have a weekend place in the United States. I have an iPad for data and only need a phone for brief calls both in Canada and in the U.S. I had a prepaid phone from Verizon that ended up accumulating $149 and I forgot to top up on time so I lost all the money. The problem with Verizon was that it stopped roaming in Canada so I couldn`t even use it in Canada. I have another $10/month plan with Consumer Cellular which is fine but it supposedly desn’t work either as soon as you corsss the border.I really need to have two separate phones. Is there a U.S. or Canadian plan that doesn’t offer me unlimited everything for $100/month. There are months when I don’t use a cell phone at all and I don’t make many calls in either country so what should I do and of course my husband is in the same boat. We don’t need 4 phones to make 1 call every couple of months… Any advice will be greatly appreciated. It may be that the 7/11 would be a good choice for Canada but does it workif it is physically in the United States?
This is one of those topics where reality butts up against best hopes.
I was in a position of needing to pay as I go because of no credit, but I did have a physical smartphone, so I did my homework in 2013 and went with Petro Canada’s plan. Being able to top up online from my bank account became the norm.
However, I never seemed to get more than two weeks before I was putting in another $15 dollars or more. In other words, a minimum of $30 per month and still running out of air time. The reality was two things: Where I live, anyone I want to talk to or who wants to call me, is a long distance call. Petro Mobility does not have an after hours feature (as of Spring 2015)
Secondly I can’t be cutting people off in a serious conversation because I don’t want to pay for the call. I had a good job interview going on the phone (she called me) but it ran over 40 minutes!!! Was I going to tell this person I can’t talk now, I’m out of minutes? My time ran out just seconds after the interview ended. If she had wanted to call back for another question, I would have been unavailable until I could get to some device with data to transfer in money to the plan.
I have one remaining relative in Canada but she is long distance so it gets very awkward to keep in touch.
One other issue was the lack of an accounting of my call time. I like being able to log in somewhere and seeing a track of my call times and numbers.
Presently I am looking at getting a normal monthly plan with someone like Fido that allows me to use my old unlocked phone. I may have to buy a Fido SIM but that’s a small issue compared to the feature of having unlimited minutes after work hours, which was probably over half of my call time anyway.
I use G3 wireless
It just got sold to IROAM. now teir prices increased 40% so looking for better, but reading the comments it still looks good for occasional user
35c /min anywhere in Canada no roaming charge , $15 every 6 months , all prepaid carried forward.
Use it ni the good old USA it is only GET THIS 9/c /min
They use Bell and Telus which ever has best range
In US they use T MOBILE
WHY DO WE PAY FOR INCOMING CALLS OR TEXT??
I am on rogers pay as you go and they have just informed me that my long distance is going to be 55c per min on top of my local time of 35c min which is going to be 90c per min for all long distance incoming and out going.
I am on Vancouver island and its all pretty much long distance
My biggest beef is why do I pay for someone calling me or texting me ?
if someone wants to call me or text me do you not think that they should pay??
another thing is if I call or text another pay as you go user I pay for the out going and they pay for the incoming double whammy. we should only pay for what we use ..one more thing telemarketers and wrong number dialed, 90cents to say sorry you have the wrong number cant screen calls as am looking for work and need to answer all calls
Here’s the problem with canada and canadians. Bragging about standard of living comes at a price. Cell phones and plans is one of them.
Doing basic research will show you that PC Mobility, Petro-Can and Speakout all tack on long distance charges. If you’re not in one of the big canuck cities, you are screwed.
How’s 45 cents to 50 cents a minute sound? Yep that’s what’s gonna happen. They all “market” themselves as having “national” coverage “implying” that you only pay 20 cents or 25 cents/min. for “national” calling.
Not true. Go and read the fine print. They double it if your call is outside your designated area. Rip me off! I’m canadian.
Enter a U.S. postal code and checkout American prepaid rates. Not the greatest but certainly not canuck mafia telco rates either.
“…the $25 card is good for 60 days and the $15 is good for 30 days. Given that information, what is the point of bothering? It’s a good as a monthly plan.”
I was thinking the same thing. I was just about to buy a Moto G when I started looking at the pre paid plans. If I have to add money every month then I might as well have a monthly plan.
If I get a prepaid the money will either get used up in minutes, or expire. In the meanwhile, the carrier can use your money for whatever they want. Like you said, I want a cell phone for emergencies, but if you don’t keep adding money to it, the carrier will disconnect your sim card, making it completely useless. If I keep adding money to keep my phone on the network, the minutes will continue to add up, but I can’t get them back. They are really the property of the carrier.
This is nothing more than a way to push people into using the cellphones on a regular basis, and get them used to spending large amounts of money of phones.
Wake up Canadians! My phone bill is about 12 dollars a month. I know many people who spend $70 a month and more on a phone. That’s crazy! Your flushing money down the toilet.
The cell phone people say they have to pay for the infrastructure, but the reality is the majority who have cellphones use them to excess and pay for the system. Cellphone carriers in Canada are not hurting for money. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have a minimum charge cellphone plan for emergencies, no more than $3 a month. There isn’t a cost to having a sim card registered, it’s all automatic.
No, Canadians are simply being ripped off, and the federal government is not interested in helping consumers. Witness the give away legislation, the so called cellphone rights of Canadians. It looks like it was written by the cell phone carriers lobbyists.
Hi! I really enjoyed your article! Thanks for your efforts and time to share! I had a terrible experience with a SIM card pkg I purchased last time I went to visit my family in Edmonton! I live in New Zealand and fly home once every 18 months – 2 years and I stay for 4 weeks minimum. Anyhoo…I purchased a Telus SIM card pkg at Future Shop with my credit card. Seemed easy enough but…nooooo. As soon as I got online to choose a pay as you go plan and/or purchase additional time, I learned that they weren’t happy to accept my ‘International’ credit card. How frustrating! So I offered to give her my parents CC but was then informed that the card name and account holder name had to be the same. Arrrgh. Okay so then let’s put the account in my Dads name (I’m over 40, by the way.) On same trip, I was visiting some friends on Vancouver Island and found out I moved ‘out of zone’ tried to buy some more time and spoke to someone lovely from Mexico (I think?) who told me that although they still couldn’t accept my credit card on phone or online,I could go to future shop and purchase a voucher with my credit card. Aaaargh! Well, I was no where NEAR a future shop.This was super frustrating!! I spent way too much time on the phone with Telus customer care and far too much money in the end. Obviously, Telus is not interested in ‘one -off’ or travellers business. But…they sure got a chunk of money out of me on that occasion. I’m on my way back to Canada next week and will again be in the position to buy another SIM pkg for my phone. I will look into the 711 pay as you go pkg as you suggest. I will be there for approx 80 days, Alberta and BC and at the end of the day, I need it to be convenient to use ( purchase additional min) and cost effective. Otherwise, I just REALLY limit my communication to essential texting only and keep my Kiwi phone plan. Anyone here have suggestions? Thanks in advance for your time. Cheers!
711 IS A SCAM. You purchase a data plan, then log into your account which makes it look like all you have to do is click the button beneath your plan to ad and “add on”.
In fact you can’t do that, and nowhere does it tell you that until AFTER you try clicking the button, and AFTER you purchased your plan, and AFTER you added more money to your account to buy the add on.
So, you think that you can just wait for the plan to expire and purchase a new plan with data. No. What happens is when you surpass the minutes you purchased and were locked into in your plan, it takes the rest of the money you have on your account. Again, this is not put into print anywhere the customer can see it, it is either hidden (well) the information is not there at all. I looked through their site with a fine tooth comb.
No print out of how the minutes were used either, which is highly suspect for a person who makes almost no phone calls. AVOID this company, this is another ROGERS scam (yup, rogers owns 711 speakout
I love my kodoo $15.00 a month for unlimited Canada wide text. With a $25.00 Canada wide talk booster at $.05 a minute until i use it all. Wether it takes 5 days or 5 years. all i have to do is keep paying the $15.00 a month
I spend a lot of time in the U S and need a phone that works on both sides of the border. I am using iRoam (formerly G3 Telecom) I pay $14.95 every 6 mos to renew my SIM card, that has a US number. Above that I top up my credit balance periodically. The per minute charges are simple: from the US to anywher in North America is .09 sents a minute, From Canada to the US is .25 cents and from Canada to Canada is .35 cents a minute. Go and figure the logic of these rates. One advantage is that my credit balance has no expiry.
HST is added to all charges. Yes I agree we are being rooked in Canada. Where can we complain???
ROGERS WAS CHEPEST for least minimum user guys on yearly basis $100 rates. ROGERS IS CHOKING THROATS of PAY AS YOU GO CUTOMERS by increasing their per minute rate to 50cent/min. WOW! look here 50cent/minute when other side of the globe rates are as low as 1 or 2 cent per minute. NOT ONLY THAT Rogers charges you for all incoming calls regardless when where! OF COURSE THEY HAVE $100 yearly PLAN but their C/SVC told us they want to KILL this plan by raising those rates to SKYHIGH so that customers will have no OTHER option but come to a monthly min=$50 plan. ROGERS ALSO QUITTING CALL BLOCK services for PAY AS U GO. Now ROGERS according to a rumor is thing to increase daytime rates for PAY AS U GO to $5/minute and eve and weekends[which was 1 cent/min] to $1/minute; so that NO ONE STAYS ON THIS PLAN and that’s what they want is to ABOLISH THIS OLDER PLAN!!
WIND really is the best. I have 30$/mo plan with unlimited data up to 5GB (after 5gb it turns to their “fair usage policy”) and unlimited talk/text Canada wide. I also have unlimited US “video and picture messaging”, but I don’t know what that is. It also has discounted roaming rates etc.
The important part is, that when I visit my parents outside if the WIND coverage zone, I just pay by the minute at 15c/min. No need for a second phone. Their AWAY rates are already cheaper than any pay-per-use rates by any other carrier by mile. And I have one of the cheapest plans. At $30/mo I’m sitting on my 4G highspeed streaming movies for no extra charge beside my friends who pay $75/mo or MORE and still use up their data.
And if I wanna visit the US or travel the country or whatever, I just tell wind that I’m gonna be gone for a bit and they add 10 bucks that month for whatever add-on suits my needs like “world traveller” or “unlimited US roaming and data” etc. I love WIND, and their coverage gets better every year. I get home network coverage throughout Vancouver, all the way to the US border and all the way through to abbotsford. That covers most of the BC lower mainland population.
I had an issue – I am based, mostly in the US but do go into Canada. I wanted a cellphone that would work in most of the regions of Canada but, was pay as you go.
I thought 7-11 was the solution but hit the web and discovered that, for me? T-Mobile has better options.
You can buy a pay as you go smart phone (can be as low as $29 used, or $59 new) and, it will work both in the US and Canada. If you want to use it in Canada? For your dates there, change your monthly plan to the $50 a month and you have unlimited talk, text and data, US AND Canada. Then when you are back in the US, you can swap it to a much cheaper plan per month.
This may not help everyone, I get that. But it was enough of a game changer for folks who will be there a month or two out of the year and thought they had to buy a cheapie/burner phone, that I thought it worth sharing.
Thank you so much for publishing this account of your pre-paid cell research. You have saved me countless hours in researching a plan for my blind friend.
I have been using the Telus pre-paid plan for myself for the last 2 years. It is $10.50 / mth including GST and I get auto top-up if my balance is near zero. Although I have found this quite satisfactory, I am always ready to consider a cheaper/better plan.
You have done a great service to many Canadians. I look forward to any updates.
You completely forgot Virgin mobile. I pay $100 for an year and the credits do not expire for 365 days.
Go with koodo prepaid. 15$/MONTH and you get the basics (call display, unlmtd texting, voice mail…) 25$ for 500min and 30$ for 1GB. The minutes and data NEVER EXPIRE (unless you dont pay the 15$ for 3 months).
you can look at it this way:
15$ – unlmtd texting, voicemail, call display…
0.05$/min – calling
0.03S/min – for 1mb
This is the cheapest and most efficient plan i found. I use it with my nexus 5 from google play and the coverage is awesome. Checkout koodo prepaid website
I am looking for a good deal for prepaid plan Do you have the latest comparison of prepaid plans which run for 365 days or 1 year ?
Most prepaid companies charging $0.75 per month 911 fee. Sound not much, but it’s 2 – 3 minutes air time or 4 – 5 text message per month. PC doesn’t charge 911 fee in Ontario.
Few year ago I switched to PC. It wasn’t easy. One of Loblaws store manager was kind enough to order SIM card for me and they give me a call to pick it up. Also, at some point, PC has special $5 per month for 100MB data. Once I’ve got it, I am holding for it. Now they don’t even have monthly data plans.
The thing about 7-11 phone plans is that 7-11 pulled out of the eastern Ontario market around 2009 or so. I think the closet 7-11 might be in Oshawa, which is a wee bit of a drive from Ottawa.
And I won’t tell you how longed I researched the SpeakOut plans in the hopes of getting one. I looked at their store locator, and there were no “icons” showing a store in Eastern Ontario.
I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s not right. I know where the closet 7-11 is.”
They’re all Mac’s now.
I will be going overseas for 6 mths but I don’t want to lose my cell phone number. I’ve thought of buying a prepaid plan and keep my number. Does anyone know how long prepaid plans will last if it is inactive with $0? Can I transfer my current phone number to a prepaid plan like speakout? What do you suggest?
Nothing wrong with the $100 a year plans. I have one with Virgin and I can afford a mere $8/month. I like it because i use it only for emergencies. I now have another phone and I am aiming on going with TELUS with that one.
What I want is a minimal PATG _data_ plan that does not expire in 30 days!
What prepaid plan offers free incoming CALLS as they do with Vodafone in India?
You were totally right about the PC mobile disorganization… So frustrating!
Evaluated all the options and PC looked easily the best for my needs.. The shorter expiry on lower voucher was not an issue, as I intend to use data every month anyway and expect to use up the credit before it expires.
But it’s impossible to get a sim!! Called their customer service to find the nearest retail location, told me superstore about 20 mins away had ’em. Got there, no sims… Told me another location about 40 mins away had some. Went all the way there and they had none… These guys told me there were no prepaid sims anywhere in the province.. Waste of half a day for nothing
Hi I’m going Canada starting at Calgary then heading up to Alaska will need a phone card will be there for 3weeks just need something to contact the family maybe some internet and the net so I can use Google maps if I get lost which I probably will so what can you recommend for us got an unlocked phone so any card should work please email me with the best solution kind regards Alan
Hello please could you tell us if you finally kept your prepaid with PC mobile, afteralle these years?
Im from quebec and looking for the cheapest prepaid…. hesitating between pc mobile and petrocanada mobile….. thanks for the advice!
It will help others because by searching for a cheap prepaid emergency phone in canada we land on this site and your review of the different choices we have helps a lot.
would just like to know years later in 2016 if you changed your mind and why
thanks in advance !
Thanks for you comments. I am in the midst of creating an updated article which as you point out, is likely a good idea. PC Mobile these days? I’m not trying to give a lame reply, but honestly speak to their customer service if data is what’s important to you. I’ve been with them for a long while and they have adjusted their data offerings (not for the better). Thanks for visiting!
Use Voip Voice over IP (thats really what your smart phone is doing anyhow)
I have a soft phone app on my tablet (VoIp client) there are many freebie ones available in the app store or on Play, some feature laden ones cost. However all work.
Then I opened an account with the Canadian firm voip.ms (www.voip.ms) and it cost about a 1.25 CAD amount to have a Canadian phone number in your province, or port yours in for about $12 CAD. It has loads of features, call forwarding, ring in multiple locations (i,e, home phone as well) voice mail (unlimited), vm to email, CID… hell everything even texting, but via a separate app.
Codecs, think of these as speech compressors, the g711 is the best sounding and the g729 is the industry standard (cell phone like quality)
Cost for USA/Canada premium (very good quality) service is .009 cents US per minute that works out to .012 CAD, or $1.00 US gets about 110 mins.
You don’t need anything better than a 3G connection, and if your in a hot spot, personal Wifi zone, of course data is not used from your plan
So get a data only plan, and use this calulation based on:
g711 you get about 100 mins per 100Mb of data plan
g729 you get about 250 mins per 100Mb of data plan
eg. Fido Tablet plan $10 for 150mb gives you 150mins of HQ voice or 500 mins of Standard voice
Well, it is nice to realize one is not alone in dealing with morons. My wife and I had a PC mobile top up plan and we had to change the SIM cards of our phones. Trying to get them at the PC mobile kiosks in Ottawa was mission impossible. They would send one from one kiosk to another. And to make things worse I called technical support and the person that took my call suggested I should ask the people at the kiosks to bring the SIM card for me! According to this it seems the people at the kiosks have not been trained to offer you that option. No, you have to tell them because it seems they cannot figure that out….
Using Koodo for cell service and Acrovoice for home phone (VOIP) we have our total household phone bill (2 cellphones and a home phone) down to $44 a month. Hard to beat that.
Ive been with wind for 3 years now. Now that Shaw bought it and changed it to Freedom, they also added a new standard package. $55 dollars a month gets you 8gb full speed data along side of unlimited everything. free roaming for talk text and data anywhere in Kanukia, which means no more worring about having cash on account to cover roaming. no third party apps to download, no hunting for wifi to make a call, and roaming virtually ceases to exist. My current package there at $40 is good with 5gb of data, but that extra $15 dollars a month creates a deal that NONE of the other carriers can match just on data alone. Shaw has been rolling out the LTE across the old Wind network, city by city, I live in Calgary so I wont see that until next year, but it doesnt matter. Im tethered to my Moto G right now and it works fine, no extra charge. Prior to this I was with Petro Canada buying minutes every month or so, spending near $50 too with no Data. Ive had a few issues when it was Wind, like inflexible billing dates that caused my no cash value bonus premium add ons to be credited 3 days after my payment date, making them worthless as an incentive to BYOP, but Ive hung in and all in all, its been a good experience at a price i can live with.
I use Petro Canada Mobility PCM. It is without contract, pay as you go, I buy air time for $25 valid for 4 months, that is the equivalent of about $4 dollars per month.
But there are problems: By simply talking on the phone, it depletes quickly the time, too fast, is my impression.
Also, I was upset to find out that incoming text messages are also charged! What a bunch of thieves!
Yet, I dont use the phone very much; actually, rarely I use it because nobody calls me, LOL, so I guess there is no better plan that I could pay less than $6/month (in theory), except perhaps in those third worl countries of Asia and the middle east.