Best Phone Plans for Canadian Newcomers: How to Avoid Expensive Contracts and Data Plans

Finding the best phone plan for Canadian newcomers may prove to be more difficult than you expect. Beware of hidden fees, early termination dates, and generous offers the providers will make to try to get you on the hook.

Some of the most common questions we’re asked by those newly arriving in Canada is which cell phone plan to purchase, how to select the right cell phone plan, and why mobile traffic, on the whole, is so expensive in Canada.

Unfortunately, it’s true: after coming to Canada either as an immigrant or in temporary status — as a worker or a student — you’ll quickly find that cell phone plans here generally run more expensive than in other parts of the world. A month of cell service in Canada can cost you anywhere from 50 to 100 CAD.

Sounds too pricey? Here are some tips and tricks to getting a better deal on a phone plan.

Consider a Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) Plan

If you already have a smartphone, bring it with you when you move to Canada — this will solve half of the problem. What will be left is finding a BYOP plan that caters to your needs.

The provider and plan you end up with will largely depend on the province you end up moving to. While most BYOP plans in Canada are similar, providers in Saskatchewan may have an entirely different price range and conditions of service than those in Manitoba because they cater to these locations only.

Here’s a lineup of the top three of the best BYOP plans as of June 2020:

  • Koodo Mobile — 35 CAD per month of service (prepaid plan, mobile data not included, unlimited Canada-wide calling and messaging).
  • Virgin Mobile — 55 CAD per month of service (unlimited calls, unlimited Canada-wide and international messages, 4 GB of mobile data).
  • Fido — 60 CAD per month of service (prepaid plan, unlimited Canada-wide calling and messaging, 1 GB of mobile data).

Be Sure to Read the Fine Print on Your Data Plan

Be sure to read the fine print before signing your agreement: most companies will provide a plan that sounds good on paper, but will only abide by the advertised prices for the first month.

It’s easy to select a cell phone plan based purely on its monthly cost, however, there is so much fine print that comes with these plans that it may be tricky to figure out what you’re actually going to be paying for. Rather than diving into a contract head-first, do your research in order to figure out what would make the most sense price-wise.

Choose a provider with solid coverage in your town and province, review your traffic to calculate an average amount of data your plan will need to have and be wary of the perks the provider may offer to persuade you to switch to its network — like free out-of-country roaming packages and unlimited data.

Beware of Early Cancellation Fees

What if you decide to leave your current cell service provider for a better deal? Dropping your current plan isn’t always as easy as phoning up and quitting.

Some regular contracts and most BYOP plans include an early termination fee (or “ETF”). Providers use them to guarantee that they make back the money they spent on equipping you with a free phone or getting you to sign up in the first place.

It’s difficult to unintentionally incur an ETF: the rules are always spelled out in the agreement you sign. There is no way of getting out of paying it either. Refusing to pay may affect your credit score and — worse still — can lead to your provider-issued phone getting blacklisted.

Picking the Best Canadian Phone Provider

Finding a plan that works just right might seem like a hassle, but is totally doable as long as you do the research and thoroughly compare all of the providers available in your area.

Looking to avoid the number crunching? Contact our team for help and advice.

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