If you plan on staying in Canada for more than a year it is worthwhile to join a phone company with a cell plan. The ones that hold the majority of the nationwide market share are Telus, Bell, Rogers, and Fido. These companies offer special rate plans and usually offer discounts on mobile phones if you commit to a one-, two- or three-year plan. However, there are new up-and-coming cell phone service providers (Koodo and Public Mobile, for example) that are giving these companies a run for their money by offering cheaper rate plans. Their phones are pretty basic, but if you don’t care about having the latest Blackberry or iPhone, then these companies might be right for you.
If you plan to embark on a career or do any kind of professional work in Canada, it is recommended that you sign up to a cell plan with data and unlimited texting and calling, at least for local calls. You will probably find that it gives you greater freedom and opportunity to establish yourself and network. It might also save you money in the long run, as you will not incur additional charges beyond the monthly fee.
Key questions to ask:
- What will it cost to terminate your contract?
- Is caller ID included? Yes, this is an extra in Canada.
- Should I dig deep for additional costs such as additional texts or minutes. Are there roaming fees? What happens in event of damage? Who pays? What is covered under contract?
Some quick facts:
● “Pay-as-you-go” costs a lot more in Canada than most other countries. Most “Pay-as-you-go” plans charge you for receiving calls — a bizarre concept for many immigrants.
● Contracts, on the other hand, are generally for a minimum of three years. However, you can sell your plan or pay a fine to break your contract (around $20/month up to maximum of $400 for breaking contract). Searching Craigslist for cheap phone plans is highly recommended.
● Caller ID and voice mail require additional fees, whether on bill phone or pay-as-you-go.
● The Rogers SIM card that one gets for free from Irish organization USIT/SWAP (a $10 value) will charge you to receive calls so your free credit will disappear very quickly. It’s best to assess your options and find a more sustainable plan as soon as you can.
● Wind , a new mobile phone company in Vancouver, offers an extremely cheap phone plan. Be wary, however, that at the moment coverage does not extend beyond Vancouver City (i.e., no coverage in the UBC area or Surrey, for example).
● Koodo offers a very cheap monthly plan with no three-year commitment
● Other cheap cell phone plan providers: Fido (owned by Rogers) , Solo (owned by Telus), Chatr (owned by Rogers)
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