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A comparison of Canadian pay-as-you-go cell phone plans

First published on December 20, 2006

Here are some handy links to information about pay-as-you-go plans for the major Canadian carriers. Most prepaid plans are a rip-off as your credit expires after 30 days for most lower amounts, thus making them pretty darn similar to monthly plans. The two most important details for a customer like me are 1) how long credit lasts and 2) the per-minute calling rates.

At the end of 2006 I switched from Rogers Wireless to 7-Eleven Speak Out (and am very happy with it) and posted a detailed comparison.

On speakoutwireless.ca there’s a very good rundown of which plans are most cost-effective depending on your per-month usage.

Company Top-up & Rates Voicemail included Special notes
Rogers Wireless Top up cards page
Rates page
X
Bell Mobility Top up cards page
Rates page
Telus Mobility Chart on prepaid plans
Top up page
X
Fido Chart on prepaid plans
Top-up page
X
Virgin Mobile Rates chart
Top-up page
X
7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless Information page
Unofficial forum
X - SIM cards available at 7-Eleven stores for $10
Petro-Canada Mobility Top up cards information
Rates page
X - SIM cards can be purchased at participating Petro-Canada gas stations for $15
President’s Choice Telecom Top up cards page
Rates page
X
Wind Mobile Information page - limited time offer with free incoming calls
– runs on less common 1700/2100 MHz network bands

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130 Responses to “A comparison of Canadian pay-as-you-go cell phone plans”


  1. Jeff says:

    Hi Peter:

    Thanks for doing this. I too am happy with the freedom my 7-11 phone gives me. My only reservation is that I can’t find out my call history (I want to make sure the computer got it right!), as I forget when I’ve used the phone, and am always wondering why my balance is dropping so quickly, when I don’t think I’ve used the phone hardly at all! My other major issue is the add-on changes that you’re not told about when you start out. The cost of the phone is more, I think, than just the per-minute chages for calls or text messages – there are a bunch of sneaky add-ons that I would VERY much like to see explained better up front, and detailed thru some sort of a call/account history or statement. Right now, you are at the mercy of the 7-11 computer, and it seems to be a bit too arbitrary for my liking! I have had some success calling up customer service and getting them to look at my account history, but it would be much better if I could do that online myself, or thru a free call (like for account balance – that works really well).

    I really like how easy it is to check your voice mail, and to change your message.

    All the best,

    Jeff Hawker
    Nanaimo, BC


  2. Newbie says:

    What a great Idea. I thought i was the only one who would be smart enough to take the sim card out of a Speak Out Cell phone and put it in a flashier cell phone. Now I can walk around with a stylish Chocolate with an inexpensive plan! Happy in Van


  3. trish says:

    Hi Peter,

    I was wondering if there are any pay as you go plans avaliable which have free incoming calls, regardless of the origin of the phone calls. My parents call me long distance, and I can’t seem to find a cell phone provider, monthly or pay as you go, that will allow me to recieve international calls for free. Is this possible?

    If not, I would still be interested in the provider who has the best rates for incoming calls from the US or elsewhere abroad.

    Thanks!
    trish


  4. Peter says:

    What about Skype? It’s free :D

    I don’t know of any pay as you go plans in Canada that give you free incoming calls. 7-Eleven’s Speak Out Wireless service seems to have the cheapest rate at 20 cents per minute.

    Also, try posting on the forums at speakoutwireless.ca — the others there might be able to help you.


  5. brent says:

    The cheapest prepaid service in Canada would be PC mobile… Airtime rate is only 20 cents a minute andlong distance is 43 cents unless u buy the long distance cards then its 25 cents anywhere in canada. Also if u want u can add unlimited calling evenings and weekends for 25$ a month,free internet browser for 5$ a month and you can pick from two text messaging bundles- 30 text msgs.for 3$ a month or unlimited texting for 10$…The only downsides of this service is theres only 3 phones to choose from but u pay a pretty cheap price for it.also depending where you live it may be difficult to purchase top up cards (if you don’t want to use credit card)
    because they can only be found at places that sell pc products such as Atlantic super store. Oh and yes you can transfer mo helpsst cell phone numbers over to this service if u wish to and you get a 10$ start up credit with your purchase of a pc mobile phone…YOU must buy a pc mobile phone in order to use this service.All in alli thinks its a great service and i am happy with it…Hope this helps


  6. Peter says:

    That $5 a month Internet browsing is pretty awesome. The one downside vs. 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless I think is the expiry date on airtime if you don’t use your phone much. At PC, the expiry period for $15 is 30 days, and for $25 it’s 60 days. At 7-Eleven, the expiry period for $25, $50, $75 or $100 is all 365 days.


  7. Karen says:

    My son recently moved out and I would like to get him a cell phone. I didn’t want him to be stuck to a contract. Is the pay-as-you-go a good alternative? I thought it would be good for him to be forced to track his usage and when he’s out of “time” he’ll have to learn to budget, etc. What are you thoughts. Sounds like you think the 7-11 plan is pretty good. Have you researched other plans lately? Are you still on the 7-11 plan after one year?


  8. Amanda says:

    Hey Peter I heard that the bell pay-as-you-go plan has free internet and texting. since I primarily use my phone for texting and sometimes internet I thought this would be the best idea but does bell really have free internet as well? and how do I get it? thanks so much


  9. Peter says:

    They do have the “Unlimited Mobile Browser” but no unlimited Internet, especially on a pay as you go plan. Be aware that the Internet and the Unlimited Mobile Browser are not the same. You should do your own research on the Bell website, but the Unlimited Mobile Browser provides you with a subset of sites as pre-chosen by Bell. It might suit your needs and it might not.


  10. cristina says:

    I am getting a pay-as-you go phone for my parents. They would like one that has the possibility of slipping in an Italian SIM card when in Italy.
    Do you know what I look for…is it dual-band and/or GSM, if they are in fact one in the same….
    Thank you so much for this service!
    It is great!!!!!
    Cristi


  11. Peter says:

    Hi Cristi,

    Check this thread. Basically, you need a GSM phone that is at least tri-band, and if it’s quad-band then that’s best.


  12. HRS says:

    Can you transfer a current cell phone number to an Easy Speak phone?


  13. Peter says:

    Yes, with wireless number portability in Canada, you should be able to transfer cell phone numbers between any of the providers. If you are talking about Speak Out Wireless, see http://www.speakoutwireless.ca


  14. Amanda says:

    ok so me and my mother share a phone but she needs it for works which means i like never get to use it. & i need it when i go out with freinds and to call my dad to pick me up from school & im tired of borrowing my freinds cell phone. I mom told me to get my own cell phone when i have a job but i dont exactly have one & the plans cost too much so i cant really afford it. But i heard theres this thing called a pay as you go ? What exactly is it?


  15. Peter says:

    Hi Amanda. Instead of a monthly plan, you load some money onto the account ahead of time and then your account is deducted whenever you use the phone. Click on the links on this page to check out the plans (costs and phone details) for the different cell phone service providers.


  16. Christine says:

    I was wondering, if I can find an used phone and SO Sim Card, how would I know/get a phone number for it?? Won’t you get a phone number if you buy a new phone? What if you buy an used one?? Where does the phone number come from?


  17. Peter says:

    Hi Christine, the phone number is attached to the SIM card, not the phone. That’s what makes the number portable, since you can take out the SIM card and put it into any unlocked GSM (this is the type of phone used by Rogers, Fido, 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless, and Petro Canada Mobility) phone.


  18. Christine says:

    Can a SIM card expire? and the phone number be given away?


  19. Peter says:

    Yes, SIM cards can expire. Each carrier has different rules for the amount of time that can pass after an account’s balance has reached zero before your number is "recycled".


  20. LoriN says:

    I have a question – I am going to be in Canada for 3 weeks and would like a pay as you go cell phone while I am there – do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks


  21. Peter says:

    Hi, I’ve just written a new post about this:

    http://www.theblog.ca/canadian-sim-traveller

    I hope that helps. The cell phone scene in Canada is not very traveller friendly and your best bet is to buy a SIM card from someone else (not a retailer), if possible.


  22. gary says:

    My wife and I have been obsessed with not using our cells since january 07 when we were driving down the highway in my convertible (yeah Iknow it was winter) and I said to heck with this and threw my cell out the window, she did the same.

    Ok, so now I;ve given up and think for my beenfit I should have one. So I reactivated my FIDO apy as I went- it was out of date so I lost my number and had to do it again with a new number- no problem, but now I am faced with $1per day unlimited incoming and 30 cents per call -yikes

    My wife and I can afford it but am against the hubrous that they can charge and do what they want. CEll folks of the world unite?

    Is you 7-11 option still your best considering it charges for incoming and outgoing but does have the 365 day thing, thanks


  23. Peter says:

    Hi Gary, I guess that depends on the volume of calls you’re going to receive. For outgoing calls, the 7-Eleven rate beats the Fido rate, but for incoming calls it would depend on whether you talk more or less than 120 – 150 minutes per month (there’s a range because the 7-Eleven rates are now between 20 and 25 cents a minute, depending on the value of the voucher that you purchase; you can also look into the Petro Canada service, which still has a flat 20 cents per minute local rate for all vouchers).


  24. Wanda in Edmonton says:

    DH & I are both looking at the 7-11 and Petro Canada plans. We heard from someone that these will not work on the entire Rogers network, just the urban areas. Is that true? Rogers’ normal coverage is sucky enough at the best of times; but, for all we use a cell phone, we are willing to try the Pay as You Go from one of these providers, just to cut costs The main thing is that we want the cell phone for emergencies and it if won;t work in most places, then it won;t be a lot of use to us.


  25. Peter says:

    Hi Wanda, from what I know, both 7-Eleven and Petro Canada run on the full Rogers footprint, so their coverage area should be the same as Rogers.


  26. david says:

    is there a pay-as-you-go plan that I can buy in Canada that allows me to use my cell fone while in the United States? My Telus pay and talk wont do that. Thanks


  27. Peter says:

    Hi david, you can get a Rogers SIM (and phone, since Telus phones don’t take SIM cards), which allows roaming. I wrote about this a bit in this post.


  28. Jessica says:

    Hey peter,
    Thanks for this fabulous post. I really appreciate it.
    I have a couple of questions regarding pay as you go as I am not too familiar with it. I’m currently on a plan with Rogers and I’m thinking about going on Pay-as-you-go. When that happens, do I just go to 7-11 and pick up a card and fill it up or will I have to fill it up with a Rogers card. I’m kind of confused. Do I have to stick with the Rogers pre-paid cards or can I use say the 7/11 ones or the ones of Petro. Thanks!


  29. Peter says:

    As cell phone service providers go, Rogers and 7-Eleven are separate. Rogers has a pay as you go service (with a Rogers SIM card and Rogers top-ups) and 7-Eleven has a separate service (with a 7-Eleven SIM card and 7-Eleven top-ups). Similarly, Petro Canada has its own stuff too. When you pick your provider, you can only fill up with top-up cards or vouchers for that specific provider.


  30. Corey says:

    Someone told me that in order to roll over your minutes for another 365 days, you must purchase new minutes to add 120 days before/after (?) your old minutes expire/are purchased.

    Is this wrong?

    Or is the purchase time not defined?

    For example, if I have $10 worth of minutes left, and buy a $25 top up the day before my minutes expire, will I still have $35 worth of minutes?


  31. Thistlecove says:

    Peter, your website is now world famous! I live in Switzerland, moving soon to Canada. Google search led me to this website, which is really great, and much appreciated!

    My question is this: What is the cost of texting on a pay as you go vs Rogers?

    Here, I have had the same phone for 2 years: texting, outgoing, incoming calls, roaming all over Europe and have spent less than CAN$200 in total on my pay as you go. I only use it for short calls, ie:getting directions etc. as I think it’s unhealthy to spend too long with a cell attached to your ear!

    Coming to Canada, the price differences are making my head spin. My friend there told me her Rogers bill was CAN$800 one month! That’s just insanity on her part and geniusity on the part of Rogers.

    Just for trivia, a cell phone is called a ‘Natel’ in Switzerland (French speaking part, in Swiss Romande), a ‘Portable’ in France, a ‘Handy’ in Germany and a ‘Mobile’ in the UK.


  32. Peter says:

    Hi, Thistlecove, welcome to Canada (soon)! Texting on Rogers pay as you go is 15 cents a minute to send (not particularly good) and free to receive (great and also insulates you against spam costs).


  33. Ira Vesta says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for doing this. Just wanted to let you folks know about a service I am using. It may sound marketing but I think it is a lot of savings and we consumers should know about it. It is your call.

    It is called ‘text2talk’ at http://www.text2talk.ca/. You make a calls anywhere in North America by sending a text message containing the phone number you wish to talk to. Afterwards, you receive a call from Text2talk. And it connects you the other party. Hey! it is an incoming call to you.

    If you have an unlimited incoming call plan on your cellular, it costs you only 5c/min.

    My unlimited incoming call plan costs me 30$/month from Fido, and pay usually 20$ to Text2talk. In total, 50$ as upposed to 100$ I paid in the past. And I got all North America in my hands. I can call anybody I want.

    I have already saved over 100 dollars on average every month on my bill.

    Wake-up consumers!

    Take care,

    -Ira


  34. Peter says:

    Thanks for the tip, Ira. Someone also sent me a link to http://www.novoticplus.com, which offers a flat fee for unlimited calling. So I see three options so far:

    Unlimited incoming, moderate amount of long-distance calls: Look at something like http://www.text2talk.ca/

    Unlimited incoming, with a lot of long-distance calls: Look at something like http://www.novoticplus.com

    Top 5 / Fav 5 / My5: Look at something like http://www.novoticplus.com or a traditional phone card of gateway such as http://www.justdial.ca (add the gateway number as one of your “top 5″)


  35. Brian says:

    Hey Guys. I’m thinking of getting a cell phone soon from Koodo Mobile right. I know this is probably a pretty dumb question but what are cell phone minutes? I want to get the $25/Month combo, but what exactly does 100 minutes mean? Does it mean I have 100 minutes of calling time, or 100 minutes of phone use a month? Please respond!

    Answer: cell phone minutes = calling time :D


  36. Ilia says:

    Hi there; amazing site by the way.
    I’m 14 years old, but never had a cell phone so I’m not all that talky with it.. I do love texting, however, but want a pay as you go phone, but am afraid that my texting will run out the minutes quite quickly. Is there any way of me having a pay as you go phone, with a texting plan over it? I still haven’t decided what plan to go with, so feel free to name any of them. (I’m also not willing to pay by-the-day, because I won’t use it everyday) I’m from Canada, if that helps. Thanks in advance! =)


  37. Peter says:

    Hi Ilia, I don’t text much so I haven’t shopped around much for flat rate texting options. However, I know that Bell, Solo Mobile, Fido, President’s Choice Mobile, and possibly even others, currently offer different text plans that you can add to a prepaid account. Be sure to browse the links to all of the providers.


  38. Jodie says:

    Hi Peter,

    Really helpful information here…thank you! I am clueless when it comes to all these different plans and I thought that you might be able to help me with my purchase. My Grandpa is turning 80!!! this October and I want to buy a pay as you go plan for my Grandparents for when they travel to Mexico every year and for when they are camping and travelling within Canada. Can you recommend a good plan or a blogspot where I can find some good information? Thank you for your time and knowledge!

    Jode :)


  39. Peter says:

    Hi Jodie, I don’t have any experience with Mexican cell phones or SIM cards, but you can try posting on that topic here. As for a Canadian plan, I usually recommend Speak Out Wireless or Petro Canada Mobility for light users, and you can find links to all of those providers in this post. If your grandparents camp in really remote locations in Canada, first check that the provider’s coverage footprint is adequate (both Speak Out and Petro Canada use the full Rogers GSM footprint). Otherwise, you might have to look at another provider such as Telus.


  40. Alex says:

    Hey guys,

    I’ve ordered myself an unlocked GSM quad-band phone for local calls and travelling and I want to use pay as you go. I understand that 7-11 and Petro-Can won’t sell SIM cards alone. I really don’t want to buy an extra phone just to get the SIM card because it seems kind of wasteful. I’m also hesitant to buy a second hand SIM. So I guess my best bet is to go with rogers? I’m not to sure how this works. I guess I have to go into a rogers store and ask to buy a SIM card for pay as you go?


  41. Peter says:

    Hi Alex, for a new, retail SIM without a phone, Rogers (or Fido) is your only option. However, you could always buy a phone + SIM, then sell the phone here: http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak/phone-exchange


  42. Alex says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your reply. I’m new to this game, so there are a few things I don’t understand. Do I have to buy a special SIM for pay as you go, or do I pick pay as you go when I activate the SIM? Second thing, I notice on the rogers website for activation there are two fields, both a phone serial number and the SIM number. What do I put into the phone serial number field if I didn’t get a phone from rogers?

    Thanks for your help.


  43. Peter says:

    Hi Alex, you’ll have to ask Rogers about that. I’d love to know the answer though.


  44. fredrick says:

    I love this site because i had no idea of some of these prepaid providers like PC and 7-11. I’m in high school and i use my phone for mostly texting. Im with PC and now i pay 25 bucks every 2 months and took their unlimited texting which takes off 10 dollars off your balance every month. I RARELY use it for calls so this is perfect and its only 20cents a minute. Yes there aren’t many phones big deal and top up cards dont last a half a year but i don’t lose money from incoming texts and i receive 3000 a month so this is awesome thank you for making this site id probably be with fido if it wasnt for this and that woulda been a big mistake cuz they have terrible texting plans. If your like me go with PC!


  45. Dexi135 says:

    what a great site. I really need your advice, it is all too overwhelming for me to make a decision. my husband works on the rigs in northern alberta, i live in between toronto and edmonton and my mother lives in Florida 6 months of the year and in toronto for the other 6, Right now each of us are paying different carriers a total of over 1000 a month. between us we have a fido phone, a bell phone and an att phone. please help me, i really need your input. We all talk every day.


  46. Peter says:

    Hi Dexi135, it sounds like you’ll definitely need monthly plans, which I am not as familiar with. If you all have regular access to a computer and Internet access, look at Skype or the magicJack for free or almost free. If you’re set on the cell phone setup, try asking your question at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  47. Christiane says:

    Hi Peter, Thanks for all the useful information you post on this blog. I’m in Canada for 2 months before leaving again and would like to know what’s the best deal for just two months ? I already have a phone… is there a cheapest SIM card ? Do you need to pay to activate as well or just for the SIM card ? Thanks!

    Answer: Hi. I would suggest looking at this post. There shouldn’t be any activation fee, although the cost of airtime is usually in addition to the cost of the SIM card itself. Afterward, you can try selling the card at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  48. Hyunah Kim says:

    Hi,
    I’m living in Toronto for the following 6 months and urgently need a phone for temporary use. I have a cell phone (Solo mobile) but it’s so hard to find a suitable plan for my case. What I need is to have incoming calls from local and overseas, esp. from the U.K. and I always use long distant phone cards for calling the UK. Could you please give me any information on the cheapest way of having incoming calls and calling the UK with my Solo phone without contract? Thanks,

    Ah

    If you receive a lot of calls, you should to find a plan (perhaps with another provider) that gives you unlimited incoming calls. I am not an expert on this situation (short-term contract but high-volume calls). However, I recommend that you ask your question in the forum at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak. If you have convenient Internet access, you could also use Skype, since Skype-to-Skype calls are free.


  49. SS says:

    Hi Peter,

    This website is amazing! I went to 7-11 and they said that the $100 phone card with free phone is coming back soon. But someone has offered me a Samsug JACK phone (FIDO). Can I use the 7-11 SIM card with this phone?

    Answer: If you have a Fido phone that takes a SIM card, you need to unlock the phone first. Then you will be able to use a 7-Eleven SIM card in it. The details on how to unlock a phone varies with each phone, so you’ll have to do your own research there, or ask on http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  50. Emil says:

    Hi Peter, I live in Canada and travel to the US occasionally. Do you know of a pay-as-you-go plan that would work in the US. I currently use Virgin but it cannot be used in US. I would not be concerned about cost per minute since I do not use it often.


  51. Peter says:

    Hi Emil, if you need to accept incoming calls, I’d get a Rogers pay as you go plan. You can probably walk into a Rogers store (or look on eBay) and buy a SIM card for $25. If you only need to make outgoing calls while in the US, I’d look into getting a separate SIM card with a US number from somewhere like T-Mobile. Apparently, off the shelf SIM cards are much cheaper and easier to come buy in the US.


  52. SS says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your response. It worked! The 7-11 SIM card was perfect with my FIDO Samsung Jack after I unlocked it.

    I sold the 7-11 phone to someone else without the SIM card, which they were aware of. They said that they can not unlock the 7-11 phone! Is that right? Is there a way for them to unlock it that you know of? They want to sent it to Barbados.

    Reply from Peter: Glad to hear it worked out for you. Most 7-Eleven phones are unlocked. Ask the people in the forum if you are unsure about your particular phone. The important issue to check regarding Barbados is whether they use SIM cards there and whether they run on the network bands support by the phone. See FAQ #29 for a bit more on this.


  53. Sonny says:

    Hi Peter .. Great Site..

    I have a problem,, I purchased a Petro Canada Phone and all is good. I just purchased a used iphone and that too is good..

    now the problem I have is, I am able to surf the web on the phone with Wi-Fi turned off will i get charged for this??? I am confused..

    Thanks

    Reply from Peter: I am also confused. Petro Canada doesn’t currently offer Internet access, so they shouldn’t be able to charge you for it. I can’t really give you a definitive answer as I’m not even sure how it’s accessing the Internet without Wi-Fi if you have Petro Canada SIM card.


  54. britchick says:

    Hi!

    I’m living in England but am heading home to Canada for a holiday…I had a Telus Mobility Samsung phone, and still have the phone but no longer the telus coverage, so, I’m wondering if there’s anyway I can just find a pay as you go type thing for that phone(tricky thing being it doesn’t seem to have a sim card???),

    or,

    I currently have an English Vodafone ‘cheapo’ phone, which has a sim card, would a Canadian pay as you go sim card work in this phone? And if I only need it for a month, what’s the cheapest way of going about it??

    Thanks for any info!

    Reply from Peter: Unfortunately, your Telus phone is only valid with Telus (if it doesn’t take a SIM, it will usually only work with that same carrier), but if you walk into a Telus store you might be able to get them to activate it. As for the Vodafone phone, see this post.


  55. SmartAlex says:

    Did someone say that you can’t switch out a SIM card? In other words, if I own my phone, is it true that I can’t go from (example) Bell to Rogers with the same phone…just switch the SIM card?
    I was in Bogota Colombia last winter for two months and a wireless provider there just plugged in their SIM card for use there. When I came back here, I just plugged my Rogers SIM card back in.

    Reply from Peter: First, the phone must take a SIM card. In Canada, Bell, Telus, and those that run on their networks don’t use SIM cards. Only carriers on the Rogers network (such as Fido and 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless) take SIM cards in Canada. Then, if they take a SIM card they must 1) be unlocked and 2) run on a compatible network band (see FAQ #29 at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/)


  56. Di says:

    Hi I just want to purchase a cell phone for my working poor son in T.O and was wondering if you have any suggestions on which way to go … He is poor …lol This phone would be mostly for emergency use …

    Reply from Peter: Look at Speak Out Wireless or Petro Canada Mobility.


  57. SM says:

    Hi Peter,
    Both the blog and the website are very useful. I was a virgin mobile user and I only use the cellphone for emergency purpose. So, I end of losing all the minutes as I forget topping up.

    I have few questions before I decide to swith to either SO or PC:

    1. Is it billed by the second or by the minute? By the minute.
    2. Since incoming text cost money, do you have experience of being charged a lot as a result of spam? It all depends on the phone number you get. I have never gotten a spam text message. If I got a few, I’d just pay the money for it. If it were a persistent issue, I would either change my number; track down who is sending the messages and make them remove my number from their list; or plead with Speak Out to give me a credit for the spam.
    3. Is it free for checking voice mail using landline? Yes, free from a landline. Normal airtime rates if checking from your cell phone.

    Thanks,


  58. Bill says:

    I have a monthly Rogers plan with a Samsung phone. How can I move to 711 using my phone and sim card?

    Reply from Peter: Short answer: you can use your phone but you will need to buy a 7-Eleven SIM. Please check www.speakoutwireless.ca as I’ve compiled an FAQ there that answers most questions. There’s also a large user forum.


  59. Sarah says:

    My fiance is traveling to Whistler Canada for 4 days. I am in Seattle, Wa. We would like to be able to communicate for those 4 days preferably with text messages, but phone calls would be ok too. He has a Verizon Wireless phone but dosnt want to be charged an arm and a leg to make a call. Should he get a go phone? Or an international calling card? What should he do?

    Reply from Peter: That is a tricky one. First of all, the Verizon Wireless phone is probably a CDMA phone and thus he cannot just put a SIM card in there. Be sure to check the roaming and long distance costs on that Verizon plan. Texts will probably be quite reasonable, but calls will not, so if you can do without calls that would be the simplest thing. If he must make calls and Verizon roaming is cost-prohibitive, read this post about getting a Canadian SIM card and/or phone that you could probably sell on http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak after the trip. Also, calling cards are cheap in Canada, with good rates to the US, so he could combine that with a Canadian SIM and phone and/or a landline if he’s staying somewhere that would have a landline.


  60. Keith says:

    Hi, I have a friend who lives in California that would like a cell phone with a (416) area code from Toronto.

    Is there anyway she can buy a pay as you go card in the United States or must it be purchased from Canada to work?

    Thanks.
    Keith.

    Reply from Peter: This is not possible at a retail shop in the USA. You’d have to buy it online from someone else (Craigslist, Speak Out Wireless, etc.). I don’t know your intent, but it wouldn’t work in the USA or you’d pay crazy roaming fees.


  61. Bill says:

    i AM SWITCHING FROM ROGERS AND IT LOOKS AS THO PETROCAN’S PAY AS YOU GO IS BETTER THAN 711. IS THIS CORRECT?

    Reply from Peter: They are similar in many respects, and sometimes it comes down to proximity. Search http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak for some comparisons.


  62. mary says:

    Hello there, I’m looking for some advice.
    I would like to get my parents a cell to use in their travels. They are on the road allot so I would like the network coverage to be wide. My mother would especially like it to work when the travel to the states. They don’t have use for a cell phone most of the time, but would use it only during their travels. Not the most economical use pattern I know. What pay as you go plans would your recommend? Keeping in mind their desire for good network coverage in the middle of rural BC and Alberta, and also when traveling around the states.
    Thank you for your advice.

    Reply from Peter: Try asking your question at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak. I’ve seen a few similar questions there and the people on that forum are quite helpful. My two cents: look at either just Rogers or Rogers + a different SIM card in the US. Note that no carrier in Canada has particularly good rural coverage, so it really depends on the exact locations.


  63. Mae says:

    Hey Peter,

    A friend gave me a Samsung phone courtesy of Rogers Wireless. He said it was free and all I needed to do was get a sim card. Question, is it possible to use the 7/11 Speak Out sim card with another phone? I’m a newcomer in Canada and I don’t fully understand the concept of Pay-As-You-Go.

    Reply from Peter: Please see this page and this page.


  64. Mignon says:

    Hi…I am moving to Toronto next week from the United States and will be in Canada for a year. I was thinking of getting a prepaid phone and was wondering which provider had the best rates for calls to the US. Do any of them have free incoming or free weekends/evenings for calls to the US? I appreciate your help!

    Reply from Peter: Unfortunately, there is no Canadian prepaid provider that gives you free weekend/evenings or free incoming. You might be better off with a monthly plan from one of the bigger companies. For further discussion, be sure to check here as the regular forum visitors there are usually up-to-date on the cheapest prices.


  65. Dave says:

    Looks like PetroCanada have just changed their prepaid expiry dates. $25 now only lasts 120 days. Last time I purchased $25 it lasted 180 days.
    So the 7-11 phone seems to be the best deal at the moment (or will they soon also change their plan ??)

    I thought 7-11 and PetroCanada were using the same provider ? Oh well, we always get screwed in Quebec !!


  66. BiginJapan says:

    hi all,
    great info here.
    Is it true that with the Speak out, all calls in your area code are considered local?
    I’m in southern ontario and 226/519 covers alot of ground.

    Reply from Peter: should be. See the bottom of FAQ #3.


  67. gwenny says:

    Hi Peter,
    Im so happy that you still answer the questions that people ask you on this page- extremely awesome since I have one.
    So Im on a fido contract as of right now, but im planning on giving that contract to someone in the next week. So basically I will have an unlocked gsm phone (reasons for why i have one is because fido customer service ppl screwed me over) and a fido sim card. I also have an inactive fido sim card (they left it in the box and put a second in my phone, so its MINE!). What I want to do is either go to a fido pay as you go service or go to the 7-11 one. But, I dont know if that will work, since its a fido sim card. If i go to fido, will i have to re-activate the sim (should i just use the inactive one if that happens) and if i go to 7-11, will the fido sim work with the pay as you go?
    Please help. The more detailed the better, since its something new to me. :)

    Reply from Peter: If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you should be able to use any carrier’s SIM card. Most new SIM cards need to be activated, but that happens independently of the phone. Check this SIM card guide for some general information about SIM cards and GSM phones. For a more in-depth answer, I would definitely suggest posting your question on http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak where more discussion can happen.


  68. Jess says:

    I have a virgin mobile phone and am on the $30 a month plan (which is considered pay as you go, but isn’t by the minute) when I top it up it takes a while (a few hours to a day) for them to update my balance. If I use my phone too soon after I put in a top up card and it goes below $30 then they automatically switch me to another plan. I found that out one time when they switched me to pay by the minute. Then I had to go and get another card and wait for them to switch me back. Hours later I called them again and complained because they still hadn’t done it. Last time a friend really needed a phone but hers was dead. I had just put in a new phone card, but it went under the limit so I got switched to the $1 a day plan. I decided to just try that, but discovered that even though I had only used my phone a few times in one day, and just conversation was no more than 3-5 minutes, they had charged me almost $10… for just ONE day! I don’t get it.


  69. Chris says:

    Hi Peter,

    I’m in Calgary and Saskatoon for 8 days and I could use a local number. I was thinking of getting a pay-as-you-go SIM card and using it in my unlocked cell phone. I’ll be making calls and sending SMS to Saskatoon and Prince Albert from Saskatoon, PA and Calgary. I might also need to send international texts to the UK.

    Any idea what the best one to get will be? Rogers or another provider?

    Kind regards,

    Chris

    Reply from Peter: I wouldn’t say there is a single “best” option. However, check out this post about the topic.


  70. MIRA says:

    hi peter,
    great site a lot of informations
    i need your help:
    I am with Rogers currently – no contract.I use app 60min/m and I receive the same amount of text messages and some voice mail. I believe that for me best choice is SO?Do I need to buy new cell phone and may I use my samsung p207?
    Thank you.

    Reply from Peter: If your phone is unlocked or locked to Rogers then it should work with a Speak Out SIM card. Sounds like SO is relatively economical for you. Be sure to check out http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak to discuss your needs with other SO users.


  71. MIRA says:

    Good Morning Peter,
    It was such a pleasure seeing your fast reply.
    I spent days and days searching for convenient plan for my case. I am with Rogers at least 10 years paying an average $42/m for not more than 40minutes talk and voice mail with 30 incoming text messages.About Rogers,
    I feel like other participants in disscussion and now is a time to make a change. I didn’t do anything with my Samsung phone since the SIM card was inserted by Rogers emplyee 4 yers ago.Do you think I have to go to SO store (I am in Tooronto) and let them work on phone? I need also roaming when I am out of Canada but it is only 2-3 times/year.My samsung was good for it, and I hope it will work the same in the future ?
    Thanks Peter and God Bless You.

    Reply from Peter: Please ask your questions at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak. Your phone should work and you should be able to take out the SIM card from the phone you would purchase at 7-Eleven (or look online to purchase just the SIM card from another consumer) and put it in your existing Rogers phone. Speak Out does offer roaming within Canada.


  72. alucite says:

    The Petro Canada Mobile is unreliable. They have increased their monthly charge more than 100%. I am very tired with them however you have no alternative in Canada. Speakout sells you SIM card with a obligatory stone age phone. This is illegal around the world except in Canada. Where is the customer protection in this country? We are paying in Canada the high price for obsolete CDMA technology. It is high time to replace it with 900\1800 GSM technology proved worldwide as efficient, safe, customer friendly.


  73. Annie says:

    Hello. Thanks for the info. Would like to know if anyone can recommend a good pay-as-you-go option for visiting Canada. We live in the States and come up to Ontario and Quebec about once a year. Our AT&T plan charges USD 0.79 per minute for calls within Canada. It seems like buying a Canadian phone would be a good option for us. Any advice?


  74. Annie says:

    Right after I posted the question above, I found this:

    http://www.theblog.ca/canadian-sim-traveller

    Thanks!


  75. NN says:

    Hi Peter,

    Great post and appreciate all your help! I have a question similar to a few already asked but want to confirm before I make a purchase. My boyfrn travels to Toronto once a month for 10 days. He currently has a T-Mobile phone with a sim card which can be unlocked. Is his best option to buy a rogers sim card so that he can use his existing phone (Razr) ? I believe he will still be charged for roaming for calls from/to US – is that right ? Thanks in advance for your help..

    Reply from Peter: Yes, if it is unlocked he can use his phone with a Rogers SIM card. Inbound calls, if you’re not roaming, are always treated as local calls. For long distance calls, it is best to use calling cards (combined with local cell phone rates).


  76. Erin says:

    Hey.

    I have been without a phone now for practically 3 months. i dont make enough to continuously pay the monthly fees every month so when my contract ended i ended my phone usage. i have been told by many to get a pay as you go phone. however i am not a huge talker. i am more of a texter. Peter would u know of a GREAT texting plan, unlimted texts is best but something that is a great plan non the less.

    thanks

    Reply from Peter: It depends on how much of a texter you are. If, say, 300 incoming and outgoing a month is plenty for you, then prepaid might still be worth it since 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless charges 5 cents per text — that would be about $15 a month. If you’re more in the 500+ message range, then look at something like a Fido monthly plan. I don’t follow monthly plans too closely, so you’d have to do more research there.


  77. Jerry says:

    Hey Peter,

    Just wanted to say this is a great site. I hopped on as I was looking for an inexpensive option for my parents and this looks like it will work well. Thanks again!

    Jerry


  78. marc says:

    Hey Peter
    Thanks for this site, with all the useful imformation. Im like most people who are tired of being ripped off by the phone companies.
    Saw an ad on skysports (here in Canada about "topping up sim cards" and I happened on your website. just need a mobile for emmergencies, so pay as you go sounds great. keep up the great work and good luck.


  79. Mina says:

    Peter,
    You are such a great contributor to this blog, and it ultimately to peoples lives on here searching for ways to simplify the already complex world of cell phones and plans. Thanks and AMEN for that!!!

    I have a question that requires your opinion and/or anyone else who can help. My mother lives a province away and she is a new grandma who likes to keep in touch, but also has a new job that requires her to do shift work on a daily basis. She currently has Virgin pay as you go, but has practically deposited more money into their top up accounts than towards her mortgage!!! It’s insane!!!
    So, to the point… I am looking for a plan for her be it a prepaid or full service activation plan. Ideally, she would need unlimited incoming calls, from local and/or long distance (within canada), she needs voice mail and caller ID would be a bonus.. no texting, no internet. If there was a plan that had evenings and weekends free with evenings starting at 6pm or 5pm raher than 7pm… and/ or the best daytime minutes package for her buck!!! please if you can…help!!!

    Reply from Peter: There is no decent prepaid plan that offers unlimited incoming or free evenings. The needs you are describing sound similar to something like a Fido retention plan, although that is only available to existing customers and through negotiation! I’d suggest posting your situation at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak to see if others have a better idea. A general tip — it’s useful to start your search with actual and/or estimated use, including total minutes at different times of the day, who is being called (maybe a “MY5″ or similar plan with unlimited calling to certain people?), location of calls (pay phone or Internet calls possible?), etc. Sometimes you find that what you initially thought you needed is not actually what you need.


  80. Williams says:

    I live in Toronto and occasionally go to US. May I know which prepaid phone can work in Canada and US as well! Thank you!

    Reply from Peter: All of the major Canadian carriers (Rogers, Telus, Bell) support US roaming. However, the best bet if you don’t need to keep the same number in the US is to get a separate SIM card from somewhere like T-Mobile for use in the US only. I would also recommend checking out the community at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  81. Anna says:

    Hey Peter,

    Thank you very much for the information from this website. I have a question for you. I would like to choose the best plan for my phone. I usually use my phone to talk with my family in Asia. I live in Vancouver and we usually talk in the evenings or weekends. I occasionally receive calls from my friends here but not very often. I would say my current airtime minute will be 200/month. I am having Fido plan $20/month totally for unlimited incoming calls in the evening and weekends and 200min weekdays but no ID display. I would like to cut down my phone fee and think "pay as you go" would be the best one. Would you give me some advice about which service (Fido, Rogers, 7-11) and which plan are appropriate in my case?

    Thanks a million.
    Kate.

    Reply from Peter: I do not think that you will get a better pay as you go deal than your current Fido plan. If you want to cut your costs further, consider using an online service such as Skype or a cheap VoIP landline, such as through http://voip.ms. For long distance outbound calls on a cell phone, use calling cards such as http://www.justdial.ca.


  82. Matt says:

    What is the best phone and plan from person in remote areas calling from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

    Reply from Peter: First, I’d suggest checking the coverage maps for the main carriers. Beyond that, there are a lot of factors that you should consider such as total usage, time of usage, qualities you want in a phone, etc. Try posting at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak with more details.


  83. Grendell says:

    Hi
    I am visiting Vancouver for 2 months for some sports event here!

    I have an un-locked USB dongle I use all around the world for internet access on my laptop with no problems until now!

    It seems I can only get an internet SIM here ( from Bell / Rogers / Telus if I have a Canadain address (Fido didn’t understand the question).

    Does anyone know a supplier who is keen to do business rether than turn it away?

    G


  84. Jessica says:

    Hey Peter,

    I recently bought the new Blackberry Bold on Telus’ 3G network and to my horror have been getting charged 60cents/outgoing and incoming text message when I am in the US! I travel frequently to the US so I need to change this ASAP!! What would be the best and cheapest way to continue texting in the US when I am there? Pay as you go? If so, which pay and talk should I use and what will it cost approximately? Thanks so much!

    Jess :)

    Reply from Peter: I’m not familiar with all of the US options, but it’s probably cheapest to get a US SIM card.


  85. Miho says:

    Hello Peter,
    My son is visiting his Uncle (my brother) in Vancouver BC. He took his Nokia N96 cellphone with him, but he had an accident and he broke it.
    My question is: Do you know is it possible to buy in Canada a cellphone that also works with european nets 900/1800, cause he would like to purchase a cell phone in Vancouver, and take it back to Croatia with him.
    Thanks

    Reply from Peter: Yes, that is possible. Just ask for a quad-band phone at one of the major retailers, although it would be expensive if it’s not purchased with an airtime plan. Buying one from someone else on Craigslist or eBay is also an option.


  86. Sandra says:

    Hello Peter
    My boyfriend and I share a cell phone – he hates carrying a phone and just uses mine when he really needs to make a call.

    But he’s going to Vancouver (we live in PEI) for the Olympics and I’ve been thinking of getting him a pay-as-you-go phone to take with him so we can stay in touch. I have an old Telus monthly plan called TalkCanada which includes X number of "anytime" minutes – long distance included – and I never exceed my limit so I’m very confused about when long distance rates are applicable…

    If I call his (activated in PEI) prepaid phone from PEI while he’s in BC will it be considered a long distance call for me? For him? What about if he calls me? And will either/both of us be charged for incoming long distance?
    My apologies if my question seems to be "as clear as mud" – but as I said, I’m very confused about all this!
    Thanks

    Reply from Peter: If his number is also a PEI number, then it will be considered a local call for you. If he calls you, it’s also a local incoming call for you. As for whether it’s a local or long distance call for him to make and receive the call while in Vancouver, that all depends on the specific carrier that you go with :) To be sure, you’ll have to contact the specific carrier. I think that if you can manage to get a PEI number on Speak Out Wireless it would be considered to be local calls for both of you each way.


  87. Sammy says:

    My parents need a cell phone for emergency purposes in Toronto (ie. car emergency). What’s the best phone company to go with out there right now? Rogers offered us 40 minutes/month for $15 taxes in. Not a good deal?

    Reply from Peter: Check out Speak Out Wireless for 25 cents per minute


  88. Blades says:

    Have been with SpeakOut over two years – no problem, great service.
    Now would like to use Distributel for long distance; will this work OK?
    Thanks for the good info…

    Reply from Peter: Generally Speak Out does not present any problems unless you have to dial a short code. However, a quick glance at the Distributel website shows that there’s phrases such as “This option does not work with cellular phones. Only offered in territories serviced by Bell.” so you should contact Distributel directly to check.


  89. robert marcy says:

    robert marcy says:

    I LIVE IN A NURSING HOME !
    I ONLY USE THE PH. ABOUT 30 MIN. A MONTH.
    WHAT WOULD THE BEST PREPAID CELL CO. SHOULD I GO TO ?

    Reply from Peter: 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless or Petro Canada Mobility are both great options, as they both last quite a long time. You can just go with whatever store is closest.


  90. Robert says:

    Hi Peter. Just read hundreds of posts on here,(first time) and was wondering if there is a way to adapt my LG-envy Verizon phone for use in Canada?
    I really love this phone, but had to cancel my Verizon acct. Bell, Koodo, and someone else just say no, it won’t work.

    I don’t understand this stuff, to me it is just a phone!!
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply from Peter: Unfortunately, it is likely a CDMA phone, which does not take SIM cards. The general rule is that CDMA phones are either difficult to unlock, or even if unlocked, providers won’t accept them. If it is a GSM phone, you might have more luck. Try asking at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak as well.


  91. Norman says:

    I travel frequently between Asia and Canada, and this year will add Europe and the US to the list. Using B2B service to forward my calls from a Canadian number through italkBB to international numbers costs me only $10 per month. Then I go with Pay as You GO plans wherever I am for mobile service. Here is my question. Canada is always a ripoff for mobile rates, phone locks and limited SIM cards. Which Canadian provider offers the lowest cost Pay as You Go SIM for nationwide roaming ? Is there a service yet that gives you different telephone numbers for BC, Alta,Ont & QC under one package.

    Let me reword that question about best SIM roaming features for Canada. Which service would be best to use Pay as You Go in Canada to receive long distance calls without roaming fees ?

    Reply from Peter: Some carriers (such as 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless) will allow you to switch your phone number whenever you move. But I don’t know what their policy is if you’re in a different location every few weeks. Per-minute roaming rates within Canada for incoming calls are usually around 40 cents per minute.


  92. Lisa says:

    Hi I have recently moved to Canada,Edmonton im not familiar with "plans" and all this, is it possible to get a phone with 0$ monthly fee and also a sim card with just pay as you go, so I have to pay before i can text and in-case I have no money it doesn’t matter… In Zimbabwe its so simple, spend 15$ for the card and then put it in your phone 5$ or 1$ if you want to call or sms… seems so complicated here. Im going out my mind because I may not have money for the next month but I need a phone to get the job… I just want a phone that i can top up when necessary not another bill at the end of the month

    Reply from Peter: Check http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak or even eBay. If you have a compatible phone, you could buy a Speak Out Wireless, Petro Canada Mobility, or Rogers pay as you go SIM card from someone else.


  93. sam says:

    hi peter
    i want to buy a new contract as im moving to canada in a months time. please suggest me which network is best and reliable. im not a very heavy user. do we have to pay for incoming calls in canada?
    and im interested in getting iphone 3gs or blackberry with my contract. thanks a ton my dear :)

    Reply from Peter: No prepaid plan in Canada has free incoming calls at this time. I don’t have much experience with high-end phones, but you can ask at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak about getting them separate from a plan. If want an iPhone or BlackBerry with a plan, any of the main carriers (Telus, Rogers, Fido, Bell) provide that, for quite a high price. If you’re in a compatible area, check Wind Mobile for a BlackBerry.


  94. Neil says:

    Just been to a 7-eleven store. They told me that the only way i could use a 7-eleven plan is if i buy the 7-eleven phone. Apparently, they are no longer offering SIM cards. So unlocked phones will not work with 7-eleven.

    Reply from Peter: You can often buy a SIM card directly from other people at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  95. Lisa says:

    Hello Peter,

    I have a cell phone, which I purchased when I lived in Europe – I think I can use it here in Canada (I might simply need to unlock it). Therefore, I would only want to buy a sim card (pay-as-you-go). Are there any companies out there that sell sim cards without requiring you to buy their phones/plans? if yes, what would be the best company to go with? Also, can you get a pay-as-you-go plan that would allow you to transfer the mins towards the next month if you don’t use them up? I don’t call/text too much and would only need enough mins for emergency type situations. Your advise/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    Reply from Peter: First, make sure that even if your phone is unlocked, that it is a quad-band phone (so that it works on the North American bands as well). I almost always recommend Speak Out Wireless or Petro Canada Mobility for an emergency-only prepaid plan with minutes that last a long time. Check http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak as people are often selling SIM cards there; you can also ask more questions there in general to a large and smart community.


  96. John Gregory says:

    I have a Petro Canada mobile phone on a pay as u go plan. I would like to have ANY other pay as u go cell that supports SKYPE in Canada. Any suggestions? I’ve looked everywhere without success.

    Reply from Peter: Even if your phone supports Skype, the data plan might not support it: see this thread. So tread carefully.


  97. Eve says:

    Hi, I’m in Toronto. This is very useful info. My question is:
    Is it/will it be possible now or in future to skype with only data plan for ipad/any cell phone? Assuming no prob skyping any tel#?
    Any comments appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply from Peter: Even if your phone supports Skype, the data plan might not support it: see this thread. So tread carefully.


  98. isabelle says:

    hi Peter,

    i never had a cellphone and know very little about all of this. I living part time in Canada, but spending a lot of time in the US. I would like to purchase a cellphone, but i would like to be able to use it sometime in Canada and other time in the US without having to pay large amount of money. Any plans, companies, advices?

    thanks

    Reply from Peter: It’s often cheaper to get separate SIM cards for Canada and for the US.


  99. Chris says:

    Hello Peter,

    Need a pay as you go with best option for texting for my son and daughter as a second cell phone. Currently have a Presidents Choice and top up with $25 card. It is 20cents per minute and 15 cent per text right now. Thanks for you hard work with this site. I learned a lot.

    Thoughts?

    Reply from Peter: Lots of carriers now have texting plans if you plan on texting a lot. For example, Speak Out Wireless has a 2500-message plan for $10 a month now, although that might be overkill. Or you might want to check out Wind Mobile. If neither of those are a particularly good fit, the community at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak can probably give you some more recommendations.


  100. Joe says:

    Don’t forget Wal-mart has a fairly large selection of pre-paid phones.

    A write-up here would be great. Thanks for making this page, exactly what I was looking for!

    Joe


  101. A. Roy says:

    Hey, this blog is a great resource!

    I live in Japan and will be visiting Canada soon. I’ve sometimes used the roaming service of my Japanese cell phone carrier but it is really a bad deal, very high rates per minute. Same if I rent an international cell phone here and take it to Canada. So I’m thinking of renting a cell phone in Canada this time.

    I really like that 7-11 plan you mention. However I will mainly be in Ottawa, which doesn’t have 7-11 stores.

    My question: Do you know of any other stores or services that would let me just walk in and rent a cell phone on a pay as you go basis? I don’t have much time for paperwork before leaving, and I will need a phone very shortly after I arrive. How about among those Pay-as-you-go plans?

    Don’t bother spending time digging around, I can do that, I’m just asking in case you know off the top of your head!

    Thanks!
    A. Roy

    Reply from Peter: in Ottawa, you could look for Good2Go, Petro Canada, or even Rogers. There are no so-called phone “rental” options, because if you don’t already have a compatible phone, you’ll have to buy one (and potentially sell it to someone else when you’re done); see this post for a more detailed overview.


  102. Nick says:

    Peter

    You mention Petro Canada and 7-11 as good plans, which they are but according to their website you have to use their phones and none of their phones have a querty keyboard, which is much easier for texting. Is there any way around their "use our phone" requirement? For example, maybe I could buy one of their phones and switch the sim card to my own querty keyboard phone? The cost of the phone would be like a start up fee.

    Reply from Peter: Yes, you could as long as it’s unlocked or locked to Rogers (such as this one) and runs on the North American bands.


  103. Kirsten says:

    Hi Peter,

    If it wasn’t for this blog I wouldn’t have even known 7-11 had cell phones. I thought they were just for Slurpees ;)

    I just got my SpeakOut phone going and so far it’s AWESOME. The people on SO Customer Service were super friendly and helpful and they ported my Telus number very quickly with no hassle.

    Thank you!!!!!!


  104. Diane says:

    Hi Peter-

    I will be traveling to Edmonton, Canada and need a phone I can use for calls and texts in Canada, but also be able to call back to the States without incurring huge bills.

    Unfortunately, my current plan is with Verizon and they don’t use sim chips, so I can’t do a swap when I am in Canada. This makes calling the states from Canada very expensive.

    What do you recommend? I would like a PDA, but I can get by without it.

    Reply from Peter: You could pick up a cheap phone from someone else at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak (or from 7-Eleven when you get here) and then just sell it when you’re done with it. Or, invest in a good GSM-supported phone for the long run if it makes good financial sense!


  105. Tim says:

    Hey Peter – Excellent work on this blog, and thanks for answering people’s requests through multiple years of cell phone evolution!
    I am in southern Ontario, about 1/2 way between TO and Ottawa, in a real cell phone dead zone. I need a mobile phone for work, but only when I’m not at my desk (I work from home and use a land line for voice & fax here), which is about 10% of the time – but not in a regular pattern. I might be at home for three months consecutively and then on the road for 2 weeks straight. I have been surviving with phone cards, but pay phones are getting rare these days!
    A friend offered me an unlocked iPhone for a good price – is there a pay as you go plan that is good for long distance (I make almost no local business calls)?

    Thanks again for your work on this!

    Reply from Peter: The local vs long distance spread with wireless plans are often not worth it. Check out something like http://www.justdial.ca (essentially a phone card) — then you’re paying the local rate on your cell phone plus a few more cents per minute for long distance. Also, depending on your total estimated minutes used in a year, you might want to look at a monthly cell phone plan, which might average out to be cheaper.


  106. John says:

    I would like to find out my call history so I can check my balance/usage on my PC Mobile phone. I get a message when I drop below $2. I use prepaid cards to top up. The phone is an LG Rumour.


  107. Janus Horus says:

    Fido has now 10c/mn. But don’t forget to remind them "why they charge you for call you made with NO ANSWER"….they will reajust.


  108. Kirsten O says:

    Hey Peter,
    I have a Petro Mobility phone and I LOVE IT!! It’s amazing. I would recommend it to anyone. My only beef is that they don’t have any phones with a keyboard (it takes me ages to type a simple text with the number keypad). A few comments back someone mentioned using the sim card from the Petro phones in their phone which already has a keyboard. You attached a link to a phone which would work with this idea but the link doesn’t work. I’d like to try this method too but I don’t want to buy the wrong type of phone…basically I want to give my husband my current Petro phone…then I’m going to buy a phone with a keyboard and then buy a phone from Petro for the sim card…it seems like a lot of trouble and expense (but only at the onset) but after using Petro’s plan I just can’t seem to find one that satisfies me the same way…I love not having a contract or any hassles…I like just using the phone when and how I want and topping up the account when necessary…why can’t these other companies get a clue and offer something similar??? Anyway…any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Reply from Peter: You can buy any phone that is locked to Rogers, and it should work with your Petro Canada Mobility SIM card.


  109. Tao says:

    Hi Peter,

    I have a cellphone with Virgin Mobile, which has about $400 top up card balance, and I would like to sell it. Would you mind advising where I can find someone who might be interested in this phone? Thanks very much for your help!

    Reply from Peter: That might be difficult to sell with such a huge balance. Try Craigslist or http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  110. Kirby says:

    Hi Peter,
    My kids just got new phones with their 3 year plans and I have their old phones. I want to go with 7-11 0r Petro Canada, pay-as-you go cards. What would I have to do to use one of their old phones as my new phone ( I have never had a cell phone)?
    Kirby

    Reply from Peter: The general rule for a North American phone on 7-Eleven or Petro Canada’s services is that it must take a SIM card and it must be unlocked or locked to the Rogers network. I’d suggest posting or searching at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak to get the full rundown.


  111. Ty says:

    Is it possible to use a Koodo phone with Telus pay as you go?


  112. Mykle says:

    My question is near the same, I have a Koodo LG CDMA phone, Im wondering if I can use a certain cdma program and change the phones mcn/mnn/ssid from Koodo plan, to Rogers PAYG (Zellers here sells RPAYG cdma phones). can I using the info from one of these packages (unactivated) to setup and activate my koodo LG on rogers instead? Ive already changed it to Rogers SIM1, and Telus SIM2, but Im hesitant to go further..


  113. Greg says:

    Are there any PAYG providers in Western Canada that use a GSM SIM card (besides Fido)? I want to purchase a phone, and then put the GSM SIM card into a Apple Peel 520 (converts a jailbroken iPod Touch into an iPhone)?

    The reason why I say "No Fido" is that they have no coverage where I live.

    Reply from Peter: Many other providers have started offering SIM cards, but I don’t know whether any of them technically run on a network other than the Rogers network (which is what Fido runs on).


  114. oldgreg says:

    hey there

    i have a iphone 3gs and i was wondering if anyone know weather or not i can either buy a phone from a company like presidents choice or petro canada and just swith the simcard into the iphone and use the iphone insteda of the phoine i purchased form them?

    or is it possible to just buy a simcad either from one of the above networks or elsewhere and use it with their plans?

    much thanks

    Reply from Peter: It depends on what provider the iPhone was originally purchased with and whether the iPhone is still locked. For example, if it was bought for Rogers and it is locked, you can only swap in a SIM card from one of: Rogers, Speak Out Wireless, and Petro Canada. You’ll find more information on this if you search at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  115. Lucas says:

    Hey there, my mother in laws is coming from US to canada to visit us and she insisted to get a pre-pay phone to usewhen she travel here, she wants a phone that has blue-tooth. She is coming in August for a few weeks, and will be back again for Christmas. Can you recommand a phone for her? Is speakout wireless still the best deal out there (Just asking because since your first post is like 4 years old now maybe things has changed.)

    Reply from Peter: Yes, I still think Speak Out Wireless is the best prepaid deal. I’m not an expert on the phones themselves, though. I’d suggest posting at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  116. Kristina D says:

    Hi Peter,

    I just moved back to Toronto from Texas and need to get a phone. My boyfriend is in Texas and I would like to be able to text him through out the day (I use my house phone for calling).

    I had a blackberry (in Texas) and used my BBM-ing all the time to talk to my friends in Canada and send pictures to them. My boyfriend said he is willing to get a blackberry if I get one. What is the best plan for a blackberry for a pay as you go phone? I looked but only found a few companies.

    Thanks for your help

    K

    Reply from Peter: I’m not sure, but you might be limited to the main Canadian wireless companies Telus, Bell, Rogers, and Fido if you want to use BBM.


  117. Salman says:

    Hey Peter, me and my friend are traveling to Toronto next week for IIFA. We would be staying in Canada for a week, and need to buy 2 Prepaid GSM Sim cards. Can you suggest me which company sim cards should I go for, and its availability at the airport. What I would prefer is one which supports free incoming calls.

    Reply from Peter: Unfortunately, there are no prepaid SIM cards in Canada that have free incoming calls. I’d suggest checking out http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak


  118. James says:

    Peter, I do need help too. I came as a tourist in Canada want to make phone calls back to Malaysia, where can I buy sim prepaid card nearby bloor or bay street in toronto? I have try several shops like newsagent, supermarket, and local grocery shop, they don’t have sim prepaid card. And also, which cell phone company has cheapest rates? Many thanks!

    Reply from Peter: Try looking for a 7-Eleven. Also, if you’re just making outbound calls, you could buy a long distance phone card and then use a pay phone — it’s much cheaper that way.


  119. Peter says:

    hi peter,
    thx for all your info….. almost answered my question –
    i’m a rare user – 1 or 2 calls a day, 2 or 3 texts / day.
    i live in ottawa (what happened to the 7-11s here?
    i just retired, will snowbird for 5 months, not using my cell during that time, but don’t want to lose the number, and don’t want to pay for those months.
    what would you recommend for me?

    many thx
    pete

    Reply from Peter: You could also get something very similar at Petro Canada, where you could buy $50 of airtime and have it last 180 days, or $100 of airtime and have it last 365 days.


  120. Sanket says:

    Hi
    I am traveling to Canada for few days.
    I was looking at WIND. how is that?
    It says unlimited Incoming.
    http://www2.windmobile.ca/en/Pages/voice-plans.aspx

    Also i wanted no contract plan as i am there for 10 days. and wanted to call to US lot. Also if anyone provide BB service also, then i would buy that.
    WIND says they have BB service.

    Reply from Peter: Wind’s pay as you go plans look decent, and coverage in some major cities is good. However, be very careful in that Wind’s network has specific phone requirements. It is rare that an existing phone will work with their service. I’d contact them directly to check.


  121. Steve Read says:

    I am in Ottawa Ontario and use a basic zero cost cell phone for emergencies only. I pay 100 dollars to Virgin Mobile for a year which gives me incoming and outgoing calls at 30 cents a time (I don’t remember how long I get for 30m cents). As long as I renew with a 100 before the year expires, unused time is added to the new year. Expensive for th cals but I have had it for 3 years now and never paid more than 100 dollars a year. That’s 9 dollars month.

    Steve Read


  122. Monique says:

    Hello Peter,

    I was wondering if could help me too! I live in Calgary and I hardly use my phone (pay as you go) but would like to update the look and maybe features of my old Nokia (dinosaur ;o)) What is my best bet?

    Thank you!

    Reply from Peter: I’d suggest checking out the phones available at 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless and Wind Mobile (which now offers pay as you go) to see if they’re good enough for you. Otherwise you might be looking into buying a phone of your choice either used or from a reseller and making sure it’s unlocked and compatible with a pay as you go service.


  123. stephen says:

    Peter,

    I have a comment and question.
    1. I have been using my US T-mobile pay-as-u-go for 4 years now. about $40 a year is enough. calls in Canada are 50 cents (expensive), but texting is 10 cents and there is no monthly 911 charge!
    2. the Q: there are many new phones in US selling for $15 in the hope the customer would go on their network verizon, etc.
    are they GSM hence useful for us hapless Canadians paying the worst rates in the world outside africa? for $15 u can get a better phone than the high end Nokia shown on 7-eleven.

    Reply from Peter: The short answer is “it depends”. You have to check carefully. Some US off the shelf phones will run on the common bands (1900Mhz and less so 850Mhz), some on a less common AWS band (used by new providers Wind Mobile and Mobilicity in Canada), and some might not have SIM cards. My guess is that a Verizon phone would run on the common bands (I’ve heard that many T-Mobile phones are on the AWS band), but even if that’s the case, you have to make sure that you still get it unlocked.


  124. Maximin says:

    Hi Peter!
    Thank you for your blog! I have a S-O cellphone and am thinking of purchasing one of the two options: $20 value plan or $10 top-up (2500 outgoing messages). If I’m not mistaken, the service charge of the latter will be taken off from the airtime in my account. It means, $10 each month from my account and $12 is required to remain in my account to renew the top-up plan. Then, if I purchased $100 airtime which is good for a year, I have to spend $125 ($100 + $25) + $120 ($10 x 12) = $245 for a year. That’s fine!

    But I don’t see on the Speakout website whether $20 value plan works in the same way, i.e., withdrawl $20 from the airtime in my account. If so, I have to spend at least $200 ($100 x 2) + $240 ($20 x 12) = $440 annually; yet since at least $2 is required in order to renew the value plan, it will be more than that. So, my question is does the $20 value plan works in the same way of $10 top-up (2500 outgoing messages) that is taken off from the airtime in my account?

    If the $20 value plan works differently, e.g., directly from my credit card, the cost will drop significantly. For example, buy $25 airtime + $20 monthly = $265 for (100 mn + unlimited txt monthly).

    Do you have an idea of the way that the value plan works?

    Thanks!

    Reply from Peter: My guess is that it works the same, but I’m not completely sure because I don’t have the plan. I’d suggest posting at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak as there are bound to be people there who have the exact plan you’re looking at.


  125. Callie says:

    Hi Peter,
    You are a wealth on information!
    I live in Windsor, Ontario and my daughter goes to school in Vancouver, BC. Can I get a pay as you go phone with a Vancouver # so that our daughter can call us when she needs and it won’t cost her long distance? If the answer is yes, will I get charged long distance or regular airtime rate?
    Thanks!

    Reply from Peter: Yes, you could get a Vancouver number but you would be charged a long distance rate to receive. Something more cost effective might be to get a Vancouver number through http://voip.ms and then forward that (at a cost of something like 1.5 cents per minute) to whatever local Windsor number you have.


  126. Shashi says:

    Hi
    The speak out wireless does expire in one year unlike other carries.However please note that there is a $1.25, 911 charge that will be debited each month.Lets say you purchased a $25.00 voucher.This gives you 100 minutes and expires in 1 year.But you actually will only be getting 40 minutes for the year.The $1.25, 911 charge is 5 minutes each month and therefore 60 minutes will be debited from your account.
    .


  127. Chad says:

    Telus has really great pre-paid rates. Free weekends + Unlimited text, vid and picture messages for only $20 a month. That includes all the basic features sucha s call display, voicemail, call waiting etc. On top of that, calling during the week is only 20 cents a minute like PC. Perfect for somebody who uses their phone a lot of texting but would like to make occasional calls. You also get a startup credit of $20!

    Best deal there in my opinion.


  128. irene miskewycz says:

    Hi Peter.
    the only thing a would like to know is it true that virgin is the best for emergency only, we are over 80. i heard only 130.00 a year no contract and no card only charge needet.
    thank you irene.

    Reply from Peter: I don’t know if there’s a single “best” service for emergency only, but that sounds good. You can also look at 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless, where you can load $25 without contract and have that last for 365 days.


  129. Night Hawk101 says:

    As at Jan 5th, 2012, the best course of action for ‘emergency only’ cell phone users is 7-11 Speak Out.

    Like Peter mentioned, you can top up with any denomination offered and it will last for 365 days. Current amounts include $25/$35/$50/$100 ‘vouchers’. Purchase these at any 7-11 convenience store or purchase online at their website.

    As far as I have researched, it is the only carrier that gives a full year for all offered top-up amounts. All the other carriers will offer limited time frames for each denomination lower than $100. 7-11 Speak Out also has the lowest ‘text message’ rate of all the prepaid carriers [exclusive of any additional add-on feature], currently @ $0.10 / message sent. Free to receive. As well, it’s also one of the lowest calling rates [$0.25 local + $0.20 long distance = $0.45 / minute long distance]. If you noticed, they’re also the only carrier that reversed the local versus long-distance amounts. To their slight advantage.

    Bear in mind though, that if you’re getting into a reasonable amount of ‘texting’, this could add up quickly.
    As an example illustrates:
    (1 message per day x $0.10 per message)*30 days = $3 / month
    (2 messages per day x $0.10 per message)*30 days = $6 / month
    …..
    (5 messages per day x $0.10 per message)*30 days = $15 / month

    That would be awfully expensive for a mere 5 messages / day. This is just a rough example, yet if used very sparingly, then at least you’ll have some airtime for those ‘emergency calls’.

    For children or young adults who are into heavy texting, they definitely need a texting plan. For $10 / month, they offer 2,500 messages sent.
    This is a pretty standard rate across all the carriers and should easily meet the needs of any texting fan. Of course, you’ll need to add more money to the pot for airtime, if you go that route.
    If you do go that route, I would contemplate your other options such as Telus prepaid where you have more ‘add-on’ features available, which will in-turn lower Telus local airtime rate to match competitors @ $0.20 / minute.

    In my case, I went with Telus prepaid. I needed a poor man’s texting add-on package, which they had. 250 messages sent /month, free to receive, for $5 / month = ~ 8.33 messages / day. Sufficient for my needs. Certainly not for a teenager or young adult likely. If they didn’t have that add-on available, I would have gone somewhere else. I also have a competitive local airtime rate @ $0.20 / minute, due to the monthly add-on, which is the catch with Telus.
    If you don’t like or need texting , forget Telus. They’re probably the worst offenders of the bunch:
    With no monthly ‘add-on’ feature, you get the following:
    $0.30 local + $0.40 long distance = $0.70 / minute long distance.= terrible!
    $0.20 per text message sent & received = terrible!
    That’s why I got the add-on, which makes it more respectable.
    Also, they have some handy daily add-on features, for that all nighter phone call you need to make to your significant other.

    Now, what I can say is that I’m happy with the service and you can check your usage on their website. It shows detailed daily transactions including all charges from incoming/outgoing phone calls, text messages in/out, data usage if applicable and so on. Therefore, if there’s something questionable you can fight it, and I have. You don’t get the level of detailed transactions with 7-11 Speakout, Petro-Canada Mobility nor President’s Choice Mobile as far as I know.
    Whether or not that’s necessary to you is your call.

    For long-distance phone calls, I can’t stress this enough. Go out and buy a long-distance calling card. Make sure the access numbers are local &/or toll-free. Program that number into your cell phone. Now when you make a long-distance phone call + long ass pin number [annoying I know], you’ll be charged local airtime rates + vastly reduced calling card rate = save money :)
    Worth the extra time to plug in your pin number I think.

    Good luck. It’s late, time for bed. Hopefully this information helped some people. It’s been a veritable nightmare comparing all the different carriers. Some carriers excel in one area and flop in another and so on.
    Too bad text messaging exists ;) Choices would be much simpler without it, haha.

    Night Hawk


  130. Night Hawk101 says:

    Sorry, 1 more thing I should have added:

    For DATA usage: i.e. browsing internet, email or ‘instant’ messaging on your smartphone. Pretty well all carriers are $10/month for 100 mb. That doesn’t seem like much but would be sufficient to receive / send many emails and load a few webpages/day. There’s data calculators on each carrier site to guesstimate your typical usage.

    If your phone has WiFi though, be sure to use that; it’s free at your home and some public places & turn off your DATA access on the phone.
    I keep hearing about people wiping out their balances in a matter of minutes because they looked at a couple youtube videos on their phone, without paying for a DATA package. Thereby incurring obscene DATA uses charges. Ouch.

    Ok, time to count sheep. Night night.

    Night Hawk

Speak your mind

January 5th, 2012 update: Due to the number of comments on this post, please use the pay as you go questions and comments forum from now on. Thanks!