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Can you buy prepaid SIM cards in Canada?

Yes, you can. But, if you are planning a trip to Canada and need to stay connected on your phone, there is something you should know. Canada has some of the highest rates for cellular rates in the world!

But don’t worry, we Canadians make up for that in many other ways. Yes, I live in Canada and pay those large cell phone bills every month. I don’t like it, but I have learned to live with it like millions of others.

If you are traveling here for the first time and need to buy a prepaid SIM card, there are still some decent options available to you.

And double check with your cell phone provider, you might be able to pay a little extra and use your current provider while you are here. If you don’t want to do that, let me show you how to buy a SIM card in Canada. Including who to buy from, where to buy, and how much you should expect to pay.

SIM Card Providers In Canada

There are basically 3 main providers in Canada. They are Bell, Telus, and Rogers. There are some smaller companies as well, but options there will be limited. I suggest sticking with one of those 3 to get the best rates and service throughout the Country. I personally use Bell and recommend them.

I have price comparisons for Bell, Telus, and Rogers and coverage maps below to help you decide what is best for you.

One thing you may notice with Canada and cell coverage is due to the geography and population, there will be many areas that don’t have coverage. Most of the normal populated areas will be fine, but if you are traveling to a remote area of the country, don’t be surprised if the cell coverage is weak or non-existent.

Where To Buy A Sim Card In Canada

There are many places to buy a variety of SIM cards in Canada. The 3 big providers are readily available at all shopping centers and stores such as Walmart, Staples, and Superstore which is a large grocery chain.

Convenience stores also carry many SIM cards to choose from. If you are flying into the country, the airport where you arrive will have the cell phone providers, normally at a booth or shopping area of the airport.

Once you choose a SIM card, you will most likely have to activate it yourself. It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t take much time. Normally done over the phone, unless you buy an unlocked phone from them where you can do it online.

Some quick tips when buying your SIM

  • Make sure your phone is unlocked. If not, you will need to buy one. 
  • Bring your ID and/or passport. You may or may not need to provide that, depending on where you go. 
  • If you are looking for a SIM for your tablet, you will need to contact Bell as they are the only provider in the country that currently provide it.

Prepaid SIM Card Canada Comparison

Let’s compare prepaid SIM cards in Canada, their rates and their coverage areas. Using a local prepaid SIM card will save you money on roaming charges in Canada. Expect to pay around $30 CDN for 1 GB of data. At the time of writing the current exchange rate is $1 CDN = 0.77c USD. Let’s compare the big three providers. Coverage maps source comparecellular.ca.

Bell Mobile Network in Canada

Bell Company Logo

Bell Mobility Inc. is a Canadian wireless network that offers wireless services across Canada. It operates networks using LTE and HSPA+. Bell Mobility is the third-largest wireless carrier in Canada, with 10.1 million subscribers as of 2020.

Bell owns Virgin Mobile Canada and a number of other subsidiaries. Bell charges a $9.95 fee upfront but then will credit your account the same amount. Store locator here. Here is their site as well. You have the ability to buy prepaid services directly from them here as well.

Prepaid voice and data charges

  • $30 – 250MB data, 150 anytime local minutes, $0.50/minute for Canada & U.S. long distance within Canada
  • $45 – 500MB data, 500 anytime local minutes, $0.50/minute for Canada & U.S. long distance within Canada
  • $60 – 1GB data, Unlimited anytime local minutes, $0.50/minute for Canada & U.S. long distance within Canada

The additional local rate is $0.20 per minute.

Addon’s for Bell

  • Daily pass (20MB) – $2, to be used within 24 hours
  • 100MB – $10
  • 500MB – $25
  • 1GB – $30
  • 2GB – $50

Bell Canada network coverage – Virgin Mobile

Bell Mobile Canada's coverage map

Telus

buying a sim card Canada telos logo

TELUS Mobility Inc. is a Canadian wireless network  which operates networks using LTE and HSPA+. Telus Mobility is the second largest wireless carrier in Canada, with 10.6 million subscribers as of 2020. The plans from Telus are similar to Bell.

Prepaid Data, voice and text rates

  • $30 – 250MB data, 150 anytime local minutes, $0.50/minute for Canada & U.S. long distance within Canada
  • $45 – 500MB data, 500 anytime local minutes, $0.50/minute for Canada & U.S. long distance within Canada
  • $60 – 1GB data, Unlimited anytime local minutes, $0.50/minute for Canada & U.S. long distance within Canada

The additional local rate is $0.15 per minute.

Addon’s for Telus

  • 100MB – $10
  • 500MB – $25
  • 1GB – $30

Telus Mobility Canada network coverage

for Telus in Canada for prepaid sim cards

Rogers

Rogers Wireless Inc. is a Canadian wireless network with headquarters in Toronto, that offers wireless services across Canada. It is the largest wireless carrier in Canada, with 10.8 million subscribers as of Q3 2020. Rogers is now offering new plans with more data and unlimited minutes included. It also will cost more than the other providers.

Prepaid Data, voice and text rates

  • $80 – 3GB data, Unlimited nationwide calling
  • $85 – 4GB data, Unlimited nationwide calling
  • $90 – 6GB data, Unlimited nationwide calling

Addon’s for Rogers

You can get additional plans that have more data if needed. Starting around $100 per month and going up to $410 per month for 82GB of data.

Rogers Wireless Canada Network Coverage

Rogers Coverage map for prepaid sim cards in Canada

Can you buy prepaid SIM cards in Canada?

You can buy them either online or at any number of phone stores or malls like Walmart, Staples, or one of our large grocery stores. You can also buy them at the airport when you land in Canada, which is more convenient, but they are usually more expensive. 

How much is a prepaid SIM card in Canada?

Rates vary some but plan on paying around $30 CDN for 1 GB of data. For an exact breakdown of rates for each of the three big providers see our Prepaid SIM Card Canada Comparison above.

What is the best prepaid plan in Canada?

I personally use Bell. They have great coverage, at least as good as coverage gets here in Canada. And their prices (as outlined above) are reasonable too.

In Summary

Unfortunately in Canada, the prepaid or pay as you go cellular plans are not very affordable. Compared to other countries, Canada has some of the highest priced plans.

I recommend going with the plan that suits your needs for data coverage as in general the more data you take, you get more value for the cost. For example, Rogers offers 3GB data for $80, but for an extra $10 you can double the data to 6GB.

Keep in mind that these rates are subject to change at any time. At the time of writing, these are the current rates. There are a few other providers available other than the 3 main ones I recommend, but chances are the service and coverage areas are not as good. I would stick to the main providers.

Also, in Canada, there is sales tax up to 15% depending on where you are.

If traveling to the USA, check out our buying a SIM card in the USA post here.

If you enjoyed our buying a sim card in Canada guide, have a look at all our travel gear guides here:

Hopefully, you found these guides helpful. Thanks for reading!

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links at zero cost to you. I will only sell and recommend products that I have either used personally or believe will be helpful for you. You will only see proven and trusted gear, and I will help guide you away from the products that simply don’t work!

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