Buying A SIM Card In Canada (A Helpful Illustrated Guide)

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.

In this post, I will 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.

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.

Coverage Map For Bell

bell coverage map

image credit comparecellular.com

 

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 an 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 your self. 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.

You will also need to make sure your phone is unlocked. If not you will need to buy one and chances are, you will need to provide ID. But that can be hit and miss depends on where you go. Also, 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

Using a local prepaid SIM card will save you money on roaming charges in Canada. Expect to pay around $30 CDN for 1 GB data. At the time of writing the current exchange rate is $1 CDN = 0.76c USD.

Bell

buying a sim card canada - bell

Bell charges a $9.95 fee upfront but then will credit your account the same amount. Store locator here. 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.

Add on’s for Bell:

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

 

Telus

buying a sim card canada

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.

Add on’s for Telus:

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

 

Rogers

buying a sim card canada

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

Add on’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.

 

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 chance 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. As always, feel free to leave a comment or send us a message anytime via our contact form.

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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