Canadian Cell Phone Service Recommendations

Canadians have traditionally been stuck with one of the least competitive (and thus most expensive) mobile phone service markets in the world.

Fortunately, there a few cracks of daylight starting to show, with a handful of newer carriers offering much more reasonably priced plans. And by supporting competition like this, the entire market will be forced to lower prices, a win for almost everyone.

These recommendations are maintained by Christian Smith, creator of Coverage Critic, with substantial crowdsourced input from the MMM community.

“I want decent coverage at a low price.”

Public Mobile runs over Telus’ network and offers excellent prices. Most Public Mobile plans are limited to what the company calls “3G speeds.” Data access on these plans will be throttled to a maximum of about 3Mbps. That speed is much slower than the speeds today’s networks usually offer, but 3Mbps is fast enough that most subscribers won’t find internet performance to be sluggish.

Public Mobile doesn’t offer conventional customer support. Instead, customers can make use of support documents, a community forum, and a ticketing system.

Public Mobile offers a wide range of plans stretching from a low-use plan for $15 per month to a $50 per month plan with 8GB of data.

They also have a referral program, so if you do sign up be sure to save your code and share it around with your friends.

To get your own signup bonus, you are welcome to use the code 9MNRWQ, courtesy of my Canadian friend and occasional MMM contributor Mr. Frugal Toque.

Example plan: Unlimited calls and texts with 1GB of data for $25 per month.

Visit Public Mobile’s Website

“I want a solid all-around experience without breaking the bank.”

Koodo Mobile is a flanker brand of Telus. Koodo offers a very user-friendly experience with service that is generally much cheaper than service offered by the Big 3.

Example plan: Unlimited calls and texts with 5GB of data for $50 per month.

Visit Koodo’s Website

“I’m usually in cities, don’t mind lackluster coverage, and want to save money.”

Freedom Mobile has a fairly small network with coverage in many of Canada’s densely populated areas. The carrier also has roaming agreements that allow for service in other parts of Canada.

Freedom Mobile’s plans vary in how much roaming access they allow on other companies’ networks. Those who live within a Freedom coverage area may be able to get a good deal with Freedom Mobile’s low-cost plans.

Example plan: 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 250MB of data for $15 per month.

Visit Freedom Mobile’s Website

“I live in Quebec or the Ottawa area.”

If you live in Quebec or Ottawa, you may be within Fizz’s subscription area. While Fizz’s subscription area is limited, many of Fizz’s plans provide service in other parts of Canada so long as the majority of a subscriber’s phone use takes place within the subscription area.

Example plan: Unlimited calls and texts with 2GB of data for $32 per month.

Visit Fizz’s Website

Further Details

Example plans: Choosing an example plan and example price for each carrier can be difficult. Not all taxes, fees, promotions, and discounts are necessarily accounted for. The examples often assume purchases are made online. Pricing for Public Mobile may be lower than the example pricing in certain regions.

Limiting data: Since mobile data tends to be expensive in Canada, I strongly advise limiting data use when possible.

A work in progress: This set of recommendations is newer and not as thoroughly researched as the other lists of the best cell phone plans found on MMM and Coverage Critic.

  • Dan July 8, 2020, 2:40 am

    I recommend Zoomer Wireless, which is a flanker brand for Rogers.

    800 minutes, unlimited text, 5GB LTE data for $36/mo. You can even access the “extended network” for greater coverage, which allows you to roam onto Telus and Bell towers for free.

    One caveat, this plan is a “promotional offer”, although they seem to offer it every other month.

    • Stephane Boisjoli January 20, 2021, 2:37 pm

      That link doesn’t work, I see the plan for $40 now, and 10% off if you bring your own phone.
      For me though, the free tablet and 4 gigs of data per month for $20 seems like a better deal.
      Then you can VOIP your phone and pay half the price, for only 1 gig less.

  • Ben July 26, 2020, 5:59 pm

    Koodo’s prepaid plan is the best kept secret in Canada. I’ve been on it for a couple of years and saved a bunch of money. The base amount is $15/month which includes unlimited texting. From there, you add boosters for talk and text. The best part is, the boosters never expire as long as you keep paying the monthly service fee. I rarely use phone minutes; I still have half of the 600 minutes that I bought last year for $30. I go through data faster, but a 1 GB booster ($30) will last me 2 or 3 months. Between home and work, I’m rarely off WiFi. I convinced my mother-in-law to switch and she’s had the same talk and data boosters for over a year, just paying the monthly amount. A final benefit is that you can purchase talk, text, and data boosters for USA (also never expire). These are a bit more expensive than the Canadian equivalents but very reasonable for a trip to the States. Far better than the roaming rates you’ll pay from the big carriers.

    Adding boosters is easy to do online or by phone using a credit card. If you attach a credit card to your account and do automatic top-ups (i.e. enough $/month to maintain your account) you save 10% on the monthly amount. I don’t know if this was a promotion, but it’s still active on my account. So effectively I pay $13.50/month for the basic service.

    I hope this helps someone else save money!

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 31, 2020, 10:33 am

      That’s an okay base cost but YIKES, 30 bucks a gig for data!?

      It would work for some people who rarely travel, but even at my frugal level which is about a sixth of what most people use, I’d still be running up a crazy phone bill.

      What are your opinions on this versus Public Mobile?

    • Stephane Boisjoli December 14, 2020, 1:06 pm

      Yeah, there’s a caveeat about Koodo, Fido, and Virgin though. They are Telus, Rogers and Bell’s “cheap versions”, and one of their goals is to drive all the alternatives to them out of business. Like Public Mobile, Freedom (which actually has their own network), and so on.
      So if there are comparable plans elsewhere, people should consider them.

  • Jon August 16, 2020, 3:58 pm

    After years of trying to beat the Canadian cellphone racket, I eventually came up with a winning tactic – VoIP. I pay a few dollars/month for access which includes all the calling I want (I never consider minutes used). With this system I can make cheap calls using my Manitoba number, no matter where I am in the world, and anyone can reach me at my Manitoba number at no extra charge, no matter where I am.

    The caveat? Data only. Basically, I’m on airplane mode with WiFi on at home, hotels, etc. However, because I want no compromises in service, I pay an additional $15/month when I’m in Canada for a 3gb/month data-only sim. Many months/year I am not in Canada, and I then use a local sim instead and pay a bit less.

    If you are into optimizing for fun and efficiency (… 1st assumption if you are reading MMM!), this is for you, but it takes a little effort and learning. I personally integrate several systems together to make it work how I want (you can’t just talk to a guy at a desk and have everything work perfect).

    1) VoIP provider. I recommend I have the $2/month plan for myself (unlimited incoming calls, $0.01-0.10/min outgoing depending on who/where in the world I call), and the $0.50/month plan for my wife ($0.01/min incoming). I ported both our Manitoba numbers from our previous provider for free when I signed up for a 1 or 2 year “plan” when I originally switched over.

    They also have all sorts of cool tools, like call-flow options and routing (eg, upload wait/transfer music, different answering machines and call routing options depending on incoming number classification – family vs friends vs business vs unknown -, exotic secretary voices, incoming fax-to-email, voicemail-to-email plus transcription, text to email, etc).

    2) Internet access: However you get this, it’s needed to register “online” with your VoIP provider. I use Wifi whenever available (airplane mode, wifi on, radiate yourself less!), and a data-only sim otherwise.

    3) Softphone: An application that connects to your VoIP provider, and is your replacement phone app on your physical phone/ other internet-device. I use Zoiper. After a while I purchased their $10 premium version that had more codecs and some other stuff I don’t notice. They deserve to get paid for their product.

    Many years in, I am EXTREMELY pleased with the system. I went from paying $60-120/month to $10-30 for both lines together, and I have a far superior system for travelling.

    I get calls on my MB number while I am walking around in a forest across the world for free. I call any number, from anywhere in the world without worrying what it will cost. There might be better providers than anveo now, but it works well and is cheap enough that I haven’t bothered to look.

    Extra info:
    – a bonus is that any device that has internet access can be the phone.

    – VoIP/wifi calling is better in places with internet but poor cellular service (some buildings, homes in the countryside)

    – Try Google hangouts (calls completely free, rather than a few cents/min). Being Canadian, Google voice isn’t a practical option to attempt, and hangouts sometimes has issues – it will not connect to some numbers, this appears random, and no reason is ever given.

    – For messaging and calling most friends+family, I use WhatsApp. Let’s me make video calls too. Messaging can be a pita to set up with VoIP, and requires a plan that is +~$9/month to use with anveo.

    – When I went VoIP, anveo forced another $1.50/month for 911 access if you registered as being in North America. I set it up while I was not in North America and use it outside of North America, so I did not feel it was necessary to have this monthly fee forced on… just saying…

    – You can easily and cheaply test out a new VoIP number+ system for a while, and see if you like it before porting your current number over. It took me a while to work out the kinks with a tester number before I got things working smoothly.

    Hope people give it a try and like it as much as me!

    … After I started using VoIP, I remember Rogers offered that if customers paid extra, they would allow them to call over the internet. Laughable. I just wish that when the eventual switch to internet-calls happens, we all remember and Canadian cellphone providers go bankrupt!

    • Kevin August 21, 2020, 9:30 am

      I’ve done something similar, though in my case SMS and MMS were far more important than voice. So, I went with which lets me use any Jabber (XMPP) client to send & receive messages. That’s handy so I can respond to messages while I’m on the computer as well mobile.

      The voice component is currently over SIP though there’s an opt-in option to receive calls directly in the jabber client (mostly supported by Conversations on Android). A downside compared to anveo (and which I used to use) is that calling out to countries other than the US and Canada isn’t supported. Texting and receiving calls works from anywhere. I still keep a account around for when I need international calls (which is pretty rare for me).

      It’s a good alternative for people that are more text heavy than voice heavy.

      I also use the Fido $15/month data-only SIM (now 4GB, was 3GB) to support this.

  • Financial Fred September 14, 2020, 10:28 am

    If you haven’t checked already, check if your company has a corporate plan. As some companies have corporate plans that are great deals in Canada. I know where I work has a $7 base fee plus an additional incremental cost for each unit I use. For example, every text message is 5 cents up to $5 dollars than every additional text is free. This same idea goes for data. My wife’s company has the exact same corporate plan and both our phone bills are always under $30 a month for basically all we can use. The only downside from these corporate plans is that you have to purchase a phone outright. You may not think that is too bad but they have a limited selection and all are relatively new phones. The phone purchase is how they make the majority of their money. Our plan is to hold our phones for a very long time. However, if you wanted you could purchase a new phone and resell it and use your old phone.

    I have to say this is an awesome list and something I will consider if I ever have to. I hate how much some people spend on phones in Canada but it seemed like in small towns they didn’t always have a choice. I am so happy to see all the new options that are coming as you said there seems to be some cracks of daylight.

  • Selena September 24, 2020, 8:24 am

    I use AT&T prepaid that includes roaming in Canada. 25 USD/mo gives me unlimited talk, text and data (though only 8GB at LTE) in US, CA and MX.

    • Victoria October 15, 2020, 12:16 am

      The only issue (assumably) would be having a US number vs a Canadian number. Can you sign up without a US billing address?

      • Selena October 18, 2020, 3:02 pm

        Yes, you can only get a US number with AT&T. If you want a CA number, open an account with Fongo (can also port your old CA number) or Talkatone. Or if you have a phone with a dual SIM and know a Shaw customer nice enough to get you a free talk and text only account, you can port your number to Shaw.

        I got my AT&T account years ago when I was in the US at a Best Buy. Didn’t have to provide an address.

    • Stephane Boisjoli December 14, 2020, 1:09 pm

      This just shows the sad state of the Canadian Wireless industry. They give better deals to the foreign companies.

    • Naners July 27, 2021, 2:53 pm

      The AT&T website says roaming speeds may be limited to 2G, have you found that to be the case in Canada?

    • Naners July 27, 2021, 2:55 pm

      The AT&T website says roaming may be limited to 2G speeds, have you found this to be the case in Canada?

  • CJ November 19, 2020, 5:01 pm

    I signed up for the new Shaw Mobile.

    (For bc and Alberta customers)

    Shaw bought wind mobile and renamed them freedom mobile, but not launched their own wireless. So I suppose Shaw mobile is a flanker brand of Freedom.

    its $15 per month for the base unlimited text and talk, then I added $4 per month for iPhone visual voicemail. And add a $10 per gigabyte add on that lasts 3 months. So I only pay for what I use.

    It turns out about $30 per month based on my usage.

    I was also with public mobile and it was a great service too.

  • Natta December 28, 2020, 10:12 am

    I wander what is the best way to get coverage for both US and Canada as I plan to travel often as soon as pandemic is over. keep number or switch? Thank you in advance

    • Mr. Money Mustache December 29, 2020, 12:50 pm

      My vote is for Google Fi! (as long as you can open up the account from the US side of things, it works well in both countries – this is how I do things myself as a US and Canada traveler)

      • Coverage Critic February 4, 2021, 9:56 am

        Late to responding here, but I second MMM! As long as you spend more time in the US than Canada, Google Fi will be a super convenient option.

        • LifeAfter July 28, 2021, 4:22 pm

          Can you get a Canadian number with Google FI?

          • Coverage Critic August 11, 2021, 1:58 pm

            No, unfortunately it’s really only meant as a service for people living primarily in the US.

  • Laura December 21, 2021, 4:03 pm

    Thanks MMM, I just activated my Public mobile SIM card. 2022 is all about cutting down on my bills.

    • Brigitte April 7, 2023, 11:30 am

      Also just ordered a Public Mobile SIM card. Woo! Switching from Telus for the SAME plan with Public and saving 300$/year.

      Wish Google Fi was an option here in Canada!


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