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Are you going on a business trip or planning a vacation to Canada soon? Have a look at some mobile phones for use in Canada. Here’s some advice on crossing the border with our neighboring country in North America and still being capable of using your mobile phone as if we were at home.
Avoid the same mistake I made on a short road trip to Thunder Bay. We crossed into Canada and looked down at our phones a few minutes later and realized, “Uh-oh.” Thankfully, the GPS in the car got us back to the border.
After a nice vacation, nobody wants to be slammed with a bill shock, roaming fees, and other additional fees. We will outline the best ways to get great coverage and obtain service in Canada. This includes the best SIM cards, service providers, and cell phone brands.
Pack your things, whether camping gear or business suits, and come along. We’re headed north to look at cell phones that can be used in Canada. Now you’re probably wondering, do cell phones from the United States work in Canada? The short answer is yes.
There are two options for this to happen. The first option is to purchase a temporary SIM card. Another option is purchasing an international phone plan through your current service provider.
- Best SIM Cards for Canada
- 1. TrueMove H
- 2. T-Mobile
- 3. AT&T
- Best Pre-Paid Mobile Phone Plans
- 4. Verizon Wireless
- 5. Visible
- 6. Mint Mobile
- Cell Phones to Use in Canada
- 7. iPhone
- 8. Samsung Galaxy
- 9. Nokia
- Top Phone Brands in Canada
- Dual-SIM Phones that Work in Canada
- Choosing a Provider for Your Needs
- Check Cell Towers Before You Go
- Unlocking Phones
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Will my cell phone work in Canada?
- Which Canadian carriers have the best service?
- Does my mobile phone need to be unlocked to use it in Canada?
- Am I able to use my non-Canadian phone in Canada?
- Does Verizon’s cell phone service work in Canada?
Best SIM Cards for Canada
Please note that temporary SIM cards will only work on an unlocked phone.
1. TrueMove H
TrueMove H is the first option, a temporary SIM card. It’s one of the top temporary cell phone service options while traveling in Canada.
They have one of Canada’s most comprehensive groups of 4G LTE networks and 3G roaming networks – as well as in 50+ other countries worldwide. For 15 days, you’ll receive 6GB of data allowance from the TrueMove H SIM card.
Please note that international calls and text messages are not included. If you wish to make calls and texts, you’ll need an international call plan from your cell phone provider.
TrueMove H is a fantastic option if you only want to use data for GPS directions or email. If you want more options, check out these top SIM cards for purchase on Amazon, some options offer prepaid service where you can top off your account when you need more data usage.
Approximate Cost: $40
Grab one of the most powerful network SIM cards through T-Mobile. They are available on the website or with ease on Amazon.
T-Mobile has one of the strongest signals across the United States and is accessible in Canada as well. This temporary SIM card has 5GB of data, unlimited texts, and calls for 15 days.
All you need is a phone that supports a simple and easy SIM card replacement, and poof, you’re ready to explore Canada! See why people choose T-Mobile for cell phone plans and cell phones that can be used in Canada. By doing this, you won’t have to stress about getting a new phone in Canada.
Approximate Cost: $40
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Are you wondering about your AT&T service in Canada? Not to fear, because AT&T covers a good portion of Canada! The prepaid SIM card is preloaded with 25GB of data, unlimited texts, and voice calls for 30 days.
We can’t claim that AT&T is the fastest in the US, but it will provide you with a reliable network in many parts of Canada. That is something you’re going to want when exploring new territory.
If you prefer to use your AT&T phone plan when you visit Canada, depending on your plan, they offer a pay-as-you-go option that is $10 per day to unlock your same plan internationally.
Approximate Cost: $57
Best Pre-Paid Mobile Phone Plans
4. Verizon Wireless
You are also probably wondering about another top carrier in the US, Verizon. Verizon has some of the best cell phones that can be used in Canada.
Verizon has its system set up a bit differently than a SIM card. There are no SIM card options available through Verizon themselves.
There have been reports of third parties selling Verizon SIM cards in Canada, but we don’t recommend going that route. If you need full Verizon access on your phone, it primarily comes down to your plan. You’ll want to consult with your carrier before the trip abroad. With TravelPass, your US wireless plan travels anywhere you do.
With 4G LTE speed, use your mobile phone just like you would back home in the United States. You only get charged for each call or text you make.
Verizon Wireless also offers a prepaid cell phone plan. Receive 15 GB of data usage for only $45 monthly, reflected during the next billing cycle.
A prepaid phone plan is a nice choice if you don’t want to stick with Verizon for long. It’s also a great option if you only use the phone for travel.
Approximate Cost: $5 per day for North American roaming
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Visible is one of the best prepaid plans on a 5G Verizon network. Get unlimited data usage, calls, texts, and free mobile hotspots all on your own phone. Grab a cheap phone that can be unlocked, insert a Canadian-compatible SIM card, and you’ll be ready.
Approximate Cost: $45 per month
6. Mint Mobile
By far the most affordable option, Mint Mobile offers 15GB of data for only $20 per month. This network provides 5G and 4G LTE networks with unlimited talk and text. Mint offers a number of other monthly plans that can suit your needs, including as much as $30 per month for unlimited everything.
Grab a prepaid phone, unlock it, and be on your way up north without any hassles! Use a temporary SIM Canada card to allow usage in a good range of Canada.
Cell Phones to Use in Canada
Not every cell phone will work in Canada. Their processors can’t handle the different types of networks available in the country. Your best options are to unlock a newer phone or have a Canadian SIM card ready.
This will make traveling and your visit to Canada so much easier. It gives you an excuse to splurge on the latest iPhone or Android.
The biggest hurdle in getting your phone to work in Canada isn’t always the carrier. Sometimes, it can be the actual phone itself. If you’ve had your phone for several years (we’re looking at you flip phone users!), chances are your old phone might not work.
Technology has changed tenfold and is constantly evolving. Over the past ten years, cell phone coverage and service have come a long way. How far we’ve come regarding communications, phone coverage, and cell service is impressive.
Since technology is ever-changing, especially in the US and Canada, it’s hard for older phones and earlier technology to keep up with the rapid pace and changes of the 4G LTE and 5G networks.
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Most 4G phones should work in the Canadian provinces. There are some exceptions, though, depending on how old the phone is. iPhones are good at keeping their phones up-to-date with the latest technology, security, and processors.
Whether or not your phone will work can depend on the model number. iPhone 6 through 14+ should be ready to rock and roll if they are either unlocked, have an international cell plan, or have a Canadian SIM card ready to be inserted.
Your carrier should provide you with a map of coverage throughout Canada. It’s a good idea to check this before visiting Canada.
Ensure you have adequate coverage for the areas of Canada you intend to visit. The further north you get, the less reception and carrier services are likely. Again, you can use Wi-Fi on your iPhone for free to FaceTime, iMessage, and make and receive calls or texts by using WhatsApp.
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8. Samsung Galaxy
To be clear, the purpose of this post is not to pit Samsung against the iPhone. Both brands, however, are the top two contenders in this category. Samsung is making some of the highest technologically advanced phones, competing with the iPhone.
But none of this matters. No matter which phone company you choose, as long as you can travel with it and it is Canada-friendly, that’s all that matters! Samsung has a range of Galaxy models, the most recent being the Galaxy S23.
Any Galaxy from the S7 and up can roam Canadian networks. Like the iPhone, you can always use Wi-Fi for data usage and calls/texts on WhatsApp, which won’t count against your plan.
You now have many options on many different carriers as well. Grab an unlocked Galaxy today and head to Canada with zero issues.
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Nokia is the underdog of the tech world. It sneaks underneath the competition without making much of a sound.
Except in Canada, apparently. There has been an overwhelming response to the Nokia brand of phones throughout the country.
With a fair price point for even their top options of phones, Nokia has branded five of their phones for customers that live in or are traveling to Canada. Most Nokia phones already come unlocked, no matter who the carrier is. This is a huge perk because you don’t have to worry about trying to unlock it yourself!
Better yet, since these phones are geared toward Canada and the networks they use, you shouldn’t have any problems connecting to any of the numbers of networks that roam throughout Canada.
The five available phones are the old-school Nokia 3310 3G, Nokia 1, 3, 5, and 6.1. Any of these are going to be Canada-ready!
Top Phone Brands in Canada
Maybe you’re looking for an excuse to purchase a brand-new phone before your travels. Go big or go home, am I right? Here are some of the top-rated Canadian phones that are currently on the market.
Dual-SIM Phones that Work in Canada
A dual-SIM phone will allow you to have two phone numbers tied to one device. This is perfect for frequent travelers. Some top-rated choices are:
Choosing a Provider for Your Needs
Check Cell Towers Before You Go
Regarding service providers, there are three main Canadian carriers and telecommunications companies. The major carriers also own companies like Virgin Mobile, Lucky Mobile, Fido, Chatr, Koodo, and Public Mobile. For optimal coverage, stick to one of these providers if possible.
Check out the cell tower map before deciding which provider to go with. Some may have stronger signals in certain areas.
A little bit of planning ahead will ensure you have optimal phone service during your travels. You can also check your carrier’s website, which will have more compatibility information based on your phone.
Many people are choosing to buy a cheaper phone on a plan with no contract or warranties or anything like that. Especially when traveling, this makes things much easier in some aspects. When you buy a phone under a contract from a service provider, most of those phones will be locked to that carrier.
There are ways around this, including reading your carrier’s contract carefully. Getting a prepaid phone on a no-contract plan is much easier if you do not want to void these specific requirements. That way, you can unlock your phone without voiding anything and receiving penalty payments.
There are multiple phone unlocking service companies. We will provide you with a list of companies with the best phone unlocking services.
- Official iPhone Unlock
- DoctorSIM Unlock Service
- iPhone IMEI
- Mobile Unlocked
- Cell Unblocker
- Unlock Base
- Or just buy an unlocked smartphone
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Frequently Asked Questions
Will my cell phone work in Canada?
Your cell phone may work in Canada depending on the compatibility of your device with Canadian network frequencies and your service provider’s international policies. While most modern phones should technically be compatible, checking with your provider regarding roaming charges or potential international plans to avoid unexpected costs is crucial.
Which Canadian carriers have the best service?
Canada has three leading service providers: Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Some companies, such as Fido, Virgin Mobile, Koodo, and Public Mobile, are still owned by the three leading parent companies.
Choosing one of these companies would be your best bet. Once in a while, there is a company that slips through the cracks. Freedom Mobile, for example, is owned by Quebecor.
Does my mobile phone need to be unlocked to use it in Canada?
That depends on what you plan to do. If you plan to purchase a temporary SIM card, then yes, your phone will need to be unlocked. If you prefer to add on an international plan as provided by your service provider, then no, the phone does not need to be unlocked.
Am I able to use my non-Canadian phone in Canada?
Yes, provided you plan and prepare in advance. When visiting Canada, an outdated phone—like a flip phone—won’t function properly.
Most smartphones, including those from Samsung, Apple, Motorola, Google, and other manufacturers, will work in Canada. Just ensure you either have a temporary SIM card, a prepaid plan, or an international plan put in place by your service provider.
Does Verizon’s cell phone service work in Canada?
Verizon’s cell phone service does work in Canada, but it’s subject to international rates unless you have an appropriate plan. The Verizon TravelPass allows you to use your domestic talk, text, and data allowances in more than 185 countries, including Canada, for a daily fee. As always, confirming details with Verizon before your travel is recommended to avoid any surprises on your bill.
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- About the Author
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Since both of her parents are German immigrants, Lisa grew up with a lot of German culture. In fact, she’s more familiar with German traditions as opposed to the North American way of life. Growing up, she was fortunate enough to spend many summers in Germany with her family and she is fluent in German. Lisa is also quite the expert on Caribbean cruises, and has been to almost every island. She was also fortunate enough to work at a travel agency for almost 2 years to learn some of the ropes of the industry, and she’s happy to share her experiences, tips, and travel hacks with her readers.