Best Cell Phone Plans For Canadian Snowbirds

If you’re looking for the best cell phone plan for Canadian snowbirds, we feel for you. This can be a serious struggle, especially if you aren’t totally sure what to look for.

Finding the right solution can be confusing. There are an overwhelming number of options to choose from and it’s not very clear which will provide the best coverage and speeds.

As a snowbird, you probably want to spend your winters outside Canada purely to get away from the snow, ice, and cold – not necessarily to get away from your friends and family (but if that is your goal – then hey, no judgment!).

You likely want to be able to stay connected – and without the right cell phone plan, doing so will not only be expensive, but it might be downright impossible.

The good news is that there are many ways you can keep in touch – and most of them are quite affordable. Sure, you can always turn to a landline – but getting a cell phone plan that’s designed specifically for Canadians visiting the US is a much better choice.

Here’s what you need to know.


Planning a trip to the US? Consider travel medical insurance with Best Quote Travel Insurance.

Using Your Canadian Cell Phone Abroad

For the most part, most major carriers (like Telus) have affordable roaming plans that will let you receive calls locally in the United States and then again, once you’re back home in Canada. This lets you keep the same phone with the same number, and it also means you don’t have to swap SIM cards, use an app, or buy a calling card.

However, it might mean that the friends you make in the United States have to call your Canadian number during the summer – which can cause them to incur serious long-distance charges.

Because of that, you may want to consider some of these specialized plans instead.

Rogers Roam Like Home Plan 

The Rogers Roam Like Home Plan is one of the best options to consider if you’re a snowbird. It is available in more than 180 destinations, including the United States.

You’ll pay just $10 per day for a maximum of fifteen days in a billing cycle. Alternatively, you can buy a pay-per-use plan. A postpaid plan costs $1.45 per minute for a phone call or $0.75 per text. Data is $7.99 per 50 MB. A prepaid plan is $2 per minute for a phone call and $0.75 for a text. Unfortunately, data is not available in the prepaid plan as of now.

The beauty of using Roam Like Home is that it’s active only on days you are traveling. You will only be charged for a maximum of 15 days, making this a great plan for longer trips.

All you have to do to access it is to turn on the data roaming feature on your device. If you’re already a Rogers customer with an eligible postpaid wireless plan, you will be automatically enrolled in Roam Like Home, so there’s little you need to do to set it up.

Just keep in mind that overage rates still apply. If you go over on your talk, text, and data, you’ll still get charged. And if you’re making calls to other countries besides the US or Canada, long-distance charges still apply, too.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $450

Rogers “Infinite” Plan 

If you’re a frequent traveler, you can add the Canada+US option to your existing Rogers Unlimited plan.

With the Infinite Plan, you’ll pay up to $175 per month depending on the data speed you want (if you can settle for lower speeds of 30 GB rather than 35 to 50 GB, you can pay around $80 per month).

You’ll get a variety of perks, including discounted access to Apple Music and Disney+. Plus, you’ll have 5G network access anywhere you go. Roam Like Home is an included feature of this plan and you can also get access to long-distance calling.

Of course, this isn’t the cheapest plan you can buy, but if you want to be sure that you will be covered during your stay in the United States, it’s a good solution.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $240-$525

Bell Roam Better Plan

The Bell Roam Better Plan is another great option. You’ll get all the data you need while roaming, plus unlimited talk and text in the US and more than 200 other international destinations.

Roam Better is simply an add-on that you can tack on to your account with a one-time opt-in. You can choose from Roam Better with Home Data (which uses the data from your account while traveling) or Roam Better – with 100 MB (which doesn’t tap into the data from your current plant).

For a US-only unlimited talk and text plan using data from your account, you’ll pay $9 per day. It’s valid every day when you are roaming and allows for download speeds of up to 500 MB of data usage per day.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $810

Bell 30 Day Travel Pass Plan

Bell also offers a 30-day travel pass plan. This is $60 to $100 per pass so it can be more cost effective than the Roam Better add-on. You’ll be granted 200 anytime minutes that can be used for incoming and outgoing calls within the US to Canada along with unlimited text messages (both sent and received).

Depending on the option you choose, you’ll also get between one and three GB of data.

It can be a bit confusing to navigate the different plan options, but if you’re not sure how much data you need, you can always chat with a Bell representative to find out.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $180-$300 (depending on GB selected)

Telus Travel and Roaming Plan

Telus Travel and Roaming has a variety of travel and roaming plans. Easy Roam will give you access to the data you already have in your monthly plan along with unlimited text and talk for $9 per day in the US. You only have to pay for the days you choose to use your phone, so it’s a good option for occasional visitors (not so much for visitors who plan on staying for a long time).

That said, it’s easy to add to your plan and since you are only charged for the days you use the plan, you can avoid unwanted surprises on your plan.

If you are only planning on using your cell phone for emergencies while in the United States, you can opt for the pay-per-use variation. This charges $5 per MB of data, $1.60 per minute of calls, and $0.75 per text.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $810

Telus also has a special Canada-US plan. This covers all of your usage while in the United States, so the Easy Roam rate does not apply.

You will have unlimited calling, picture, text, and video to numbers in the US and Canada.

The plan is somewhat confusing in that it does not include calls or texts to:

These are not included and are charged in the roaming pay-per-use rate. That can be hard to keep track of if you plan on traveling to these destinations!

For the Canada-US plan, you’ll pay between $85-$130 per month (depending on which data usage you require) for up to four people.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $255-$390

Fido Roam Plan

Fido Roam is available in more than 185 destinations, including the United States. All you have to do is turn on your device’s roaming. You’ll only be charged on the calendar days you use data, receive or make a call, or send a text.

You can use your plan for a maximum of 15 days per billing cycle. There are also pay-per-use plans available, but the downside of these is that they can be cost-prohibitive at up to $2 per minute for a phone call!

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $450 maximum

Koodo Easy Roam Plan

Koodo’s Easy Roam program allows you to use your existing phone plan when you’re traveling abroad. It costs $9 per day in the United States (it’s more expensive in other countries). As with similar plans, you will only be charged when you use your minutes, texts, or data.

The benefit of this service is that you can add it before you head out on your trip and it will remain on your account for future trips – there isn’t any activation you need to do. You’re only charged for the days you use your phone. Plus, all incoming texts are free. Additionally, the $9 per day fee is capped at $100 per billing cycle, so you don’t have to worry about astronomical fees.

It’s not the cheapest plan on this list, but it’s not the most expensive, either. It does tie into your data, so it might not be the best option if you’re sharing a line with someone who is remaining in-country while you travel.

Total Cost for 3 Months in the US: $300

Koodo Seasonal Hold Plan

The Koodo Seasonal Hold Plan isn’t necessarily a cell phone plan that you can take advantage of while you’re traveling in the United States – it’s really just something for you if you don’t want to pay a cell phone bill while you’re out of the country. YOu can connect to Wifi and make 911 calls with this plan, but otherwise, you won’t be able to use your Koodo services.

You’ll be charged a flat rate of $15 per month instead of your regular rate plan.

Buying a Travel SIM Card in Canada

You can also purchase a travel SIM card. These are generally offered at affordable rates, but you need to do some serious research to make sure you’re buying from a reputable source. Plus, you will likely have to get a new phone number – this can be frustrating for some people, but there are still benefits of using SIM cards to consider. Here are some of the best options.

AT&T North American SIM Card 30-Day Plan

AT&T Prepaid SIM Cards can be purchased in increments of 15, 21, or 30 days, with a 30-day card costing around $70, depending on where you buy it.

The biggest downside to buying a travel SIM card is that you won’t have access to any network-based support while you’re traveling. If you run into a problem, you’re on your own. However, you’ll get high speeds, free calls, and unlimited SMS. These cards are compatible with unlocked, no-contract smartphones.

Also, you can use these as-is in Canada, but your contacts have to call a US number which can cost more. Some reviewers on Red Flag Deals have also said:

“I’ve also read issues of delays in calls when people call your US # directly when you are “roaming” (at no cost) in Canada. And some users have said incoming call quality is poor.”

So that’s something to keep in mind as well.

T-Mobile 60-Day Prepaid Plan

With the T-Mobile 60 Day Prepaid Plan, which you can buy as a SIM card as well as a regular plan on your phone, you’ll get 60 days of unlimited use upon activation.

These make it possible for you to use your phone as a hotspot – something you can’t do with most AT&T SIM cards. Other options include 45 and 120-day cards so you can customize to whichever length of time for which you need service.

Most reviewers claim that the network speeds are fantastic and that these cards are a good way to save on roaming packages. However, you need to be careful to buy from a reputable shop.

As with other SIM cards, the support will be limited. The quality isn’t always top-notch either, with one reviewer on Amazon, Vostok, writing in April of 2019, “Didn’t work much, kept losing signal in a lot of places IN the city (Los Angeles). Won’t be using this next time I go to US.”

Can a Canadian Get a US Cell Phone Plan?

As a Canadian, you can get a US cell phone plan. The drawback to this is that it will make you do a bit more running around to buy the phone and the plan when you get there. However, for longer visits, it makes sense.

Plus, after much research, it’s easy to see that getting a SIM card isn’t always the best option. Since you’ll be buying a SIM card through a third-party provider, you have to do extra investigating to make sure the provider is reputable and legitimate – otherwise, you could be out of some money.

AT&T, Verizon, Mint Mobile, and Google Fi are examples of providers that all offer good plans. However, T-Mobile’s is one of the best – which is why we have included a few more details on it below.

T-Mobile Prepaid Plan

T-Mobile’s prepaid unlimited plan includes talk, text, and data. You’ll get up to 5GB at 4G LTE speeds. It covers you not only in the United States but also in Mexico and Canada. The unlimited plan costs $70 per month.

Reviewers on Red Flag Deals recommend caution with these plans since they do limit your calling in Canada compared to the US. They write:

“Basically you have to do less calling in Canada vs the US or there are extra charges: Unless explicitly permitted by your Rate Plan or Data Plan, you are not permitted to use your Device or the Service in a way that results in more than 50% of your voice and/or data usage being off-net (i.e., connected to another provider’s network) for any 2 billing cycles within any 12 month period. T-Mobile can discontinue service and cancel the account (including the phone #) with only text notice. Yikes.

Best Apps for Staying in Touch

As long as you have an Internet connection and some kind of device, you can use apps like Skype and Facebook Messenger to stay in touch with your loved ones.

Skype

Skype is one of the original apps for video calling. You can join a call as a guest – no need to create an account! – and do so from a desktop, mobile, tablet, phone, game console, or even Alexa.

This platform is easy to install and incredibly reliable. You don’t have to worry about dropped calls and Skype subscriptions start as low as $2.99 per month. Of course, the sound quality will be based on bandwidth, so if you’re on a 3G network instead of 4G, it might not be enough for a call to be placed.

Facebook Messenger

If you have a Facebook account, Facebook Messenger is a free service you can use as an alternative to a cell phone plan in the USA, too. It makes it faster to chat, allowing you to text without the cost. You can often make calls with the app, too, as long as the account is tied to a phone number.

Unfortunately, the service can be choppy – so it might not be the most reliable for important phone calls. It also takes up a lot of space on your device. For a free app, though, it’s easy to overlook these minor hassles.

Whatsapp

Last (but certainly not least) is Whatsapp. This is considered the most popular international messaging app – and for good reason.

Like Facebook Messenger, it is free. It is available for iOS, Windows, and Android smartphones and there is both a web version for Mac and for Windows available, too. It’s a user-friendly program that lets you reduce your data usage for calls and engage in email chats.

Of course, you will need an Internet connection and it isn’t always easy to communicate – the recipient of your call has to have a Whatsapp account. Again, though, for a free service, it’s not too shabby.

Conclusion

There are all kinds of snowbird plans out there to help you communicate even when you’re jetting around the US.

You can purchase or download one of these options instead and chat, text, and video call to your heart’s content!

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