Based on living here in 2014
Go to a 7-11, buy a Speakout 7-11 SIM card and credit. Activate Online.
Easy to Moderate: Personal information not required. Online activation required.
Providers and Networks:
World Phone Compatible:
Telus (and Koodo), Bell (and Virgin), Rogers (and Fido)
Alright, Canada (Canada! Canada!), in my completely unbiased, and obviously correct opinion it is the greatest country in the world. From lakes, to surf, to mountains, to amazing cities and more. People from all over the world call this place home, and you should definitely come visit. It’s like the USA with safer cities, nicer scenery, less elections, better weed, the metric system, and a drinking age that falls safely in the “that’s reasonable” category, rather than, really?! Twenty one years old? You’re messing with me. Wouldn’t you be in your third year of university by then?
Now just in case my overwhelming positive opinion and wording didn’t completely give it away, I am from Canada, and I live here currently. If I want to make some attempt at reducing bias, there are a couple minor negatives. One is the price of beer. It’s just too high. Taxes are a bitch. The other, more applicable, minor negative, is the cellphone service available here.
When compared to the United States, Canadian carriers aren’t horrible, but they certainly aren’t among the cream of the crop world wide, with high prices and low data caps being the norm. Three actual nationwide carriers operate in Canada Telus Mobility (with subsidiary Koodo), Bell Mobility (with subsidiary/partner Virgin Mobile), and Rogers Wireless (with subsidiary Fido). You could actually make the argument that there are actually only two as Bell and Telus share each others infrastructure. All of these carriers are GSM 850/1900 world phone compatible. There are also two smaller carriers operating at the time of writing Wind and Mobilicity. Both of these smaller carriers are limited to some urban centres and operate on non world phone compatible frequencies for data and voice/text.
That’s far more information than you will likely need. Our recommendation for the simplest option is to find your nearest 7-11 convenience store. They are located everywhere. There you can purchase a 7-11 Speakout wireless SIM card (micro and standard available) and credit for it. This SIM card provides service on the Rogers Wireless network. Unfortunately, I would argue, that the Telus/Bell network is superior, at least in Western Canada, but Rogers is certainly acceptable. Prices are not spectacular at all but are pretty straightforward, at time of writing voice is $0.25 a minute, texting is $0.10 per outgoing message with free incoming, and data is $0.10 per megabyte, with a requirement to purchase at least 100mb initially (all in CAD, similar to USD). If you stay longer there are monthly plans available as well. More information is available here.
Other options? Nothing. That may be a slight exaggeration, but it really is quite a pain to obtain service directly with any of the carriers without actually providing a Canadian address, name, credit information and so on. Even if you can purchase a prepaid option directly, you likely won’t find rates any better than 7-11 Speakout. The only possible exception to this is Wind Mobile. They do have prepaid options, including a reasonably priced unlimited everything plan. However, outside of the major centres they operate in you will be back to pay-per-use on the Rogers network, and their network is not world phone compatible. If you do happen to have an AWS 1700/2100 compatible phone (either an unlocked T-Mobile phone, or a Google Nexus phone are options) and are going to be in a Canadian city for a few weeks or more, it might be worth taking a look at. Otherwise, find a 7-11 and enjoy the country! If you have additional information please post in the comments or contact us.