Traveling to Canada is an exciting experience, but staying connected with your loved ones and navigating the country can be a challenge. A Canada SIM card can help make your trip more convenient and enjoyable. If you have no idea about SIM cards in Canada for travelers then this essential guide will help you find out where and how to buy Canadian SIM cards, their prices, and details on data plans.
I. Should you Get a SIM Card in Canada?
A local SIM card is one of the most popular and affordable ways to stay connected and it gives you the most rapid data connection.
This table will help you understand why a Canadian SIM card is the best choice to get online when traveling in this beautiful country.
|– Diverse operators
– Reliable coverage
|Battery life concerns
|Coverage depends on home provider
|– Easy purchase
– Immediate use
– Mobile data anywhere
|Any unlocked phone
|Additional rental device
|Your own phone
|Device controls your data
|Carrier tracks your usage
From the above table, we can see that a local SIM card is worth it for the convenience, availability, and privacy. The cost is also very affordable for the data you need. A Canadian SIM makes it easy to stay in touch and use apps freely while traveling.
- You need to unlock your mobile phone to use a Canada SIM card (contact your network operator in case your phone is locked).
- If you do not need to make phone calls or text messages, you should consider a data-only SIM card for Canada to avoid waste and save your money.
II. Types of Canada SIM Card for Tourists – Which One is the Best?
Canadian SIM cards may be categorized according to their forms:
- Physical SIM: SIM in physical forms, can be installed and removed physically.
- eSIM: virtual SIM, digital SIM, built-in to your phone.
Based on their function, there are two types:
- Data-only SIM (no phone number offered): used for data usage (map navigation, Internet browsing, access to chat apps like Telegram, WhatsApp), unable to make calls or text messages.
- Voice + data SIM (phone number offered): best for tourists who want Internet access to send messages, make calls, and browse the web.
Here we delve into the two options including physical SIM and eSIM.
1. Prepaid physical SIM card in Canada
A physical prepaid Canada SIM (also called mini SIM, micro SIM, nano SIM) is a SIM card that exists in a tangible form and can be installed or removed from your phone. Tourists visiting Canada can select a data-only SIM card or voice + data SIM card depending on their needs.
2. Prepaid tourist Canada eSIM
eSIM is a chip that is directly embedded into a phone. Unlike a physical tourist SIM card, you cannot insert or remove a real SIM card when switching operators or plans. eSIM is online and also has two types (data-only plan and data + voice plan).
The following table will help you understand more about these two types of Canada SIM cards for tourists:
|Physical prepaid Canada SIM
|Prepaid Canada eSIM
|– Widely available, all operators in Canada- Affordable
|– Can be bought online at anytime- Simple online activation- No risk of SIM loss or physical damage
|– High risk of loss- Unlocked phones required- Need to buy or wait for delivery before use
|– Only for eSIM-compatible smartphones- Unlocked phones required
► Our recommendation: When visiting Canada, your SIM card should be:
- Prepaid physical tourist SIM card if you need to contact your friends and family in a traditional way (phone calls, messages, Internet) at the most affordable price.
- Prepaid eSIM with a data-only plan if you have an eSIM-compatible phone and need to keep in touch via online chat apps and access Internet for entertainment.
III. Best Canada SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price
Good to know:
$1 CAD = $0.73 USD, $1 USD = $1.37 CAD (as of November 2023)
Four of the major mobile network carriers in Canada offer SIM card plans for tourists: Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility, Telus Mobility, and Freedom Mobile.
1. Best Canada Rogers Wireless SIM Card Plans and Price
- 2.5GB data + unlimited Canada-wide talk (30 days): $40 CAD
- 4.5GB data + unlimited Canada-wide talk (30 days): $45 CAD
- 8GB data + unlimited Canada-wide talk (30 days): $55 CAD
Insight: Rogers Wireless is one of the operators that have reliable nationwide coverage so you can use 4G network smoothly. However, plans tend to be rather expensive. Its plans lack very high data options so it is not the best choice for heavy data tourists.
2. Best Canada Bell Mobility SIM Card Plans and Price
- 1 GB data + unlimited nationwide talk + text (30days): $35 CAD
- 5 GB data + unlimited nationwide talk + text (30days): $45 CAD
- 10 GB data + unlimited nationwide talk + text (30days): $55 CAD
Insight: Bell has strong coverage and robust data speed across Canada. Plans are affordable and service reliability is also very high.
3. Best Canada Telus Mobility SIM Card Plans and Price
- 500MB data + unlimited SMS & calling (30 days): $30 CAD
- 2.5GB data + unlimited SMS & calling (30 days): $40 CAD
- 4.5GB data + unlimited SMS & calling (30 days): $45 CAD
- 8GB data + unlimited SMS & calling (30 days): $55 CAD
Insight: Telus Mobility is suited for most tourists to Canada. It offers competitive data plans for tourists in Canada, which offer great experiences in Internet-related activities. Plans offered by Telus deliver good value for the price.
4. Best Canada Freedom Mobile SIM Card Plans and Price
- 20GB data + unlimited talk & text in Canada (30 days): $34 CAD
- 30GB data + unlimited talk & text in Canada (30 days): $40 CAD
- 50GB data + unlimited talk & text in Canada (30 days): $45 CAD
Insight: Freedom plans are suitable for light to moderate data users traveling within its operating regions. They offer entry-level connectivity at low monthly budgets.
Note: Plan details and prices are subject to change. The above prices are updated in November 2023.
► Our recommendation:
Of all Canadian SIM card providers, Telus Mobility would be the most suitable for travelers who want extensive 4G coverage and sufficient data to stay connected during their trips.
Bell is also a great choice for tourists in Canada based on its affordable prices, reliable availability, and stable connection.
IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Canada?
Now is the time to explore where to get prepaid tourist SIM for Canada.
1. Buy prepaid Canadian SIM card online before traveling
You can buy prepaid Canadian eSIM online from trusted providers like Gigago. Your eSIM will be activated online via a mobile app or QR code, which saves your time when you reach Canada.
Pros: No need to visit SIM stores/ wait for delivery, time-saving, immediate Internet connectivity as soon as you arrive in Canada.
Cons: eSIM-compatible phones required. Your data plan cannot be changed if you need more data.
2. Buy physical Canada SIM card at Canada airports
Tourists may get a suitable SIM card at kiosks or official stores of mobile operators, which are situated at Canadian airports such as Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, Quebec, and so on.
Pros: Convenient to get online upon arrival.
Cons: Limited package options, more pricey than stores outside airports.
3. Buy physical Canadia SIM online
Another option to purchase a physical Canada SIM card is ordering online and having it delivered to your house before trip. After that, the activation and plan selection may be conducted online.
Pros: Convenient, no need for a Canadian address.
Cons: Delivery delays may happen, additional delivery fees.
4. Buy physical Canada SIM card in the cities
It is easy to find prepaid physical Canada SIM card at mobile phone stores across cities in Canada. You can also visit carrier stores of Telus, Bell, Rogers in malls or some convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Dollarama.
Pros: Widely available, diverse options, reasonable prices
Cons: Need to find and then get to the stores.
Depending on your priorities, the finest option to buy Canadian SIM cards would be:
- For price-conscious travelers with time freedom: Purchasing SIM card in cities of Canada offers diverse plans and reasonable rates.
- For travelers with eSIM-compatible smartphones: Buying an eSIM online before trip is time-saving and offers immediate activation.
V. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Canada?
Knowing what you can do with 1GB data will be helpful for you to opt for a suitable data package in Canada. 1GB of data is generally enough for you to:
- Browse social media like Facebook for 2-3 hours
- Use map navigation for about 5 hours
- Send or receive 100-200 photos or messages via WhatsApp
- Stream low-quality videos for 3-4 hours
Here is our data volume suggestion for one week-long trip in Canada:
- Light users (maps, messaging, emails): 2-3GB
- Medium users (social media, occasional streaming): 5-8GB
- Heavy users (navigation, downloads, HD videos): 10GB+
Advice: You should roughly calculate your data volume consumption for your trip in Canada so that you can buy the best plans to avoid a shortage or waste of data.
VI. Canada eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in Canada
Tourists to Canada can get Internet access via various options such as international roaming, pocket WiFi rental, free Wifi, and physical Canada SIM card. Nevertheless, eSIM for Canada offers outstanding advantages over these options:
- Ease of setup: You can obtain the eSIM profile online and activate eSIM on your eSIM-supported device within a few minutes.
- Convenience: You do not need to find and get to any physical SIM stores or Wifi hotspots. With just a few clicks, you can buy and activate your eSIM.
- Affordability: Prepaid eSIM plans from providers like Gigago offer reasonable plans which can help save your money.
- Wide coverage: Canada has wide coverage by main carriers like Telus and Bell Mobility which provide high-speed data.
- Privacy: Prepaid Canada eSIM for international tourists uses private connection, which is much more secure and reliable than free Wifi.
We can see that a prepaid Canada eSIM is the best alternative to a physical SIM card for getting online. It is convenient, cost-effective, widely available, and secure than any other option.
If you are finding a trusted eSIM provider, Gigago should be a top choice thanks to its attractive eSIM plans. Unlike other providers, Gigago offers both data-only plans and data and voice plans for tourists visiting Canada.
For Canada, Gigago offers multiple data plan options for Canada, starting from a 5-day plan with 1GB per day for $14 as their most minimal plan. They also have 7-day, 15-day, and 30-day plans ranging from 1GB to 20GB of total data, or 1GB to 2GB per day, with prices from $14 up to $141.50.
Getting Canada eSIM plans by Gigago is the best option for tourists seeking a cost-effective and hassle-free Internet connection during their trip in Canada.
VII. Which Canada Mobile Networks Are The Best for Tourists?
There are 04 main mobile network carriers in Canada: Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility, Bell Mobility, and Freedom Mobile.
Below is a summary table comparing these four Canadian network providers:
1. Rogers Wireless
Rogers Wireless has the most extensive 4G/ 5G coverage across Canada. It covers dense urban centers as well as remote towns, helping tourists to stay connected even while on the move between locations. This carrier provides both physical SIM cards and prepaid eSIM for tourists in Canada.
2. Telus Mobility
Telus Mobility has the second-largest coverage in Canada with high-quality 4G and 5G networks in main population centers. It offers eSIM cards and tourists plans with flexible data amounts. Telus is one of the two operators winning the Download Speed Experience award (73.9-75.2Mbps, faster than Rogers, August 2023).
3. Bell Mobility
Bell Mobility ranks the third position with extensive coverage in Canada. Its 5G network is being rolled out gradually across the country. Bell, along with Telus, jointly won the award of Download Speed Experience (August 2023).
4. Freedom Mobile
Freedom Mobile covers major urban centers in Western Canada. Its average speed is around 40-50Mbps within home zones. This operator provides travelers with prepaid physical SIM cards with data + voice plans.
► Our recommendation:
- Rogers is the best choice for those who want to stay connected even while on the move between locations thanks to its coverage across all major cities and towns.
- Telus and Bell would be the top pick if you want extensive coverage, high speed, and convenient eSIM options.
VIII. How to Use Canada Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM
Now that you have selected the best operator and data plans for your trip to Canada. It is time to explore how to use Canadian prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs. Here is how:
1. Using prepaid Canada tourist SIM Cards
Firstly, you need to get a Canadian prepaid physical SIM. Then follow these essential steps:
- Turn off your smartphone, open the SIM tray, and then put the SIM card into it.
- Turn on your phone and follow the activation instructions.
- Set up your Internet connection by entering the APN supplied by the network provider (if applicable).
- Dial the operator’s USSD numbers to check the balance and plan.
- Your SIM card is now available to use.
2. Setting up and activating Canada eSIM
To use a prepaid eSIM in Canada, you need to:
- Make sure that your smartphone supports eSIm and is unlocked.
- Get an eSIM, select your plan, and then a QR code or activation key will be sent to your email.
- Go to the eSIM settings of your device and scan the QR or input activation key.
- Follow the instructions shown your screen to activate eSIM profile.
- Restart your smartphone. Now your eSIM is ready.
Where can I buy a Canada SIM card?
In Canada, you can easily buy a prepaid tourist SIM card at stores located at international airports, malls, convenience stores, etc. Also, you can buy an eSIM online before traveling to Canada.
Do I need to bring passport to get a prepaid SIM card for Canada?
Yes! You need to bring your passport as ID proof to register your prepaid SIM card.
What carrier is the best in Canada?
There are four main network carriers in Canada: Telus, Bell, Rogers, and Freedom. Their SIM card plans are rather expensive so you can buy physical SIM card or eSIM at cheaper rates from trusted third-party providers like Gigago.
To sum up, using a Canada SIM card is the most affordable and convenient option among a variety of ways to stay in touch in Canada. The four main operators which are Rogers, Telus, Bell, and Freedom offer wide availability and diverse data plans. Don’t forget to select the Canada SIM card that fits your priorities and preferences.