Buying a SIM Card in Ottawa for Tourists 2024: Guide from Locals

Buying a SIM card in Ottawa for tourists is simple and easy. Learn which and where to buy a Canada SIM card in Ottawa, costs and other alternative ways to stay connected while traveling in the city.

Planning a trip to Ottawa, Canada? A smooth Internet connection is crucial to making the most of your journey in this beautiful city. Getting a local SIM card is a cost-effective way to stay online and share the best moments during your trip. Now let us explore the helpful tips from locals on how to buy SIM card in Ottawa, the best plans, and costs accordingly.

I. Why Buy SIM Card in Ottawa?

A SIM card is one of the most convenient solutions to get Internet while exploring Ottawa. So why should you buy SIM card in Ottawa?

  • Stay connected on the go: With a SIM card with cellular data, you may easily navigate the city of Ottawa, find restaurants and attractions, book hotels, and keep in touch with your loved ones.
  • Avoid costly roaming fees: Roaming rates can be extremely high. Buying a local SIM card is usually much more affordable than roaming charges imposed by your home network carrier.
  • Get reliable connectivity: Public Wifi hotspots may not always be available or may be unreliable. With a local SIM for Ottawa, you will always have reliable and budget-friendly Internet access wherever you go in Ottawa, Canada.

Important Note: If you choose to buy SIM card in Ottawa, you should confirm with your carrier that your device is unlocked. Only unlocked mobile devices can accept networks from other carriers in Ottawa, Canada.

II. Which Mobile Internet Carrier is the Best in Ottawa?

There are four (04) major network carriers in Ottawa: Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility, Telus Mobility, and Freedom Mobile.

Four main carriers in Ottawa Canada: Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility, Telus Mobility, and Freedom Mobile
Four main carriers in Ottawa Canada: Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility, Telus Mobility, and Freedom Mobile

Rogers Wireless (#1):

  • One of the largest networks with very reliable coverage across Ottawa and Eastern Ontario
  • Fastest average speeds
  • Plans for tourists offer generous data at a fair price (a bit higher compared to Bell and Telus)
  • Networks can get overloaded in busy areas causing slower speeds

Telus Mobility (#2):

  • Extensive coverage throughout the city and region
  • Speeds are fast for most activities like navigation and music streaming
  • Plans are affordable whether you need data only or calling too

Bell Mobility (#3):

  • Broad coverage, quite similar to Telus as they share network infrastructure
  • Fast speed
  • Good prepaid plans, suitable for short visits

Freedom Mobile (#4):

  • You may find this carrier an attractive option thanks to its cheaper plans
  • Coverage is limited to urban areas like downtown Ottawa, so it may not work in all parts of the city or outside.
  • Speeds are decent for basic use when you have an Internet signal. 

► Our Conclusion

For reliability across Ottawa along with fast speeds, you may pick Rogers or Bell. Besides, Telus offers a nice balance of speed, coverage, and value. Freedom may save you money, but it has less coverage.

III. Best Ottawa SIM Card Plans and Price

Good to know: CAD $1 = USD $0.74; USD $1 = CAD $1.35 (as of February 2024)

To help you choose a suitable carrier and plan, we have picked some of the best SIM card options. This list includes 04 main carriers (Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Freedom), MVNO of Telus (Public Mobile), and MVNO of Rogers (Chatr).

OperatorDataCostValidity
Rogers Wireless2.5GB data & unlimited national talkCAD 4030 days
Rogers Wireless8GB data & unlimited national talkCAD 5530 days
Bell Mobility1GB data & unlimited Canada-wide talk & textCAD 3530 days
Bell Mobility10GB data & unlimited Canada-wide talk & textCAD 5530 days
Telus Mobility2.5GB data + unlimited SMS & callingCAD 4030 days
Telus Mobility8GB data + unlimited SMS & callingCAD 5530 days
Freedom Mobile50GB data + unlimited talk & text in CanadaCAD 3930 days
Freedom Mobile75GB data + unlimited talk & unlimited textCAD 4530 days
Chatr1GB data & unlimited Canada-wide callsCAD 3530 days
Chatr8GB data & unlimited Canada-wide callsCAD 5030 days
Public Mobile1GB data (3G speed) & unlimited callCAD 3530 days
Public Mobile4.5GB data(3G speed) & unlimited callCAD 4030 days

Note: The plans above are just for indicative purposes. The rates are subject to change so it is recommended to check with the carrier for the most updated details and prices.

IV. Where to Buy SIM Card in Ottawa?

The best places to buy SIM card in Ottawa are at Ottawa International Airport (YOW) and in Ottawa center.

1. Buy a SIM card at Ottawa airport

Ottawa International Airport Map
You may buy a SIM card at Ottawa airport

Ottawa International Airport (YOW) is the capital airport of Canada. Getting a SIM card at this airport upon arrival is the easiest and most convenient method. This way, you will have instant reliable Internet access when you reach Ottawa. However, the rates are a bit higher than buying online or in the city center. 

Here are several places to buy SIM card at Ottawa aiport:

  • Bytown Marché convenience store (Pre-security, level 1, 1:30 pm – 9:30 pm)
  • Relay convenience store (Post-security – U.S, Gate 12, 06:00 am-09:00 pm; Pre-security, level 3, 04:00 am-12:00 pm). Plans from Telus, Public Mobile, and other MVNOs.

Pro Tip: Just look for the bright signage of the stores and you will find places to buy SIM card at Ottawa Airport.

2. Buy SIM card in Ottawa center

If you have time and want the cheapest SIM card for Ottawa, you may go around Ottawa to get a SIM card. 

Pros: Diverse plan options available, cheapest prices, support from the staff of telecom stores

Cons: Extra travel to Ottawa center

Several popular locations for you to buy SIM card in Ottawa center include:

  • Rogers Wireless stores: St.Laurent Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre, Tanger Outlest Ottawa, Merivale Mall, etc.
  • Telus Mobility stores: Carlingwood Smart Center, Metcalfe Smart, Rideau Centre, Trainyards Shopping Center, etc.
  • Bell Mobility stores: Billings Bridge Shopping Centre, Bayshore Shopping Centre, Tanger Outlets Ottawa
  • Freedom Mobile stores: Trainyards, Greenboro Common, Billings Bridge Shopping Center, etc.
  • Convenience stores: Walmart near Hunt Club Road, 7-Eleven, Smoke & Chip, Shoppers Drug Mart, etc.

Advice: You may use Google Maps or ask the locals for accurate directions in Ottawa city.

► Our Recommendation: 

  • If you prioritize convenience, you may buy a SIM card at Ottawa Airport
  • If you have time freedom and do not mind traveling, travel to the city center to get SIM cards at the most reasonable price.

V. Canada eSIM Card for Ottawa – Alternative to SIM Card for Travelers

If you have an eSIM-compatible mobile phone, you should choose an Ottawa eSIM plan for the most reliable and affordable Internet connection. eSIM offers a range of benefits such as no store visit, easy online download and activation process, easy switch between various data packages and carriers without changing physical SIM cards, and no need to get a new SIM every time you visit a new country.

Generally, there are two ways to get an eSIM for Ottawa:

  • Buy on websites or major carriers offering eSIM services like Rogers, Telus, Bell, etc. This way requires tourists to show their passports for identification.
  • Buy eSIM from trusted eSIM providers (like GIGAGO)
Gigago offers multiple eSIM plans for Ottawa, Canada
Gigago eSIM plans for Ottawa, Canada

If you choose to get an eSIM from Gigago, you will not need to show your passport for identification. Your eSIM will be activated and ready for use within just several minutes.

Gigago’s eSIM plans for Ottawa, Canada start at 1GB/day for 05 days with $14.00 , much more budget-friendly than roaming services. What is great about Gigago’s Ottawa eSIM is that the rates vary between $14.00$141.50 . Gigago always has the best solution for you, regardless of how long your Ottawa trip is and how much GB of data you use.

VI. What to Prepare to Buy SIM Card in Ottawa

Here are the essential items that you need to prepare when getting a SIM card in Ottawa:

  • Passport: Most stores will require a passport for ID proof.
  • Payment method: You will need cash or credit cards to pay for the SIM and initial plan/ balance.
  • Phone compatibility: Verify your device is unlocked and compatible with the carrier’s network bands before buying SIM
  • Know your phone type: Let the carrier know if your phone needs a regular, micro, or nano SM card to fit its slot.

VII. Extra Tips When Buying SIM Card in Ottawa

By planning ahead and considering these tips, you will be able to choose the best SIM card for your Ottawa trip:

  • Visit carrier stores for the best options and support. Rogers, Bell, and Telus stores are conveniently located in malls.
  • Consider pay-as-you-go plans if just visiting for a short trip. No long-term contracts are needed. 
  • Bring your unlocked phone to verify compatibility in-store before purchase. Staff can help.
  • Contact customer care for assistance with activation issues or account questions.

VIII. FAQs

Where can I find SIM card stores in Ottawa?

Major carrier stores like Rogers, Bell, and Telus are located in malls across the city. You can also find SIM kits at Shoppers Drug Mart, convenience stores, and the Ottawa airport.

Do I need a Canadian phone number to buy a SIM card?

No, you do not need a Canadian phone number. Most stores will activate a SIM card for travelers as long as you have a valid ID.

What cellular providers are available in Ottawa?

The major ones are Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Freedom. Discount brands like Public Mobile also use their networks.

IX. Conclusion

In conclusion, purchasing a SIM card is an easy way to stay connected when exploring Ottawa. Tourists may choose to buy SIM card in Ottawa center or at Ottawa airport upon arrival. In addition, major carriers have stores located conveniently at malls across the city. An eSIM is also a secure and cost-effective solution for those with eSIM-supported mobile devices.