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Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

Israel
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405 posts
16 reviews
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Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

We'll be starting the Canada leg of our road trip in Canmore (driving up from Glacier NP in the US). I understand roaming with our American sim cards is not a good idea, but have no idea as to what to do in Canada, where we'll be spending 3 weeks in the Rockies and British Columbia.

What are the major Canadian phone companies? Which sell sim cards and have good pre-paid options? Where in Canmore can I get a good price on a sim card?

Thanks in advance!

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

Be aware that cell phone coverage in the Rockies is rather limited - for instance, most of the Icefields Parkway has absolutely no coverage. Rogers and Telus are two of the main providers here in Alberta

Toronto
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for Tokyo
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2. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/canada.html

seattle
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for Seattle
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3. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

I can tell you that with Verizon you can add canada for $20 a month. Roaming is 69 cents. Sprint you can add Canada as can ATT.

You will find that since Canada has very high cell phone rates and add long distance charges you can often roam with a US phone cheaper than getting a Cdn phone and sim. Also look at Fido in Canada

Red Deer, Canada
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4. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

We have Telus, Rogers (Fido is part of Rogers, the more "budget friendly" branch I spose) and Bell. I have found Bell horrible to deal with for customer service. Telus has been good to me, and my boyfriend likes Rogers.

I suggest taking davidgmg's advice and see if you can add some sort of roaming plan. Our cell phone rates here are among the highest in the world and they are truly ridiculous. I have to add a 20$ international package just for *texting* when I go Stateside because that's how I communicate while traveling. I got charged over $300 just in texts one trip because I moved up to a 3G phone and didn't know the policies were different. Don't even get me started on adding a US calling plan!

For SIMS - I am not 100% on this but I think this is the way it used to be when I worked in an AT&T call center- unless the phone is unlocked to begin with, it's already locked to whatever network you're currently using. So I don't think replacing the SIM with a Canadian carrier's card will work (again I might be wrong, this was oh...7 years ago when GSM was still "new").

krp329 is right too - the coverage in the mountain areas leaves something to be desired. Heck, I live only a couple hours from the Rockies and I get dropped calls (Telus) if I go down a particularly large hill.

Edited: 16 April 2011, 06:03
Israel
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405 posts
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5. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

Thanks everyone for all the info! We will be using unlocked phones (bringing our own from Israel, probably an iPhone and a Nokia N8). We're going with a prepaid sim in the US, so I don't think we can add a roaming plan. They do have rates for Canada as well, about 1-1.5 cent a minute. Maybe that's what we need? I guess we'll just avoid surfing with the phone, and use local wifi in hotels?

How about landlines - it's been ages since I used one of those phone cards where you can call overseas from a landline. Are these still available?

Toronto
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for Tokyo
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6. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

Rogers/Fido prepaid data plan, 125MB for 7 days @ 7CAD.

Red Deer, Canada
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7. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

I think most gas station/convenience store-type places still have those long distance cards. I think the rate they charge though is kinda crappy, so a 30$ card gets you like 10 min of talk time (or something like that).

If you're bringing an iPhone and will be in places with wi-fi you should consider getting a Skype account. The app is free, I think it's like 3$/month. You can talk as much you want if you're on wi-fi that way. If you get a data plan and use it on the road, it will just eat your data (if you have service that is). We bought an iPad to use when we visit Europe this fall so we can basically do what you're doing and swap out SIMs.

Winnipeg, Canada
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for Costa Rica
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8. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

There are still cheap phone cards in Canada at much much better rates than the previous poster mentions. Check out places like convenience stores and Ethnic shops and restaurants. They may not be available in smaller places - but they are in the cities...You can get cards for $5.00 or sometimes even $2.50 with rates of a few cents a minute. As the Previous poster mentions Skype is a good way to go if you have a computer with you.

And at this point in time, if you are making calls to Canadian or US phones (from anywhere) even cheaper is GoogleTalk. The calls are FREE to Canada and US till the end of the year. You can get to it through gmail.

Back to SIMs - you can buy a Rogers SIM for $9.99. There is no time includes. The Rogers rates are here

rogers.com/web/…plans

As already mentioned cell rates in Canada are not cheap and as opposed to many other countries - in Canada you also pay for incoming calls.

raquel

seattle
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for Seattle
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9. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

I used calling cards for a bit but you have to be so careful as many charge a connection fee, min use fee, payphone surcharges and 800# premium. There are some online sites that let you choose and compare more easily. You get the code online so you don't need a card. In my experience many hotels in the rockies don't charge for local calls so if you can find a card with local access #'s that will usually help out.

I'm really doubtoful anyone is quoting you 1-2 cents a minute on Canada calls. Perhaps calling from US to Cdn but doubt its from Canada. if its true let me know who its with as thats 30 cents a minute less than most pp plans charge.

Canmore, Canada
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10. Re: Prepaid phones/Sim Cards

Lots of great replies so far, but i will add this. We needed a prepaid cell phone for another purpose in Banff/Canmore. After researching all of the options, Virgin Mobile was the best option. Their per minute rate was slightly higher, but they didn't charge the monthly 911 access fee and other such charges. It was the best option if you were just looking for some security while you travelled through this area.