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How to Find the Best U.S. Cell Phone Plans for Calling in Canada

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If you’re looking for a U.S.-based mobile plan that lets you make calls in Canada, plenty of economical options exist. Some plans have a standard rate set for each country, while others offer free calling to Canada and Mexico. In addition to cost, consider the amount of time you can speak and whether service is available in every area you visit. Calls from the U.S. to Canada may be charged differently than calls from Canada to the U.S., depending on the plan you choose.

Look at the cost of calls to, from and in Canada with different national providers. Rate information is available online (links in Resources). Create a list of different rates so that you don’t have to revisit rate charts. Compare the plans available for your normal service in the U.S. If your phone will be primarily used for calls in the U.S. and not in Canada, the rates and service areas in the U.S. are very important.

Speak to different mobile providers in your area. While the large national mobile providers may offer the best deals, that isn’t always the case. Ask what kind of deal local providers can offer you and why it’s advantageous to contract with them. You may be able to get a better plan by speaking to smaller carriers.

Rate each provider that has a plan that interests you in order of best to worst. Look at the coverage maps offered by each to see whether the service area meets your needs. Check whether the coverage is 3G, 4G or 4G LTE. Speeds vary depending on what connection type you can get in each area. Compare the available phones offered by your top choices. GSM phones use SIM cards that can be switched if you need different mobile coverage while traveling internationally. CDMA phones operate with the same carriers in Canada. Not all phones work while traveling outside the country, so select one that supports international roaming.

Tips & Warnings

  1. If you have a GSM phone, you can obtain a SIM card from a Canadian wireless company and switch SIM cards in your phone as you move from the U.S. to Canada. That way, you can get in-country rates for local calling in each place.
  2. Only 3G coverage is available in most of Canada. Some of the large cities have 4G service.
  3. Most U.S. cell phone plans charge excessive roaming fees when traveling in Canada.