Prepaid SIM Card in Canada for Tourists

16 October 2014

After I book my air tickets to a new country, the first thing I search for is neither hotels nor attractions to visit. It’s how to get internet connectivity.

Because with that, I can do almost anything, including booking a hotel or looking up places of interest.

The problem

When researching for prepaid SIM card in Canada for tourists, I found that there was very limited information. So here’s my contribution to the interwebs for future tourists to Canada! (you’re welcome.)

I focused only on prepaid SIM cards because portable wifi devices are uncommon in Canada and thus extremely expensive.

The options

There are 3 major telco companies in Canada and here are their cheapest prepaid SIM card data plans:

  • Bell – 100MB, $20.75 [link]
  • Telus – 100MB, $20 [link]
  • Rogers – 100MB, $10 [link]

My choice

Obviously, I went with Rogers.

We needed data primarily for Google maps as we were driving for hours all about Ontario. For 4 days of usage, I decided on the 250MB plan which costs just $15 – still cheaper than the offerings of the other 2 competitors!

Getting the SIM card and plan

I read online that if the SIM card is purchased at a Rogers store (as opposed to distributors) in conjunction with a prepaid plan, the SIM card will be free. This is false.

I navigated us to a Rogers store (with paper maps, mind!) but we were still charged CAD $9.99 + tax ($1.30) for the SIM card anyway -_- Had I known this, I would have picked a nearer/easier store to go to.

In case you’re wondering, Bell and Telus also charge for the SIM card, so no cost savings there, if that was what you were hoping for.

Important: You must have an unlocked phone, or the SIM card will not work.

Next was purchasing the plan. They only sell credits in units of $10, so we purchased $20 even though we only needed $15. We didn’t really mind though, since the $5 extra can be backup for when we need to make emergency calls. Like if we’re stranded in the Canadian wilderness and about to become bear fodder or something.

Not sure if it’s just the branch we went to or something, but the entire process to set up our prepaid card was excruciatingly painful and cumbersome. We stood there for close to half an hour just waiting for them to fill up text box after text box, selecting option after option on their antiquated system.

But once we got past all that, we finally had the world at our fingertips! (we immediately set Google maps for downtown Toronto to feed our bellies!)

Signal quality

The signal strength is pretty stable and nothing to complain about. It brought us from Toronto all the way up to Bruce Peninsula National Park, and down to Niagara Falls with no issues at all.

The only thing I noticed is that it stayed at 3G and never went to LTE.

Total usage

In our 4 days in Canada, we used a total of about 90MB. Technically the 100MB plan would have been sufficient but that would be cutting it too close. Besides, it’s just $5 more for an extra 150MB!

To gauge how much data you need, keep track of how much data you are using on activities similar to those you will be doing on the trip. In our case, I took note of how much data Google maps consumed for trips when driving around, and used it to project how much we would need in Canada.

Hopefully this post is helpful to other people! :)

If you’re going to Canada, have fun!
If you’re not, you should. Canada is beautiful! (although a tad too big…)


  • Reply Remegio 29 June 2015 at 4:26 am

    Thanks a lot for a very informative post. I’ll be in Canada this Aug. And, was looking at how to have a local sim and data plan while there. Obviously, I’ll go for Rogers.

    • Reply Rin 30 June 2015 at 12:27 am

      I’m glad it was helpful to someone else! Enjoy your trip to Canada! :)

  • Reply bkkgadfly 30 June 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks – clear, concise and good info!

    • Reply Rin 1 July 2015 at 3:15 am

      You’re most welcome! :)

  • Reply Mel 13 August 2015 at 12:46 am

    Thanks for the info! Like the others, goin to quebec & montreal for a day or two in September.

    • Reply Rin 13 August 2015 at 1:46 am

      You’re very welcome! Send Canada my love! :D

  • Reply Craig 7 April 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks for the post! Another option is to use the ‘here’ map/navigation app and download the map data before you leave home. Downloading is quite easy – you can download a Canadian province, all of Canada, or even all of North and Central America. That way you don’t need any network connection to navigate. It does take space on your device to hold the map data.

    Google maps also has offline map capability but it is a pain to use.

  • Reply Gavin 16 March 2017 at 2:12 am

    Useful information for upcoming trip. What isn’t always clear when looking on the websites (previous to seeing this article) is when it says Monthly (costs), it appears you can just add for one month. Links were useful as didn’t find the Rogers one when Googling / navigating around their site. Thanks!

  • Reply Attila Kovacs 9 June 2017 at 12:52 am

    It is quite a shame that the US and Canada have such poor Internet performance! Europe Italy , Germany it ( 50-70 mgbit/sec) , Internetpacket 50Gb-50€/month ( 55-60$). Mexico 40-45mgbit/sec….😁

  • Reply Mehdi 16 March 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Is there any sim card that I charge it every month after that my credit finish?
    For example this month i charge it5$ when it finish i charge it again not depends on the time.
    Can u help me?

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