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Stay connected: Finding your cell phone plan

By: Faheel Haider
August 08, 2023

Stay connected: Finding your cell phone plan is a part of the International Student Guide —  a resource carefully curated by current international students to equip new international students with the essential knowledge and insights you need to thrive in Toronto. View the full list of articles on the International Student Guide web page. 

Starting your life in a new country is an exciting but daunting task. In this day and age, your phone is essential to survive, and one of the first things you would want to do after your arrival would be to get a cellphone plan. After all, you’ll need data for using maps, looking up restaurants, finding your way to campus, and other basic tasks to navigate your way in a new and big city like Toronto. 

 Major carriers

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Phone plans in Canada can be expensive. Make sure you choose the right one so you don’t have to pay a transfer fee later, if you decide to switch carriers. 

Mobile phone companies offer a variety of packages in Ontario. The main companies are:

 Deals and pricing

All of the carriers mentioned above have different offers at various times of the year. If you can arrive on campus by orientation week (Mid-August), make sure to look out for company booths. Cellphone carriers frequently visit campuses like ours and offer exclusive deals with big student discounts! 

If you’re unable to make it to orientation, then go on the carriers’ website and look at the various packages that they offer. Rogers and Virgin are the biggest cell phone companies, however, they’re also on the more expensive end. Fido, Freedom, and Chatr on the other hand frequently have affordable deals. However, again, these deals vary a lot so the best you can do is go on their websites, list down each company’s best deals, and then compare based on your needs.

 Coverage

Most cell phone plans have unlimited phone calls and text messages, but you will mainly look at how much data each plan provides and which company has better coverage that suits your needs.

If you know that you’re primarily going to live in Toronto for most of your schooling, then definitely look at Freedom Mobile. It’s the only company that provides coverage on the subway and it’s one of the cheaper options. Fido is also a cheaper option and provides coverage throughout much of Ontario– including the countryside. 

"When I first arrived in Canada, I used to live in Richmond Hill. I was with Freedom Mobile which was my cheapest option at the time. However, I later moved outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where coverage wasn’t the best so I switched to Virgin."

Faheel Haider, International Student, Pakistan

 Prepaid vs postpaid plans

There are two methods to set up your cell phone plan: prepaid and postpaid.

  • Prepaid plans involve no contracts with the cell phone provider so you can pay a fee at the start of the month. If you’re unsure about selecting a provider, you can start off with a prepaid plan. 
  • Postpaid plans require signing a contract with the carrier. The benefit of postpaid plans is that you might be able to get more economical deals. Keep in mind though, if you sign a contract with a carrier then want to change it before the contract expires, you will have to pay a termination fee. 

 Buying a new phone

A female student looking at her phone at the service hub

In Canada, many people buy their cell phones through their cell phone carriers. It’s easier to pay in installments rather than a huge lump sum up front so if you’re also looking to buy a new phone and need an installment plan, it might be worth looking at deals that combine new cellphone installment plans along with good data ones.

Comparing, shortlisting, and selecting a cell phone plan can be a tedious process. However, keep in mind that if you select the right one then you can stick to it throughout your time in Canada. It’s a one-step process so do it with research. If you ever feel lost in the process, reach out to International Student Support (ISS) (opens in new window)  for help! 

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Toronto Metropolitan University ("the University") collects personal information under the authority of the  (PDF file) University Act and in accordance with the University Notice of Collection. The University will collect, use, disclose, and protect your personal information in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (external link) . If you have questions about the collection, use and disclosure of this information by Toronto Metropolitan University, please contact the International Enrolment Office, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, M5B 2K3,