Here are the best ways to save money when taking your phone to the U.S.!
Millions of Canadians visit the U.S. every year and, with nearly every pocket protecting a smartphone and its data plan, they increasingly want to maintain the same quality of service they have at home. Thankfully, roaming options have not only proliferated over the past few years but, due to competition at home and abroad, plans have become significantly cheaper.
Here are the best ones.
Roam Mobility has staked its claim as one of the best roaming options for Canadians traveling south. Owned by Vancouver-based Otono Networks, the company figured out early on that most people want to have their roaming service figured out before they cross the border. Roam Mobility offers SIM cards for unlocked phones that can be easily topped up from the company's website prior to embarking, with options ranging from per-day, for short-term visitors, to Snowbird plans, for Canadians spending longer periods in warmer climes during the winter.
Though Roam Mobility recently raised its fees to hedge against the weakening Canadian Dollar, at $4.95 CAD per day for 500MB of 4G LTE data, plus unlimited calling and texts with a unique local phone number, it is still one of the best deals around.
What to know: Data is cumulative, and doesn't reset at midnight like some other plans. If you require more data, purchase an extra day or two in advance; those extra megabytes can be used all at once, and are cheaper than purchasing bundled plans.
Karma Go Hotspot
The only independent solution in the list, Karma's Go hotspot creates a WiFi signal from a 4G LTE connection, allowing several people to connect to it from up to 100 feet away in nearly 500 American cities.
While the Karma comes with an upfront cost of $149 USD, it can be used with a monthly plan (starting at $40 for 5GB) or a pay-as-you-go flex plan, depending on a user's needs.
What to know: Karma lasts up to six hours on a charge and can be topped up quickly using a microUSB cord.
- Karma Go hotspot: $149 USD
- 5GB month service: $40 USD
- 10GB month service: $75 USD
- 20GB month service: $140 USD
- Shipping to Canada: $20 USD
Local T-Mobile SIM
Another great option for Canadians visiting the States is to head straight to a T-Mobile store to pick up a SIM card for an unlocked phone.
While the rates used to be significantly more generous than they are today, T-Mobile still offers some decent options for data-hungry travellers. For $3 per day, you can get 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts, with the option of adding 500MB of 4G LTE data for $5 per day. Longer stay travellers can spend $10 per week for 1GB of 4G LTE data, which is a great option for those who'll be hedging with plenty of Wi-Fi.
Keeping your own SIM card
For those uninterested in changing SIM cards, nearly all Canadian carriers have all-inclusive roaming plans for visiting the US. The benefits are obvious: you get to keep your phone numbers, allowing you to send and receive calls and texts as if you were at home. The downsides are obvious, too: they tend to be slightly more expensive than the above alternatives.
Rogers Roam Like Home
For $5 per day, customers on Share Everything plans can access their call, texts and data buckets from back home. Enroll by texting travel to 222.
What to know: Customers spending longer than 10 days per month in the US will only be charged for 10 days, to a maximum of $50.
Bell Roam Better
For $5 per day, share plan customers can visit the US and access unlimited calls and texts, along with 100MB of data that isn't tied to their data buckets from back home. Enroll by texting roam to 7626.
What to know: Need more data? It's easy to add another 100MB of data for an additional $5 per day. Plans expire at 11:59pm Eastern Time, regardless of which US time zone the customer is in.
Telus US Easy Roam
For $7 per day, postpaid customers can access their calls, text and data buckets from back home. Enroll by texting travel to 7626.
What to know: Customers will not be charged after spending 14 days in the US, to a maximum of $100 per billing cycle. Unlike Rogers, users don't have to be subscribed to a share plan — all postpaid plans are valid.
Wind Mobile US Roaming Add-on: For $15 per month, Wind Mobile customers can add unlimited talk and text, and 1GB of full-speed data in the US. Wind also offers many plans that include unlimited US talk, text and 1GB of monthly data.
What to know: Instead of charging extra, Wind Mobile will throttle connections to 2G speeds after using 1GB of data per month.
Your roaming plans?
Is your carrier not listed? Check with them to see if they have inexpensive daily, weekly, or monthly US travel bundles. Have roaming experiences or tips to share? Leave them in in the comments!