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Best roaming plans for Canadians travelling 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

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.

See at Roam Mobility

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.

Total Cost

  • 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

See at Karma

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.

See at T-Mobile (opens in new tab)

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.

See at Rogers

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.

See at Bell

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.

See at Telus (opens in new tab)

Wind Mobile

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.

See at Wind Mobile{.cta .shop.nofollow}

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!

Daniel Bader is a Senior Editor at iMore, offering his Canadian analysis on Apple and its awesome products. In addition to writing and producing, Daniel regularly appears on Canadian networks CBC and CTV as a technology analyst.

8 Comments
  • Being a Telus customer makes traveling to the US an expensive option for roaming - at least for me. I have used ROAM in the past and loved the service. Would definitely recommend them and continue to use them. Sent from the iMore App
  • Rogers Roam Like Home is awesome!
  • Roam Mobility is great. You get a crazy amount of 4G data. The only caveat I would add is watch the coverage... In areas that aren't as urban, it's worth it to spring for the extra $1 per day to get in on the "partner" plan. I imagine more carriers supply their towers for that fee. Otherwise you're going to be dropping down to EDGE which is pretty much useless these days.
  • I still have the T-Mo $3.00USD a day plan which is grandfathered if you haven't let it lapse. It includes unlimited text and calls within the US and 200mb of high speed data and unlimited lower speed data after you've consumed the cap per day. Clock resets at 12am PST.
    Calls back to Canada are $0.19/minute and each text back to Canada $0.15. I rarely need to call or text as there is FB Messenger, BBM, WhatsApp, iMessage (for those with iPhones), etc.
  • It looks like a ROAM mobility sim card would be a great way to fill the second sim slot in a dual sim card phone like the Lumia 950.
  • Karma is pretty awesome! It's also worth noting that they frequently have double data sales. You can, for example get 10 gb for $59 instead of the usual 5. Since the pay as you go data never expires, it's worth stocking up.
  • Good, useful piece. Now I could use a similar one for cellular iPads. No talk needed, just data.
  • I'd imagine Fido and Kudoo have US roaming as well.