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Americans who will be travelling in Canada seeking cheapest phone options
June 24, 2010 3:14 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I will be travelling to Canada next month (previously) and are wondering what our cheapest bet is for cell phones. We don't care so much about calling home to the US, but it would be nice to be able to make brief calls and send texts to each other.

When we vacation, there's a not-small chunk of time where I'm browsing shops going "Ooh, shiny!" and he's holed up in a coffeehouse. It's useful to be able to text or call each other to say "Almost done?", "Would your mom like this?", "Are you hungry yet?", etc. I have my own Verizon phone, he only has a work phone. I'm thinking some sort of cheap, buy/rent, pay-as-you-go, exclusively Canadian phone would be our best bet, but I have no clue about such things. Open to other options as well. We'll be in Canada 12 days, in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. We'll be entering the country at the Calais/Saint Stephen crossing, and are staying in Saint John that night if anyone has specific vendor/store suggestions.

Thanks for the help! And feel free to comment in the trip question thread, scary obsessive enormous trip planning spreadsheet still being worked on. :)
posted by booksherpa to Travel & Transportation around Canada (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you guys have PTT? A friend of mine had it and it worked when she was here in Vancouver, and she said that there weren't any roaming charges. She might have been with Nextel, though.
posted by randomstriker at 4:19 PM on June 24, 2010

You can buy Petro Mobility prepaid phones at Petro Canada gas stations.
posted by cst at 5:00 PM on June 24, 2010

Virgin Mobile offers "pre-loved" handsets, starting at about $30. That's probably your best bet for a "throw-away", since the off-the-rack handsets here are pretty expensive compared to other places...
posted by kaudio at 5:05 PM on June 24, 2010

I was going to suggest 7-11 but there are apparently no freaking 7-11's in the God-forsaken corner of Canada you're visiting, so I'd suggest you pick up a Fido pre-paid from a Shoppers Drug Mart. Actually just googling "pre-paid phones Canada" will give you more info than you will find here.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:47 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I last went to Canada, I found that sending texts from a US phone in Canada isn't all that expensive. Receiving texts is at no additional costs on top of your normal texting plan. Look it up in your plan and depending on how many you expect to send, it may not make sense to get a Canadian phone. (We just got back from Italy where we sent texts for $0.50 and received at no additional cost using iPhones on AT&T contracts.)
posted by advicepig at 6:38 AM on June 25, 2010

There's no nationwide roaming in Canada yet, afaik, (except with very expensive plans) so phones you got in one place would charge you long distance in another. Since you wont be staying put, texting on your US phones is probably the most sensible, easiest solution.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:17 AM on June 25, 2010

We called Verizon who confirmed that texts within North America were considered domestic texting, so that texts within Canada would fall under our normal texting plan. We haven't gotten the bill yet to confirm that's what happened, but that's what we ended up doing - texting each other. As an added bonus, I set up texting to Twitter, so friends and family got updates on our trip by following the trip-specific Twitter account I set up.
posted by booksherpa at 10:33 AM on August 4, 2010

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