Where to find a SIM card at Montreal airport (with map), and which one to get
A guide for the last minute traveller, who visits Montreal and doesn’t know where to buy a SIM card or how to stay connected to the internet. I might soon be visiting Montreal and as I was putting some research into this trip, I found it hard to figure out where the SIM card shops were at Montreal airport, which SIM card should I buy, or is it better to buy one downtown.
I found two shops at Montreal airport which sell prepaid SIM cards:
|Shop||Location||SIM Cards Available|
M-F: 7am - 11pm
Sa: 9am - 8pm
Su: 12p - 8pm
|Terminal 3 International Arrivals area, opposite the door from customs. See map above.||
International Currency Exchange
6am - 1am
Of the two shops selling SIM cards at Montreal airport, Lucky Mobile seems better value for a traveller like me: Best data per dollar, with the ability to make local phone calls (useful for calling restaurants or the hotel).
I found the better deals are available downtown however, with providers such as Public Mobile.
When buying a SIM card in Canada, there may be additional fees to those I’ve listed here. These fees are charged for activation and for the SIM card itself. Fees seem subject to change and I can’t find good sources on them.
Which SIM cards are available at Montreal Airport?
I took a look at which of the SIM cards available at Montreal Airport are good for:
- Calling back home
Overall, I’d be more likely to pick up a Lucky Mobile SIM card from the options available at Montreal Airport. The other option I like is Public Mobile, which can be bought downtown rather than at the airport (see further below for more details).
Lucky Mobile seems to have a $10 CAD activation fee and a SIM card fee depending on where the SIM is purchased.
Telus seems to charge $35 CAD for activation and SIM card together. Hopefully at this price it includes some credit to put towards a plan!
Better for coverage: Either Telus or Lucky Mobile
Of the SIM cards available at Montreal Airport, both have comparable coverage around Montreal and Quebec. Southern Quebec and the major highways seem to be covered, including full coverage between Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City.
Telus prepaid plans start from $35 CAD for 30 days, including:
- 250 megabytes of data
- 100 mins of local calls
Lucky Mobile prepaid plans are better value for someone like me, as for $25 CAD per month the plan includes:
- 500 megabytes of data
- Unlimited calls Canada-wide
Lucky Mobile offers better value for more data as well, I looked at some of the options below.
If heading into the States from Montreal, I like the look of the Public Mobile SIM available in downtown Montreal instead. It has better roaming options for the States. More likely though, I would buy a local SIM card across the border.
Better for data: Lucky Mobile, from $40 CAD
I found Lucky Mobile to have the best value data out of the SIM cards available at Montreal Airport.
At $40 CAD for 4.5GB of data or $50 CAD for 8GB of data (both lasting 1 month), these options seem far better value than Telus, even with the initial $10 CAD new SIM activation charge.
Data is restricted to 3G speed. I couldn’t find out if this was 3G speed on a 4G network, or 3G speed because the network is only 3G. If it’s 3G speed on a 4G network, I would find this ok. I used to be a telecommunications engineer, if all they’re doing is slowing down the internet speed (and keeping the other benefits of 4G), then I would find this a good value compromise for lots of data.
Lucky Mobile also includes good value add-ons for making international calls.
Better for calls: Lucky Mobile
For local calls to Canadian phone numbers, Lucky Mobile offers unlimited calls. As far as I can tell, Telus only offers 100 minutes of calls then a confusing system of unlimited calls only at certain times of day.
For international calls, Lucky Mobile has add-on packs with better value than Telus, for example:
- 300 mins of calls to China & Hong Kong, $5 CAD
- 200 mins of calls to India and Pakistan, $5 CAD
- 75 mins of calls to UK, Vietnam, Thailand and many others for $5 CAD
There are better value options for international calls from providers with shops in downtown Montreal. From the SIM cards available at the airport though, these Lucky Mobile add-ons seem like the best option.
Is it better to buy a SIM card in Montreal downtown or at the airport?
Buying a SIM card downtown (or anywhere else outside the airport) gives many better options.
There are the three big networks (Telus, Rogers, and Bell) and then dozens of smaller companies that re-sell these networks.
I’ve tried to pick the best ones for an international traveller arriving in Montreal who needs something quick and good value.
Which SIM cards are better value if bought downtown?
For downtown Montreal, I considered plans based on:
- Data (Public Mobile)
- International calls (Lucky Mobile is OK to stick with)
I found little difference between prepaid SIM card options for short trips (<1 week) or longer trips (>1 month). I also found coverage around Quebec to be similar between Public Mobile and Lucky Mobile (the SIMs I like the look of for everything else). It seems to me the only way to stay in touch while travelling outside these coverage areas is to take a satellite phone.
Overall, I found Public Mobile to offer the best value for a traveller such as myself: Good data per dollar, local calls included, and easy to roam to the States for a few days.
For better value data: Public Mobile, from $40 CAD
The best value data I found was with Public Mobile, with 4.5GB of data for $40 CAD per month.
For $40 CAD with Public Mobile, the plan includes:
- 4.5GB of data
- Unlimited calls to Canadian numbers
For $60 CAD, Public Mobile includes US roaming:
- 8GB of data
- Unlimited calls to Canadian numbers
- 2GB of US roaming data
Public Mobile is limited to 3G speeds. I don’t know if this is an LTE network restricted to 3G speeds (I can live with this), or if it’s a 3G network running at 3G speeds (I don’t think this is good).
In other parts of Canada, I found Freedom Mobile offered good value. Unfortunately Freedom Mobile doesn’t provide 4G coverage to Montreal yet.
Where to buy Public Mobile
Public Mobile has stores all over downtown Montreal through its own kiosks or resellers such as Mobilitel. A map can be found here.
Some of the shops downtown include:
- Promenade Cathedral Eaton Centre, near the McGill subway station
- Mobilitel (an authorized reseller), near Place Émilie-Gamelin
- Walmart kiosks in various Walmarts
If not heading downtown, I see a lot of malls that usually have a cell phone store inside selling Public Mobile SIMs.
For better value international calls, Lucky Mobile
If staying more than a few months in Canada, Lucky Mobile has some monthly billed options for calling other countries that can offer good value. These include 6 hours of calls to China/HK or 3 hours of calls to India, Pakistan, and some other countries both for $5 CAD per month.
I found it appears difficult to get set up with Lucky Mobile if only staying in Canada for a short time. Freedom Mobile I found to be much more accessible even though it’s more expensive for calls ($5 CAD per month to access very cheap call rates). Freedom Mobile has many stores across Toronto, a few examples are listed above. Lucky Mobile has a couple of stores in the downtown Toronto area.
Is Wi-Fi available at Montreal Airport?
Yes, free Wi-Fi is available at Montreal Airport. Connect to
YUL Wi-Fi and accept the terms and conditions on the landing page.
The service lasts for 60 minutes before needing to reconnect again. I haven’t heard anything good about the Wi-Fi at Montreal airport, it doesn’t sound like something that can be relied upon.
Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Montreal Airport?
It is likely identification will be needed when buying a SIM card. Identification is required to purchase a SIM card anywhere in Canada, though my research tells me that occasionally this can be as simple as providing a name for registration (and not having to show the actual ID). As a foreigner, it seems only a passport is acceptable identification.
How to get from the airport to the city: Wi-Fi and staying connected
Bus, with free Wi-Fi
Most route 747 buses have Wi-Fi onboard. The 747 route connects downtown Montreal to the airport with some stops along the way. I couldn’t find any feedback about the quality of the Wi-Fi.
Uber and ride-share, using the airport Wi-Fi to book
Uber is available at Montreal Airport. As far as I can tell, it should be possible to book the ride-share using the airport Wi-Fi, and then get into the car when it arrives at the corresponding door from the terminal building. It may be hard to book using the airport Wi-Fi due to its unreliability, getting a SIM card first may be required.
Eva, a cooperative ride-share based on blockchain, is also available at Montreal Airport. This is new at the time of writing and is currently in beta. I’ll look to try it when I visit Montreal.
I assume Wi-Fi is not available once in the car.
Some taxis in Montreal have free Wi-Fi. Téo taxis all come with free Wi-Fi included. I haven’t heard any complaints about the Wi-Fi, no news is good news.
Can I roam with my Canadian SIM card to another country
Overall I didn’t find any of the Canadian prepaid SIM cards to offer good roaming value if spending more than a couple of days in the other country. For trips longer than 2 days, it’s probably better value buying a local SIM card in that country.
Freedom Mobile is the provider I most like the look of for roaming outside Canada. Their Montreal coverage isn’t great at time of writing and I wouldn’t buy Freedom Mobile myself if I was travelling only to Montreal on my upcoming trip. For US, Public Mobile offers comparable roaming. For Mexico, UK, and Europe, a local SIM card will probably serve better.
Public Mobile offers roaming add-ons for use in the States. A reasonable add-on starts at $10 CAD per 10 days.
Lucky mobile does not allow roaming.
Freedom Mobile also offers roaming to the States with various options for data and calls starting at $5 CAD per day. I find these to be the best value, taking the example of 1GB of data with 5 days validity for $25 CAD. As Freedom Mobile’s 4G network does not include Montreal, the only real reason to consider it as a traveller visiting to Montreal is if you’ll make a side trip for a few days to the States (or Mexico).
Freedom Mobile again has the best deal I’ve found for roaming in Mexico and nearby parts of the Caribbean. Starting at $6 CAD per day or $48 CAD for 1GB of data with 8 days validity, the amounts aren’t great but it can be convenient. For Mexico at least, I’d probably look at a local prepaid SIM.
None of the other providers I looked at seemed to offer good value roaming for prepaid plans.
UK and Europe
While still not great value, at least Freedom Mobile offers prepaid roaming to UK and Europe. Add-ons start at $10 CAD per day or $80 CAD for 1GB of data with 8 days validity.
I would get a local SIM card for UK/Europe, I don’t find this worth paying for.
Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.
I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.