Map of where to find SIM cards near Ontario airport. Sketched by Chris.

Ottawa Prepaid SIM Cards: A Guide for Arriving Visitors and Tourists

Updated by Chris. Chris is planning a visit to Ontario soon, he's keen to try a road-trip on the trans-Canada highway.

A guide to help short-term visitors arriving in Ottawa find the best value SIM cards. This guide includes locations of shops that sell SIM cards when arriving in Ottawa via the airport, and a comparison of the various options available. I’ve also included details of some roaming plans that are available particularly to Americans visiting Canada. I travel frequently and I understand how confusing it can be to figure out buying a SIM card when hopping off an international flight. Hopefully this guide clears up some of that confusion.

In general, the best SIM card for short-term visitors to Ottawa is Public Mobile with data plans starting from 25 CAD. Public Mobile is available at various shops and resellers throughout Ontario, including at a Walmart near the airport.

Public Mobile prepaid options include1:

  • 25 CAD for 500mb of data and unlimited calls
  • 35 CAD for 1GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 40 CAD for 4.5GB of data and unlimited calls

Also consider Freedom Mobile, starting from 19 CAD for 1.5GB2. It has less coverage than Public Mobile, but is a cheaper option that can be considered if spending a short time in Ottawa.

A fee to purchase or connect a SIM card is typically charged. I found this fee to vary by provider and retailer.

Part 1: SIM Cards Available in Ottawa

While there are no SIM cards in Ottawa Airport (at least that I’ve ever been able to find), I’ve found the two best options when arriving in Ottawa are:

  • Public Mobile, starting from 25 CAD for 500mb or 40 CAD for 4.5GB both including unlimited calls;
  • Freedom Mobile, starting from 19 CAD for 1.5GB or 29 CAD for 2GB also both including unlimited calls.

Freedom Mobile is cheaper and offers faster data, but I’ve found Freedom Mobile only provides coverage in major cities and towns such as Ottawa (and a few towns nearby), Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Some alternatives I considered to Public Mobile include Chatr, 40 CAD for 4GB; Lucky Mobile, also 40 CAD for 4.5GB; and Petro-Canada, 45 CAD for 3GB. All of these include unlimited calls; Lucky Mobile also has the benefit of attractive rates for making international calls.

If transiting in Toronto or Montreal to reach Ottawa, it is possible to pick up a SIM card after clearing customs in these airports:

All prepaid SIM cards are monthly, I’ve never found a shorter-term prepaid SIM card for visitors arriving in Canada. This also means the best deals on SIM cards apply whether staying a week or staying 6 months. For short trips though roaming to Canada may be an option.

Full Details of SIM Card Options

Here I’ve included details of all the different options I looked at when arriving in Ottawa:

Public Mobile, available at various resellers and stores around Ontario (see next section for further details). Plans include:

  • 25 CAD for 500mb of data and unlimited calls
  • 35 CAD for 1GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 40 CAD for 4.5GB of data and unlimited calls

The downside to Public Mobile is that the above plans are limited to 3G speed (even when the phone connects to a 4G part of the network). Higher speed can be purchased however. As a short-term visitor to Canada, I tend to find this an acceptable trade-off.

Freedom Mobile, also available at various resellers in Ontario (see next section for further details). Plans include:

  • 19 CAD for 1.5GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 29 CAD for 5GB of data and unlimited calls

I found Freedom Mobile to have the least coverage of Canada out of all the network available. Coverage doesn’t appear to extend very far outside the major cities. This is OK for visitors only staying in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and a few other cities; it’s not great if you’re travelling outside these areas however.


  • 35 CAD for 1GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 40 CAD for 4GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 50 CAD for 8GB of data and unlimited calls

Lucky Mobile4:

  • 15 CAD for 500mb of data (no calls)
  • 25 CAD for 500mb of data and unlimited calls
  • 35 CAD for 1GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 40 CAD for 4.5GB of data and unlimited calls

Similar to Public Mobile, speed is limited to 3G even when connected to a 4G network.

A benefit of Lucky Mobile is the cheap international calls that are available. I found Lucky Mobile to offer the cheapest options for calling Australia, China, Mexico, and various other countries. Costs start from 5 CAD per month with 200 minutes to these destinations. More details can be found on their website here.

I don’t usually buy a SIM card for international calls however, I prefer to use apps or Skype. I’ve written a whole guide about that here:

Petro-Canada is sold at Petro-Canada service stations, this can be a good option if driving to Ottawa from the States. Plans are customizable. Some examples are5:

  • 35 CAD for 1GB of data and unlimited calls
  • 45 CAD for 3GB of data and unlimited calls

SpeakOut is sold at 7-Elevens throughout Canada. Plans include6:

  • 35 CAD for 1GB and unlimited calls
  • 35 CAD for 2GB and no calls

I find the SpeakOut top-up system to be confusing. Credit that can be added to the SIM doesn’t seem to align with the amount it costs to purchase a package. As far as I can tell this means there is money leftover on the SIM that is hard to use. Over a long period of time this doesn’t matter so much; for a visitor staying less than a month it can be inefficient however.

I did also look at Rogers and Bell prepaid SIM cards, but I didn’t feel they offered either cheaper plans or more convenient points of sale than the above options.


In general, coverage in Canada is limited to major towns and cities and important national highways. The three major networks are Telus, Bell, and Rogers. Freedom Mobile runs on its own network which only covers which appears to really only covers the larger cities (I’ve never personally tried Freedom Mobile).

Public Mobile uses the Telus network; Lucky Mobile uses Bell; and Chatr uses Rogers.

I’ve found coverage to be limited outside of major cities/towns, even when using the top 3 networks (Telus, Bell, and Rogers). If planning an extensive trip into the Canadian countryside, consider a satellite phone if it’s necessary to stay in touch.

Part 2: Location of SIM Card Shops When Arriving in Ottawa

In this section I’ve included where to find a SIM card when arriving in Ottawa via the airport. If hiring a car and driving out of the airport, there are a few SIM card shops for Public Mobile nearby; if using the bus/train or taxi to reach downtown, there are plenty of shops from all the major providers.

If driving out of Ottawa Airport, Public Mobile and Freedom Mobile SIM cards can be purchased from the Walmart near the Hunt Club Road exit of the Airport Parkway. The address is 2210 Bank St K1V 1J5. This Walmart is open 7am to 11pm daily.

Map to Canada SIM cards near Ottawa Airport

Walmart sells SIM cards near Ottawa Airport. Sketched by Chris.

If heading to downtown Ottawa:

  • Public Mobile stores: There’s an authorized reseller on the corner of Bank St and Nepean St generally open 11am to 6pm daily except Sundays, or in Chinatown near Cambridge street.
  • Freedom Mobile has a reseller around the opposite corner of Bank St and Nepean St, a little further to the south.

Map to Canada SIM cards near downtown Ottawa

SIM cards can be purchased from authorized resellers on Bank St. Sketched by Chris.

Downtown Ottawa can be reached by bus or taxi. Taxi costs roughly 30 CAD. When taking the bus, I think there’s an interchange to the subway to reach the downtown area (I’ve never taken the bus myself).

Part 3: Roaming To Canada

It can be cost-effective for Americans to roam to Canada rather than buy a local SIM card upon arrival in Ottawa. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer plans that include roaming to Canada. They also offer options for people who are not on plans that include Canada roaming. See below for details.

I’ve also included roaming details for people with a UK SIM card arriving in Canada. I don’t think roaming is worth it on a UK SIM card, for any trip more than a few days it’s cheaper to buy a local SIM card.

For Americans

AT&T includes Canada roaming for no additional charge on unlimited and other select plans. Alternatively, AT&T also offers USD 10/day international day pass or a USD 70 per month roaming passport which includes 2GB of data to use in 200 countries. These options can be activated via the website or by contacting AT&T7.

T-Mobile plans include roaming in Canada8:

  • Essentials plans have unlimited calls, text, and 2G data in Canada
  • Magenta plans include unlimited calls, text, and 4G data (for the first 5GB) in Canada

There is no need to activate Canadian roaming for T-Mobile accounts, it’s already included.

Verizon charges USD 5/day to use the plan allowance of calls, text, and data in Canada9. Customers on the Start, Play, Do and All Unlimited plans are not charged this fee.

Most people with a US SIM card will likely find it cheaper and easier to roam in Canada rather than purchase a local SIM card.

For Brits

UK carriers having the following options for roaming in Canada:

  • Vodafone charges £6 per day to use your plan in Canada (free on plans that cover Roam-further destinations)10;
  • EE charges £4.80 per day for 500mb of data11;
  • O2 Travel can be activated on Pay Monthly plans, it costs £4.99 per day and doesn’t have an upper limit on data12.

If planning a short trip of only a few days, those with UK SIM cards may find it cheaper and more convenient to roam rather than purchase a Canadian SIM card.

Related Guides

For those arriving in Canada via Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, I’ve written a guide to finding a Canadian SIM card at these airports. There are a few more options available conveniently if landing in one of these cities. Check out my guide here:



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.