Roaming in Canada: A Visitors Guide to Costs for Each Provider
I believe in the value of communication, especially while travelling. After writing a recent guide on roaming costs was curious how much it costs specifically to use roaming in Canada to stay in touch with people - both in Canada and back home. I put together this guide on how much it costs people from around the world to roam in Canada.
Roaming in Canada is typically free for anyone coming from the US on major providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This includes data, texts, local calls, and calls back to the States. For visitors arriving from the UK, Australia, or New Zealand expect to pay about CAD 5-8 per day equivalent in your local currency.
Further details on how much this costs for each country are in the table below (all in your home currency):
|If you are from:||Expect to pay for roaming in Canada|
In this guide to Canadian roaming I've looked at how much it costs to roam your phone into Canada if you're coming from each of these countries (click to skip ahead):
Typical costs for roaming in Canada with a cell provider from the States are:
- AT&T: Free on many Unlimited plans, otherwise $10/day
- T-Mobile: Free
- Verizon: Many plans are free though some attract a charge of $5/day
I found most plans with the big providers include roaming to Canada.
I’ve gone into further details on how this works below:
Many of AT&T’s Unlimited plans include Canadian roaming at no additional cost. This includes the Unlimited Starter plan.
That means when roaming in Canada with AT&T you get:
- Data: Same as your plan back home
- Talk: Unlimited calls to Canadian numbers, unlimited calls to the States
- Texts: Unlimited texts to Canadian and US numbers (except for ‘advanced’ messaging, which is not available)
On a few other plans, Roam North America is an add-on you have to buy. On plans that aren’t Unlimited it seems you have to buy the International Roaming Pass ($10/day)1.
Roaming in Canada with T-Mobile is free if you have an Essentials or a Magenta plan.
The Essentials plan when used for roaming in Canada includes:
- Data: Unlimited, at 2G speeds
- Talk: Unlimited
- Text: Unlimited
The Magenta plan when used for roaming in Canada includes:
- Data: Up to 5GB at 4G speeds (then unlimited 2G)
- Talk: Unlimited
- Text: Unlimited
I reached out to T-Mobile to confirm - unlimited calls includes both calls to Canadian numbers while you’re in Canada and calls back to the States2.
Roaming in Canada with Verizon costs $5/day, or free if you have a Start, Play, Do or All Unlimited plan. A TravelPass can be added on to your plan and you’ll only be charged for the days you use it.
The TravelPass includes:
- Data: 500mb full speed and then a slower speed after that
- Talk: As per your plan at home
- Text: As per your plan at home
I couldn’t find how much the speed slows down to and I’m not personally with Verizon myself. Please reach out if you’ve experienced it, I imagine it slows down based on network congestion rather than to a fixed speed3.
To activate the TravelPass with Verizon, text
4004. More information is available on their website here.
Typical roaming costs if you’re visiting Canada with a phone from the UK are:
- Vodafone: £6/day to use your own allowances
- EE: Free on EE Max pay monthly plans, otherwise around £4.80/day for some data
- O2: £4.99/day for extra quota to be used in Canada.
Further details for each provider are included below. These are the popular providers that support roaming at a decent rate. While I looked at other providers such as GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile, I really couldn’t find a circumstance where they represented good value roaming in Canada.
I found that typically it’s only calls and texts back to the UK that are included, calling and texting Canadian numbers may attract international call rates.
Roaming with Vodafone in Canada costs £6/day for most people, or free if you have the Unlimited Max or Red Entertainment plans.
- Data: Your plan allowance, or 25GB/month if you have an unlimited plan
- Calls: Your plan allowance - this means calling the UK is typically free, but calling Canadian numbers will likely cost international rates
- Texts: Your plan allowance - noting that texts to international numbers (even Canadian numbers) may attract international charges
Roaming is also available on pay as you go plans, but at a casual rate (think 12p per megabyte!) - I wouldn’t recommend it.
The £6/day charge only applies on days when you use data on your phone, make a call, or send a text (receiving calls or texts do not trigger the daily charge)4.
If you have an EE Max plan, then roaming to Canada is included at no additional charge. The allowances for the EE Max plan are:
- Data: For pay monthly plans you get the greater of your plan allowance or 50GB; for pay as you go you get the greater of your plan allowance or 25GB
- Calls: Your plan allowance when calling the UK; £1.20 to call other numbers (seemingly including Canadian numbers)
- Texts: Your plan allowance when texting the UK
If you’re on a pay monthly plan that isn’t EE Max, then you can buy 500mb of data for £4.80. Calls and texts can be purchased for £6 (unlimited).
Roaming is available on pay as you go plans, though I wouldn’t recommend it (incredibly expensive!). 400mb of data costs £4 by add-on5.
O2’s Travel Bolt On is available in Canada and costs £4.99. The Travel Bolt On allowances are:
- Data: Unlimited, though speed may vary
- Calls: 120 minutes to be used on Canadian numbers or calls back to the UK
- Texts: 120 texts to be used on Canadian numbers or messages back to the UK
Data, calls, and texts are NOT deducted from your allowances in the UK. I haven’t experienced O2’s roaming data speed (my only UK experience is with Vodafone), but I imagine it will be usable but not fast.
The Travel Bolt On is only available on pay monthly plans.Text
23336 to get started. This should be done at least 24 hours before you need it and you’ll only be charged for the days you use it6.
Roaming in Canada typically attracts these costs for Australians:
- Telstra: $10/day for 500mb and unlimited calls and SMS
- Vodafone: $5/day to use your Australian quota
- Optus: $10/day for 1GB and unlimited calls and SMS
More details on each of these included below.
Telstra offers an International Day Pass for $10 per day that covers Canada. It includes:
- Data: 500mb/day
- Calls: Unlimited calls to standard Canadian phone numbers
- SMS: Unlimited texts to standard Canadian phone numbers
Telstra doesn’t actually state that calls to Australia are part of the International Day Pass, though I’d take a guess they’re included. All quotas are in addition to your normal monthly plan7.
Vodafone Global Roaming is available in Canada for $5/day. This includes:
- Data: Use your own plan quota
- Calls: Use your own plan quota
- SMS: Use your own plan quota
Roaming is activated automatically once you use your phone in Canada8.
Optus has a $10/day Roaming Pass available for use in Canada. This includes:
- Data: 1GB per day
- Calls: Unlimited
- SMS: Unlimited
Data is in addition to your plan allowance in Australia. If you have a plan with roaming allowances included, as soon as these are used up, Optus will roll you over onto this Roaming Pass9.
Optus doesn’t say where the calls can be made. I’d take a guess they include calls to Australia and Canada when roaming in Canada.
Roaming Pass is activated in the Optus App and may take up to 48 hours to activate (though you’ll only be charged on days you use it).
Spark has two options for roaming in Canada: A Roaming Pack for $20/7-days which includes calls, texts and data OR a Roaming Data Pack for $15/7-days which only includes data.
The Roaming Pack costs $20 for 7 days and includes10:
- Data: 1GB
- Calls: 200 minutes inbound and 200 minutes outbound
- Texts: 200
The Roaming Data only Pack costs $15 for 7 days and includes 1GB of data.
To activate the Roaming Pack, text
BUY ROAM to
258. To activate the Roaming Data Pack, text
BUY DATAROAM TO
Alternatively you can activate Auto Buy Roaming so that it activates automatically when you arrive in Canada.
Vodafone has Daily Roaming in Canada for $7 a day. This means you get11:
- Data: Use your plan’s
- Minutes: Use your plan’s
- Texts: Use your plan’s
How to Beat Roaming Costs
Some of the ways I’ve found to beat roaming costs include:
- Buying a local SIM card
- Using Skype or apps to make phone calls (on that local SIM card, or using WiFi)
- Setting up VOIP to make phone calls
Buying a local SIM card is my favourite, it lets me call and be called in the country I’m visiting. If I’m staying in a country more than a few days I will buy a local SIM card.
I wrote a whole guide about each of these steps, you can check it out here: alternatives-to-roaming
I’ve also written guides (with maps!) to buying local SIM cards if you’re arriving in these Canadian cities:
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.