Choosing the right phone plan.

500 local minutes, 1 gigabyte of data, free long distance calling, unlimited text messaging, limited time offer! When did it all get so complicated? Remember the good old days when phone plans were simple? You had a choice between getting a long distance plan or not getting a long distance plan. And land lines were so cheap!

Now, there are a handful of companies all vying for your attention with upgrades and specials for the newest, greatest smartphones. Canada has some of the world’s most expensive cell phone plans and it’s easy to get caught up in attractive added features that can add 25% or more to your phone plan.

To help you choose, let’s compare popular phone plan providers. From there you can narrow down which of the plans suits you best.

Before we get started, though, let’s talk about what you need from your phone plan.

What are your priorities?

Always start here, because phone companies will try a bunch of ways to lure you into their hottest plans, and they don’t always have the features you need. You could end up having to pay $20/month to upgrade your plan.

Typical phone plan features include:

  • Long distance. Review your old phone bills to see how much time you spent on long distance calls.
  • Data. When you’re not connected to Wifi, you can still connect to the internet with data. If you use a lot of data, you can rack up a huge phone bill if you don’t get a specific amount included in your base rate.
  • ‘Anytime’ minutes. How much do you use your phone for actual telephone calls? ‘Anytime’ minutes can include domestic calls, or domestic and international.
  • Voicemail. You probably want this, unless everyone texts you.
  • Text messaging. If you text message a lot, you’ll probably want an unlimited text messaging plan, but if you only do a few here and there, this won’t be a priority.
  • Locked/Unlocked. If you want the flexibility to change to other mobile carriers, you’ll need an unlocked phone.

What do you use your phone for the most? Focus on those priorities when shopping for a phone plan. 

Buying a brand-new phone?

If you’re looking for a new smartphone, do some market research. Hop online and read some reviews, and talk to people who have the phone you’re thinking of buying. Once you know what type of phone you want, it will be easier to find a plan that meets your priorities and your new phone budget.

My Top 5 Recommended Phone Plan Providers in Canada

Koodo

Koodo presents their phone plans as “tabs”, wherein you sign up for a plan that includes a credit towards one of their phones. Each month, a portion of your phone bill goes to paying off the cost of the device. They also offer plans at a reduced rate for people who already own their device.

Use their data calculator to figure out how much data you’re likely to use. Consider how much time you spend on your phone in places with Wifi versus without.

Depending on the time of year and their current specials, sufficient plans with data, unlimited calling, and text messaging start at $40/month.

Fido

At the time of writing this, Fido is offering Spotify Premium accounts with the purchase of a phone plan. This is great if you listen to a lot of streaming music (Spotify Premium is about $10 a month). Fido offers base plans with additional monthly cost levels for credit towards a new phone. You’ll probably want to start at their $50 plan to get the most for the price.

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile members get all kinds of perks, including chances at free concert tickets and trips, and occasional offers for 2-for-1 movie tickets and discounts at specific retailers. If you like to shop, then Virgin’s added benefits may work for you. They’re also known for good customer service. Their plans start at $40 with Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans for those shopping for a new phone. 

Telus

To be honest, you’ll get better deals with the previous 3 phone plan carriers. Telus plans start around $75/month. Like other companies, they wrap the cost of a new phone into your bill.  If you want to package your phone with home internet and television, you’ll get the benefit of a better deal and only one bill to pay.

Rogers

Rogers offers phone plans based on whether your priority is to get a new phone (the cost is wrapped into your monthly bill), whether you want a lower monthly bill or more services and you’re willing to spend more on a new phone, or whether you already have a phone and only need a plan. It’s a little confusing, and their plans are the most expensive out of all the companies on this list — starting around $80/month — because their minimum data allowance is 1GB, but you also have the option of bundling home television and Wifi services with your phone.

Phone companies typically offer variations of the same plan with different special features (free tickets, free music accounts, etc.). If you want to compare phone plans, check out CompareCellular.com

There’s a lot of choice out there. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, call me. I can help make sure you don’t get ripped off.