For all the convenience and utility mobile phones provide, they don’t come cheap. Between phone costs and monthly service plans, you could spend more than $1000 per year with ease.
Rates in recent years are on a downward trend. If you haven’t checked out the competition in the past few months—or don’t have service at all—there’s a good chance you can save money with the right choice.
We’ve researched the best prepaid mobile plans available in 2018 to bring you this guide. Should you need a little more or less than our picks provide, you’ll find similar deals sticking to the same carrier we recommend.
If you’re looking to compare options yourself or don’t see an choice that fits your needs, be sure to check our plan comparison tool. We scour the major carrier sites for the best deals and recent updates to make sure that the tool is always up-to-date and ready to help!
Let’s get started!
Choosing the best phone plan for your needs is tricky. Recommending them even more so. How I use my phone might not match up with how you use yours. We feel each of the plans listed here offer great value, but be sure that the specific features meet your needs.
We didn’t feel it was fair—or accurate—to break things up into price tiers or a single factor, such as bandwidth amounts. Instead, we’ve filtered through the best plans available and made suggestions based on common ways people use their phones.
From plans that let you use your phone like a mini-computer and photography studio or to budget-friendly basics with a handful of voice minutes for emergencies, we’ve got you covered!
Now on to the picks!
Best for Heavy Data Users and Media Lovers
Whether you get tons of email or spend lots of time on the road where Wi-Fi isn’t easy to find, you need a plan that won’t make you scream when you go to top-off for the month.
Ideal plan features include: High data caps, fast data speeds and low overage fees
Our pick for this category goes to Public Mobile. For $67 per month, you get 5GB of 4G LTE data, unlimited Canada-wide talk, and unlimited global texting on the same network as Telus.
If you don't need 4G speeds, you can get 6.5GB of 3G data, unlimited province-wide talk, and unlimited global texting for $50 per month.
The only downside to Public Mobile is a lack of phone-based customer service. However, they offer email support, a well-designed account portal page and an active forum for troubleshooting and questions.
Best for Travellers
Whether for work or play, you’re often away from home. You need a plan that will let you keep in touch with family and friends regardless of where you’re located today, tomorrow or next month.
Ideal plan features include: Unlocked phones, free or low-fee roaming
At the time of writing, the most affordable option for travel to the US is Roam Mobility. If you’ll only be traveling for a few days, their $4.95 per-day plan unlocks unlimited calls and texts in the US and Canada along with 512MB of high-speed data and unlimited 2G data per day.
If you’re planning to visit for more than 10 days, you can find a better deal through their monthly packs. You can get unlimited calls in the US (including calls back home to Canada), unlimited texting and 1GB of 4G LTE data for $39.95. If you need more data, 4GB of data is only $64.95. Both options include unlimited 2G data.
However, Roam Mobility doesn't work within Canada. So if you'll need to swap the SIM cards in your phone and use a new number while in the US.
If you'd prefer a single card that works in both locations, consider Public Mobile. Their monthly packages are already a great deal and tacking on a U.S. Roaming add-on is affordable. As an example, you can get unlimited calls to Canada and the U.S., global texting, 1GB of 3G data in Canada for 30 days as a standard package for $40. Tacking on a roaming pack for $20 adds unlimited talk and text and 250MB of data within the US and 250MB of data for 10 days.
If you’re travelling outside the US and Canada, picking up a prepaid SIM or travelling SIM and using it in an unlocked phone is likely cheaper than most carrier offerings. You might even pick up a cheap phone just for travel and still see savings over our pick. If you’ll be travelling to multiple destinations, a Knowroaming SIM offers flexibility and savings over carrier roaming rates.
Best for Those Calling Abroad
Keeping in touch with Uncle Andrei is great until the bill rolls in. You’ve used VoIP apps or calling cards, but they’re a pain. You need a plan that won’t leave you counting minutes or jumping through hoops while working on projects with work colleagues abroad or keeping the kids in touch with grandma and grandpa.
Ideal plan features include: Affordable international calling with generous allotments
Tacking the global calling add-on to any SpeakOut plan for $1.99 unlocks drastically reduced rates to friends and family abroad. While you’ll still pay per minute, the rates are competitive with many calling cards and VoIP dialers. As an example, for $51.99 per month plus per-minute fees, you can enjoy 200 Canada-wide minutes, 1GB of data and reduced rates to more than 180 countries.
If you only need to call the US, Public Mobile might offer a better deal. With their build-your-own-plan option, you can get unlimited Canada-wide and US calling with global texting and 2GB of 4G LTE data for $52 per month.
Best for Emergency Use
You rarely pick up your mobile phone, but you need to know it’s there for you if you need it. A monthly plan seems like a waste, but you want to avoid the pitfalls of pay-as-you-go.
Ideal plan features include: No expiration on top-ups or access, low rates and good coverage
Our pick for emergency mobile phone plans in 2018 goes to Speakout. While their PAYG rates aren’t the absolute cheapest in Canada (you can look at PC Mobile’s Anytime Plans for that) top ups don’t expire for an entire year. This makes it easy -- and cheap -- to keep credits on your phone without juggling top up dates. You can make Canada-wide calls for $0.30 per minute. Calls to the US are also competitive at $0.45 per minute.
You can add 100MB of data as well should you need to look up directions or send emergency updates over social media for $10.
Best for Casual Use
You might play the occasional game or talk with friends, but you’re not a heavy phone user and you prefer your TV shows on your TV and your music on discs or downloads. You want the convenience of a mobile phone when you want it, but it’s not often.
Ideal plan features include: Affordable rates, no worries about expiration, basic features
Our pick for casual use prepaid plans goes to Petro-Canada. Their flexible basic prepaid plans offer just enough to not worry about occasional use but also not worry about wasting your money on a ton of minutes or data that’s going to expire if you don't pick up your phone. Better still, they run on the Rogers network, so you shouldn’t have to worry about coverage either.
You can currently get 125 minutes of Canada-wide calling, unlimited texts and 500MB of data for $35 per month. While there are cheaper Petro-Canada prepaid plans, we feel this is sweet spot for pricing.
What We Considered When Choosing Plans
A plan had to meet a few requirements to make our list. While we know not every factor matters to everyone, we thought these three things would offer value to anyone looking for a phone plan:
A Quick Note About Carriers
You might not recognize some of our carrier picks. While there was a time when carrier choice was important and the experience you’d get differed drastically between choices, these days the deciding factors are cost and coverage.
Many of today’s smaller carriers lease portions of their coverage area from the major carriers. This means you get a better price on service without sacrificing the reliability, coverage and speed of a major carrier. For once, it’s a situation where getting more for less is a genuine deal!
If you don’t recognize a carrier listed in this piece, we offer comprehensive carrier summaries on our site! From plan breakdowns to reviews from other readers, you can research any names you don’t recognize. See how they stack up to your current carrier or those you’re considering in just a few clicks!
There you have it! A mobile phone plan to fit any need or intended use. We do our best to keep our guides up-to-date with the latest information. But, with phone plans, you never know when a carrier will change things.
If you notice something isn’t accurate in the guide, drop us a line in the comments below. If we helped you find the perfect phone plan for your needs, we’d love to hear about that too!
P.S. The phone selection at most prepaid carriers isn’t ideal. Unlocked phones offer greater flexibility in choosing your carrier and—with newer models—are often more feature packed than the basic carrier offerings. Not sure what to look for? Check out our phone summaries . We break down the highlights—and lowlights—of the best phones around and even offer links to where you can find the best prices!