September 23, 2014 3:56 pm
Updated: May 10, 2016 1:45 pm

The best, cheapest Canadian cellphone plan out there: 2014 edition

Some helpful information to help you choose which plan and phone (Samsung pictured on left,Apple smartphone on right) are right for you.

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Looking for a more recent story on cell phone prices? This one was written in December of 2015. 


TORONTO – The fine print of cellphone plans continues to plague Canadian consumers: confusing contracts, hidden fees and trying to compare wireless provider plans can take a toll on even the most patient person.

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So last June, I called nine Canadian wireless providers and profiled the features they had on offer. You can see that story here.

After many messages from viewers—and Friday’s release of the iPhone 6—it was time to call again. In conversations that were generally under 10 minutes and surprisingly painless, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido, Virgin, Mobilicity, Wind, Koodo and PC Mobile hit me with their best shots.

READ MORE: Tools to help you pick the best Canadian cellphone plan

We used the same price comparison study conducted for the CRTC in 2012 by Wall Communications Inc. to find the average use of phone minutes and texts per month, but changed the script a bit from last time.

“I’m looking for a new cellphone plan for my mom. She checked her last few bills, and she uses about 450 minutes a month. She sends about 200 texts a month, and she’d need enough data to check email and Facebook throughout the day. We have some friends in the U.S. so she makes long-distance calls a couple times a month. And she’s thinking of buying a new phone—iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5. So what’s the best, cheapest plan you can offer?”

Here’s an infographic that highlights some of the differences, followed by the full details of the plans that were offered (before tax) starting with the “Big 3” and followed by the discount providers:

 

Canadian cellphone plansInfographic credit: Janet Cordahi

ROGERS

Best plan base rate: $80 / month

Unlimited airtime across Canada anytime

Unlimited text messaging, call display, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding

Unlimited U.S. calling add on: $15 / month

Preferred rate plan: $5 / month would make calls to U.S. 10 cents per minute

If no long-distance add-on: 55 cents per minute to the U.S.

Data: 500 megabytes / month

iPhone 6:  $274 with a two-year contract

Samsung Galaxy S5: On sale $99 with a two-year contract

Activation fee: $15

Current promotion: Samsung Galaxy S5 for $99; also offered $20 off the plan for the first five months (which equals a $100 credit)

UPDATE: Rogers communications spokesperson Leigh LePage apologized for incorrect information initially given by the customer service representative, but specified the NHL GameCentre Live app is free for wireless data and Internet customers until Dec. 31, 2014 (not for the first season, which runs until May). The app is ready for Oct 8. and normally costs $199 per season (access to over 1,000 online live games). You can use the app with a tablet, cellphone, or desktop computer.

TELUS

Best plan base rate: $80 / month

Unlimited airtime across Canada anytime

Unlimited text messaging, call display, voicemail, call waiting, conference calling

Unlimited U.S. calling add on: $15 / month

If no long-distance add-on: $1.50 cents per minute to the U.S.

Data: 500 megabytes / month

iPhone 6:  Retail price of 16 gigabyte model is $750; with two-year contract $265, so the remaining balance of $485 would go on a two-year service agreement on the $80 / month Telus Share Plus Plan

Samsung Galaxy S5: Retail price is $730; with Telus two-year contract it’s $100 and remaining $630 goes on two-year Telus Share Plus Plan

Activation fee: No, but…

SIM card: $10 (for either device)

Current promotion: iPhone 5C 8 gigabyte model for $0, or Samsung Galaxy S4 for $0 with same $80/month plan

BELL

Best plan base rate: $80 / month

Unlimited airtime across Canada anytime

Unlimited text messaging, call display, voicemail, call waiting, conference calling

Unlimited U.S. calling add-on: $15 / month

If no long-distance add-on: 50 cents per minute to the U.S.

Data: 500 megabytes per month

iPhone 6:  $264.95 for phone itself with a two-year contract

Samsung Galaxy S5: $99.95 with a two-year contract

Activation fee: Can waive it

Current promotion: 10 hours of free mobile TV per month for three months (that doesn’t use your data). It costs $5 / month after 3 months (but you can opt out after the trial) and applies to any shows that are live at that moment.

KOODO MOBILE

Best plan base rate: $50 / month (this is what they consider a $45/month plan plus $5 for the “medium tab” explained below)

Unlimited text messaging, call display, call waiting, conference calling, voicemail

500 daytime minutes Canada-wide, then unlimited after 5 p.m. and unlimited weekends

Unlimited U.S. calling add on: $10 / month

Long-distance saver add-on:  $3 / month makes calls 5 cents / minute

If no long-distance add-on: 50 cents per minute to the U.S.

Data: 500 megabytes data

iPhone 6: Medium tab $375 (this is what added $5 more to the $45/month plan initially described)

The “medium tab” means Koodo matches 15 per cent of the cost of your monthly plan to pay off the balance of the phone. That plus the $5 “extra” per month means your phone would be paid off in two years.

Samsung Galaxy S5: With medium tab $425

Activation fee: None

No contract: You can cancel at any time by paying off your remaining balance

If bring your own unlocked phone: Free SIM card with activation and 10 per cent discount on the $45/month plan (no contract)

Current promotion: $50 bonus gift if you instead choose Moto G, AlCatel ONETOUCH Idol X+ or Alcatel ONETOUCH POP Icon phone models; $75 gift for choosing Samsung Galaxy S III; $100 bonus gift for choosing Nokia Lumia 635

WIND MOBILE

Best plan base rate: $35 / month (with credit check and “pay after” option—just means you pay the bill the month after you use it in case you roam or use features outside your plan there could be extra costs)

Unlimited incoming and outgoing calls Canada-wide

Unlimited international texting, voicemail, caller ID, conference calling, call forwarding, call waiting

Calls to U.S.: 5 cents per minute

Data: 5 gigabytes with “fair usage policy” – This means the monthly data capacity is 5GB for high speed internet access, and if you exceed 5GB, there will be no extra charge, but you will experience slowing down on your data access speed.

iPhone 6: Not available—must buy iPhone elsewhere and frequency of device must be 1700 and 2100 (some iPhone models not compatible with Wind).

Samsung Galaxy S5: Retail price $729; With credit check you can pay $579 up front and then get a $150 Wind tab. This means if you keep your agreement with Wind for two years, Wind contributes 10 per cent of the monthly rate charges before taxes to pay off the cost of the phone.

Activation fee: No, but must buy new SIM card at $25.

No contract: You can cancel at any time by paying off your remaining balance.

If you bring your own unlocked, Wind-compatible phone: $7.50/month for 20 months credit for other features (e.g. the calls to the U.S.). But you cannot use this credit for the basic plan fee, so it’s lost if you don’t use it each month on extra charges or features.

Current promotion: This $35/month is a promotional plan until the end of September 2014.

FIDO (subsidiary of Rogers Wireless Inc.)

Best plan base rate: $50 / month

500 Canada-wide anytime minutes

Unlimited Canada-wide evenings and weekends starting at 5 p.m.-7 a.m.

Unlimited text, picture and voice messaging worldwide as long as you are in Canada to any international number, call display, voicemail

Unlimited U.S. calls: $15 / month unlimited Canada to U.S.

U.S. calls add-on: $5 / month puts them at 10 cents / minute

U.S. calls with no add-on: 45 cents / minute

Data: 500 megabytes

iPhone 6Sold exclusively in store – no information given on the phone

Samsung Galaxy S5: $400 with two-year agreement on $50 / month plan

No contract: You can pay off the cost of the phone if you want to cancel before two years.

Activation fee: No, but must buy $10 SIM card.

If you bring an unlocked phone: Get 10 per cent off the plan (must still buy $10 SIM card).

Current promotion: $25 credit each if you have a Fido customer refer you.

VIRGIN MOBILE CANADA (acquired by Bell Mobility in 2009)

Best plan base rate$80 / month best plan for iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5 (BUT staff recommends $45 / month plan with iPhone 4S—see below for details)

$80/month plan includes:

Unlimited Canada-wide calling anytime

Unlimited international texting as long as you’re in Canada, call display, voicemail, conference calling, call waiting

U.S. calls: 50 cents / minute

Data: 500 megabytes

iPhone 6: $259.99 with a two-year agreement

Samsung Galaxy  S5: $99.99 with two-year agreement ($699.99 without)

No contract: There’s no tab, so if you want to end the agreement, you pay the remainder of the phone cost depending on how long you have left in your two-year agreement. E.g. after one year, you’d pay $300 in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Activation fee: $15

Current promotion: iPhone 4S at $0 on a Gold plan. Gold plans start at $40 / month but agent recommended $45 / month plan as best for the situation described (300 daytime minutes, evenings weekends unlimited starting at 5 p.m.; 300 megabytes of data).

“You won’t have one of the newest, newest phones, but does she require the newest, newest phone and does she want to pay?” said the Virgin Mobile agent.

If you bring your own unlocked phone or a phone on Bell’s network: $36 / month (for 300 daytime minutes, unlimited evenings and weekends, 300 megabytes described above)

“If you want to invest in a big shiny phone or just a new phone, that’s the $400 difference. I have no problem recommending the 4S,” said the Virgin agent.

MOBILICITY  

Best plan base rate: $45 / month

Unlimited calls Canada-wide, to U.S. when in coverage (make unlimited calls as long as in your local coverage area)

Unlimited international text and picture messaging as long as in coverage area plus caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calling, voicemail

Roaming: 30 minutes included (outside coverage)

Data:  6 gigabytes per month. Access is unlimited, but if you use all 6GB in three weeks, the rest of the month’s access is slow until the new cycle starts.

iPhone 6: “We don’t sell iPhones.” But you can bring your own iPhone 5, 5S, 5C as those are the models known to be compatible with Mobilicity so far. (Information to come on iPhone 6).

Samsung Galaxy S5: Not available. Must visit Mobilicity store to see what phones they have and pricing (couldn’t offer pricing information on the phone).

Activation fee: None, but need to buy $20 SIM card.

No contract: You can cancel or change plans at any time.

PC MOBILE (powered by the Telus network)

Best plan base rate: $39 / month

500 daytime minutes Canada-wide

Unlimited evenings and weekend calls 5 p.m.-8 a.m.

Unlimited international texts, picture and video messaging

Unlimited U.S. calling add on: $10 / month

Calls to U.S. without add-on: $1.50 / minute

Data: 200 megabytes

iPhone 6: Not sold through PC Mobile; agent thought perhaps they would be by end of month. You can bring your own unlocked iPhone and use it with PC Mobile.

Samsung Galaxy S5: Not sold through PC Mobile, but they have S4 at $49.99. BUT since that’s a “newer phone,” they add $7 per month to make it a two-year plan. If you want to cancel, you pay the remainder of the phone’s cost.

If you bring your own unlocked phone: Monthly plan is 10 per cent off

Activation fee: None

Current promotion: Not for iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S5, but you get a President’s Choice gift card for new contract activations if you buy a Moto G ($125 gift card; $0 down), Nexus 5 ($75), or Samsung Ace II ($125; $0 down)


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© 2014 Shaw Media

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