Choosing a cell phone plan

In general, there are two types of cell phone plan: post-paid and pre-paid. You will need to decide which option works best for you. Cell phone plans in Canada are quite expensive ($40-100 CAD, depending on included services).

Smart phone

Possibly. A cell phone from outside Canada must be Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) enabled and have an “unlocked” SIM card. This means the SIM card is not restricted to a service provider and can be removed or replaced. Call your current carrier (in your country) to ask whether your phone is GSM. You can also do research online to test it out yourself.

  1. Post-Paid Plans
  • Post-paid plans are the most common
  • You will sign a contract that establishes how much you’ll pay per month and the services included in your plan
  • The plan can be up to 2 years long
  • Plans can work with an existing phone (you would need to purchase a compatible sim card) or include purchase of a phone, in addition to services
  1. Pre-Paid Plans
  • Pre-paid plans usually require that you buy a SIM card to activate and pay for a certain number of minutes of services to use up
  • You would continue to buy minutes of services as you use them or need more
  • Pre-paid plans often work better for students who are in Canada for a shorter amount of time and require fewer services

In Canada, there are “the big three” cell-phone providers: Bell, Rogers, Telus, …

  • Tend to have more comprehensive plans
  • Might be more expensive
  • Tend to enforce contracts

There are also smaller providers: Koodo, Wind Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Freedom, …

  • Fewer plan options
  • More affordable cell phone plans
  • Do not enforce contracts
  1. Research on websites before you visit in-person
  2. Identify what services are important to you:
    • Data plans
    • Long-distance calling
    • Roaming plan or coverage across Canada or internationally
    • Voice minutes
    • Online billing or technical support
    • Compatibility with existing cell phone
  • Current Canadian address of residence (lease or rental agreement for your long-term accommodation)
  • Letter of Enrolment (download from your student centre)
  • Study Permit (if you have one)
  • Valid government-issued photo identification such as your passport
  • The provider may ask for your Social Insurance Number (SIN), you do NOT need to share this information with them. It is not required to set up a cell phone account.

To call long-distance from Canada, you must first enter 011, then the country code, then the area code and telephone number.

To call a local number, you only need to dial the area code and telephone number (10 digits in total). The UCalgary Student’s Union has a free phone located behind the information desk near International Student Services for local calls only (MSC 275).

In Calgary, local numbers may have the area code of 403 or 587.

403 (area code) 000-0000(telephone number)
1 (long distance) 587 (area code) 000-0000 (telephone number)

  • University of Calgary Campus Security or to request Safewalk: 403.220.5333
  • Emergency Services (24-hour Canada-wide emergency contact for fire, ambulance, police): 911
  • Health Link 24-hour free phone line for non-emergency health questions): 811
  • UCalgary Student Wellness Services: 403.210.9533
  1. Maps & Transit
  • Google Maps
  • Calgary Transit App
  • Transit
  • Uber
  1. Weather apps
  2. Translation Services
  3. UC Emergency
  4. Social Media App
  1. (Optional) Online Food & Grocery Order (you will be charged some extra fee for delivery)
  • SkiptheDishes
  • DoorDash
  • UBerEat
  • Instacart
  1. COVID-19 Contact Tracing App: ABTraceTogether

There are several providers near campus - shopping malls often have several providers in them, so you can talk with a few to see what meets your needs. You can check their websites first to learn about options before visiting.