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How to Save on U.S. Mobile Roaming Charges – Tips for Canadian Cross Border Shoppers and Travelers

Tired of paying a fortune for roaming and long distance charges when you travel to the U.S.? Avoid the outrageous rates charged by Canadian cell phone carriers with SIM cards and phone plans designed exclusively for Canadians visiting the United States.

U.S. roaming SIM card services can help you significantly reduce your U.S. roaming and long distance charges and are great for:

  • Making and receiving calls within the United States
  • Making and receiving calls to and from Canada while you are in the United States
  • Staying in touch with your travel companions while you are in the U.S.
  • Checking your email, sending texts and using the internet

Roaming SIM Cards vs. Canadian Carrier Roaming Packages:

Unlike most Canadian cell phone carriers that force you to purchase expensive roaming packages with a limited number of minutes that you may never use, mobile roaming SIM cards offer affordable pricing for only $3 - $5 per day. Plans usually include unlimited roaming and long distance in the U.S. and to Canada from the U.S. and more data than you would ever need to check your emails and use the internet. SIM cards also offer flexibility that you can't get from Canadian cell phone carriers, allowing you to activate the card only on days when you need it.

U.S. Mobile Roaming SIM Card Tips:

It’s important to remember that not all mobile roaming SIM cards are created equal. While there are multiple SIM cards on the market, ease of use, customer service and other considerations can vary greatly from company to company. When choosing a Canada – U.S. mobile roaming SIM card, make sure you do your research, compare services and consider the following:

  • Pricing: Most SIM card roaming services are competitively priced, but it’s always good to make sure the price of the SIM card you plan on using is in line with other services. Standard costs generally involve the one time purchase of a SIM card for $10 - $20 plus talk, text and data on an as needed basis for $3 - $5 per day.​
     
  • Features: Again, most mobile roaming SIM card features are similar across providers, but here are the features you should look for, at a minimum:
    • Unlimited phone calls within the U.S. and to Canada from the U.S.
    • Unlimited text messages within the U.S and to Canada from the U.S.
    • At least 200 MB of data
    • Voicemail
  • Ease of Use: Some roaming SIM cards are easier to set up and use than others. Before you decide on a SIM card, check the service provider’s set up instructions and make sure they are clear, simple and easy to follow. You should also make sure the process for adding time to your plan is fast and easy. You may want to look for online reviews to see if other people who have used the service found it easy or frustrating.
     
  • Quality: Make sure the SIM card service is partnered with a reputable U.S. cell phone carrier that provides quality coverage across the U.S.
     
  • Customer Service: This is a big one. If there is an issue with your SIM card, you should be able to contact your service provider for help. Ideally they will have a toll free customer service number for you to call, and at a very minimum, they should offer assistance through live online chat.

Alternate U.S. Mobile Roaming Solutions

You may want to consider alternative options to save on U.S. roaming charges if any of the following apply to you:

  • You don’t want to swap the SIM card in your Canadian mobile phone every time you travel to the U.S.
  • You visit the U.S. frequently
  • You are planning an extended trip to the United States

For individuals who fall into these categories, there are companies that allow you purchase or rent inexpensive mobile phones with dedicated U.S. phone numbers that include flexible, inexpensive U.S. mobile roaming plans for Canadians.