US Travel and Canadian Cell Phones

If you do any travelling to the US and have used your Canadian cell phone while down there, I am sure you were a little shocked when you got back and used saw your next bill! Roaming in the US with a Canadian Cell phone is expensive! Here are some examples.
Rogers 1.70 per minute for Outgoing calls to Canada and the US, 1.20 per minute for incoming calls, local calls .95 Minute
Telus Mobility .95 per minute local, add .50 per minute for Long Distance
Bell Mobility .99 per minute Local, add .75 per minute for LD.

You can get packages monthly that have US calling included but they are also expensive, For example Rogers’ Digital One Rate for frequesnt US travellers is 85.00 per month for 300 minutes and it goes up to 330.00 per month for more time (remember this is your Canadian rate too). This works out to .28 per minute regardless of where you call from.

In our fairly large family (My parents, 3 sisters and their families) someone is going to the US quite often, about once every 2 months. There is a solution that we found that has worked quite well for us in the past couple of years!

In November 2004, my parents, my family and my sisters family got a steal on some airfares so we all went to Orlando to visit Disney World. One of the first things that we did when we were down there was purchase 4 Tracfones (a US pay as you go service) for 39.99 each. We then added airtime (30.00 for 120 minutes) and away we went. We were able to use the phones to talk to each other and make plans when we did individual things. January 2005 came around but this time the whole family went to Maui for a couple of weeks. Again we continued to add airtime to the phones but at least we were able to talk with them and saved ourselves loads of money on Cell phone bills.

Over the years when someone has gone to the states we take a couple of phones to call home and each other as well as make local calls and to receive calls form home. It has saved us considerable money.

We have run into a few glitches. Once all 4 phones had expired and we had to get new SIM cards for all. Luckily we have some relatives in the US so I had the cards shipped there first and then sent up to me. One of the phones also was shut off for too many international calls (back to Canada) and was flaggted as a security issue. This was solved by yet another SIM card replacement and then using a 10.00 AT&T calling card. Call the AT&T number first then make the long distance call. Tracfone has also solved this problem by offering their own free International Long Distance Number now.

Last May we added 400 minutes to each phone (as well as 1 year of activation) for 129.00 per phone. As well any artime now added get’s automatically doubled (120 minute card becomes 240 minutes). And yes the phones get used.

If Sysguy clients are planning on travelling to the US and would like to use our phones we are glad to make them available. The only cost would be to replace any time used with additional airtime cards (available almost anywhere in the US).

There are several Pay as You go services in the US and if you do travel there a fair bit I would highly recommend that you look into purchasing a couple of your own phones.


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  1. Pingback: Sysguy Consulting's Blog | Update for Canadians using Smartphones While Travelling in the US.

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