Nowadays everyone seems to have a cell phone. I see plenty of young kids and even multiple homeless people chatting away on their mobile phones every day! My biggest complaint as a Canadian cell phone user is we get ripped off when compared to our neighbours in the USA, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. It seems as though the big 3 providers here (Rogers, Bell & Telus) have teamed up to control pricing so that we pay very high rates. Fortunately, we don’t have to! I have decided to write this article to share some of the ways Canadians can get their monthly rates to a more manageable level.

Pick Your Cellphone

iPhone – If your phone of choice is the iPhone unfortunately your saving potential drops quite significantly. You will only be able to use this phone with the big 3 providers and will therefore have to pay their rates. Luckily, there are some things you can do to lower the monthly cost but I will cover this in a dedicated section for your provider below.

Anything Else – If you aren’t as picky with your phone, you have a lot more options! In the past few years, 3 new companies have arrived to the Canadian mobile scene; Wind, Public Mobile and Mobilicity. Unlike the big 3, Wind, Public Mobile and Mobilicty all offer plans where you can get unlimited everything from as low as $40 per month. A comparable plan using any of the big 3’s posted rates would cost well over $100! Unfortunately there are some downsides to these companies. Unless you live in a large Canadian city, chances are you will not have the option to use their services as their towers are only set up in bigger cities. Lastly, their data speeds are often slower than those of the big 3. When it comes to saving money on your cell phone bill, you will quickly realize that you need to give up some things to get a real savings so it really just matters what things are most important to you.

Pick Your Provider

Here is a list of the most popular Canadian cell phone providers (in alphabetical order):

Bell – Canada’s oldest phone company and probably the 2nd largest wireless provider behind Rogers.

Chatr – A subsidiary of Rogers. Their “chatr zone” coverage is artificially limited to match the coverage of Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity.

Fido – Fido Solutions was acquired by Rogers in 2004 and is currently Rogers closest thing to a discount provider. I will explain the differences between the two a bit better below.

Koodo Mobile – A subsidiary of Telus, Koodo was launched to compete with discount cellular providers like Mobilicity, Public Mobile and Wind.

Manitoba Telecom Services – Canada’s 4th largest mobile services provider that offers cell phone plans within the province of Manitoba only.

Mobilicity – As mentioned above, Mobilicity is a discount cellular provider with over 200,000 subscribers. They have their own network which was built in 2009 and is maintained by Ericsson. They also have a sharing agreement to utilize the Bell network.

Public Mobile – Launched in 2010, Public Mobile is a discount wireless provider with approximately 200,000 subscribers. Public users a CDMA network and has partnered with Bell and Telus to provide roaming services in Canada.

Rogers – Canada’s largest wireless provider.

Solo Mobile – A subsidiary of Bell Canada that was originally launched to compete with other discount cellular providers. Solo Mobile no longer takes new customers and has been replaced by Virgin Mobile.

Telus – Canada’s 3rd largest wireless provider.

Videotron – Offers wireless services for Quebec as well as some parts of Eastern Canada.

Virgin Mobile -Launched March 1 2005 as a joint venture between Virgin Group and Bell Canada. Virgin has since replaced Solo Mobile as Bell Canada’s discount cellular provider.

Wind Mobile – Canada’s 5th largest mobile operator with over 500,000 subscribers. Wind is best known for their low prices


Save Money With Your Current Provider:
Getting Retention Plans

Just because Bell, Rogers, Telus and their subsidiaries post a rate, doesn’t mean that it is their best available rate! If they think you might jump to one of their competitors they will often offer you a much better plan in hopes of getting you to stay. These rates are typically not offered by the regular customer service department, so you will need to speak directly with their retentions department. The best strategy is to tell them you want to switch to Wind or Mobilicity (even if you have no intention of doing so) because you are paying too much with them and they have much better rates. They are going to say everything they can about how much better they are than those other companies so just be ready to say you are fine with that, or do research on some facts you can rebuttal with. If all goes smoothly, you should be able to negotiate a better plan and save some money on your current monthly bill. If they really don’t want to budge, then it may be time to actually make the switch to a company with better pricing.

Before calling I suggest you read the guides below on how you can negotiate these better rates through the retentions department, as well as see some examples of what some of the current customers are getting at each company:

Bell Retention Plans

Here are some tips by members on on how to get a retention plan with Bell Mobility and some examples of plans that current customers have managed to receive.

Fido Retention Plans

Here are some tips by members on on how to get a retention plan with Fido and some examples of plans that current customers have managed to receive.

Rogers Retention Plans

Here are some tips by members on on how to get a retention plan with Rogers Wireless and some examples of plans that current customers have managed to receive.

Telus Retention Plans

Here are some tips by members on on how to get a retention plan with Telus Mobility and some examples of plans that current customers have managed to receive.

Rogers vs. Fido

Here are some of the key differences between Fido and Rogers:
Network – I am still trying to determine if Rogers and Fido use the same network. I have heard that Rogers phones have better coverage than Fido but haven’t been able to prove this. If anyone can confirm this please leave a comment below.
Fido Dollars – Fido offers Fido Dollars which rewards you for your usage and Rogers does not have this.
Handset Protection – Rogers offers this, while Fido does not.
Phone Selection – Rogers has a larger phone selection
Customer Service – From my experience and hearing my girlfriend’s experience with Fido, I think the advantage goes to Rogers here.
Perks – Rogers customers have more perks including special lines at concerts and the ability to purchase tickets on their phones through their UrMusic service.
Pricing – Fido wins when it comes to better pricing on their mobile plans.


Other Tips To Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

Adjusting Your Current Plan -If you are constantly going over your daytime minutes, then change your plan! Going over allotted minutes will cause you to pay very high rates. Study your bills and see where you are paying too much and adjust it accordingly. Alternatively, if you aren’t using anywhere near your allotted minutes maybe you need to change your plan to a less expensive one.

Use a Data App Instead of Minutes – If your phone plan has lots of data but only a few minutes at other times there are several apps that will allow you to make calls or send messages (save on text messages) to your friends. Some of the most popular ones are Skype, Fring, Tango, Dell Voice, Viber, Qik, Whatsapp (messages only) and Yahoo Messenger. Find the app that works best for you!

Long Distance – Firstly, never pay your cell phone provider’s long distance rates. You will always be better off buying a phone card. If you make a lot of long distance calls and have a good data plan on your phone, you have lots of options to save money. I recommend using an app like Skype or Dell Voice (as mentioned above) for making all your long distance calls. You use your phone just as you normally would, but instead of using your minutes your phone now uses your data plan. Both of these apps have options for calling anywhere in the world for a low price too! Dell Voice offers free long distance anywhere in Canada too!

Roaming – If you are travelling outside of Canada either shut your phone off completely or take a look at this post I wrote about travelling with your cell phone. Roaming rates are ridiculous and can cause your bill to skyrocket!

Wi-Fi – If you don’t have a huge data plan, then be sure to turn wi-fi on whenever possible. This way it doesn’t cost you a dime to use!