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It’s no secret that Canadians pay more for their cell phone plans than those in other countries. Canadians pay an average of $101 per month for their cell phone bill. For more robust cell phone plans that include 10-49GB of data, Canadians pay about $227 per month, which is higher than the average costs for residents of Italy, Germany, France, the UK, the USA, Japan, and Australia. 

So why are phone plans so expensive in Canada and what can you do to lower your bill?

How To Save On Your Cell Phone Bills?

If you want to save on your cell phone bill, check out these tips.

1. BYOP – Bring Your Own Phone

By purchasing your own phone outright, you aren’t bound to a contract. This way, you don’t have to pay fees for switching to a better contract down the line, or for losing a phone that doesn’t belong to you. 

Although buying a phone can be costly, you can find good deals at used cell phone kiosks, as well as websites like eBay and Kijiji. 

While this option can potentially save you money down the line, it might not appear as cost-effective at first glance as contract phone plans. If you’re the type of person who generally does well with contracts, guides, and restrictions, you might prefer a set contract. If that’s the case, consider opting for shorter contracts to give you the flexibility to switch after a reasonable amount of time.

2. Seniors, Take Advantage Of Senior Plans And Discounts

When searching for phone plans, be sure to ask the carrier representative about senior plans and discounts. There may be plans that are specially designed for certain groups of people.

For example, Rogers agreed to several demands from the federal government in order to gain approval to acquire Shaw Communications Inc. One of the agreements Rogers made was to lower phone bills for low-income Canadians. 

As part of this deal, Rogers has created a plan for seniors (55+), starting from just $25 a month.

3. Set-Up Alerts For Data Usage

Data is one of the most expensive add-ons to a phone plan. An extra four gigabytes can cost you $10 to $20 depending on the provider. To avoid consuming more gigabytes than you have available, consider setting up alerts on your phone. Whether you are an iphone or Android user, you can set up a data usage warning. When you hit he set warming limit, you’ll receive a notification, which can help you better control your data usage. 

4. Don’t Upgrade Your Phone Too Soon

Sometimes cell service providers try to lure you in with a free phone 24 months into your contract. However, it’s usually never free. The cost of the phone is factored into your monthly payments, which can cost you an additional $20-$40 per month. 

Did you know that your smartphone can last 2-4 years? 2 years is the minimum, so upgrading after 2 years is often excessive. Wait it out—your phone can usually handle a bit more use. And when you’re ready to upgrade, don’t choose a brand new phone. Picking a used phone can save you even more money.

Not sure how much of your income you should be saving? Find out here.

5. Get A Prepaid Phone

Paying for your cell service in advance can save you extra fees at the end of your billing cycle. Prepaid plans also help you to be more mindful in your cell use, since you take extra care to use only what you’ve paid for. 

Remember though, prepaid cell phone services often have an expiry date. That means if you don’t use your service before the set date, you could waste part of your prepaid plan.

Looking to maximize your monthly savings? Check out our list of car insurance discounts to see if you qualify for any.

6. Compare Different Phone Providers And Negotiate

Universal sticker prices don’t exist anymore. Even the same product can vary widely in cost across competitors. That’s why it’s important to always compare before making any purchase, especially cell phone plans. 

Look up different cell phone providers and the plans they offer. And, compare different plans from the same cell phone provider. Are any plans similar to yours but with a lower price tag? Use this information to negotiate a better price with your current provider. Or, try to get more features and perks in your current plan for the same price. 

Additionally, cell phone plans change constantly. The plan you secured last year has likely already changed to a more attractive package. However, your cell phone provider certainly won’t inform you of that. It’s your job to take the initiative and do the research.

Remember, negotiating is usually easier if you’ve been a long-term customer of the cell service provider. If you find that you can’t negotiate a better deal, consider switching to a more attractive provider or plan when your current contract lapses. 

To up your price comparison game even more, find out which Canadian stores offer price matching.

7. Opt-Out Of The Warranty Or Insurance Protection

Since you likely use your cell phone regularly, it makes sense to protect it with insurance. Cell phone insurance ranges anywhere between $5 – $40 per month, along with a $100 deductible for premium plans. But, it’s important to assess whether the insurance you’re offered is actually worth it. Cell phone insurance covers a wide range of things, like:

  • Manufacturing Issues—if your phone has a defect due to a manufacturing issue, insurance usually covers it. 
  • Dead Battery—if your battery loses its ability to charge, many insurance plans cover the cost of switching out the battery for a new one. 
  • Damages—If you damage your phone, insurance protects some causes for that damage, such as water damage, breaking your phone by dropping it, damaging your charging port, etc. However, not all causes for damages are covered, so you need to read the fine print. 

Look at your insurance plan and consider how well it fits your lifestyle. If you’re careless and have a history of dropping phones but your insurance doesn’t cover that damage, you might be better off with a different plan, or no plan at all.

8. Get A Family Plan

Most businesses offer discounts for buying in bulk. That goes the same for cell phone service providers. Family plans let you purchase multiple phone plans with friends or family at a discounted rate. This is a great way to save money, almost $15 per month, per person, though that number can vary. 

Remember, make sure you only purchase family plans with people you trust. The last thing you want is to be on the hook for someone abusing their phone plan and hiking fees every month. 

Learn how to create a monthly budget to keep track of your expenses and savings.

Why Are Canadian Cell Phone Bills So High?

According to a study conducted by an independent telecom research firm, Canada ranked among the most expensive for wireless rates. Despite efforts from the Canadian government to reduce mobile plan prices, the lack of competition in Canada makes it stiff. 

Currently, there are three main companies in Canada (Rogers, Bell and Telus) that own the majority of providers. With such few sellers owning the majority of the market, it makes it hard for new competitors to enter the market and provide competitive pricing. 

Conclusion

Cell phone plans are always negotiable, as well as abundant! Be intentional with your cell phone use and review your costs per month to see if you can find room to save.

Cell Phone Bill FAQs

Can I trade in a phone that’s not paid off?

Policies regarding trade-ins differ based on the carrier or retailer. While some may factor in your phone’s remaining balance while calculating the trade-in value, other carriers will require to pay off the phone before being able to trade it in.

What is a 5G network?

5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology. 5G is offered by the big three providers in Canada: Rogers, Telus and Bell. It’s meant to provide better connectivity, speed, and lower latency.

Is it worth switching providers if I haven’t paid off my phone?

The answer heavily depends on whether the savings outweigh the cost of paying your phone outright. Similalrly, consider how long you’d be keeping the phone after paying it off. The longer you keep it, the more worth it becomes to pay if off early and switch to a cheaper plan.
Chrissy Kapralos avatar on Loans Canada
Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy is a Toronto-based communications advisor. With an English degree from the University of Toronto and editing courses under her belt from Ryerson University, she has continued her lifelong passion for writing and editing. In addition to working for Loans Canada on a variety of financial topics, Chrissy has a few years of resume writing and editing under her belt, and takes great pleasure in helping people find work that fits with their experience and passions. When she isn't working, you can find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her dog, reading up on financial and real estate news, or planning her next trip abroad.

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