cell phone service for Canadian snowbirds

Cell Phone Service for Canadian Snowbirds


Cell phone service for Canadian Snowbirds is an interesting topic!!

cell phone service for Canadian snowbirds
Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s also a frustrating topic. Arranging cell phone coverage that doesn’t break the bank, is reliable and flexible seems to be quite the challenge.  Below are copies of messages I have received asking for information and I know there are many more with similar questions.

Hi Carolann
My husband and I travel to the states for 3 months traveling thru California, Arizona and New Mexico.
We purchased a BC made US sim card which was a big disappointment where we were traveling.
I am wondering about about buying a second US phone with Verizon so that I have decent data and connection.
I would keep my cdn smart phone
This would be expensive but I am so frustrated with connecting other than the library.
Any suggestions would be appreciatedI sent out requests to a number of my RV friends to see what they have been using for cell phone coverage when they are traveling in the U.S.  



My wife !and will become full time RVers by end-Feb 2016. Staying ‘connected’ is vital for both of us and I’ve read past articles you have written on wifi solutions for an RV but I’m hoping you may have uncovered some recent technology that will provide good wireless connectivity in a 5th Wheel and doesn’t cost a fortune. What is the best solution for strengthening the WiFi signal that is provided by many RV parks…one that will work both in Canada and the US? Here’s hoping you have a silver bullet! Many thanks.

As you can tell having reliable inexpensive methods of communication is vital!  This includes cell phone coverage as well as internet connections.

So… what I have done which is what I usually do when faced with these types of questions I approach the RV community and see how others have solved the problem.

One such reader wrote in regards to cell phone service for Canadian Snowbirds:

We have tried adding US plan to our existing Canadian cell service, however, found that it was more expensive and wasn’t great for our US friends who had to pay long distance charges to call us. We made the decision to have US cell #’s.

Canadian carriers now seem to be offering better roaming rates, however, the Arizona phone # is something we like to have. I have used T Mobile pay as you go for several years and have found it to be satisfactory. T Mobile doesn’t have the coverage of Verizon, however, it works great along the I5corridor we travel to get to Arizona and works fine in the large Arizona centres.

Verizon is not “as friendly” to Canadians because you can not setup an account and pay for minutes using a Canadian credit card.

With T Mobile I set up an account on line and pay for minutes before I head south; I have retained the same phone number for several years and I have found this to be a “good thing”. I paid $100 the first time I activated the account and this kept the number active for the entire year. Now all I do is go to my online account and add minutes (usually around $30.00 for the winter). With Verizon if you want to retain the same phone # you can purchase cards before leaving the States and put them on your online account every three months but we found this to be a “PITA” so dropped Verizon.

This year I switched my wife to Roam Mobility, Canadian(BC) company with an agreement with T Mobile. We purchased a three month snowbird plan and had absolutely no problems with it.The plan was unlimited talk and text for I think $30.00 per month. The bonus for us with this plan is that it allowed us to call home as part of the plan and we retain the US number if we purchase another plan for next winter. This didn’t include data as I purchased a separate data only plan from Roam for my Roam Mobility hot spot.

For us,retaining the same phone number is a plus because our US friends are able to contact us as soon as we cross the border. You might want to check out the Roam web site and even contact them for more information. As I mentioned we were pleased with the service and did not run into the common problem of getting a whole “bunch” of unwanted calls for the person who previously had the number. You can chose the area code so we picked the one for Tucson as we spend most of our winter there. We sign no contracts; both carriers I have a pay as you go account and I set it up for phones to be active as soon as we cross the border. Net 10/10; Cricket, AT&T are other carriers I know that Canadians use; there are probably more.


And another email:  

Using Roam mobility on my wife’s old unlocked smart phone;snowbird three month plan with data. I use T-Mobile pay as you go as I have done for many years. Advantage with Roam is you can call home; unlimited calling back to Canada is a good thing for us as is having a US phone #. The US phone # means our American friends can call us and it doesn’t cost them long distance if we were using an add-on roaming plan to our 250 numbers of our Cnd. cells. Use wifi in parks, however, they are unreliable so have data component with Roam.

Verizon seems to be the cell phone company of choice for most of the RVers I spoke with although they have changed some of the policies recently which has created problems for some Canadians.  Read more.

What do you use for cell phone coverage when traveling south?  Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Carol Ann

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