I’ve been a Rogers cell phone customer for over 10 years.  Up until last month, everything was great.  I had  a robust plan for a value price, mostly due to negotiating with their customer retentions department on an annual basis.  I had 250 minutes, unlimited rogers to rogers, unlimited after 6pm, unlimited text/picture messages, 100  long distance minutes and caller ID/voice mail – all for $30/month everything in.  As it was our primary cell phone with relatively heavy use, it was a plan that worked for us.

However, when I changed careers in 2009, the new company offered me a smart phone, which meant that our regular cell phone faced significantly reduced minutes.  Even still, the 10 year old phone number was widely known among friends/family and the monthly fee wasn’t unbearable.  Heck, the long distance minutes came in handy as we don’t have free long distance on our home line.

But everything changed once I received a Rogers bill that more than doubled my monthly rate.  No longer was $60+/mo worth it for a regular cell phone without data!  So what did I do?  I called customer retentions to negotiate a new deal like I’ve done for many years prior.  The first offer was a similar plan for a few dollars more, but I had to sign up for 3 years.  That didn’t work for me as being in a long term contract really kills the ability to negotiate for a better deal.  I told the rep that I’d think about it and call back with any questions.

By this point, I’m a bit discouraged as I normally close a deal with Rogers with a single call.  But I decided to swallow my pride and call back again to see if they can offer me a better deal.  Second time around, the offer was even worse with a higher monthly rate and again, a long term deal.  As I hung up the phone, I decided that it was time to switch providers.  Something with more flexibility for low usage, likely something like a prepaid wireless plan.

As mentioned, the phone is now for occasional use, which pushes the “pay by the minute” plans into contention.  What sweetens the deal is that the prepaid wireless plans typically include caller ID and voicemail, two features that we consider essential.  After going back into my article comparing the various prepaid wireless options, we decided that PC Mobile fits our situation the best.

Compared to other prepaid plans, PC Mobile offered the lowest minute rate in addition to the option of buying a $100 prepaid card for a full year usage.  Most other plans require a top up every so often throughout the year, but having the ability to use a phone for the year for one price was a big plus.  As luck would have it, Loblaws was having a promotion on their phones along with offering tax free on everything in store.  We received a $20 coupon on any phone so the $100 phone went for $80 taxes included and a $100 tax free phone card to boot.

Our plan includes $0.20 per minute, $0.15 per outgoing text (incoming is free), free caller ID and voicemail and one year calling card for $100.  Providing that we don’t go over 500 minutes in a year, the cost averages out to be $15/month in year one, and $8.33/month in year two and three for a total cost of $380 over three years.  If I were to stick with Rogers, the cost would have been $1,080 over the next three years not including the fact that I needed a new phone.  Essentially cutting our wireless bill by more than half.  For the occasional cell phone user, prepaid plans are hard to beat!

So that’s my story. Which wireless provider are you with?  How much do you pay per month?

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I went with pay per use by buying the $100 buckets up front, for our two cell phones. Savings – $60 a month or $720 a year. That’s part of a vacation south in the winter. I put the savings aside in an account so I don’t spend it. Loving how much the vacation fund grows.

Anybody considering prepaid for occasional use phones should really look at SpeakOut offered through 7-11. Google ‘speakout canada’ for the web page. It is actually just a prepaid service piggy-backing on the Rogers network that *happens* to have an exclusive deal to sell the phones/SIM cards through 7-11.

The key feature here is when you buy minutes they are good for 365 days before expiring. So if a $25 air time voucher lasts you one year, then your cellphone costs you $25 per year. Personally, I use about $50 per year right now.

If you are already a Rogers customer, it’s a no brainer, your existing phone even works, just get a new SpeakOut SIM card and pop it in your existing phone, and porting your number is free and easy.

I switched from Bell to Speakout a little over a year ago.

With Virgin Mobile. We too have a $100 annual top up. We use about 1/2 of that each year. But if we were to get the $50 option we’d have to top up 4 times a year to the tune of $200.

The phone is ancient – a little tank I like to call it. Thing is, it gets 2 bars coverage at my cottage while my Rogers’ using friends get no bars. Even our 2nd Virgin phone (newer, sleeker, flip top) that I actually let expire this past spring barely gets 1 bar.

I paid $60 for this phone 8 years ago. Pretty sure it has been a decent little investment.

My employer pays for my phone, it’s a BlackBerry Bold (latest version) and I think the monthly cost is $83 with Bell. I wouldn’t have that plan if I had to pay for it myself.

For my wife’s smart phone we pay $63/month for an unlimited data plan and a “my 5” type calling plan. That’s with TELUS.

We have a lot of friends/family using BlackBerry and we like the BBM feature. We don’t have a landline, so $63/month is all we pay for phone service.

I use Rogers Pay-As-You-Go. The two primary factors that led me to choose Rogers:
1. $100 voucher is good for a year.
2. Data can be purchased for $2 per 24 hrs. or 25MB OR $7 per 7 days or 125MB.

The cost per minute sounds similar to PC — $0.25/minute for the first 5 minutes in a given day, then it drops to $0.15/minute for the rest of the day. Caller ID and voicemail is also free (voicemail does cost regular airtime rates for both the leaving of messages AND retrieval of mesasges though).

I have a smartphone, but almost never need data coverage as I’m usually at home or work with Wifi. The daily/weekly data pass option is nice for occasional use out and about.

@Steve: Do you know if the 7-11 speakout has the same data options as Rogers as well?

It takes a PhD to figure out and compare cell phone plans. I hate the frustration every time we have to look at cell phones.

If you’re technically sharp, I’ve seen ways where you can do stuff with VOIP and cell phones. i.e. instead of calling long distance on your cell, you call your voip phone and dial out through your voip system. That way charges go to voip instead of cell.

I’ve got a friend in the US who does something similiar with his business phones. All his staff have iphones that have some sort of app that lets them route all their calls through the office voip phone. The end result is that their cell phones act as extensions of the office phone, for cheap. I was in NYC and watched him dial his office in New Jersey then call an extension, and his staff member’s cell phone sitting beside us rang – all somehow at no charge.

Personally though, my only technique is to not lock into a contract. I see more competition on the horizon and I don’t want to be locked in for 3 years when it gets here.

I joined PC Mobile last September after I got sick of working with MTS in Manitoba. I was paying around $50 a month for a phone which I thought was just too much since I usually only text on it and receive the occasional call. Now I’m signed up for the $25/month plan with PC which works for me much better. I also converted my wife over in December, she was paying about $60/month and now is down to $25/month.

Have you also considered Public Mobile’s $15 Unlimited Plan? It would’ve worked out to be similiar but with no other fees nor minutes to worry about.

Atleast in the GTA region, it’s rock solid.

I have an iPhone through Telus and found the same difficulty with my negotiations, though it was because it was the highly coveted iphone and they seem like they hold the upper hand when it comes to negotiations.

It costs me $56 a month incl. HST for 500MB data (sufficient if you have home internet), 300 min day time, free after 6pm and on weekends, unlimited text messaging, caller iD and 3 voice mail.

I lost my 100 long distance minutes (really tried to hold on to that one, but couldn’t).

I used to pay $28 a month without data, though I’m really happy with the data and think it’s “worth it” for the higher monthly expenses.

Pay as you go is a good idea if you have a work phone. So did you end up losing your number? I thought most cell phone companies pay for the transfer of the number for you?

I agree with you saying that an “occasional” phone works well with these pay as you go plans, but being of a generation where i dont have a home phone anymore, i think a negotioated contract is the way to go. I’ve been with Telus for some time now, and after some harder bargining about 6 months ago, i was able to get 300 day mins, free evenings after 6pm, free weekends, call id, voice mail 10, unlimited txt messages, 6gb of data(which is more than i need), and nationwide 10(so i can call 10 long distance numbers unlimited through out all of canada). Works well for me and i pay $65 after taxes. While i hate signing onto contracts for 3 years, i really felt this one was worth it.

@ Returns Reaper Thanks! I didn’t know Rogers pay-as-you-go did that! I’ve been thinking of upgrading to an iPhone, and would only need a data package occasionally. I’ll have another look.

@ FrugalTrader Thanks for posting this topic! I found the information and the comments to be very helpful.

I have a plan (no contract) with WIND Mobile which incluses:

*Unlimited local calling without zone restriction
*Unlimited North America long distance*
*Unlimited International/Canada text
*Unlimited North America Picture messenging
*Unlimited Data
*Voice mail
*Caller ID, Call Forwarding, Call waiting, 3 way calling
All for $40.00 per month

After being on Rogers for almost 10 years, I decided to bite the bullet and switch over to one of the new providers, Mobilicity. When I joined, they were offering unlimited minutes (including North America Long Distance), SMS, and data for $360/year ($30/month), which costs less then what I was paying on Rogers.

Yes, there are issues with Mobilicity (mostly coverage and the fact you have to get a phone for full price that works with them), and only limited to the major cities in Canada, but I feel it is worth it as there are no contracts, and you can leave whenever you want. The service is like Fido when they first started. Give them some time and you won’t regret it.

I have Rogers right now, because I use my husband’s old hand-me-down Blackberry (he has a newer one, through his employer) and we use BBM all the time. I don’t have a contract. After struggling with Telus a number of years ago, I will never sign another cell phone contract. I pay $65 (after tax & fees), which I consider to be too much based on what I get, but I’m on the smallest phone plan with the smallest Blackberry add-on. I don’t get caller ID, voicemail, or anything else, which is a huge pain because every single call says “caller unknown”.
I plan on switching to WIND as soon as it launches here in KW/Guelph (August or September).

I pay $60 taxes incl. for:

-Unlimited minutes
-500mb data
-unlimited picture/video text
-unlimited text
-unlimited international text
-All calling features (call display, waiting, …etc)

This packaged was achieved through years of hard negotiating…It’s one of the best plans out there.
The service provider is with FIDO

I also changed over to the 7-11 Speakout phone and am very happy with it. I really like that the minutes don’t expire for a year. I don’t use it very much, so it’s perfect for me.

I am with Verizon. I have the family plan, 700 shared minutes. We have no land line and Verizon gives us a 18% discount because I work for the school district. My net bill is Approx $69 per month.

I think I got lucky with the mistake of the retention rep to have a deal like mine.

I was originally supposed to have the same plan with Rogers as FT for the same price which is 30$.
However, the rep made a mistake and gave it to me for 20$ +tax and fee for a total of 23.08$.

I couldn’t be happier than now with that price since its my main phone and it comes out soo cheap with all the addons I have!

I hope when my contract ends Ill be able to keep this plan.

P.S.: I was able to get the Xperia X10 at the time without getting the data plan for the cheap price of 100$ when it was 150$ with data plan! :)

I am in a similar boat. I have a smart phone provided by the office and I keep a pre-paid phone as mine. I have Rogers with a 100$ pre-paid card for one year. I had the phone from about 6 years ago and I did not feel like changing.

I could simply get rid of it though … but it’s a matter of managing the phone number since my office phone is relatively new.

My wife is on a pre-paid phone as well.

I hate seeing my wife’s bill for her plan. (> $60 month).

I would consider PC Mobile. Would they work with an unlocked phone?

Never owned a cell phone myself. The comparison shopping, negotiating etc. is a major drag. Even if get a good deal, costs still add up. Getting along just fine without one — simplifies life not to be constantly “on call” or compulsively texting and checking emails.

With Fido.

$50 unlimited local calling, unlimited txt msg to Canada/USA, unlimited Canada/USA long distance
$10 call display and voicemail
$30 6 GB data

$90 a month is a lot of money, but I am a pretty heavy user.

My wife and I have one cell phone between us. We hardly ever use it. It’s a 7-11 Speakout that I usually put $100 a year on, mostly for use when on vacations. Other people we know spend hundreds per month on iPhones and usually laugh when they see our text-unfriendly Nokia. But then I see the wheels turning in their minds when I tell them we make about four calls per month and what they cost.

7-Eleven Speakout would have been a good plan except there’s no 7-11 store anymore in Ottawa. We are with Rogers pay-as-you-go and $100 voucher for a year works well so far for us (our first year with Rogers pay-as-you-go will expire by early August this year).

We plan to stay with Rogers pay-as-you-go and get a $100 voucher next month. The other service providers (eg. PC Mobile, Petro Mobility) offer similar rates and we can continue using the Rogers SIM card.

For PC Mobile and Petro Mobility, I think you buy the vouchers from Independent/Loblaws/Superstore and Petro Canada gas stations respectively. You may want to factor in how convenient it is for you to get these vouchers when you need them. But then they probably all offer preauthorized payment plans to automatically top up when you are running out of credits.

@Elizabeth: The downside to pay as you go with a smart phone is that you have to buy the phone. So you’re probably looking at around $600 vs. maybe $99 with a contract. But I probably save around $40 per month with my usage pattern on pay as you go, so over 3 years that’s almost $1500. It makes paying for the phone up front well worth it in my mind.

Also when you buy the phone, you have the option of purchasing an unlocked phone, giving you the freedom to switch to other providers if terms change. I believe iPhones purchased from Apple’s webstore are unlocked. I bought a Google Nexus One over a year ago from the google webstore, which was shutdown since. I know people who have purchased unlocked Nexus S phones from either Best Buy or Future Shop. For some reason the unlocked Fido Nexus S is less expensive than the unlocked Nexus S phones from other providers.

I am with Rogers.

$20/month + Fee (about $2.50)
250 min incoming 250 outgoing
Unlimited evenings and weekends at 6:00pm
Unlimited text messaging
Voice mail
Caller Id
Per second billing after the first minute
$0.07/min Canada long distance

Additional $30/month was required for 6GB data plan the iPhone so total is about $53/month plus 12% HST.

I tried in vain to get Bell to match this plan but after 4 phone calls no success so switched to Rogers. It took over 4 months to get a refund from Bell and several more phone calls and emails. Customer service needs to happen even after cancelling service if they have any hope of switching me back in the future.

At home we purchased a Vtech Bluetooth capable cordless phone so if our cell phones are within range we can use our ‘home’ phone anywhere in our apartment while the cell phone is charging or syncing.

I switched to Speakout awhile back and when Ottawa did not have any more 7/11 stores, I just asked my family in Toronto or London to buy me a top-up card and email me the activation code. Or I buy it when I travel to Toronto every few months. So again its a non-issue.

Both my wife and I are with Koodo. No contact and…

500 MB data,
Free Koodo to Koodo calling,
50 minutes,
50 text messages,
Unlimited BBM

2 phones with voicemail for $100/month.

Wish I got in this discussion before everyone. Frugal, I am sorry you went with PC mobile as they double charged me during a top up and then deleted all my minutes when I disputed. However, they would not take off the double charge on my CC, just only one. So I complained and it did nothing. The customer service from teenagers took offence to my situation, believing that “PC Mobile” could never make such a mistake. I even wrote a letter to the president of PC mobile and nothign was done.

So, I did a charge back on the credit card it was charged. Get this, a PC Mastercard.” PC Mastercard” then took the charge off of “PC Mobile.” Too bad “PC Mobile” could not fix their own mistake.

So then I became bitter against them and dropped them faster than a hot potato.

I am now with 7-11 speak out wireless. Their cards expire in 365 days unlike pc moble making you buy more every month. So 7-11 is actually cheper for me. For minor usage, I don’t think any providor can beat 7-11 speak out wireless. They run on the Roger’s network.

I found out about this on Redflagdeals, a group of the cheapest people on internet. I turst them, becaues it’s true.

in 6 months, I have spend $84.75 cents on cell phone minutes for speakout wireless. This involves useage of going through 3 tenants and needing it to communicate for working a second job on renos/construction sites.

So it’s costed me $14.12 cents per month for six monts and I still have minutes left.

ALso for the record, Vergin mobile has a $100 card that expries 365 days. That’s what my wife uses.

I have cell service from several European carriers (even though I live in Canada). I pay $0 a month. They only charge me when I actually use the service. Shocking, I know. I have no need for cell service when I’m in Canada, since I’m almost always near a land line and/or wifi. If not, it’s because I’m camping and don’t want to be reached. I also have no need for Canadian carriers’ insane roaming rates. When I’m travelling and I do need to be connected, I pay about $2 a day for unlimited wireless broadband, or $10 a week or $40 a month. On the rare occasion that I need voice, I use the broadband to call through voip.ms at half a cent a minute. If I needed cell service in Canada, I’d get Speakout.

You definitely made a good move FrugalTrader. Prepaid is the way to go if you are anything close to a light user. Putting a smart phone on prepaid is even better because you can then use WiFi to get data on it most of the time and still pay like $8.50/mth (amortized over the year). You can even get a half-decent data plan with President’s Choice Telecom or use their decent pay per use data rate of $0.15/MB.

It used to be that only a select few (7-11 Speakout, President’s Choice, and Petro Canada) had $100 365 day expiry top up cards. But more prepaid providers now offer this including Rogers and I think Virgin and Bell as well. I think Telus is still stuck in the past though.

@Returns Reaper
Smart phones don’t have to be expensive. You can buy a used unlocked one for about $100. Or you can get one cheap from Koodo and then just cancel after a few months (no contract) and put it on whatever plan you want. Sure it is locked, but any dummy can unlock a phone (it involves typing in a number on the keypad – that’s it) and it costs $3 on Ebay to get the code.

When Koodo had their special on the LG Optimus One P500H smart phone (it’s an amazing phone for the price) I managed to get it for the equivalent of $50 + tax. I plan to put it on either President’s Choice or Petro Canada soon.

Wind Mobile is hands down the best among cell phone providers a tleast in GTA. I pay just $25 for unlimited plan
*No Contract. Pay as you go
* Subsidized phones with some Quad band phones which they will unlock after 3 months. I paid $80 for phone which typically retails for $120
* No activation Fee
* No System Fee (This used to be extortion by Rogers, Bell, Fido etc)
* Unlimited incoming calls
*Unlimited local and national calling without zone restriction
*Unlimited North America long distance*
*Unlimited International/Canada text
*Unlimited North America Picture messaging
*Voice mail
*Caller ID, Call Forwarding, Call waiting, 3 way calling
* Great reception and voice quality

Similar plan with Fido used to cost me $65/month. For $10 more I can get unlimited data.

Does anyone know Where I can buy a 100$ PC phone card from? I am in Alberta and all I can find is 15 and $25 cards

We use Virgin Mobile PrePaid. Phone was $50, then use $100 top up valid for a year…..by the end of the year we have about $30 left….bought a couple of ring tones. It’s our emergency use cell. When I bought my parents an emergency use cell, I hadn’t heard of the 7-11 one….that would have been best for them. Instead I got them the Virgin one.

My problem now…..kid’s going into grade 9. Figured we’d get him a phone for high school — told him we’d give him $50 for a phone, and $100 for a year of billing. He’s got a flyer route, so if he wants to upgrade, he can. Problem is, what type of a phone and plan to get him?!?!? His friend has unlimited talk & text — phone was Nokia 6C, plan looks like $35/month (who knows what the data fees are). That’s too rich for us…..even he says that’s too much. He’s getting a stupid phone, as the smart phones are too expensive (cool, but too much). But the “cheap” plans aren’t that great….$15/month for 50 minutes & 50 texts with Fido/Koodoo/Virgin. I’ve heard horror stories of texting fees…the best I’ve found so far is $18/month with SaskTel for unlimited texting and 50 minutes. I’m looking everywhere…..but for a non-emergency phone, cell phone plans suck!

I would recommend Moblicity with their $25 unlimited voice and $35 unlimited voice & data. You cannot get a better rate. The only problem is their poorer wireless coverage. That is why I am staying with Rogers until they fix it. =)

We were with AT&T for the longest time, and just this year we decided to finally switch companies, we opted to go with T-mobile as their prices looked much better compared to what we were paying. Ironic how one month afterwords AT&T was buying out T-mobile. We have a family plan, and hopefully we wont see too much change in our monthly bill in the near future, we pay around 110 dollars per month for a total of 4 lines, which also comes with a texting plan.


Again, my recommendation is to go for Public Mobile in Toronto region. The reception is perfect and you literally pay $15 + HST for Unlimited Province Wide Calls.

It is definitely not uncommon to experience the MEGA frustration associated with negotiating a cell phone deal with the big cell phone conglomerates!…

Since realistically there is such an wide variation in cell phone pricing plans, I decided to set up a website called Dealboasters (smartphone edition) to give those premier negotiators out there a forum to boast about their best hard fought negotiated cell phone deals. In turn, everyone else can have a frame of reference to help in the dreaded re-negotiation process! Please drop in to share your incredible cell phone plan negotiation stories…After all, inquiring minds (especially those who are paying through the nose for their own plans) want to know!

I had the exact same situation with Telus. Except that I am still shopping for a new provider and zeroed in on Sears Connect and PC. Also, I have to agree that the prepaid offers the best deal if you don’t use your phone a lot. My experience with Telus customer relations was similar to yours with Rogers. However, I have to add that in the past i was able to negotiate more successfuly. I guess they started to not care very much about existing customers

Finally I gave Rogers the middle finger =)

First I tried Mobilicity but their coverage is still pretty poor.

Now I am using WIND Mobile with $29 plan I get unlimited calls, text and data. With my wife we get $5 off the total bill.

Coverage is very good except a few spots that I occasionally come across.

The data speed rivals Rogers and I have no problems.

Recommend WIND to everyone

My head hurts finding a plan for our two smart phones. We are moving back to Canada from France. I have to say that France is known for making simple things complicated (they move paper and mail for the most trivial of administrative tasks that Canadian institutions do electronically or over the phone). However, when it came to choosing smart phone plans we signed up with a company called Free.fr (I think a subsidiary of Orange?) for a flat 22 euro a month and end up with unlimited everything… unlimited talk time to any mobile or landline in France, unlimited texts, unlimited data, unlimited long distance calling to mobiles and landlines in 40+ countries (including back to Canada/USA/UK). I must say I miss that simple flat fee for a plan that is a no-brainer. Looking at Canadian plans now and my head is spinning.

I pay $8.30 per month for my cell phone with no contract. This includes Voice Mail, Call Display, Call Forwarding, 3-Way Calling & Incoming Text Messages. Per minute rates are .20c each.

For me, this is by far the best way to go as I hate contracts.

I bought the phone (LG Smart Phone w/Android) on sale for $60. The battery lasts several days. I unlocked the phone so that I could put it on any carrier at any time. This is in keeping with my anti-contract/lock-down philosophy.

I buy my minutes in $100 chunks which last me all year. Hence the $8.30 per month cost.

So my annual cost is, literally, $100. Minutes last 365 days and if I top up at the end of the year all the remaining minutes (usually quite a few) roll over to the next year. In addition, each year I stay with them they award bonus minutes on an increasing scale.

I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine line and it’s a fixed cost. No contract, no nothing and unused minutes are rolled over at $100 per year.

Who am I with?

President’s Choice (aka SuperStore/Loblaws)

Rogers is the worst company and be careful they will tap your phone. This is not a joke and it happened to a lot of people without realizing it.