Are you planning your trip to Canada and looking for an e-sim card to stay connected? Don't waste money on high roaming charges when traveling to Canada. This is a complete guide with everything you need to know before buying an e-sim card for traveling to Canada in 2024.

In this guide you can find a comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Canada with up to date prices as per July 2024, all the e-sim specifications, my recommendation, where and when to order an e-sim card, more about the network coverage and 4G/5G data speed, an answer to the most FAQ about e-sims, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards and of course links to directly order your e-sim card for traveling to Canada on the internet.

Since 2012 Traveltomtom is traveling around the world as a full time nomadic travel blogger and visiting a new country pretty much every other week. Therefore I am constantly figuring out how to stay connected. Looking for the best prepaid or e-sim card became part of life.

In 2022 I visited 62 countries and in 2023 I traveled to 34 countries so imagine how many different prepaid and e-sim cards I used over the last 2 years.

In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards for staying connected when traveling abroad.

Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visit and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.

Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card in Canada in 2024.

Recently Traveltomtom also started writing specific guides for buying e-sim cards: USA, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, GreeceThailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, VietnamAsia, AustraliaEurope, international e-sim cards and many more.

So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination.

Some links in this article about the best e-sim cards for Canada are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!

My recommendation

Traveltomtom rates the following two e-sim cards as the best e-sim cards for traveling to Canada in 2024.

1. 30-day pass Three HK with 20 GB data - $34.90 USD

Via SimOptions you can order an international e-sim card from Three Hong Kong with 20 GB data for 30 days for $34.90 USD valid in Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

  • 20 GB data
  • Valid for 30 days
  • 4G/LTE
  • $1.75 USD per Gigabyte

This e-sim card comes with a phone number from Hong Kong (+852). Outgoing calls/sms are not supported, but incoming calls and sms are supported.

This is also the best sim card for visiting USA and Canada on the same trip.

2. Tuque Mobile e-sim card for Canada

Via Airalo you can order a Tuque Mobile e-sim card for Canada. They have many different e-sim card plans starting from $6 USD for 1 GB data and 10 GB data for $35 USD.

  • 10 GB data
  • $35 USD
  • valid for 30 days
  • 5G ready
  • $3.5 USD per Gigabyte

The Airalo e-sim cards are more expensive than the above Three HK international e-sim card from SimOptions, but the big advantage about the Tuque Mobile e-sim cards is that they support 5G. In fact, it is the only 5G e-sim card for Canada and therefore recommended by Traveltomtom.

There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an e-sim card for Canada or in general before using an e-sim card. 

Unlocked phones only

Make sure your phone is unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.

In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.

If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or e-sim card to operate in your device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.

E-sim compatible phones only

Second, and equally important: e-sim cards only work if your smartphone supports e-sim cards, also called e-sim compatible. All newer smartphones support e-sim cards. If you are not sure if your phone is e-sim compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is e-sim compatible. You will get the answer instantly.

If your phone is NOT e-sim compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an e-sim card for traveling to Canada.

However, you can still order a sim card for Canada on the internet before your trip. Check out Traveltomtom’s complete guide for buying a sim card for Canada in 2024 or find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2024.

Comparison of the best e-sim cards for Canada

On arrival in Canada tourists can only get physical prepaid sim cards. None of the mobile internet providers in Canada (Rogers, Bell, Virgin Mobile and Telus) provide e-sim cards for tourists.

Luckily there are multiple website on the internet that sell e-sim cards for Canada. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Canada from one of the well-known e-sim card providers like Holafly, Nomad, Jetpac, Airalo, SimOptions, etc. that have proven to be reliable operators.

Traveltomtom's long time favorite e-sim providers are SimOptions and Airalo, but are they still the best and the cheapest? The competition is fierce....

So before you buy an e-sim card first read all my tips below.

SimOptions also offers international prepaid sim cards for Canada. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards and will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Canada and it is plug and play when you arrive in the Canada.

Airalo, Jetpac, Holafly and Nomad only sell e-sim cards for Canada.

SimOptions

SimOptions is a very reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using SimOptions for ordering your Canada e-sim card.

SimOptions has an e-sim card plan that is only valid in Canada:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $6.00 USD

This data-only e-sim card with 1 GB data is provided by SimOptions and is only valid in Canada. SimOptions does not specify which mobile network operator in Canada they use, but at least it is 5G ready!

This e-sim card for Canada does NOT come with a phone number and it does not support incoming/outgoing calls or sms. The validity of this e-sim card is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the e-sim card, even if you are not in Canada.

Compared to the international e-sim cards SimOptions has, the 1 GB e-sim plan is suddenly not so interesting anymore, because have a look at the other SimOptions e-sims for Canada: 

  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
  • 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD

Click here for more info or to order an international e-sim card for Canada via SimOptions.

The Three Hong Kong international e-sim cards are valid in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Hong Kong. In Canada they operate on the Rogers 4G/LTE network. The Three HK e-sim cards come with a phone number from Hong Kong starting with +852.

They do not support outgoing calls/sms but they can receive phone calls and sms on the Hong Kong number.

Traveltomtom readers have recently reported that on the Three HK e-sim card they had problems to login on TikTok. This Three HK is a Hong Kong based e-sim and TikTok is blocked in Hong Kong.

The AIS e-sim card is valid in 141 countries and comes with a phone number from Thailand starting with +66. They do not support outgoing calls/sms but they can receive phone calls and sms on the Thai number.

These international e-sim cards for Canada are valid for 1 year, but the credit validity starts only when the e-sim card connects the first time to a supported network. So you can instal the e-sim card even when you are not in Canada yet. For more info check the SimOptions website

Airalo

Airalo is another very reliable e-sim card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your e-sim card for Canada through Airalo is done fast and easy. Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest e-sim card deals.

Why using Airalo e-sim cards for traveling to Canada? The Airalo e-sims for Canada are 5G ready. Most other e-sim cards you can order on the internet only offer 4G/LTE in Canada.

Also, especially for those travelers that only use a little bit of data and need just 1 or 2 Gigabyte to stay in touch through WhatsApp, check their email and get directions from Google Maps, Airalo is a great e-sim card for traveling in Canada, as it is the cheapest one available for small data plans.

Here are Canada e-sim card plans for 2024 from Airalo:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
  • 2 GB data for 15 days = $11 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $15 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $35 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $49 USD

Click here to order an e-sim card for Canada from Airalo.

Definitely check out the Airalo Canada e-sims as they often have ongoing promotions and lately they offered 50% off their Canada e-sim card plans.

The Airalo e-sim cards for Canada operate on the 4G/LTE network of Rogers and the 5G networks of Bell and Telus in Canada. Which means that the Airalo e-sim cards for Canada are 5G ready.

The Tuque Mobile are data-only e-sim card without a phone number, so any call/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo e-sim card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network. For more info check out the Airalo website

Nomad

Traveltomtom has used Nomad e-sim cards in more than 10 countries. Nomad has often amazing e-sim card plans with very competitive prices when comparing them with Airalo and SimOptions.

Here are the Nomad e-sim card plans for Canada in 2024:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $35 USD

Click here to order an e-sim card for Canada from Nomad.

However, Traveltomtom first recommendation for ordering a Canada e-sim card is not a Nomad e-sim. Traveltomtom has had some mixed experiences with using Nomad e-sim cards. Traveltomtom's feedback would be that Nomad has to work on their reliability before it can be named as one of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Canada.

The Nomad e-sim cards for Canada operate on several different providers networks, but are 5G ready at least. None of the Nomad e-sim cards come with a phone number. Incoming and outgoing calls/sms are NOT supported.

The Nomad Canada e-sim cards have to be installed on your phone within 30 and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in Canada. Basically when the plane lands. For more info check the Nomad website.

Holafly

Holafly offers e-sim cards for Canada with unlimited data. Traveltomtom is not a fan of e-sim cards with 'unlimited' data, but more about that later. Here are the Holafly e-sim plans for traveling to the Canada:

  • 1 day 'unlimited' data = $8 USD
  • 2 days 'unlimited' data = $15 USD
  • 3 days 'unlimited' data = $21 USD
  • 4 days 'unlimited' data = $26 USD
  • 5 days 'unlimited' data = $29 USD
  • 6 days 'unlimited' data = $33 USD
  • 7 days 'unlimited' data = $37 USD
  • 8 days 'unlimited' data = $38 USD
  • 9 days 'unlimited' data = $39 USD
  • 10 days 'unlimited' data = $40 USD
  • 11 days 'unlimited' data = $42 USD
  • 14 days 'unlimited' data = $49 USD
  • 20 days 'unlimited' data = $62 USD
  • 30 days 'unlimited' data = $94 USD

Looking at the prices it is an easy conclusion that Holafly e-sim cards for traveling in Canada are more expensive than Jetpac, Nomad, Airalo or SimOptions e-sims.

The Holafly e-sim cards for Canada are data-only and incoming and outgoing calls/sms are NOT supported. These e-sims do not come with a phone number. The Holafly e-sims operate on the 4G/LTE/5G network of Rogers in Canada. The Holafly e-sims for Canada are 5G ready.

However, Traveltomtom was not 100% happy with the performance of a Holafly e-sim in Canada. The weak phone signal and disappointing data speed put me off. Especially inside buildings, Instagram and Tiktok was not working smooth and often buffering, especially Instagram reels.

You can use a hotspot on the Holafly USA e-sim cards, but it is capped at 500 MB per day.

Why 'unlimited'? Because there is a Fair Use Policy and Traveltomtom has had bad experiences with this in the past. Suddenly your data speed is slowed down for 24 hours because you apparently used too much data. More info later.

If I hate something then it is slow data speed. Therefore Traveltomtom's is not a fan of e-sim cards with 'unlimited' data and therefore Holafly is not my first recommendation when looking for an e-sim for Canada.

Jetpac

Jetpac is a new e-sim provider and they are trying to gain ground by not only offering e-sim solutions at competitive prices, but also add a couple benefits for travelers who order an e-sim via Jetpac. Traveltomtom has tried it out and some benefits can come in pretty handy. More about it later.

Traveltomtom asked a couple readers to try out Jetpac e-sims and provide feedback about their product and service and so far everyone has come back with amazing reviews about Jetpac e-sims.

That said, one of the main reasons why Jetpac is listed as one of the best e-sims for Canada is their competitive prices.

jetpac esim card for canada

Let's check out the e-sim card plans Jetpac has for Canada in 2024:

  • 1 GB data for 4 days = $1 USD
  • 3 GB data for 7 days = $12 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $32 USD
  • 15 GB data for 30 days = $42 USD
  • 25 GB data for 30 days = $60 USD
  • 30 GB data for 30 days = $90 USD
  • 40 GB data for 30 days = $120 USD

Click here to order a Jetpac e-sim card for Canada.

First thing we notice is that the Jetpac e-sims are not only valid in Canada but also in Mexico and USA. This makes Jetpac one of the best e-sims for traveling to North America.

The Jetpac e-sim plan for Canada with more than 15 GB data are overpriced and not worth it if you ask me. But paying $32 USD for 10 GB data is actually an amazing e-sim card deal for Canada. However, the Jetpac e-sims are not 5G ready, only 4G/LTE is supported. Jetpac e-sims operate on the Telus and Bell mobile data network.

The Jetpac Canada e-sim cards are data-only and incoming and outgoing calls are not supported.

You can instal your Jetpac e-sim card before your trip to Canada, but it only activates from the moment it connects to a supported network in Canada. That moment your 30 days validity also start counting. The Jetpac e-sims have to be installed within 1 year.

An extra advantage of Jetpac Canada e-sim cards is that they provide free lounge access if your flight is delayed. However, you will have to register your flight before you travel and in case of a delayed or canceled flight a LoungeKey voucher will automatically be provided. This is a complimentary service that no other e-sim card provider offers. For more info check the Jetpac website.

Why did Traveltomtom already used more than 100s of e-sim cards? I told you before that I travel full time and I am on the road constantly which means I use about 40 to 50 different sim cards per year. No better sim card specialist than Traveltomtom.

Nowadays, you can buy an e-sim card for pretty much every country in the world. Order directly from one of the above e-sim card providers and instantly receive your e-sim card in your email.

Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to visit every country in the world. As of July 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, still more than 40 to go, but no rush.

What is the cheapest e-sim card for Canada?

cheapest esim card for canada 2024

In fact the cheapest way to get connected when traveling to Canada is a Jetpac e-sim as they have a plan for just $1 USD. It is only valid for 4 days though. 

Another cheap e-sim for Canada is an Airalo e-sim card plan with 1 GB data for 7 days for just $6 USD. It is only valid in Canada and it does not support calling and texting. Nomad and SimOptions now also have a $6 USD e-sim plan.

Why ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Canada

E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Canada in 2024 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes.

The most important reason to get an e-sim card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to Canada without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, finding nearby friends, restaurants, bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply stay in touch with family back home, check your social media apps on long bus rides or banking apps when paying contactless.

One of the best things about arriving in Canada with an activated e-sim card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands. More about when to instal your e-sim card later.

There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to Canada, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to Canada so much more convenient and fun!

At the same time we don’t want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge up to $3 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 25 MB * $3 USD = $50 USD! Not kidding… this is still very common in 2024.

E-sim cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!

International data roaming plans

So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed. There are already Canada e-sim cards that operate on the 5G network of Canada.

Uncountable times travel friends asked me: “can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!” Trust me, get yourself an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Canada.

Where to buy an e-sim card for Canada?

On arrival in Canada

When you arrive in Canada and you want to buy an e-sim card for tourists then you are unlucky. Even in the official retail stores of Rogers, Bell, Virgin Mobile and Telus they still do not offer e-sims for tourists. They only provide physical prepaid sim cards.

Use Google Maps to locate the nearest phone store near your hotel.

For the best prepaid sim cards for tourists in Canada in 2024 click on the link to read my complete guide and comparison of all the mobile internet providers in Canada, including a comparison of the 4G/5G mobile data network.

Online

You can only buy an e-sim card for Canada on the internet through an e-sim card provider. There are multiple e-sim card providers for Canada. Traveltomtom compared many providers like Holafly, Jetpac, Nomad, SimOptions and Airalo and concluded that the above mentioned e-sim providers are the most reliable for traveling to Canada.

How to activate an e-sim card

Installing and activating an e-sim card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an e-sim card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email.

When you order an e-sim card plan for Canada you instantly receive a summery of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.

You will see a summary of your e-sim card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your Canada e-sim card.

But installing an activating an e-sim card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the e-sim card on. The QR contains all the information about your Canada e-sim card.

Once you scan the code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your e-sim card is successfully installed. Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your e-sim card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur.

Tip: if you order an e-sim card with the same phone where you want to instal the e-sim card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.

When to order an e-sim card for Canada?

You can order an e-sim card for Canada pretty much any time you want. Most e-sim cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 month after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.

More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the e-sim card. The validity of some e-sims start straight after the installation, other e-sim cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.

Traveltomtom advices to instal your e-sim card on the day of departure to Canada. Or if you want to maximise your validity then activate your Canada e-sim card on arrival after you connect to the free WiFi of the airport on arrival in Canada. All international airports in Canada have free public WiFi.

Looking to buy a sim card on arrival in Canada then check out my guide for buying a sim card at Toronto Airport.

Things to know before ordering an e-sim card for Canada

Here are some general tips for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for Canada e-sim cards, but are important things to know before buying an e-sim card in general. 

Make sure your phone is unlocked

To make sure you didn’t miss this, let me say this again: e-sim cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any e-sim card without any problems.

If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to Canada. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone.

If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a pocket WiFi for staying connected when traveling to Canada or bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to Canada and use it as a portable WiFi device.

Which smartphones support e-sim cards?

Another very important thing you have to check before buying an e-sim card is if your smartphone supports e-sim cards. If you have any of the latest mobile phones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones support e-sim cards.

The fastest way to find out if your phone is e-sim compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) e-sim compatible? Simple as that!

Can I trust these e-sim card providers?

All the e-sim card providers for Canada recommended above are reputed e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in Canada.

Traveltomtom has successfully partnered for many consecutive years with SimOptions and Airalo. Nomad and Jetpac are fairly new e-sim providers, but the Traveltomtom Team has so far tested and reviewed them multiple times. Nomad has given some mixed reviews, Jetpac has so far always gotten excellent reviews.

All e-sim card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.

Traveltomtom does NOT sell Canada e-sim cards, only RECOMMENDS you to use e-sim cards for traveling to Canada.

Can I keep my phone number from home with a Canada e-sim card?

Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an e-sim card to stay connected when traveling to Canada. An e-sim card can be used next to your physical or e-sim card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an e-sim card.

So you can have multiple e-sim cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!

For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. Canada e-sim card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.

Switching between physical and e-sim cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings.

Can I make phone calls with a Canada e-sim card?

Unfortunately none of the by Traveltomtom recommended Canada e-sim cards support outgoing calls and sms. 

If making phone calls is important for you then you will have to buy a prepaid sim card on arrival in a phone store in Canada or at the airport on arrival.

These sim cards are much more expensive but these local prepaid sim cards for tourists often including unlimited calling and texting within Canada. More hassle and more expensive. Check out my guide for buying a prepaid tourist sim card for Canada in 2024

Does a Canada e-sim card come with a phone number?

This depends on the type of e-sim card that you buy. There are e-sims that come with a phone number and they support incoming calls and sms. 

All the e-sim cards from Jetpac, Holafly, Nomad and Airalo are data-only and do NOT come with a phone number.

However, some of the e-sim cards for Canada from SimOptions come with a phone number from either Hong Kong (+852) or Thailand (+66) and therefore these e-sims can receive incoming phone calls and sms.

In the above Canada e-sim card comparison you can find all the specifications per e-sim card.

Can I use 5G on a Canada e-sim card?

Yes, you can use 5G on a Canada e-sim card, but not on all e-sims. The e-sim cards from Airalo are 5G ready, as well as the Holafly and Nomad e-sims. The Jetpac e-sims and most of the SimOptions e-sims are not 5G ready and only support 4G/LTE.

Are there e-sim cards for Canada with unlimited data?

Yes, the Holafly e-sim cards for Canada include unlimited data. However, Traveltomtom is not a big fan of unlimited data sim cards.

Always ask yourself is unlimited truly unlimited. Is there a catch? If the unlimited data is not on max data speed, then there is a so called FUP. Which means that your data speed will be capped after you used an X amount of Gigabytes. 

Holafly is an e-sim card provider that sells e-sim cards with unlimited data for Canada and uses a so-called Fair Use Policy (FUP). Holafly does NOT specify what the FUP is. Which is very dissatisfying.

Traveltomtom does NOT recommend Canada e-sim cards with unlimited data plans with an FUP. On Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. After I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.

Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media was not even loading!

Especially on days that you have a long bus or train ride and you need a lot of data, you definitely don't want any data speed restrictions that day.

Again, Traveltomtom does NOT recommend e-sim cards for Canada with unlimited data. But if you think you will never use more than 2 GB per day, then Holafly might be your favorite e-sim card.

However, if you don't use so much data per day then what's the point of an e-sim with unlimited data... is what you have to ask yourself.

There are a lot of different specifications per e-sim card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close at my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Canada in 2024 before choosing your favorite.

Are e-sim cards the best way to stay connected when traveling to Canada?

E-sim cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Canada, but are e-sims also the best way to stay connected when traveling to Canada? 

There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to Canada:

  • Local prepaid sim cards
  • International prepaid sim cards
  • E-sim cards

Let’s compare e-sim cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards for you to make understand what is your preferred way to stay connected.

Local prepaid sim cards

If you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are in general a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. Local prepaid sim cards often offer bigger data plans than e-sim cards.

However, this is not the case in Canada. Prepaid sim cards with data are very expensive. Honestly, not worth it, but if you really want then you can buy a local prepaid sim cards on arrival in a store in Canada.

More info about the best Canada sim cards for tourists can be found in my complete guide for buying a sim card for Canada in 2024. However, the simple conclusion of my research is that e-sim cards for Canada are the best buy and they give you much more value for money than local prepaid sim cards.

On Traveltomtom you can also find a guide for buying a sim card at Toronto Airport. They only sell physical prepaid sim cards at Toronto Airport, no e-sim cards for tourists. 

The advantage of local prepaid sim cards is that you buy them directly from the mobile internet provider. You get unlimited local calls & sms included and the fastest data speed. However, local prepaid sim cards for tourists in Canada are still NOT 5G ready and are expensive if you use a lot of data. All the mobile operators only allow prepaid sim card users to use the 4G/LTE network.

International prepaid sim cards

orange holiday world international prepaid sim card for canada

If your smartphone is not e-sim compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling abroad. Some of these international prepaid travel sim cards are great for using in Canada and you can easily order them online.

A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play!

Click here to order an international prepaid sim card for Canada directly online.

The advantage of an international prepaid sim card is that it often includes calling and texting. E-sim cards are mostly data-only sim cards and do not support outgoing calls and sms.

E-sim cards

There are two different e-sim cards:

  • E-sim cards that you buy on the internet through a third party e-sim provider
  • E-sim cards that you buy in Canada in a mobile internet provider store

The big difference is that e-sim cards provided by the local internet operators in Canada: Bell, Telus, Rogers and Virgin Mobile can only be purchased in one of their official phone stores on arrival in Canada.

However, as of July 2024 they are still NOT available for tourists. The mobile phone stores in Canada only offer physical prepaid sim cards for tourists, NO e-sims!

Also, it is totally not recommended as prepaid sim cards in Canada are very disappointing. When reading through my article about buying a sim card for tourists in Canada in 2024 you will see that it looks like Canada is a 3rd world country when it comes to tourists sim cards.

Trust me, buy your e-sim card for Canada on the internet and go with my recommendation of a SimOptions or an Airalo e-sim card of try out Nomad, Jetpac or Holafly if those e-sims suit you better.

E-sim cards vs. local prepaid sim cards

Ordering an e-sim card online is the easiest and cheapest way to stay connected when traveling to Canada, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple click. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to Canada. You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop on arrival. As soon as the plane lands, you are online.

But what is cheaper? An e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists? When we compare Canada e-sim card prices with local prepaid sim cards for Canada Traveltomtom comes to the conclusion that in fact e-sim cards for Canada are much cheaper. They already start from just $1 USD for 1 GB data and 20 GB data costs just $34.90 USD.

The best local prepaid sim card you can buy in Canada is from Telus and 25 GB + unlimited calls/sms in Canada = $40 USD. That is $16 USD more expensive than an e-sim card.

On top of that after a long flight you just want to go to your hotel and it is often a big task to go to a sim card store and get connected. 

Therefore a lot of travelers simply get an e-sim card for Canada. Faster, easier, cheaper and less stress!

Data Speed

Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an e-sim card is that e-sim cards are often through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO's operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth.

This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that e-sim cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an e-sim cards is less compared to a local prepaid sim card you buy directly from a mobile internet operator.

Bottomline: the data speed of e-sim cards can be less compared to a local prepaid sim card.

I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best e-sim card for your trip to Canada were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison, tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your e-sim card right away.

If you still have any questions about e-sim cards for Canada then please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on social media and I am more than happy to help you out.

Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of July 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.

Enjoy your trip to Canada!