The 3 Best US Phone Plans for Canadians in 2024

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Canadian who isn’t looking for a way to save money on their cell phone bill. We understand why: Canada’s plans are the second most expensive in the world, thanks to limited infrastructure, minimal competition and muted government regulation. Any Canadian who has ever spent time in the United States knows that significantly cheaper plans and many more options can be found here thanks to budget-oriented MVNOs. Understandably, many Canadians have started looking south to see if they can score an American plan that they can use at home to save some money.

Most U.S. airlines have closed loopholes that allowed their plans to operate indefinitely across borders; others slowed off-network speeds to the point of impractical. Still, we found a number of anonymous commenters suggesting that AT&T plans could be used indefinitely in Canada without penalty. We were intrigued, but the fact that they were anonymous internet commenters makes us a little suspicious of these claims.

We did some research to find out whether these shady braggarts should be believed. We have good news: While it’s hard to find a US plan that works in Canada, they do exist and, more importantly, they will save you money.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to use a US plan in Canada and how much you can save.

How we chose the best US cell phone plans for Canadians

  • Price value
    We make sure you get the most bang for your buck without sacrificing the essentials to stay connected.

  • High speed data
    We checked whether the amount of guaranteed ‘premium’ data was reasonable for the subscription price and raised an alert if you’re being charged too much for data you probably don’t need.

  • Coverage and network reliability
    We evaluated whether the potential roaming restrictions were worth your hard-earned money.

Below you can read more about our detailed methodology.

Best US Cell Phone Plans for Canadians Right Now

3 Best American Plans
for Canadians

AT&T logo

1. AT&T | Prepaid unlimited data | $40/month

  • Plus points: Unlimited talk and text, discount on autopay

  • Cons: Data limited thereafter

This is your best bet for using a US plan in Canada. For starters, it’s incredibly cost-effective: Auto-pay customers pay just $40 per month and get unlimited talk, text, and data. An AT&T representative warned us that the data limit will be capped after 25 GB, compared to the 30 GB limit in the US.

There are similar plans from Canadian carriers, although these are mostly through Freedom Mobile and Fizz and are hampered by relatively small networks. Still, compared to Canadian airline plans in general, this AT&T option is a bargain.

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AT&T logo

2. AT&T | Unlimited Starter SL | $65.99/month

  • Plus points: Unlimited data, unlimited talk and text

  • Cons: Data limitation during busy times, risk of 2G speeds

If the 25 GB limit of the Prepaid Unlimited Data plan is not enough for you, this is a good alternative. The Unlimited Starter SL offers unlimited calling and texting, as well as unlimited data. Unlike Canadian unlimited plans, this works a little differently: instead of slowing down your data after you exceed your monthly limit, your data is slowed down when the network is at its busiest.

Before signing up for this plan, it is important to consider potential risk: AT&T suggests this plan may be limited to 2G speeds while roaming. 2G yes slowly, especially if you’ve gotten used to 5G or 4G LTE service. 2G is only 40 kbps: enough to send messages, but not enough to watch a video.

Even though you may not technically be ‘roaming’ if you live in Canada, AT&T will consider you roaming if you are on a partner network, which you will. Now, there’s no guarantee that your service will be slowed down, and most people who brag about their cheap AT&T plans online report normal speeds, but it’s worth considering before purchasing a plan. If you’re looking for a deal but don’t want to risk the slow service, we recommend checking out our guide to the best cell phone plans in Canada.

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AT&T logo

3. AT&T | Unlimited Extra EL | $75.99/month

  • Plus points: Large data allocation, automatic payment discount

  • Cons: Risk on 2G speeds

The main difference between this plan and the Unlimited Starter SL is restriction. The Unlimited Starter SL slows down the speed when the network is at its busiest. In contrast, like most Canadian unlimited plans, the Unlimited Extra EL offers 75 GB of full-speed service per month. After that, your speeds will be reduced.

Still, it’s worth noting that the 75GB guaranteed full speed service isn’t necessarily guaranteed in Canada. Like the Unlimited Starter SL plan, AT&T says roaming can get you 2G speeds – a very real (and very painful) risk for Canadians who want to use this US plan outside their home country.

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Methodology: How WhistleOut rates cell phone plans

WhistleOut evaluates phone plans based on the following criteria:

  • Price value: Not all cheap plans are ‘bad’, and not all expensive plans are worth it. We look at everything a plan includes and compare it to other plans from the same carrier, as well as similar plans from competitors in the marketplace, to determine if value is consistent with price.

  • High Speed ​​Data: Also called ‘premium’ data, this is the amount of data you get at full 4G/5G speeds before they can or will slow down. The more guaranteed high-speed data the plan includes, the better experience you’ll have overall. But there’s usually a limit to how much you need, and we make sure you don’t pay too much for data that goes unused.

  • Coverage and Network Reliability: The width of each carrier’s 4G LTE and 5G networks determines your reception and service. Particularly in the case of 5G, some providers offer much more robust coverage than others, which affects the performance of their phone plans in different parts of the country.

  • Plan perks and benefits: In addition to the basic features (calls, texts and data), some plans offer free extras, such as hotspot rights, cloud storage, entertainment subscriptions or service discounts.

Our mobile experts used proprietary data and real-world customer feedback to evaluate the best US cell phone plans in Canada. We compared the plans of 40 carriers by analyzing their coverage, costs and plan options. We considered plan-specific elements including benefits, premium data limits, and mobile hotspot allocations. After real-world testing and extensive research, including customer feedback, we’ve picked the plans we think will meet most people’s needs.

Visit our guide to choosing a phone plan to evaluate a cell phone carrier or plan and find the one that best meets your specific needs.