For an upcoming trip, I'm going to spend about 10-15 days in the USA, followed by about another 10 days up in Canada. While over there, I expect I'll want to make and receive a few phone calls, send some texts, and probably use a few tens of mb of data too. Looking at the roaming prices for my UK mobile in the US and Canada, this isn't something I'm going to want to use my normal phone for...

In the past when I've only been in one of the USA or Canada on a trip, I've picked up a Pre-Pay GSM sim card, and it's all been fine. For this trip, I'd ideally just get the 1 sim card to cover the three weeks. However, I'm aware that it's quite rare for pre-pay sim cards to work outside of their own country. (European ones tend to be the exception I've found, no other ones I've got ever have done)

So, I'm wondering, do pre-pay sim cards bought in the states normally work over in Canada, and if so, are the prices when roaming there normally sensible or insanely high?

3 Answers 3


From some research, it looks like my two main options are T-Mobile and AT&T GoPhone.

Looking first at T-Mobile PrePaid, it looks like Canadian Roaming is expensive but possible. I've found a handy post on their forums from one of their employees from a month or so ago which confirms:

calls will have a roaming fee of $0.49 a minute if calling a Canadian number, and an additional $0.20 per minute if calling a U.S. number. Also, incoming texts will deduct from whatever package you currently have at no additional charge whereas outgoing will cost $0.35 a message, and plus an additional $0.20 if you do not have a text package, or go over your text package. One more thing, web is $10 per MB when roaming in Canada


Moving on then to AT&T GoPhone, they have all the info in a handy GoPhone International Roaming page. Short answer is that AT&T GoPhone automatically works roaming in Canada and Mexico, without needing to opt in. Calls in Canada (made or received) are apparently $0.39/minute, texts are $0.25/$0.20 to send/receive, and data is an eye-watering $20/mb.


Alternately, if I go for one sim card in each country, then Rogers currently offer $1/day + $10/100mb or $20/month inc 100mb. Looks therefore like as I'll be doing half my time in each country, I'll be better off just buying a simcard in each. However, for much shorter trips or short trips with no data needs, roaming is possible and might be better for people in that situation.

  • The info on T-Mobile seems outdated, I was told only post-paid plans allow roaming.
    – Carl
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 21:46

Yes, they work. I had a T-Mobile (US) phone, went to Canada and used it without problems. But you should be aware of:

  • Do you have an unlocked phone? It need to be unlocked to use another company GSM sim card. You can buy a cheap phone for almost the price of a sim card if necessary.
  • It may be more expensive for you to use them outside US. You may want to buy one sim card in US and another in Canada.

Yes they do, as I've been using T-Mobile's "Simply Prepaid" plan for more than a year while living in Canada. As a matter of fact, T-Mobile's prepaid plans are the cheapest way you can get a lot of data with free roaming in both Canada and the US. As a bonus, you get to use both Bell and Telus mobile networks while roaming so you'll often have better signal than anyone using a local Canadian SIM card.

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