Canadian data only plans: Rogers, Bell and Telus data only plans compared

Posted by amcink November 13, 2015 8 Comments 12953 views

Whether you’re looking for a data only plan for your iPhone, a data only plan for your Android phone or a data only plan for a tablet (which, it should be pointed out, is the only way the carriers really, technically offer these plans) you have some options.

We’re talking about mobile service here, and these are Canadian cell phone providers so it goes without saying that you don’t have a lot of choice, really. Just variations on a theme… and some variation on the words “flex” “data” “tablet” and “plan.” It’s uncanny.

With that in mind, here’s what the big three Canadian providers offer in the way of mobile data only plans. They all mention tablets, but there’s nothing really stopping you from stuffing the data-only SIM into your smartphone instead.

With all these plans, consider the fact that you’ll want to shift as much of your data usage as you can to Wi-Fi. You don’t need to be a crazy mobile data miser, but you’ll want to stay under 1GB of cellular data a month as much as possible. It’s not hard to do and it’s a small sacrifice when weighed against the benefit of a $22 cell phone bill

The data only plans we’ll cover

Please note that all amounts are based on Ontario pricing and may differ based on geography. I mean, it may not differ, but it may. This is Canadian telecommunications we’re talking about here. Who knows.

Bell

Bell Flex Plan for TabletsFlex Plan for Tablets
$5 – $40
Overages: $10/GB

Best for: Anyone that can keep it under 1GB most months.

We’ve talked about the Bell Flex Plan for Tablets in some depth. It’s the plan I use and have been quite happy with it up to this point, three months in.

The graduations in the plan are few, and the jump from 1GB to 5GB ($20 – $40) is a big one. Data use beyond 5GB costs $10/GB which could add up if you’re not looking. You’ll definitely want to keep track of your monthly mobile data use.

The plan starts out at $5 for 10MB of usage. You could theoretically get by on that if you only text and have mobile data turned off for everything else… but to my mind, that’s too big a sacrifice to the smartphone experience. Consider $20 for 1GB to be your baseline.

I admit to being biased toward this plan. I find under 1GB of mobile data use to be the sweet spot, and this plan offers the best deal going at that level. The jump from 1GB to 5GB doubles your cost ($20 to $40) but leaves you with nothing much more to worry about on those occasions you do spill over from the 1GB level. It’s also a good incentive to stay under a gig.


Rogers

Rogers Flex Rate Plans for Mobile Hotspots and SticksFlex Rate Plans for Mobile Hotspots & Sticks
$10 – $85
100MB – 10GB
Overages: $5/GB

Best for: Really light or really heavy users

Starting out at $10 for 100MB of usage, you could make it through a month of talk and text (figuring on 0.5MB/minute of talk on Fongo, which we’ve talked about before.) With 100MB, you could do some emailing (assuming your phone doesn’t auto-download attachments) but you’d need to be exceptionally careful using Facebook when out of Wi-Fi range, for example.

At the 500MB level (0.5GB) you’re paying $30. Then it jumps to 3GB for $45. Basically, in the mid-range, you’re paying too much and the Rogers data only plan isn’t worth considering between the 500MB level and the 6GB, or possibly 10GB, levels.

If you absolutely need a big data allotment, though, this is where you’ll find your best deal. At $85, you can have 10GB and beyond that, it’s $5/GB.

For context, 10GB on the Bell data only plan would cost $90 (a $5 difference) but additional gigabytes of mobile data use cost $10, so the gap between the plans widens beyond 10GB.


Telus

Telus Tablet Flex Data PlanTablet Flex Data Plan
$5 – $45
Overages: $0.05/MB ($50/GB)

Best for: Dedicated data misers

At its core, the Telus plan looks a lot like the Bell Flex Plan for Tablets. It’s not though. This is the worst of the bunch, in truth.

It looks like the Bell data only plan at first blush ($5 keep-alive fee that includes a scant 10MB of mobile data) and the jump to 200 MB is nice. The $15 price tag for that jump isn’t so nice, though. That said, 200MB is tight but doable if you’re really very careful and watch each bit coming in or going out. With 200 MB, you’re still confined to email only, but with a few quick Google searches to settle a bar bet thrown in for good measure.

It’s not a terrible plan, but it does cut out the flexibility of ever going over the 5GB level if the need arises. Granted, you can easily stay under 5GB but on those rare occasions you’d want to use more than 5GB (maybe you’re renting a cottage and your phone data is the only data you’ve got) you’re paying a heavy price. five cents a megabyte ($0.05/MB) doesn’t sound too bad… but that translates to $50/GB. It’s just too big a liability, in this writer’s opinion.

A note on other carriers

Some of the smaller carriers (piggybacking on the big three’s networks and, increasingly, owned by the big three) offer variations on the data only plan. We’ll look at some of those in a future article and if you have one we should consider looking at, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

There are 8 Comments

  1. Andrew
    - August 27, 2016
      -   Reply

    I noticed that Fido has 15$/1G would this work aswell? Also, I have read that there is more than just putting the tablet sim in the phone. Some people say you have to activate it and do stuff to get it to work in the iPhone. Is this true, or will I be able to get the SIM card for an I pad and put it in an iPhone right away and be ready to go?

    • amcink
      - October 14, 2016
        -   Reply

      Really late in replying. Apologies. Any data / APN type settings you need to input would be the same whether you were on a tablet or on a phone. I swap SIMs fairly often (I travel a fair bit for work and I grab a local SIM when I do so) and it’s rare that I have to mess with the settings to get connected. If that helps in any way…

  2. jimmie
    - December 16, 2016
      -   Reply

    Fido has a deal right now until January 2017. $15 for 3GB, and then 10$ per 1GB extra. No contract.

    • amcink
      - December 16, 2016
        -   Reply

      I see it. Anyone that’s interested in this (pretty sweet sounding) deal: The Fido tablets section has the info you seek: Scroll down to the bottom. http://www.fido.ca/consumer/tablets

  3. Dave
    - February 10, 2017
      -   Reply

    The Bell and TELUS plans now tier up to 10 GB. Both charge $85 for 10 GB, but the real difference is that Bell charges $5 for every GB beyond 10 GB, whereas TELUS charges $.05 for every MB beyond 10 GB, i.e. an extra $50 per GB! Bell is the much better deal if you plan to go beyond 10 GB/month with these plans.

  4. Chester Brown
    - May 8, 2017
      -   Reply

    Would these data only sim and plan be appropriate for my Volvo’s modem – has to be a mini sim and has to allow tethering .?

    • amcink
      - May 9, 2017
        -   Reply

      Yes, they should do. Most carrier SIMs break apart to fit a wide variety of SIM card slots, including Mini and Micro.

  5. Chester Brown
    - May 9, 2017
      -   Reply

    Thanks amcink .

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