How do I get a cell phone?

Cell (mobile) phones are very common in Canada. When you are buying a cell phone or selecting a new service provider it is important to know your options and your rights as a consumer.

There are 3 methods you can choose to purchase your cell phone plan in Canada, depending on your wireless service provider:

  • Postpaid service - which means you pay your bill after using your plan. Usually, you will pay your bill once a month.
  • Pay after service - which means you pay before using the service. Pay after service does not require you to buy a plan but it likely requires you to buy a phone or have one already.
  • Prepaid SIM cards - these cards vary according to the amount of talking/texting minutes you want to purchase.

Generally, when you buy a plan with a wireless service, a deal might be included in the package to purchase a cell phone device at a cheaper cost than if you were to buy it on its own.

Each wireless service plan has its own contract and terms of agreement. When you purchase a plan, you will be committed to that service provider for a fixed amount of time, depending on your contract.

Most plans will include a limit on minutes used to talk, number of text messages sent and received, and a limit on the gigabytes (GB) of data (internet) used. Before purchasing a plan, be sure to compare the details of various plans to find the right fit according to your lifestyle and needs.

What are my rights?

The Wireless Code of Canada establishes basic rights for wireless consumers and provides requirements to all wireless service providers. Know your rights as a consumer before buying a cell phone plan from a service provider.

Usually a service provider cannot change the terms of your contract without your approval, but some exceptions apply. You can choose to cancel your contract within the first 2 years but you may have to pay a cancellation fee or continue paying off the phone if you bought it with the plan. If your service provider does not refund you immediately after cancellation, you can file a complaint to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

You can learn more about your rights from the Newcomer's Introduction to Consumer Protection in Ontario, that can accessed in different languages.

For More Information

  • Consumer Rights - A checklist of your rights as a wireless service consumer. From the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
  • Consumer Protection in Ontario - Information on your consumer protection rights. From the Government of Ontario.
  • Newcomer's Introduction to Consumer Protection - A guide that can be downloaded in different languages on your consumer protection rights in Ontario. From Settlement.Org.
  • Phone System - Information on how to use the phone system in Canada. From Settlement.Org.
Last updated: July 25, 2016 4006104