ATTN Students in Canada – Save on your student phone plans. Find out The BEST student phone plan available in Vancouver, BC!
If you’re arriving in Vancouver for your studies this year or if you’re looking for a competitive student phone plan to switch towards, we hope this resource will help you.
TL;DR/101 => We have taken careful consideration to finding the best student phone plan in Vancouver, and Canada at large. It’s hard to go wrong with these choices when looking for student phone plans in Canada.
(1) Rogers Student Phone Plan – 1 GB data, 300 local weekday minutes, unlimited international texting, Perk: Rogers’ NHL Live, GamePlus, Perk: 6 months free Spotify @ $70 per month.
(2) Fido (Rogers) Student Phone Plan – 1 GB data, 500 minutes Canada-wide calling, unlimited international texting @ $55/month
(Fido Pulse Plan at $65/month for 1 GB data, unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited international texting, Perk: 5 hours free data, Perk: 6 months free Spotify, Perk: Fido Roam if you love travelling!)
(3) Koodo (Telus) Student Phone Plan – 1 GB data, 500 minutes Canada-wide calling, unlimited international texting @ $55/month
(Koodo Mobile plan at $65 for 1 GB data, unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited international texting. No perks like Fido however… just unlimited Canada-wide calling for $10 more.)
(Virgin Mobile plan at $65 for 1 GB data, unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited international texting. Same retail perks as the $55/month plan. Virgin Mobile Canada partners with a variety of brands in fashion, travel, food, and entertainment to provide discounts for their members such as 2 for 1 ticket at Cineplex or $20 off Running Room.)
(5) Freedom Mobile (Shaw/Wind Mobile) Student Phone Plan – 2 GB data, unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited Canada+US texting @ $40/month.
(Freedom Mobile offers a Big Gig plan at $50 for 10 GB data, with pay per use talk at $0.05/minute, and unlimited international texting.
Customer service and network reliability is another question however! Hopefully, their customer service and network will improve with time…however, much like choosing a boyfriend/girlfriend – don’t find someone hoping to change them unless you want to be disappointed. You cannot sign up for phone plans online with Freedom Mobile – you have to visit a kiosk or store if you want to sign up.)
Summary: As you observe, cellphone companies do their best to remain competitive with similar plans pricing. Most of these plans listed above includes voicemail, call display, and unlimited evenings and weekend calling but be sure to verify the plan’s details and fine-print on their site or in-store before signing up!
Since prices are relatively similar at the Big 3 cellular service providers and then comparatively at the discount subsidiary brands… the competition and main inflection point lies with customer service (crucially important) and network reception.
Rogers and Fido excels in customer service (from first hand experience) with reliable (straight-forward/frank) billing, helpful customer reps – specifically their Montreal support center, and various ways of contact. Comparatively, many have voiced frustration about Virgin Mobile’s “mistakes” which end up costing customers more along with questionable billing issues. (Apparently, customer service representatives may accidentally switch your plan when you call in for support – you can’t revert promotional discounts – and leave you paying more.) Freedom Mobile is the only carrier on the list that you may face issues with network reliability/reception but there is potential. It could definitely be a contender in the wireless industry – the Big 4 – but the network is still sorely lacking at the moment unless you’re only in their downtown core areas. (which if you are, by all means…save the money.) Koodo has the same prices as Rogers’ but not quite as good in customer service or value-added benefits. They also do not have online chat support option available which will be a huge time saver if you need to change your plans or inquire about their service.
Why focus on customer support? Your time is important, don’t waste it on a cellphone company’s customer support funnel or get frustrated when you are billed more than you should! Save the hassle. Choose a cellphone plan with reliable customer support while being competitively priced, which is why Rogers’ is currently at #1 on our student phone plan in Vancouver recommendations – whether you’re a student or not actually. (…and the current service provider we use.)
That’s pretty much all you need to know about student phone plans in Vancouver. If you want to read an essay about Canadian student phone plans then keep reading. The information bellow is mainly for keeners (the slang, not actual definition) and search engines.
Discussion Questions (10 Marks Total): There are generally only few options available for cellular service in Vancouver, BC or Canada for that matter relative to other countries like Britain. A few years ago, the government of Canada, tried to increase competition by encouraging budget carriers to enter the market with their reserved spectrum auction.
(Optional Further Readings – for your reading pleasure
1 – as of 2015, new wireless service providers in Canada control 25% of the wireless spectrum relative to 2% in 2006, with 98% by the big 3 tel-com providers back in 2006. This was the result of an intentional move by the conservative government to introduce competition with cellular service providers and hence reduce prices for consumers. It has worked; introducing new national and regional players and forcing Bell, Rogers, and Telus – known as the big 3 incumbents – to reduce their cellphone plan prices. The process have significantly reduced the prices for student cellphone plans in Vancouver and Canada. An interesting read if you want to learn more about the inception of wireless service in Canada, the determined push to increase competition and reduce prices for consumers by reserving/giving spectrum to new players, or learn more about projected growth of wireless services in Canada.
2 – Following turbulent times for new cellphone providers in early 2015, Wind Mobile, was sold to Shaw in 2016, making it the 4th largest wireless network provider in Canada. The acquisition of Wind Mobile by Shaw and re-branding as Freedom Mobile provides Canadians and students like yourself with a viable competitor. Freedom Mobile plans to be investing into their current network quality with new spectrum and increasing the number of antennas in metro centres. Shaw have proven their commitment to being a serious contender within Canada’s wireless network options; shortly after announcing the purchase of Wind Mobile, Shaw had sold ViaWest (data centre company) for 1.675 billion with some of the proceeds to buy airwaves to boost Freedom Mobile.
3 – The Liberal government is planning to follow suite and reserve 40% of the new spectrum auction for smaller cellular providers such as Freedom Mobile and Videotron/Quebecor. This all makes to say that Freedom Mobile can be a very probable contender for student phone plans in Vancouver where competitive pricing is concerned. They certainly haven’t proven their reliability or customer service yet.
4 – See how prices for phone plans in Canada compare to various developed countries globally.
5 – An interesting article on Globe And Mail visualizing how wireless phone plans have been getting cheaper for students like yourself! Largely thanks to the Conservative Government’s move to increase competition in the oligopoly. Surprisingly, this initiative to increase competition wasn’t so popular among the public then.
“…Wall report as proof its policies on the wireless industry have led to lower prices since 2008, which was the first year the study was conducted as well as when Ottawa held an auction for cellular airwaves that reserved a certain amount for new players.”
“Finally, compared with prices paid in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan, the report found “Canada’s mobile wireless prices once again rank on the high side of the international group of countries included in the study.””)
1) Evaluate what increasing competition in the wireless industry means for you as the consumer? (5/10 Marks)
Understandably, the major cellphone service providers still provide better coverage and a full spectrum of services – overall value package with store accessibility, online platform/account management, and perks like free Spotify or content streaming. However, at least now you have lower cost cellphone plans for students and budget cellphone plan options available to you! The increase in competition have also notably resulted in better customer service and customer policies at the three incumbent cellular service providers in Canada such as Rogers.
2) Evaluate if the increased competition with student phone plans have been effective? Explain your reasons. (5/10 Marks)
This worked reasonably well in improving customer service, network performance, and reducing costs for consumers however Canada is still noted as one of the most expensive cellular service plans. The bigger firms also begun to purchase these smaller organizations. The government then proceeded to legislate some laws that helped consumers in this space such as maxing contract terms from three years to two years. (so cellular companies now can’t sign you on for three year plan with the incentive for a phone and then get you stuck on an expensive plan with horrendous service for three years. Notably, customer service has improved across the board.) These all have helped with the pricing of student cellphone plans in Canada and Vancouver however it still helps for you to know which cellphone companies excel in customer service, which cellphone companies provide the best value for their plans, and what are the perks or claw-backs of going with one network over another such as Freedom Mobile compared with Rogers?
The BEST Student Phone Plans in Vancouver:
So in the next few paragraph, we’ll be sharing our honest, non-sponsored, and genuine recommendation for the best student phone plan in Vancouver, BC or Canada for that matter. We hope it helps you make a decision, easier.
30% – Network Performance/Coverage: There’s little more frustration than not getting signal when you need it! What good is it paying for services you can’t use (because of bad reception) when you need it?
30% – Customer Service: We like to feel good. Good customer service can avoid spoiling your day and save you time. Time whether you’re a professional or student often seems too short. Last thing you want is wasting your time on call centers should you need them. Even worse when you get rude and obnoxious service.
20% – Prices: Prices are important but your time is more important. Most prices for cellphone plans do not deviate that much between the legacy providers (Big Three – Rogers, Telus, Bell). There is a significant price reduction for their subsidiary brands (Fido, Koodo, Virgin Mobile, ChatR) and then a significant price difference for the budget or newer cellular provider (Freedom Mobile). Most of the other new cellphone providers were acquired by the larger brands earlier such as Mobilicity rebranded as ChatR and acquired by Rogers.
Each cellphone plans provider recommended is listed with two plans currently available. It’s hard to determine your data usage; on average, cellphone users consume 2.9 GB of data monthly. There are likely two groups of student cellphone users…one that is cost-conscious individual who wants reliable service with data for apps (and Google searches), and two the tech-savvy student willing to splurge a little for more data toggled with WiFi usage to ensure seamless convenience, watching dog videos on Youtube/Facebook, or in class Google searches. (Can you believe Vancouver doesn’t have Uber yet?) Hence, for comparison we shared the current plans and prices available for a low-usage plan and for a higher usage plan.
10% Phones Available on Contract – Some people love to get the latest technology and the thought of getting a free phone. Phone plans today in Canada are limited to a two year contract (previously three) which means lesser phone subsidizing. Many budget cellphone providers like Freedom Mobile do not have access to certain phones such as the iPhone. Some budget cellphone providers such as Fido, Koodo, or Virgin Mobile have higher up-front prices for their contract phones despite being also on a two year contract. (Likely, as their profit margins are lower than the incumbent brands, they have to make up for it elsewhere. Still, they are a great choice with bring your own phone plans.)
10% Perks & Convenience -Perks are nice. Convenience also includes their online account management because as with most millennials and even beyond millennials, we do most of our banking and errands or cellphone plan management online.
1) Rogers: Rogers is the leading cellphone service provider in Canada. They have over 10 million subscribers in Canada for their prepaid and post-paid cellphone plans, with good reason. The rates are competitive to Canadian standards and not much farther from budget carriers when comparing the overall value of their services. Rogers have made their focus on (1) network and (2) customer service and it shows, which is why they score so highly among customers.
If you’re looking for a reliable student cellphone plan at an affordable price then your first choice would be Rogers if budget permits. If you’re willing to take some risk and dropped calls then Freedom Mobile would be the cheapest option on an LTE network.
(I am personally using Rogers’ on their “Share-Everything” plan and have been satisfied thus far with the customer service and coverage of their wireless service.)
Low Data Usage – 500 MB Data & Unlimited Local Calling & Unlimited Texting @ $50/Month (No Tab)
High Data Usage – 1 GB Data & 300 Local Weekday Minutes & Unlimited Texting @ $70/Month (No Tab)
Coverage: With 10 million subscribers, you can be sure Rogers has one of the best cellphone coverage in Canada. They also have good roaming partnerships abroad with Roam like Home in United States. (at $5/day)
No concerns about coverage or receptivity during my three years using Rogers in Canada. The only time I had issues with data were underground like at Bentall Towers in Vancouver.
Service: Great customer service. Rogers have been focusing a lot on their customer service and investments to improve their network and it shows. They have one of the highest client retention in the country for cellphone plans. Of course, customer service depends on who you’re talking to – I have had frustrating customer service from Rogers in my three years of using Rogers as well but mostly positive.
Perks: Not many perks available with Rogers however you do get reliable student cellphone plans in Vancouver for a reasonable price. Great phone coverage and a broad selection of phones on contract. Certain Share Everything plan also provide free Spotify subscription and Texture (magazine) subscription for 6 months. If you’re a hockey fan you’ll enjoy the Rogers NHL Live and Game Plus. I think the excellent customer service (saving you time) and great connectivity/reception for fast WiFi is enough perks in itself.
Report Card/Transcript – 8.7/10
Network Performance (30%) = 10/10
- As good as it comes in Canada. There isn’t much difference in coverage between Rogers, Telus, and Bell networks in Canada respectively. You only need to be concerned if you’re using a budget carrier – but they often have shared agreements with the legacy carriers.
Customer Service (30%) = 10/10
- Reliable and effective customer service. Customer service options in store, by phone, or online live chat.
- Online customer service and account management is a HUGE time saver.
Prices (20%) = 5/10
- Not the best price for a low-entry plan. You would do better on Freedom Mobile if you’re budget conscious. However, reasonably competitive prices for the higher data cellphone plans.
- There are no specific student plans or student discount however the prices are a competitive standard in Canada.
Phones (10%) = 9/10
- iPhone and Android phones available on 2 year contract plans. Prices are competitive.
Perks & Convenience (10%) = 7/10
- Get 6 months free Spotify subscription. Roam like Home, and NHL Live on selected Share-Everything plans. Not much other perks.
- Exceptionally useful online account management tool. Monitor your data usage in real time and change your phone plan online.
2) Fido (Rogers): Our summary of Fido will be brief as its owned by Rogers as well. Meaning the network coverage is effectively the same as Rogers. Customer service is also responsive and reliable. The prices are slightly cheaper depending on your usage – low data usage is cheaper than Rogers phone plans. (Personally, I always prefer the legacy brand when the price difference isn’t significant; you can generally expect better customer support from the parent brand.)
Low Data Usage – 500 GB Data & 500 Minutes Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Canada Texting @ $45/Month (No Tab)
High Data Usage – 1 GB Data & Unlimited Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Canada Texting & 5 Hours Free Data @ $65/Month (No Tab)
++ 4 GB Data for the plan above is only $85/Month ($20 more for an extra 3 GB data)
Coverage: Same as Rogers.
Service: Reliable customer service with equally useful online account management as Rogers.
Perks: Dogs as mascot? Who doesn’t like dogs? Irrational people. Fido has some awesome perks however. The Fido Pulse plans (which is basically the Smart Phone plans with more data – Rogers also interestingly has two distinct levels of Share-everything Plan. Their higher data plan includes perks like free Spotify for 6 months which starts at their 10 GB data plan and their smaller Share-everything plan doesn’t. Fido is pretty much similar EXCEPT their Fido Pulse starts at the 1 GB Plan! So you get the perks like free Spotify for 6 Months with the 1 GB $65 Plan or the 4 GB $85 Plan or the 10 GB $115 Plan instead of the 10 GB $135 Plan at Rogers. Pretty sweet deal. The Fido brand is catered especially towards students it seems.) includes 5 hours of free data! Great when you’re on a long distant trip like taking the Grey Hound to Seattle on a long weekend break from school and looking to finish your latest TV series? There is also Fido Roam (same as Rogers’ Roam Like Home) that allows you to use your plan in US just as you would in Canada for just $5/day! Which means you can go exploring the Pike’s Place Market, Google Map your way to the original Starbucks and Google your way to the best food around Seattle. You can even scroll through your Facebook feed endlessly like you would at home in Canada! If you happen to be an Instagram Influencer, upload your pictures wherever you go so your followers know how cool you are and #humblebrag! Lastly, another perk with Fido Student phone plans in Vancouver is 6 months of free Spotify subscription. Save $9.99/month…actually $4.99/month with student discount and play the latest jam you love. (I prefer my jam on bread.) You gotta love that corporate America (and Canada) seem to love students with all these awesome deals and discounts for yourself! As we mentioned, great perks. Fido often also has some extra promotions running so check out the promos they have going which may mean extra data or an extra discount for you special students!
We really like the Fido Perks however still place Rogers at #1 because they are the parent brand to Fido. The prices are similar and it’s better to go with the legacy brand when the prices are similar as it typically means better and more well rounded support.
Report Card/Transcript – 8.4/10
Network Performance (30%) = 10/10
- Same as Rogers. Same network, cheaper price.
Customer Service & Convenience (30%) = 7/10
- Fewer retail locations.
Price (20%) = 7/10
- Great value pricing for lower data usage.
Phones (10%) = 9/10
- 27 phones available to choose from including iPhone SE, 6, 7, & 8 (Just two less than Rogers. Phones are much cheaper at Roger’s though due to a prevailing promotion. However phone selection is almost equal so we’ll keep it the same rating.)
- If you’re going to go with a contract phone and can splurge some extra on utility then your best choice for a student phone plan would be to go with Rogers on their Share-everything plan above 10 GB (explanation bellow. Basically cheaper phones on contract at Rogers.) If you’re on a tighter budget but want service and network coverage and use your own phone then Fido is the better bang for your buck!
Perks (10%) = 10/10
- Great perks listed above for the Fido Plus plan. 6 Months free Spotify, 5 Hours free data
- Tag it with a promotion that Fido frequently runs (especially around September or December) and you got a great deal!
3) Koodo (Telus): Koodo is a brand that specifically targets students and budget pre-paid users but is owned by Telus and hence on the Telus network (which apparently is one of the fastest network in Canada – or so they say.) In terms of overall value, Fido and Rogers yield better value for their plans and their phones. Coverage is comparable to what you can expect from any of the legacy cellular brands like Rogers or Bell (which uses Telus network in Western Canada). Since these wireless network operators have invested heavily into improving their network performance with additional towers and spectrum, they are equally comparable in terms of coverage and speed. Rogers appears to have better coverage which is why we’ve listed it higher on the rankings for student phone plans – Rogers generally has better reception inside buildings base on customer opinions found online. In places where Rogers does not have coverage, they piggyback on Telus’ network under “Extended Coverage” which is no additional cost to you as the user. Telus does have faster performance on their networks however. On the flip side, people have reported incidents where friends using Rogers have full reception with little or no reception for those using Telus. The general consensus being, if you’re using one of the Big 3 cellular service providers in Vancouver, you should have little to no concerns about reception and consistency by-large however. Really, the key comparison is on customer service, convenience, perks, and plan value.
(In regards to speed, Telus may have faster downloads on data but I have never had any issues with data speed on Rogers’ LTE network. What’s important to me is reception in remote areas all throughout Vancouver’s lower mainland.)
Low Data Usage – 500 MB Data & 500 Minutes Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Text @ $45/Month (No Tab)
High Data Usage – 1 GB Data & Unlimited Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Text @ $65/Month (No Tab)
++ 3 GB Data for the plan above is $85/Month ($20 more for an extra 2 GB data)
++ Koodo occasionally runs promotions, one currently ending Oct 11 which doubles your data (probably in competition to Freedom Mobile’s plan).
Coverage: Koodo runs on the Telus network. Hence, it does have the fastest data speed in Canada and very good coverage across the Vancouver lower mainland. Practically speaking, it does pail in comparison to coverage provided on Rogers’ network when on UBC by reported customer experience. As well, because Rogers’ has extended coverage that runs on the Telus network (soft hand-over of calls and data) where their towers are not present, you can basically ensure the BEST of both worlds as a consumer. The wonder of competition benefiting Canadian consumers! It’s worth noting, during some fact-checking for this article, it appears this move was something initiated by the CRTC during Harper’s Conservative government push for increase competition in Canadian cellphone plans. The ruling on unjust and discriminating practice against smaller carriers for roaming reformed the wholesale roaming rates by the incumbent carriers paving way for the extended coverage policy by Rogers and Telus. Here’s your rights as a customer.
Service: Koodo does have a Telus Community Forum just as Rogers however they do not provide Live Chat option for customer support. (You must still call in and wait on the phone line or visit a store. Live Chat is convenient especially so because you can browse on your laptop or phone while waiting for a customer service representative. Further, everything is recorded and sent to your email upon request so you always have a reference of the discussion.)
Customer service at Koodo can certainly use some improvements. 127 negative experiences to 10 positive experiences reported isn’t a very good record. Not only is there a void of online chat support as Rogers and Fido conveniently provide BUT their phone support wait lines is understandably very long (apparently). It would appears their offer the lower costs by cutting customer service (which is never a good strategy in the long run – they would probably end up incurring more in customer acquisition and marketing costs to acquire a new customer than keep a happy customer. They would also have a higher amount of customers who leave and the customers who leave, leave angry…which then doesn’t do too well for their brand in social conversations which would then further push up their acquisition cost since they immediately disqualify a group of prospective customers who were turned off by the bad reviews from their friends/acquaintances. We humans are very social individuals, we like to share our experiences good or bad with our friends – you‘re our friends by the way; that’s inevitable. I digress.)
The combination of poor customer service and lack of technological time savers or convenient account management options hurts Koodo service performance. There’s nothing more annoying than bad or rude customer service that spoils your day …well even worse when you cannot get the help you need at all as some people have expressed using Koodo. There is a saving grace however it seems the prepaid plans are the ones where users have the most dissatisfaction and less so the post-paid.
Perks: Koodo offers minimal perks
Network Performance (30%) = 9/10
- Base on community chatter, it appears that while Telus does have faster network performance in most areas, Rogers by-large has better coverage across Canada 1 and 2. Rogers network also appears to penetrate buildings better than Telus networks. This is why we rated Telus slightly lower in network performance than Rogers. It isn’t so much the appearance on paper (with sponsored studies) but the practicality and value to the customer.
- You won’t have much issues going with any of the Big 3 phone carriers in Canada however.
Customer Service & Convenience (30%) = 5/10
- Customer service base on some review/complain sites have not been positive thus far.
- Koodo and Telus does not have Live Chat option as Rogers and Fido does. (Time is the most valuable commodity, you don’t want to waste your time on the phone waiting to talk to someone in South America about your phone plan in Canada.)
- Koodo does not have as robust an online account management system as Rogers.
- It appears that as with a budget subsidiary of Telus, customer service at Koodo is also budget. (I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with their customer service after reading some of these articles online. The amount of time I’ve saved with Rogers has placed some huge customer loyalty. I remember reading a report a while back while travelling in Victoria, BC – good reception there too – that their strategy have been to focus on customer service to increase customer retention which seems to be coming out effectively.)
Price (20%) = 6/10
- The price at Koodo isn’t as competitive as Fido’s prices when you factor in the value of perks like five hours of free data.
Phones (10%) = 8/10
- Koodo has a lesser selection of phones available. They do have the iPhone 8 as well however.
Perks (10%) = 6/10
- The main perk provided with Koodo is worry-free data meaning you won’t be charge overage fees from your plan.
- Koodo doesn’t provide many additional perks for their customers except for the occasional promotions for new customers.
When you factor in the perks with Fido’s Plus Plans compared to Koodo such as the free five hours of data, Koodo certainly pails in comparison. Furthermore, the biggest pain is reports of bad customer service experience on Koodo’s service compared to Roger’s excellent service I’ve found thus far.
4) Virgin Mobile (Bell): Bell is Canada’s 3rd largest cellphone service provider in Canada just behind Telus, on number of cellphone plan subscribers nationally. In western Canada, Bell, tags upon Telus cellular network so you can expect the same range of coverage and network quality as Telus. With this said, Bell tends to also price their services higher than Rogers or Telus but Virgin Mobile is the student-orientated subsidiary brand that provides cellphone plans catered to students and budget cellphone users at a slightly discounted pricing to Bell’s. The customer service especially in kiosk stores are not as helpful as Rogers’ in my personal experience using Virgin Mobile plans several years ago before moving to Rogers. Virgin Mobile is owned by Bell. If you’re looking for a budget phone provider however you will do better with Fido than Virgin Mobile or Koodo for customer service and overall experience in my opinion. Virgin Mobile offers some cool perks but doesn’t really compare to Fido’s consistency with customer service and overall value package. Freedom Mobile is yet to be tested.
Low Data Usage – 500 MB Data & 500 Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Worldwide Text from Canada @ $45/Month (No Tab)
High Data Usage – 1 GB Data & Unlimited Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Worldwide Text from Canada @ $65/Month (No Tab)
++ 500 minutes of Canada-wide calling instead of unlimited on the High Data Usage plan is $10 cheaper at $55/Month.
Coverage: Virgin Mobile is a subsidiary of Bell and uses the same network as Bell. You have extensive coverage Canada-Wide from coast to coast. You should have no concerns about coverage with any of the Big 3 carriers and their subsidiary brands. There are slight variances in Extended Coverage for the real budget brands such as Public Mobile (Telus) or ChatR (Rogers). With this said, Virgin Mobile has the same network coverage as Bell customers. In Western Canada, most of the towers which Bell uses is owned by Telus. Some customers have reported that their experience on Telus network was quicker and more reliable than Virgin Mobile despite being the same towers that Bell uses; the cellphone tower is the same hardware but the back-end of the network is different for Bell and Telus.
Service: Customer Service at Virgin Mobile Canada tries to follow the Virgin brand with emphasis on customer service. The customer service is not as positive as Rogers’ but neither is it as bad as Freedom Mobile. You can find a spotty mix of positive reviews on BBB.org
Virgin Mobile does provide online chat support similar to Fido and Rogers’ however which is a huge time saver. You can also get support at their kiosk which would be great for technical questions – although Virgin Mobile has limited kiosks. If you call into their phone support, you may be put on hold for a few minutes and depending on your customer support inquiry, may require several transfers.
Presuming you never have to contact customer support, you have reliable coverage and consistent billing, however if you need to contact customer service expect to take a chance at getting inexperience service. It appears some of their customer service team is under-trained or careless on occasion. If you have any issues with your phone bill, Virgin Mobile Canada appears to be rather inflexible on your plan. Basically, it appears they are quick to tell customers they can’t help them.
Several customer complaints consistently shared a human-error by their call centre reps which was imposed on the customers instead. (1) an individual called to inquire about duplicated billing – the customer support apparently accidentally changed her promotional plan – they were not able to change it back to the promotional rate leaving the customer paying 50% more. (2) an individual called to activate roaming – roaming was not activated by the customer support – the individual was left with a $1700 bill negotiated to $850 instead of a back-date to the roaming rate. (3) they are also negligent about refunds for phone returns.
Take note however that many customers only share their review or complain online when they are dissatisfied with the service and less so when they are satisfied with the customer service. With this said, we have combed through various customer service reviews site like TrustPilot, BBB, and Cellphones.ca, inclusive of various blog post. Reading between the lines, you can tell when a customer is holding a grudge against the company and looking simply to sabatoge their reputation versus when a customer has genuine concerns with customer service and sharing their experience for others to learn. Such is the case of Kent MacArthur on TrustPilot which reiterated the feedback on BBB with the three flaws summarized above. The first four negative reviews on TrustPilot appears to be less genuine issues.
Perks: Virgin Mobile provides quite a few perks and benefits from their customers, known as “members”. They really emphasize on member benefits. These benefits come in the form of exclusive discounts from various entertainment and retail stores. They also offer perks like Call Display and “MyPeeps” which gives you unlimited calling to 5 people of your choice. (Quite irrelevant if you already have unlimited Canada-wide calling however.)
– 2 for 1 tickets at Cineplex Theatres
– 25% off H&M
– 28 days trial at Goodlife Fitness (probably the only fitness centre that doesn’t continue charging you after you cancel haha)
– Up to 35% off Canada’s Wonderland (It’s in Toronto but if you ever do visit Toronto – check out Canada’s Wonderland. The PNE in Vancouver doesn’t quite compare to Canada’s Wonderland. It’s like Canadian’s smaller version of Universal Studios Park.)
A full list of perks can be found here:
Network Performance (30%) = 8/10
- Virgin Mobile Canada was bought by Bell in July 1, 2009. Previously only using Bell’s CDMA network, it now uses Bell’s LTE, HSPA+, and CDMA networks. You get the same coverage as Bell customers.
- Virgin Mobile Canada customers will also use Telus’ network in Western Canada. (which includes where we are in beautiful Vancouver, BC!)
- Some customers have noted that Telus network works more reliably than Virgin Mobile in Western Canada. It is not uncommon practice for cellular service providers to prioritize certain customers during congestion. However, it is unclear of Virgin Mobile members are actually receiving a lesser priority than customers on the legacy brand.
Customer Service & Convenience (30%) = 7/10
- Not as good as Fido but not as bad as Koodo where discount cellphone plans are considered.
- Billing seems to be an issue customers experience with a disconnect between add-on benefits and charges. Special promotional plans seem to often “accidentally” be removed by customer service reps that cannot be undone leaving you to pay more.
- Limited help can be provided by customer service reps and reaching management level is difficult process of transferring several calls. Management level customer service also appears unwilling to help and stuck-up when reached base on reviews.
Price (20%) = 7/10
- Prices are Virgin Mobile are almost identical to Fido’s plans. The main value difference is the “Member benefits” provided by Virgin Mobile in their “Members’ lounge” which are discounts at retail stores.
- Discount cellphone plans considered however, Fido’s perks with free Spotify and 5 hour of data makes their plans slightly cheaper!
- Virgin Mobile provides more flexibility however with their plans. Allowing you to choose 500 Canada-Wide minutes instead of Unlimited for a $10 discount
Phones (10%) = 8/10
- Virgin Mobile Canada provides fewer selection of phones (or new phones available later) than Rogers or Bell. For example, the Google Pixel 2 XL is not available on Virgin Mobile neither is the LG V30. Both phones are available on Bell and Fido for that matter. Bell has 43 smartphone devices to choose from whereas Virgin Mobile has 36, many of which are older devices. Further, the iPhone X is not yet available on Virgin Mobile but had already been pre-sold on Rogers’ much earlier.
- Most phones are compatible with Virgin Mobile network now that Virgin Mobile Canada uses Bell’s LTE, HSPA+, and CDMA network. This means you can bring your own phone.
Perks (10%) = 9/10
- Virgin Mobile has some cool perks in the form of discounts at various retailers for clothing, food, and lifestyle brands.
- However, this doesn’t quite make up for free Spotify and free data at Fido in our opinion as not everyone may necessarily shop at these retail brands. Good perks for “members” nonetheless.
Note: Bell notorious reputation for up-selling customers services they don’t need. Take caution with Virgin Mobile Canada as well.
5) Freedom Mobile (Shaw & formally Wind Mobile): The prices are the cheapest you’ll find as far as a reasonable network coverage is a factor. There is still a lot more work for them to catch up in terms of coverage and receptivity. Especially in UBC, many have indicated Wind Mobile had horrendous coverage. If you’re a student, you don’t want spotty connections where you will be most often….studying in the libraries on a rainy day in Vancouver. Prices are good however and they will likely improve service quality over time.
Despite the exceptionally low pricing of phone plans with Freedom Mobile, the network coverage and reliability may cost you more in opportunity costs than the savings itself. There are also additional surcharges for using your phone in an “Away Zone” within Canada unless you are on their Canada-wide plan.
If you consider the value of your time, your experience and convenience, along with the worry-free surcharges – it may be well cheaper to pay a little extra for a phone plan with one of the Big 3 (notably, Rogers’ base on various online reviews has some of the cheapest plans and best customer service in the industry which is why we’ve listed Rogers’ and Fido respectively on the top of this list. Telus does have a faster network but the difference with customer service – your time – is probably more important than a slight improvement in network speed!)
Low Data Usage – 250 MB Data & Unlimited Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Canada-US Texting @ $30/Month (No Tab)
High Data Usage – 2 GB Data & Unlimited Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Canada-US Texting @ $40/Month (No Tab)
++ A current promotion from Freedom Mobile offers 10 GB data for $50 which charges $0.05/minute for calls to Canada and US but unlimited texting.
++ Public Mobile which is owned by Telus also offers 2 GB Data & Unlimited Canada-Wide Calling & Unlimited Canada-US Texting for $40/Month on a temporary promotion. This will probably offer you better network coverage for the same price.
Coverage: Freedom Mobile provides network coverage for the most of Greater Vancouver Area and Greater Toronto Area (their two main focuses it appears for network improvements.) Outside of their coverage areas are known as “Away Zones” which will incur additional surcharge for usage. If you expect to be traveling around Canada often outside of their network coverage zones, it would likely be better for you to simply choose Rogers, Telus, or Bell Canada-wide plan and avoid the additional surcharges. The surcharges for “Away Zones” are $0.15/minute for calls and $0.05/mb for data.
It should be noted the network coverage map bellow highlights the areas where you will be within Freedom Mobile’s Home Network. It does not provide you guaranteed reliability in their network as many customers have found out. “recently switched to Freedom. It’s on and off service of basic phone at home or office or open pubic spaces WI-FI/Data on my iphone 7 plus is not working Honestly don’t know why i trusted Freedom.” – Andres
Reviews as recent as October 19, 2017 found in various blog comment sections consistently paint a picture that Wind as drastically reduced performance and network reliability since re-branding. Customers have noted inconsistent connectivity and dropped calls even on the LTE network. It would be expected to get worse only with even more customers on the network from their widely promoted “Big Gig” event. It seems to be open season on Freedom Mobile’s reputation from their customers (with good reason) wherever you read about their services base on real customer experiences.
Service: Service at Freedom Mobile is actually pretty good in my experience. The kiosk personnel at Freedom Mobile kiosks are generally friendly and willing to help. It draws on Shaw’s expertise and hence probably better than most budget phone providers. The major drawback to Freedom Mobile is that it is still catching up to the network performance of the Big 3. They are still not as reliable in terms of their network performance as these legacy carriers. Price and service wise however Freedom Mobile or Shaw can be a good option.
However, with this said, the customer feedback on BBB paints a different picture where many customers struggle with (1) network coverage – supposedly Freedom Mobile have oversold their network capabilities hence customers are competing for network usage even with their “unlimited” or high data plans. Seeing as the new “Big Gig” promotion that sells 10 GB of data for $50, and the expected ensuing new registrations of customers, I am inclined to believe these experiences shared on BBB. (2) Away Zones surcharge and complicated billing issues – seeing as they are a budget carrier, it makes sense to nickle and dime their customers as how most budget services are operated – inclusive of budget airlines. Generally choosing “budget” or cheap is more headache than going for a brand known for good customer service. Customers also reported unjust billing after cancellation and inconsistent policies with tabs/ billing discount for no tabs. (3) rude and unhelpful customer service – seeing as the stores are corporate and presumably performance base, it would make sense for the sale personnel to focus on the store’s financial performance.
These complaints are also fairly recent since Wind re-branded as Freedom Mobile so worth the consideration. For these reasons, we’ve listed Freedom Mobile as the last recommendation on our list of best student phone plans for students in Vancouver, BC. It’s cheap but it’s probably not worth your time or frustration or paying for services you cannot use consistently across the Greater Vancouver Area.
Perks: There are no perks provided by Freedom Mobile but they regularly run ongoing promotions to attract new customers.
Report Card/Transcript –
Network Performance (30%) = 6/10
- Many customers report very slow data and being dropped from calls or completely being directed towards the mailbox on Freedom Mobile.
- Freedom Mobile is working on improving their network.
- Coverage is limited to the Greater Vancouver Area and Greater Toronto Area. Outside of your “Home” network will incur roaming charges in “Away Zones”
Customer Service & Convenience (30%) = 6/10
- Customer support at Freedom Mobile is a little lacking base on customer feedback. Perhaps growing pains but many customers report negative customer support experiences.
- Freedom Mobile has limited number of stores in Vancouver and Toronto. To register for a plan, you have to do in-store with no options to order online.
- Freedom Mobile does not provide online chat support. Your only option for customer service is visiting their stores (several of which are not corporate stores but franchises) or calling their customer service line – and waiting for a long time to reach a customer rep.
Price (20%) = 9/10
- Without reservations, Freedom Mobile has probably the most competitively priced cellphone plans in Canada. However, you may end up paying for services you don’t use if you cannot connect to their network anyways.
- They offer incredibly cheap data plans that are a fraction of what the Big 3 charge. Still, reliability and customer service is critically important so not to waste your time and the opportunity cost of dropped calls or missing important calls because of network connectivity. (Or the frustration of not being able to access data when you need it.) Their network is improving however and hopefully it will be worth while once their network is better.
Phones (10%) = 5/10
- Freedom Mobile provides very limited selection of phones and currently does not offer any Apple products.
Perks (10%) = 7/10
- There are no perks offered by Freedom Mobile but they do regularly run promotions for new customers.
- Perks include the ability to add 3 GB of data for $30 if you run over your data saving you data overage costs.
The Rest of Student Phone Plans in Canada: There aren’t many options for student phone plans in Vancouver or Canada relative to other places like Europe. While we have listed our top 5 recommendations for the best student plan plans in Canada, here are the other options available to you as a student. It may be worth while knowing all the available options regardless allowing you to make an informed decision yourself!
Public Mobile (Telus) – Public Mobile is a discount cellphone plan provider that is a very viable alternative if you need no-frills cellphone service at an affordable price and reliable network coverage. It’s effectively exactly the same network as Telus except their Extended Coverage areas. The plans are very competitive at $40 for 2 GB data and unlimited Canada-wide calling. Customer service is acceptable with few frustrations; most of the support questions will be answered by other customers on their support forum however; perhaps one way they save money. You won’t likely find billing frustrations that customers have reported on Virgin Mobile Canada. Phone selection is limited.
ChatR (Rogers) – ChatR is Rogers’ budget phone provider. Even more budget than Fido. It does offer very limited support but a reliable network and good prices. There aren’t any underhanded techniques (like continuing to bill you after you’ve cancelled) to make up for the cheaper phone plans but it doesn’t have as extensive support or customer care as Rogers brand.
Videotron – An alternative available to you as well is to register for a phone plan in another province, such as Quebec, with Canada-wide usage (it will be on their partner network) and utilize your phone in BC. It’s not much cheaper but coverage may be better than Freedom Mobile for similar prices. For example, Videotron provides 8 GB plans for $65.95/month which is comparable to prices you get for Freedom Mobile (Public Mobile’s 5 GB plan with Canada-wide calling and Global texting for $67. So you get 3 GB of free data with this plan in Quebec.)
PC Mobile – Another excellent option if you’re looking for cheap phone plans. The post-paid services are owned and operated by Telus whereas the pre-paid services are owned and operated by Bell. President Choice still owns the trademark and kiosks. As you know by now, any of the Big 3 networks will provide generally reliable coverage across most of Canada. $40/Month will get you 500 MB data, 500 minutes calling, and unlimited nation-wide texting on the Telus network while $60/month will get you 1 GB data and unlimited Text and Talk. It’s cheaper than Virgin Mobile, Koodo, or Fido but expect a no-frills service.
SpeakOut 711 – Speakout is the pre-paid service by 711 that allows you to buy top-up vouchers for use on phone calls or data at $0.10/mb. You have to bring or buy your own phone (limited selection of phones available.) They offer a 2 GB plan with unlimited talk and text for $75. Very basic service for a no-frills, absolute basic service. Speakout uses Rogers’ network.
Cityfone (Rogers) – Acquired by Rogers’ in 2010. Cityfone is another discount cellphone plan provider in Canada. They offer rates similar to what you would find with Fido. $40 will get you 500 MB data, 200 minutes Canada-wide calling and unlimited text. $60 will get you 1 GB data, 400 minutes Canada-wide calling, and unlimited text. Voicemail, call waiting, conference calling, and call display is already included. As it is a brand that is less advertised by Rogers’, having fewer subscribers, you may not find as extensive customer support or infrastructure as with Fido. You can expect as good a network coverage as Fido however as Cityfone also operates LTE on Rogers’ network. 1 GB of data is $55 on Fido. It’s more suited and promoted towards temporary visitors to Canada such as tourists in Vancouver. So if your friends are visiting Vancouver and you want to hook them up with a local phone number, this is probably an option. Since Canada has one of the highest phone plans costs it may be cheaper for them to keep their current phone though especially if they are visiting from Europe or Asia.
SaskTel – If you’re willing to live in Saskatchewan for the summer, then sign up for their phone plans there which are ridiculously cheap. Their Canada-wide plans can be used anywhere in Canada for phone calls, data, and text base on the FAQ. $110 gets you 20 GB data, unlimited Canada-wide calling, and unlimited Canada-wide texting! $90 if you want a little less data (15 GB). Their 1 GB plans are the same prices as Fido however.
Thanks once again for reading our Vancouver guide to student phone plans in Canada.
More Tips: Here are more tips for saving money with your student phone plan.
– If you intend on getting a large data plan with Rogers, you may as well sign a 2 year contract for a free phone. The prices with or without a Tab are equal for 10 GB, 20 GB, 40 GB, and 80 GB share everything plan with Rogers.
– Fido is often the same price as Rogers (occasionally cheaper but if you use Data frequently, you’ll get more bang for your buck with Rogers) but you get more perks with Rogers. (The platform and customer service is also better with Rogers than Fido understandably as the main brand.)
– The general rule…the more data you get the better your plan value. It would be worth while to sign up for a Share-Everything plan with a friend and split the bill if you want data and want to save money. A 10 GB share everything plan with Rogers works out to about $135/month + $35 (another line) making it $170 split over two people is $85 per person for 5GB of data and unlimited local calling. Doing that with the 40 GB plan and 8 people works out to just $70/person (albeit a little unrealistic for such micro savings to have 8 people on your plan unless they are close friends or family.)
– Most cellphone service providers such as Rogers, Telus, and Bell often run promotions during September period; great deals on student phone plans (and phone plans in general). The promotions also often run in December especially deals on phones.
– Telus seems to have higher prices for phones on contract so if you need a new phone, your best bet is probably Fido or Rogers.
– Freedom Mobile by far has the best prices on phone plans (LTE Network) however reception and coverage is still sub-par compared to the Rogers or Telus.
– Authorized resellers may provide different promotions than the brands directly on both phone plans and phones.
– Different areas of Canada may have cheaper cellphone plan pricing. If you’re creative and willing to hop through some hoops you can save a lot of money on your student cellphone plan. For example, if you registered your phone plan in Saskatchewan (with a Saskatchewan phone number) your plan for 10 GB of data, unlimited local calling and text is only $60 CAD! (On both Bell and Rogers) Comparatively, I’m paying $145/month for the same 10 GB Share Everything plan with Rogers. This is probably due to higher competition provincially in Saskatchewan from Sasktel.
– When it comes to modern day essentials like cell phone service, it’s in your best interest to shell out a little (spend a little less on alcohol maybe) and get better service/reliability.
Spending in excess of 20 hours to compose this article, I can say confidently that I plan on sticking with Rogers’ base on my experience thus far and the horror stories I’ve read about other network carrier customer support!
Thanks for reading this lengthy article on the best student phone plans in Vancouver! We hope it helps. – VancityAsks