Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

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BreadandButter
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Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

Has anyone purchased an e-sim card for use in Canada? I have a dual sim iphone and a budget cell plan with no service in Canada. Rather than swapping out my sim card at the border, I was thinking of purchasing an e-sim from Rogers to use during our trip. Has anyone done this?
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

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Topic moved to Personal Consumer Issues.
LookingForward
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by LookingForward »

I used an e-sim from GigSky in Germany a couple of years ago. It was pretty painless, although the speeds weren’t any better than I was getting for free from T-mobile, in the rural towns we were visiting. In Frankfurt, however, the speed on the GigSky network (I don’t remember which carrier it was) was crazy fast.
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BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

Can this be purchased ahead of time? Is the activation initiated over wifi once in the country, since there is no physical insertion of the sim to trigger it?
DSInvestor
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by DSInvestor »

You may also want to consider checking with your current cell phone service to see if they have a plan that gives you Canada service that you can upgrade to and then revert back to original plan when you return. I used to use cricket and some of their plans offer Canada service for maybe $10/month more than the plan does that does not include Canada.

We have done road trips through BC and Yukon with Cricket and T-Mobile and service was great in Canada. Our phones were able to connect to Rogers, Bell, Telus and other services automatically. We had no concerns about which carriers worked well in certain regions as the phones simply connected to those that were available in each area.
Last edited by DSInvestor on Tue Jul 20, 2021 2:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

Thanks. We have prepaid T mobile Connect. I believe they only offer service in Canada on their post paid plans, which I am not interested in. We have used a T mobile wifi hotspot device in Canada, but one device for 2 people is not ideal.
bluebolt
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by bluebolt »

I know this isn't what you asked, but here's what I do when I travel - I have an esim for my US/domestic carrier. I find it's super easy to find physical SIMs and there are more options when you travel to another country. I usually order them from Amazon and have them within a couple of days. Since more carriers (and virtual carriers) support physical SIMs than eSIMs, there's more choice.

ETA: not sure if this is possible with your current carrier/plan
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BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

Thanks. Yes I had thought of that. I would have to call T Mobile to switch to e-sim, I believe. Don't know if there is any downside? If I travelled a lot I can see the advantages.
bluebolt
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by bluebolt »

BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:20 pm Thanks. Yes I had thought of that. I would have to call T Mobile to switch to e-sim, I believe. Don't know if there is any downside? If I travelled a lot I can see the advantages.
There's a theoretical downside which is you can't load an eSIM via an app/virtually for your int'l destination. In reality, I haven't experienced any downside to doing it this way. I've taken several international trips with this method.
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lthenderson
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by lthenderson »

BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:45 pm Has anyone purchased an e-sim card for use in Canada? I have a dual sim iphone and a budget cell plan with no service in Canada. Rather than swapping out my sim card at the border, I was thinking of purchasing an e-sim from Rogers to use during our trip. Has anyone done this?
Not sure if you have looked into this but does your current cell phone plan have international plans? The last time we went to Canada, we just added International calling for $5/phone and that was good for an entire month and included calls and texts. Once we crossed back over the border, we just cancelled it again. We did it all via the app on our phone. FWIW We use Verizon.
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BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

On our budget T Mobile plan this is not an option. Since we travel so infrequently I want to stick with our $15/mo domestic plan. A Canadian sim seems like our best bet.
02nz
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by 02nz »

I've used 2 eSIM providers with my iPhone 11 and 12 in the US: Airalo and Truphone. Airalo is a little cheaper but I recommend Truphone. Airalo routes all your data through Poland, and that slows things way down, even just getting Maps directions felt very sluggish. Truphone was much better. However, it looks like they have no country-specific plan for Canada, so you'd have to use their pricier global plan (1GB for $18, 3GB for $49, both good for 30 days).
nalor511
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by nalor511 »

BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:20 pm Thanks. Yes I had thought of that. I would have to call T Mobile to switch to e-sim, I believe. Don't know if there is any downside? If I travelled a lot I can see the advantages.
Can't you just swap out your sim for the trip, and swap it back when you're home? I do not see why you would need to involve tmo
DSInvestor
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by DSInvestor »

OP, I am not sure which phone you have but I found this about Apple phones with dual SIM capability:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209044
Apple wrote:To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked. Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier provides your first SIM, your second SIM won't support CDMA. Contact your carrier for more information.
I believe T-Mobile is GSM so the note about CDMA should not apply.

The last time I checked (several years ago), I believe Rogers is GSM, Bell and Telus are CDMA.
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starboi
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by starboi »

nalor511 wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 6:41 pm
BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:20 pm Thanks. Yes I had thought of that. I would have to call T Mobile to switch to e-sim, I believe. Don't know if there is any downside? If I travelled a lot I can see the advantages.
Can't you just swap out your sim for the trip, and swap it back when you're home? I do not see why you would need to involve tmo
+1
Topic Author
BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

I was looking for an alternative to sim swapping at the border. See my original post.
nalor511
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by nalor511 »

BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:43 pm I was looking for an alternative to sim swapping at the border. See my original post.
I saw your original post, I just don't agree. I would never complicate my "home" life to simplify my vacation life. SIM swap preserves the sanctity of your home setup. Complicate the vacation setup. My advice. Meh.
02nz
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by 02nz »

DSInvestor wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:04 pm OP, I am not sure which phone you have but I found this about Apple phones with dual SIM capability:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209044
Apple wrote:To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked. Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier provides your first SIM, your second SIM won't support CDMA. Contact your carrier for more information.
I believe T-Mobile is GSM so the note about CDMA should not apply.

The last time I checked (several years ago), I believe Rogers is GSM, Bell and Telus are CDMA.
GSM and CDMA describe 2G and 3G technologies. These networks are being (or have already been) shut down in the U.S. For 4G LTE and 5G, there's no such distinction. (Carriers do still use different bands, but most newer phones sold in the U.S. support all 4 major carriers and most international carriers.)
Topic Author
BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

Dual sim phones and e-sims have the potential for being simpler, not more complicated for travel needs. Always good to check out newer options than the old way of doing things. An e- sim for travel that can be activated here is ideal for us, but I am interested in other ideas.
Last edited by BreadandButter on Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jags4186
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by Jags4186 »

I have used Airalo app to buy an e-sim on iPhone. Canada prices are:

$7.50, 1GB, 7 days
$17.50, 3GB, 30 days
$25.00, 5GB, 30 days
$36.00, 10GB, 30 days

You probably would need to reach out to Airalo to find out what level of service they provide and what network it would connect to. For example, just for fun I bought a US e-sim for like $2 or $3 and it connected to T-Mobile and it only allowed access to their 3G HSPA network, even though I am in a 5G and LTE area.

Also, none of these plans offer talk/text so be careful as when you are dual-sim with e-sim you’ll still be making phone calls from your regular number and be subject to roaming charges.
02nz
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by 02nz »

nalor511 wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:17 pm
BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:43 pm I was looking for an alternative to sim swapping at the border. See my original post.
I saw your original post, I just don't agree. I would never complicate my "home" life to simplify my vacation life. SIM swap preserves the sanctity of your home setup. Complicate the vacation setup. My advice. Meh.
What does "preserving the sanctity of your home setup" mean? If you mean apps/data, those are entirely untouched. If you mean network settings, the phone is smart enough to know to use a different set of network settings for each SIM/eSIM. I've never had a single issue with this functionality on my iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.
nalor511
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by nalor511 »

02nz wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:51 pm
nalor511 wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:17 pm
BreadandButter wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:43 pm I was looking for an alternative to sim swapping at the border. See my original post.
I saw your original post, I just don't agree. I would never complicate my "home" life to simplify my vacation life. SIM swap preserves the sanctity of your home setup. Complicate the vacation setup. My advice. Meh.
What does "preserving the sanctity of your home setup" mean? If you mean apps/data, those are entirely untouched. If you mean network settings, the phone is smart enough to know to use a different set of network settings for each SIM/eSIM. I've never had a single issue with this functionality on my iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.
OP suggested trying to switch his home setup from SIM to eSIM so that he could use SIM for his foreign setup. I suggested just physically swapping SIMs instead, simple as that.
Topic Author
BreadandButter
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by BreadandButter »

I was looking to keep my sim and get an e sim for travel. Another poster suggested doing the opposite, which I was also interested in finding out about. All possibilities have pros and cons to discuss.
bluebolt
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Re: Buying an e-sim card for travel to Canada

Post by bluebolt »

nalor511 wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:06 pm OP suggested trying to switch his home setup from SIM to eSIM so that he could use SIM for his foreign setup. I suggested just physically swapping SIMs instead, simple as that.
I made that suggestion.

As someone who travels a lot, physically swapping SIMs is more trouble than:
1) Having your local carrier on an eSIM, getting a local SIM and discarding it at the end of the trip
2) Having your local carrier on a SIM and loading the international carrier onto an eSIM

If you are only traveling once, swapping SIMs is marginally easier than those options, but for multiple trips, the above options are easier. Also, both above options allow you to make/receive calls/texts on your home number if you wish. You can't do that by swapping SIMs.
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