How to Buy a Phone & Phone Plan Online
If you’re asking yourself, can I start a phone plan online? The answer is yes. This is great news, especially if you’re not yet ready to go into stores as they gradually begin to re-open. And not only can you start a phone plan online, but you can also buy a cell phone online. Of course, if you’re used to buying phones in-person, you’ll have to learn how to navigate ways to a vet a new phone without touching it. If you don’t consider yourself a tech-savvy shopper, don’t worry. Websites are making it easier to see what’s being offered. You can compare plans and phones without stepping into a store. Carriers like Bell offer free shipping and easy returns, plus they’re waiving connection service fees for online orders.
Compare Phones and Plans Online
Where to buy cheap phones online
New phones don’t come cheap. But there several cheap and even free phones online. The best site to buy phones online will vary depending on what you’re looking for, but places like eBay, Amazon, and Gazelle are great places to start. Some carriers may offer big savings on unlocked phones. Try looking at Fido, Virgin, and Chatr.
Dealers and individuals may be eager to sell their phones to make extra cash during COVID-19. If you’re stuck at home and looking for a cheap phone online, this is a great time to compare prices and gauge whether it’s time to buy.
What’s an unlocked phone?
An unlocked phone is exactly what the name implies. An unlocked phone isn’t connected to a carrier. As of December 1, 2017, all phones in Canada must be sold unlocked and carriers cannot charge for unlocking older devices. Pretty great, right? If you’re shopping outside of Canada through a third-party seller, make sure you’re buying an unlocked phone. You can buy an unlocked phone from anywhere in the world and connect it to a carrier in your area. This gives you flexibility in choosing a plan that best fits your needs. Unlocked phones work internationally, too! All you have to do is swap out your SIM card for a local carrier.
How can I get a free phone?
Ah, the most beautiful word in the world: FREE. Believe it or not, it’s possible to spend $0 on a cell phone. Of course, it won’t be the year’s top or newest model, but free is free, right? Here’s a list of free cell phones in Canada.
What's the best site to buy phone online?
Before you dash over to your carrier to buy a phone, check where you can buy cell phones online. You may be wondering, what is the cheapest way to buy a phone? The answer is it’s not typically through a carrier store or their website. Just because your cell phone plan is with a certain carrier doesn’t mean you have to buy your phone from them. As a consumer, you have options. Look for deals and specials during holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon prime day, Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Other good times to buy are during a preorder period for a new model and the month leading up to the release of a new phone.
Once you narrow in on a phone you like, do a price check. Can you find the phone cheaper through a third-party vs. buying directly from the manufacturer? Knowing you got the best deal will give you confidence in your choice.
Compare phone pricing before you buy
Before you purchase a cell phone online
Keep your guard up. There are new cell phone scams every day. Be smart and thoroughly vet the seller before you buy cell phones online. You’ll be spending a good chunk of change on a phone. Even phones that are refurbished can still be expensive. Protect yourself by asking questions like the following:
- Is there any cosmetic and/or internal damage to the phone? Be on special alert for water damage as this can cause malfunctions with the hardware.
- Is the phone locked? Make sure the phone isn’t locked.
- What is the storage capacity? You may find a great, cheap phone but there’s not enough storage capacity for your needs. Ask upfront to avoid this issue.
- Are you getting your money’s worth? Make sure that you’re not skimping on quality. Could you get the same features in a new phone for the same price?
- Will the phone be compatible with your carrier?
An extra measure of security is checking whether the phone is stolen or under contract—to do this, you can enter the serial number on a site like Swappa. Due to COVID-19, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect your device once you receive it, including the device ports.
If you're worried about getting scammed, buy from a mobile carrier directly.
Is it better to by online or in store?
If you’re in the market for a new cell phone, one of the questions you have to answer is—should I buy a phone online or offline? It depends. Under normal circumstances, you might want to go inside of a store to touch a phone, feel the weight, and see how it fits in your pocket or purse. During COVID-19 most stores are closed, although some have begun re-opening as of late. That could work in your favor though. You can find deals on free shipping and easy returns that might not have been available before. The process to buy cell phones online is convenient and simple. Some companies, like Fido and Virgin Mobile Canada, allow you to forgo the $40 connection service fee if you shop online. Online, you can watch video reviews of different phones and compare features before buying—all on your own time. If you have your eye on a few models or you want to poke around, try using our comparison tool. This will help give you an idea of what the phone is like before purchasing.
Can you return your phone if you don't like it?
Each carrier and seller has different policies when it comes to returns and exchanges. It’s important to note their policies when you buy a phone online. For example, if you bought a phone from Bell and signed up for a Bell phone plan, you can return the device within 60 days of your start date. Most companies, like Bell, require that the device be “like new” condition in all the original packaging. Even companies like Amazon require original packaging so make sure to keep the box and packaging around for at least a month before you decide to toss it. Here are other companies’ policies:
- Returns to Rogers have to be made within 15 days of purchase with no physical or moisture damage.
- TELUS requires returns to be in near new condition with the original packaging. If you used more than 30 voice minutes, 50 texts, or 50MB of data you may be charged for usage.
- When purchasing directly from Apple you have 14 days to return the item with all of the cords, adapters, and documentation you received with it.
- Virgin Mobile Canada offers 60-day free returns.
How to sign up for a phone plan online
Signing up for a phone plan online is practically as simple as ordering food for delivery. Carriers like Virgin Mobile Canada, Koodo Mobile, and Rogers make it super easy to do this on your computer or tablet. Whether you’re looking for a cheap phone plan or an unlimited plan with all the bells and whistles, have no fear—you can sign up for a plan online. You’ll need to make an account, choose whether you need a new SIM card or not (this is usually free), and provide a valid Canadian credit card and one piece of ID (issued by provincial or Canadian government) in your name. Make sure your name and billing address match the information on your credit card, and you’re set!
Can I change my phone plan online?
The simple answer is yes—you can even keep your number too, thanks to the Canadian Wireless Code of Conduct, which outlines your consumer rights. If you’re looking to change your plan under the same carrier, just log in to your account and change your plan there. If you’re looking to switch carriers, you can do that online too—just make sure your phone is unlocked. If you bought it in 2018 or later, then it’s already unlocked. If it’s older, you may need to contact your carrier in order to unlock it.
Additionally, you’ll need to make sure your phone is compatible with your new carrier before switching. Chances are if you’ve bought your phone within the last five years, it will probably work on all networks (Bell, Rogers, and TELUS). But if you want to double-check, you can contact the sales support via live chat, email, or phone, and they will confirm compatibility.
- Where to buy cheap phones online
- What’s an unlocked phone?
- How can I get a free phone?
- What is the best site to buy phones online?
- Before you purchase a cell phone online
- Is it better to buy online or in store?
- Can you return a phone if you don't like it?
- How to sign up for a phone plan online
- Can I change my phone plan online?