Data plans, usage and fees

Some plans for cell phones and other mobile devices limit the amount of data you can use. If you use all of your data, you may be charged fees for additional data use. This page can help you better understand these fees and how to avoid them.

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Data plans

Cell phone service providers typically offer a variety of data plans. The price of these plans may depend on the amount of data that is included. Many service providers also offer plans with unlimited data. But even with unlimited plans, the speed at which you can use data may slow down significantly after you use a certain amount of data.

Family and shared plans

The data included with this type of plan can be shared between multiple family members and their devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Usually, there is only one bill for all the devices that share the plan.

Additional data fees

If your plan limits the amount of data you can use, you may have to pay extra if you go past that limit. These are called overage fees and can add up quickly. The amount charged will vary between service providers. Usually, it will be shown on your bill as a data overage charge.

Under the CRTC’s Wireless Code, service providers cannot charge you more than $50 in overage fees per billing cycle unless you explicitly agree to pay more. Most service providers will notify you by text message or email when you are close to reaching your data limit.

Monitoring your data usage can help you avoid these fees. You can often view your data usage on the website or app of your cell phone service provider.

How to monitor and reduce data usage

Reduce data usage by connecting to a Wi-Fi network

If you use the Internet when you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, your phone uses data from your cell phone plan. When you are connected to a Wi-Fi network, the data usage on your device does not count toward your data limit.

Check your account details

Your online account gives you access to important information. For example:

Many service providers also offer the following:

Tracking your data usage regularly will help you adjust your habits to avoid extra charges. Most cell phones also have settings that you can change to restrict or prevent data usage. To learn how to do this, check the user manual for your device.

Purchase a travel data plan before you leave Canada

The data that you use in Canada when connected to your service provider’s wireless network is covered by your regular monthly plan. However, when you travel internationally and connect to other networks, data rates change.

See our tips on how to reduce data usage fees when travelling.

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