Earlier this month we spent a week in Canada visiting with family. This was the first trip back to my homeland since we switched to Mint Mobile for our phones, and I certainly learned a few things along the way.
It simply did not occur to me that I should look into exactly how Mint Mobile would work in Canada before departing. It turns out that roaming in Canada is possible, but requires that you log into the web portal and enable International Roaming, which involves adding funds specifically to cover services used while abroad.
When our flight from Houston landed in Toronto I was able to use put my laptop on airport Wi-Fi and add International Roaming Credit. After a short while it appeared that I could send SMS, and incoming calls rang through to the phone, but I could not make calls. Any attempt to dial out was immediately disconnected.
Since we had a two-hour layover in Toronto, I engaged with Mint support via their web-based chat tool. Their support staffer was nice enough. They said they were dealing with multiple sessions at a time, so to be patient if there was a delay in their responding to any messages.
They offered some guidance, but none that seemed to resolve the trouble. We ran out of time and had to board our next flight without any real insight into why we didn’t have service.
Later that Evening…
When we reached our hotel room, I once again took up the matter with Mint Mobile online support. Over the course of two hours they had me try several things, including wholly resetting my phones network preferences.
They claimed that I should be able to see a list of locally available carriers, and manually select the one that was supported by their roaming arrangement. When scanning for available networks the phone only ever showed; Mint 3G, Mint LTE and Mint 5G.
I went through the same handful of settings multiple times. Each time the phone had to be rebooted. It was an agonizing and ultimately pointless process. It was made worse by the fact that, every time I engaged with the support staff, it was like they were taking up the matter anew. They had no continuity in handling the case.
After just over two hours I gave up and resolved to find a mobile store and buy a local SIM. That would allow me to use things like Google Maps for navigation, even if I was not able to call or text from the phone number that everyone knew. Those who needed it would have to be alerted to my temporary phone number for the week.
In theory, I could have acquired an eSIM from Bell. That would have let me leave my Mint SIM in the phone while adding Bell connectivity for the week. The clerk at the Bell store made that seem potentially complicated, so I didn’t bother.
In the US, Mint Mobile has proven to be a good solution. It costs dramatically less than our last T-Mobile plans for essentially the same service. We have never needed support, so the limited nature of their support capability was never an issue. I should have planned ahead with respect to our travel to Canada, but the cost of the prepaid Bell SIM was modest.