“Impossible,” you say. “TracFone does not offer international roaming, period.” Au contraire; It is actually possible!

If, that is, you have an unlocked GSM phone. In that case, there’s nothing stopping you from installing a SIM card from a Canadian carrier in it. Many phones come with multiple SIM slots to facilitate just such use by international travelers. The catch is that calls won’t automatically follow you; you’ll get a separate Canadian phone number that people will have to use to contact you while in Canada.

A further wrinkle is that if you try and order a SIM card from a Canadian carrier online, you will discover that they absolutely refuse to ship such things to non-Canadian addresses. I did some research and found out that even though Public Wireless (the discount brand of Telus, one of the largest Canadian cell networks) refuses to ship their SIM cards outside of Canada, once you get possession of one of their SIM cards and install it in a phone, they will happily let you register it to a US address and associate it with a US credit card. I can now confirm that this is indeed the case. (And you can easily buy a Public Wireless SIM over-the-counter on your next visit to Canada.)

Why do this? I found that TracFone’s prices, despite their service limitations, are are so much cheaper than any plan that offers international roaming, that it costs me less money by far to have separate discount plans in both the USA and Canada than it would to have a high-end plan that allows international roaming.