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Author Topic: Requesting Help with Cell Phones  (Read 1187 times)

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Requesting Help with Cell Phones
« on: November 29, 2013, 06:14:22 PM »
I am a near-Luddite. I don't own a cell phone (or any other electronic device besides a laptop), but as I was driving to my Mom's house yesterday the red light on my dashboard came on indicating an alternator problem. Fortunately I was able to make it there, and AAA came out later and cleaned the corrosion off the battery that caused the problem so I could get home, but it was quite frightening seeing that red light and knowing I didn't have a cell phone.

I don't like them. I don't carry a purse so I have nowhere to put it. But now I have come to the realization it would be wise to have one. So ... I am in the market but Holy Cow! I googled "prepaid cell phones" and came up with so many returns it blew me away.

Can you help me. I want to have the cheapest plan possible. Prepaid is fine but not necessary. (I saw one plan that you pay $2 a day but only for days you will use it. That's my kind of thing as long as I can go months, or years, between uses without penalty.) I will not grow to use the phone other than for emergencies. I am in a Verizon area but Los Angeles, which I think is mainly AT&T, is a destination until Mom passes on.

So, do you have any suggestions, ideas, thoughts, plans, etc. that you think I need to know and/or consider. And any recommendations are welcome. Remember, I am looking for the least expensive but I also want to be able to depend on my phone.


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Re: Requesting Help with Cell Phones
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 07:07:02 PM »
I have an AT&T prepaid phone, I pay $100 and it doesn't expire for a year. The rate is 25 cents a minute. I don't text, so that keeps the cost down.

DH got the phone for me; it was a buddy's. DH bought a new SIM card when he set up the phone up as prepaid. I hardly ever use it. If I buy more minutes at $100 once a year, then the money never expires. I've had it for 5 years, and I still have about $400 in credit on it. But, for about $9 a month, I have a cell phone.

I have a little flip phone, small and fits in a pocket. You can probably find one used and just buy a new SIM card.

gramma dishes

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Re: Requesting Help with Cell Phones
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 07:19:03 PM »
I have an AT&T prepaid phone, I pay $100 and it doesn't expire for a year. The rate is 25 cents a minute. I don't text, so that keeps the cost down.   ...

I have almost the exact same thing.  AT&T, I paid $100 for 1000 minutes a year.   It's ten cents a minute and I can use them anytime during the year.  I can make forty-two phone calls one month, none the next, thirty-seven the next, three the next and so on.  If I run out of minutes I can buy more.  If I don't use up all my minutes in a year, I can roll them over into next year by signing up for another time period.

I program in the names and numbers of my children and my sons and daughter-in-law and our home phone.  Then I turn the phone off unless I need it.  It keeps idiots (sales people, scammers, etc.) from getting through.  (If you accidentally answer, you pay for that time even though you didn't want or make the call.)


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Re: Requesting Help with Cell Phones
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2013, 10:15:49 PM »
I had a T-mobile prepaid plan for years.  They had very good coverage, even though I'm in a high Verizon/ATT area.  The phones cost anywhere from 29-49 and the minutes last a whole year.  Another thing I liked about Tmobile is that their sim cards will work in any phone that takes them, even phones from other providers.

Once I moved to the iphone, I went on a family plan with ATT, but I'd go back to Tmobile in a minute.

Since you are going with prepaid, I would look to see who offers the most minutes at the cheapest rate for the longest length of time. 


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Re: Requesting Help with Cell Phones
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2013, 12:22:46 AM »
Cheapest is VirginMobile or TracFone, depending on what you can find with good service near you.  (I have one and DH has the other).  You can get a cheap phone for $20-$50, depending how many bells and whistles you want.  The biggest cost for these prepaid phones isn't minutes, it's "topping up" your balance - the minutes roll over, but you have to add more every three months or so.  That said, I pay $20 every three months for mine (100 minutes each time, so ~30 minutes/month) and we pay ~$100/year for DH's (but it gives a lot more minutes).  Since we avoid all the extra taxes and whatnot - which essentially doubled the cost when we tried a regular phone plan for a while! - we end up paying $8-$10 each per month for our phones.

I find that those 30 minutes/month are just about perfect for me - I use the landline when I'm at home, but I also have my cell for times when I need to reach DH, or my ride didn't show up, or whatnot.  Both the VirginMobile and TracFone plans allow pay-as-you-go texting - it's pricey, $0.20 per text, but it's good for times like "my plane just landed" or trying to reach someone when you're somewhere noisy.  The phones also both have rudimentary web capabilities, but it's CRAZY expensive (as in, $1.50 upfront per day plus an arm and a leg for data) so I've never used it.

ETA: Also worth noting that VirginMobile will let you put some minutes on and just keep rolling them over for $6/month.  If you truly don't use your phone for anything except emergencies, that will definitely be the cheapest plan out there.  They also let you set up an automatic payment with a credit card if you want to - my phone automatically tops up if I run low on minutes or run out of days, so I don't have to worry about it  :)
« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 12:25:01 AM by Slartibartfast »


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Re: Requesting Help with Cell Phones
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2013, 09:23:57 AM »
Thank you all very much. This makes more sense to me. I have bookmarked this discussion and will use it as I begin to look around.