Prepaid Cell Phones Cost- Good Deal?

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I'm curious about the TOTAL cost of a prepaid cell phone for someone on a very limited budget.
It seems to me that you can pick up the phone at Walmart for less than $100 and buy a prepaid card for about 10 to 20 cents a minute.
And then if you don't use it but a few times a month, it would be an excellent deal.
What am I missing?
What brand or service works well here in Houston/La Porte?
Sherman
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Sherman wrote:

Tried it in Calif and it sucked. (AT&T I think) I wanted it basically for emergencies only and thought it would be perfect. When the wife upgraded I took her old phone and bought a card. What I found was that every time I got called they whacked of a lot more than the minute I was hooked up and if there was any unused time left at the end of the month I lost it and had to start over with a new card.
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There is one deal from Trac Phone that you can keep the minutes for a year and even roll them over again if you buy a ? 80$? card, I think its 240 minutes for 80-90$. Good if the phone is for emergency use only. Trac Phone has the only deal where minutes dont just expire automaticly in 20-60 days, but you must buy their big card, at radioshack, wall mart etc. Now though there might be others to offer this. You can get their phones from 35$ and up. The bad deal is the cheap cards expire in 30 days. With Track phone you can get a phone and one years minutes for 130$ or 11 $ a month.
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote in 3136.bay.webtv.net:

I use Tracfone for a number of years now. I buy the one year card. I hardly talk on the phone so now I have a lot of minutes rolled over (if I ever need minutes). What's great is that you get a voice mail with it. Call the VM (retrieve messages) from a land line and you don't use any minutes.
I also use their Long-Distance service. I just signed up this summer. It's perfect for me. Marina
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We rarely make phone calls, so we still live in the dark ages without a cell phone. :) But, we've thought about getting a cell phone for emergency purposes, like if we have car trouble or something.
The pre-paid cell plans sound like they would work well for us, but I'm curious how these work. Are they like the phone cards you buy in the stores where you have to type in some long code every time you want to make a phone call? It's a simple question that I never see answered...
Thanks,
Anthony
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HerHusband wrote:

I have TracFone, and with their service, you just dial the regular telephone number with area code. I wondered about that too, before I got a cellphone. :) You have put those lengthy codes when you buy/add airtime to your phone though.
I got my [refurbished] Nokia cellphone free, and bought a couple of months service at first to see if it worked as advertised, and it did. So I've bought the annual prepaid service for the last 2 years, which has worked fine for me. I'm even thinking of giving up my landline next month. :) bj
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wrote:

I know about the TracFone I've been using for over 3 years.
First, you buy a phone (I've seen some for as little as $29 recently, Wal-Mart has them). You call TracFone to activate it (or do it online), they give you some numbers to enter into the phone. Then, you use it as you would any cell phone (no extra numbers to dial) as long as the time/units you bought last.
If you're activating online, it's easier to buy time/units that way, instead of getting a card.
Since I use mine mostly for emergencies, time is more important than units. I get activation that lasts a year and includes 150 units (they've been adding to that at activation). There are both smaller and larger amounts available.

BTW, it looks strange but my spell checker keeps wanting to change TracFone into Raccoon :-)
--
18 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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WalMart has TracFones for $20.00,then you buy the aircards you desire. amazingly inexpensive! You can also buy airtime over the Internet,that's where you often get bonus minutes and other deals. The site guides you step by step thru the data-input process. That's what I've used.

You only need to enter the card's data once,not each time you use the phone. Buy a one-year card(150 "units",plus any bonus units),your minutes on the shorter cards expire after a couple of months. Also buy a 12V auto charging cord;you can get those at WalMart,too.
It's useful for blackouts when your house charger will not work,or if your CP battery runs low when you are far from home.(when you are really likely to need it!)
--
Jim Yanik
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m Ransley, 12/6/2005, 6:55:34 AM,

Does Tracfone receive incoming calls and does that apply to your minutes?
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wrote:

Yes, when you answer or make a call the minutes are being used. If you call your voice mail from your cell the mintues are also used. Call your VM from a land line and it's free to get messages.
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Marina wrote:

Marina,
Help me with my new Tracfone, please, as you allude to my VM question. I haven't set up the VM yet, but am getting message alerts occasionally.(or so it says). No one knows this CP number except tracfone. Are there really messages there? How do you check messages from a land line?
Thanks
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Sherman wrote:

Usually, the time "expires" if you don't use it within a certain time frame.
I use Tracfone, and am very happy with it. But I purchase 150 minute cards, which don't expire for 1-year. If you keep purchasing cards, the minutes roll-over, so you don't lose them. But for me, I don't use anywhere near as many minutes as I have to sign up for to keep the service in place.
It's still much less expensive than the normal monthly rates from Singular/Verizon, etc. It's great if you don't use the phone much.
Another disadvantage, at least with Tracfone, is that if you lose the phone or it is stolen, you lose all your minutes and time. They will not transfer those minutes or time to a new phone.

I'm in western NY, so can't help you there. But all the prepaid plans use some other sevice provider's network to arry the signal. In my area, Tracfone uses Verizon, which is good because they have the best coverage in this area. When I vacationed in the Southwest, my phone used Singular, which was also the best coverage in that area.
So ask the provider what network they use in your area. Then ask friends and coworkers what service they use, and how their coverage is.
Terry
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You are right Terry, a 150 minute Trac Phone card, I forgot the card size we purchased, the phone is for my mom for emergencys, but she got 60? minutes free for signing and 2 extra months I believe before a new card is needed, 14 months. Phone works fine and has only needed a partial charge in 1 year, Now they have a camera phone avalaible, I think phones start at 35$ up to 100+.
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On Tue, 6 Dec 2005 06:51:29 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

But, can you change phones (both from TracFone), and keep the same phone number and accumulated minutes/time?
--
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(m Ransley)

Yes, I changed to a different model and I kept the same #. That was a while ago. They sometimes change their business, but ususally it's to give better options.
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Good, so far. What about the rest (time/minutes)? Would changing to another phone mean you lose those?
--
19 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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.

Well I dropped my original Virgin Moble phone over the side of a boat..and had to buy a replacement...kept the same number...kept the prepaid "minutes" etc... no problem at all ...
Bob G.
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Suggestion;keep the cellphone in a ziplock plastic baggie(when boating!);it keeps it safe from immersions,and even FLOATS!
--
Jim Yanik
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Terry wrote:

Yea, that's an answer, but I doubt if I would average even one call a year, and that would still mean I would be paying about $100 a year for the service and at my rate of calls that would be $50 or more a call. Now if I could buy the card, keep the minutes and only pay say $20.00 per year, I think I would go for that.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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Dec 2005 14:15:13 GMT, Joseph Meehan wrote:

There are several prepaid carriers that would fit your requirements. STI Mobile and Beyond Wireless, for example, let you keep your minutes forever, and only require you to make a one minute call every 60 days to keep your service. STI mobile charges 12 cents a minute peak, 10 cents a minute off-peak and weekends, so you only have to spend a minimum 60 cents a year. I believe beyond wireless is similar. Beyond Wireless is a little more expensive (about 16 cents a minute, or so, IIRC), but has better coverage.
STI Mobile is reselling Sprint PCS, and Beyond Wireless is reselling Cingular (formerly AT&T) TDMA.
I noticed in Staples' flyer this week that they are selling an STI Mobile phone for free after rebate ($100), so all you need for over eight years of service (if you never use it, except for the requisite calls) is your local sales tax on the phone, a $5 activation fee, and a $5 prepaid card.
www.stimobile.com www.gobeyondwireless.com
I think there's a third carrier that does this, too, but I can't remember their name.
I've never used these people, so it's conceivable there are problems I don't know about. And, of course, you risk them going out of business, since they seem to be small companies working on small margins.
--
Seth Goodman

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