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 $100 and buy a prepaid card for about 10 to 20 cents a minute.
And then if you don't use it but a few times a month, it would be an
What am I missing?
What brand or service works well here in Houston/La Porte?
Tried it in Calif and it sucked. (AT&T I think) I wanted it basically
for emergencies only and thought it would be perfect. When the wife
upgraded I took her old phone and bought a card. What I found was that
every time I got called they whacked of a lot more than the minute I was
hooked up and if there was any unused time left at the end of the month
I lost it and had to start over with a new card.
There is one deal from Trac Phone that you can keep the minutes for a
year and even roll them over again if you buy a ? 80$? 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.
firstname.lastname@example.org (m Ransley) wrote in
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.
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...
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
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. :)
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 :-)
WalMart has TracFones for $20.00,then you buy the aircards you desire.
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
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!)
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?
Usually, the time "expires" if you don't use it within a certain time
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
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+.
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.
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
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.
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.
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