I have a Tracfone that I got just for emergencies. I do use it
occassionally for other calls, just keep them short. It took a bit for
me to get used to the charge system, but basically you prebuy minutes
that are good for some given period of time (I bought a one year card).
It is charge in 1 minute allotments (called units), though roaming
charges are higher. I love it and plan on getting one for my wife when
her "normal" plan expires since neither of us use cell phones much. I
bought ours thru Radio Shack - phone was about $10 after a rebate.
Bought the card at Sams at a lower price. Our savings are substantial.
With the "normal" plan we pay about $23/mo. including taxes ($270 per
year). Now, we do get 40 minutes a month plus long distance and (I
think) extra weekend minutes. With Tracfone we paid $10 for the phone
and $80 for the card (200 minutes good for a year). That's plenty of
minutes for what we really need, but, if need be, we can always get
another card. I think we get long distance, but no break on roaming.
But, again, we don't use it in those circumstances much. Phone works
just like all others - as long as a tower is available, you can use it.