What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes?

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Frugaldude
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What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes?

Post by Frugaldude » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:39 am

Hello all,

I have a landline and don't really talk much on the cell phone. I just need it for emergencies and for traveling. I use at most maybe 30 minutes per month on average.

Currently I use a pre-paid Net10 phone, but the cheapest I can pay is $20 for 30 Days of Service and 200 minutes. But I don't use anywhere close to 200 minutes a month, and I'm piling up tons and tons of minutes at this point that I'll never use.

Thanks in advance for any advice! The $20 a month is really irritating to a frugal dude like me. :)

retiredjg
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by retiredjg » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:08 pm

Welcome to the forum!

I think you probably need to look at pre-paid minutes phone rather than what you have. You might check out Consumer Cellular which has a $10 plan, but once you add on all the taxes, it is likely to be $14 or thereabouts - not much of a savings.

This is discussed often. Use the search button in the upper right hand corner to see what you can find.

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ascenzm
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by ascenzm » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:15 pm

Frugaldude wrote:Hello all,

I have a landline and don't really talk much on the cell phone. I just need it for emergencies and for traveling. I use at most maybe 30 minutes per month on average.

Currently I use a pre-paid Net10 phone, but the cheapest I can pay is $20 for 30 Days of Service and 200 minutes. But I don't use anywhere close to 200 minutes a month, and I'm piling up tons and tons of minutes at this point that I'll never use.

Thanks in advance for any advice! The $20 a month is really irritating to a frugal dude like me. :)
I use a $19.95 double minutes for life Tracfone and I buy a 90 day/60 minute card every three months for $19.99 + $1.00 911 tax and sales tax. My total annual cost works out to roughly $88 to $89 and I get 480 new minutes total each year. Beats paying ~ $450/year for a Verizon 400 minutes/month plan since I probably use less than 100 minutes/year.

Mike
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ThePrune
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by ThePrune » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:54 pm

I also have a Tracfone. I bought my first year's minutes with a Double Minutes option; it cost about $140 for 800 minutes and 12 months of service. But I also used a "bonus code" at the time of purchase for another 200 minutes on top of that, for a total of 1000 minutes!

Now each year's 800 minutes (400 minutes plus my Double) only costs me $100 + $9 tax. And I only make this purchase when I can find another bonus code for the additional 200 minutes.

Franky I never come close to using 1000 minutes in a year. My wife on the other hand ...... :roll:
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sscritic
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by sscritic » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:01 pm

t-mobile

$100 for 1000 minutes that are good for one year. If you then pay $25, you get 150 new minutes and all your old minutes roll over. Repeat each year. After four years, you will have spent $175 for 1450 minutes (48 months times 30 minutes per month is 1440). That's under $4 a month.

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Abe
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by Abe » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:11 pm

I use the AT&T Go Phone. It cost 10c per minute and no other cost. I pay $100.00 per year for 1000 minutes. I don't ever use 1000 minutes so the remaining minutes roll over to the next year. They call this plan, Simple Rate Plan, I think. When I first started, this plan was .25c per minute but they dropped it to .10c.
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HueyLD
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by HueyLD » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:15 pm

sscritic wrote:t-mobile

$100 for 1000 minutes that are good for one year. If you then pay $25, you get 150 new minutes and all your old minutes roll over. Repeat each year. After four years, you will have spent $175 for 1450 minutes (48 months times 30 minutes per month is 1440). That's under $4 a month.
A quick question to clarify- you pay $25 each subsequent year and you get to extend the service for ANOTHER YEAR, including a rollover of all unused minutes and 150 new miunutes?

sscritic
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by sscritic » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:24 pm

Do I ever get my facts wrong? [Don't answer]
What is Gold Rewards Status?
With Gold Rewards, get 15% more minutes, FREE! Plus, your minutes can be used for a full year.
http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/pay-as-you-go-plans
See also
http://www.t-mobile.com/promotions/gene ... t=OnsiteAd

I have been doing it for over six years. [you don't have to use $25 to refill; I just used that so he could get his 30 minutes a month over the four years]

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HueyLD
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by HueyLD » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:33 pm

sscritic wrote:Do I ever get my facts wrong? [Don't answer]
Yes, but I don't remember when. :wink:
What is Gold Rewards Status?
With Gold Rewards, get 15% more minutes, FREE! Plus, your minutes can be used for a full year.
I did not click on the Gold Rewards button, and thus did not get to the best part of the program. Thank you for sharing your money saving tips. :beer

maywood
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by maywood » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:35 pm

My whole family has been using kajeet for years (http://www.kajeet.com) The basic plan is $5 per month for service, then you have to pay 10 cents per call or text. No contracts. Very simple, no minutes to keep tract of or renewing minutes to keep it active. It's meant for kids but everyone in our family uses it. They have other plans too but sounds like the basic one would suit you fine. You do have to buy their phones, which aren't particulary cheap, but once you get that, their plans are very reasonable.

Maywood

courier
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by courier » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:38 pm

I have a Virgin Wireless phone I almost never use, emergencies only. The physical phone cost $10 + sales tax. I use the "Paylo
20 cents a minute plan" the lowest. $20 in the account keeps the number (account) alive for 90-days. If I use the phone it depletes the balance and I have to top up. All usage is charged, 20 cents for a minute, $1.50 for 1 Megabyte of Internet in one day, 20 cents for each text message, incoming or outgoing. If one uses the phone much at all it would get expensive fast, but for a true emergencies-only phone, this is about as cheap as it gets.

MarkS
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by MarkS » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:08 pm

For an emergency phone, I use Page Plus Cellular. Their most basic plan is $10 for 120 days and includes 100 minutes.

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runner9
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by runner9 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:15 pm

I use a tracfone, for 19.99 plus sales tax for three months it works out to about $7 a month. Double minutes came with phone and I always google "tracfone promo code" and can always get 10-30 minutes extra when I enter a new card every three months.

mikep
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mikep » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:42 pm

MarkS wrote:For an emergency phone, I use Page Plus Cellular. Their most basic plan is $10 for 120 days and includes 100 minutes.
That will fall short of OP's 30 min/month average. Also, you only get 80 minutes out of the $10 card if used the full 120 days it since page plus charges a 50 cent/month fee to the cash balance.

Could start with an $80 card which gets you 4 cents/min good for a year then add the $10 cards every 120 days after a year. This will get you 1850 min the first year (w/rollover) then 80 min every 120 days. Including PP's 50 cent/month fee. The strategy should be to always use $10 and $80 cards, when the $10 card won't get you enough minutes to last 120 days to load $80 instead to lock in the 4 cent/min rate for the life of the card.

The breakeven point is just over 13 years which at that point you would start with another $80 card. Assuming price stays the same.
The total cost is $440 for 13 years with 50 minutes left. Which averages out to $34 per year or $2.82/month.

year minutes usage rollover cost total
1 1850 360 1490 $80 $80
2 240 360 1370 $30 $110
3 240 360 1250 $30 $140
4 240 360 1130 $30 $170
5 240 360 1010 $30 $200
6 240 360 890 $30 $230
7 240 360 770 $30 $260
8 240 360 650 $30 $290
9 240 360 530 $30 $320
10 240 360 410 $30 $350
11 240 360 290 $30 $380
12 240 360 170 $30 $410
13 240 360 50 $30 $440

average $34 per year

$2.82 for 30 min/month on verizon network looks good to me and this is what I use. I plan to get 3-4 years out of the first year $80 followed with $10s. Use 5% coupons/loyalty rewards at callingmart to further reduce the cost.
Last edited by mikep on Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

doug4523
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by doug4523 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:51 pm

I also use Page Plus, and have been very happy with their service (it uses Verizon's network). I have had them for almost 2 years. I am on the newest plan they have, "the 12". Its $12/month for 250 minutes and 250 text/pic messages, and 10 mb data. You can even bring your own phone, including smartphones (as long as it is a verizon phone). I use the palm pixi plus ($36 on amazon), as I can get most of the "perks" of a smartphone, like apps, without the crazy data charges the big networks charge. It does not compare to an iphone, but neither does my cost to use it. When I mention to my friends and family what I pay, they are jealous (and some take my recommendation to change). Page Plus has a lot of different plans, so it is worth looking into in my opinion if you are unhappy with all the taxes, fees, etc that the big networks charge.

mikep
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mikep » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:54 pm

+1 on Palm Pixi plus w/ page plus.. that is what I use. The catch of the plan is to make sure to turn OFF 3G data (99 cents/MB) and only use wifi otherwise you can burn the cash balance fast. Consider using a google voice as your primary number to forward calls if you are near another phone most of the time and only answer your cell on the go. Same goes for voicemail, check from another phone to not use minutes. www.kittywireless.com has a lot of good info on page plus (however their prices are high for what you can get from page plus for free like porting a number in).

$12/mo is reasonable but is too expensive for OP at 30 min/mo. $3/mo is a much better deal. :-)

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by doug4523 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:07 pm

mikep wrote:$12/mo is reasonable but is too expensive for OP at 30 min/mo. $3/mo is a much better deal. :-)
I agree. My advice was mainly for others who may be reading this thread who might use their cell a little more then the OP. A thread similar to this on a different forum was how I discovered Page Plus, so I figured I would help spread the word. :sharebeer

mikep
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mikep » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:20 pm

Also this is a good overall site to compare all the prepaid plans. I usually use it to get the latest news and 5% callingmart coupon code for pageplus (Vday12-5 good thru Mar 1st).

http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2011/02 ... plans.html

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:38 pm

For those using a tracfone:
If you buy a card from their website somewhere in the checkout process they give you an option of buying an extra year of service for $50. Combining this with the a web special $10 card gives 13 months of service for $60 or about 4.60 per month. It works out about the same with a $20 card (90 days of service) if the $10 card is not available. This is the cheapest way to get extra months of service when you have a load of carry over minutes.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by FrugalInvestor » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:39 pm

MarkS wrote:For an emergency phone, I use Page Plus Cellular. Their most basic plan is $10 for 120 days and includes 100 minutes.
We also use Page Plus through Kitty Wireless. Kitty has an auto-renew/auto-pay program that removes the hassle. I use the $10/120 day/100 minute plan and my wife the $80/1 yr./2000 minute plan.

We use Verizon Pixi plus Palm smart phones that can still be purchased new online for under $40. We leave the data turned off but still get our email and browse the web whenever we're near wi-fi. If we really want to use data we can turn it on and pay .99/mb I believe (subtracted from the minute balance). They aren't iPhones but provide 90% of the benefit at a fraction of the cost. Oh, and they have inductive chargers which the iPhones don't. :)
Last edited by FrugalInvestor on Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by FireProof » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:44 pm

I use TMobile prepaid. After an initial investment of $8/month for a year, it's about 80c/month for me.

The way it works is that once you are a Gold member ANY refill gets a a year extension. Gold member requires spending $100. So you buy 1000 minutes and 1 year for $100. But then after that, on the last day of the year, you just buy 10 minutes for $9 and it extends you for a whole extra year and rolls over that 1000 minutes. However, you use 30 minutes/month, so that'll only last you about three years. It's much better for me, since that 1000 will last me pretty much forever.

RedBaron
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by RedBaron » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:58 pm

I also am a Page Plus customer on the Standard Plan. For $80.00 my account is loaded with 2,000 minutes which last me a year. Unused miuntes rollover a year later if I purchase additional minutes whether it's a $10 card or another $80 card. The only fee is $0.50 per month service charge. No taxes. It's hard to beat cell phone service on the Verizon netowrk for 4 cents per minute! I've been a customer for 18 months and am quite happy.

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Blackwood
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by Blackwood » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:55 pm

courier wrote:I have a Virgin Wireless phone I almost never use, emergencies only. The physical phone cost $10 + sales tax. I use the "Paylo
20 cents a minute plan" the lowest. $20 in the account keeps the number (account) alive for 90-days. If I use the phone it depletes the balance and I have to top up. All usage is charged, 20 cents for a minute, $1.50 for 1 Megabyte of Internet in one day, 20 cents for each text message, incoming or outgoing. If one uses the phone much at all it would get expensive fast, but for a true emergencies-only phone, this is about as cheap as it gets.
I use Virgin as well. I pay 18 cents a minute with a minimum of $15 per quarter (unused balance carries forward). I don't know if this version of the plan is still offered. I just about manage to use the $5 per month on calls home from the grocery store to ask what I'm supposed to be buying, but those who are younger than me may have a hard time using that many minutes.

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BL
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by BL » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:13 am

I have just added 455 days and 330 minutes to my TracFone for $85 ($92 with taxes, etc.)
So that will keep me going for 15 months with plenty of time for emergencies and calls while traveling away from home.
I purchased on the website starting with 120 days, then accepting the $50 option for one year (which it wouldn't update until I added $5 for an extra 30 minutes.) I also did 15 months worth last time I updated.

Am also considering the Page Plus using Palm Pixie so we can both have emergency phones, but it does seem like an unnecessary expense. (EDT: Since I received a Nook Tablet as a gift, don't even need it for email/internet.)

Other regions may have more options but I know these work in my area.
Last edited by BL on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

BC_Doc
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by BC_Doc » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:25 am

HueyLD wrote:
sscritic wrote:t-mobile

$100 for 1000 minutes that are good for one year. If you then pay $25, you get 150 new minutes and all your old minutes roll over. Repeat each year. After four years, you will have spent $175 for 1450 minutes (48 months times 30 minutes per month is 1440). That's under $4 a month.
A quick question to clarify- you pay $25 each subsequent year and you get to extend the service for ANOTHER YEAR, including a rollover of all unused minutes and 150 new miunutes?
Yes, this extends all of the minutes for another 12 months. I live in Canada but use T-Mobile prepaid on an unlocked phone for my US travel. While I don't find the quality of the network to be all that good (lots of dropped calls, dead-zones), the price is right and it does what I need it to do. If I were looking for a phone for everyday use in the US, however, I would look for a better network.

mhalley
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mhalley » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:33 am

I use virgin mobile, it costs me $15 a quarter when automatic top ups are enabled. It uses the Sprint network, they have lots of phones you can buy.
Mike

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by laughlinlvr » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:34 am

Have used Tracfone for years. Was with their technical support department yesterday for a problem I was experiencing with receiving text messages. This is the second time in six years I've called tech support. Both occasions were good. The problem was resolved efficiently and promptly.

I have been looking into getting a smartphone for web/e-mail access, but my experience with Tracfone and their pay-for-use business model (which results in very low prices for me) prevents me from going much farther. Can't wait for the day Tracfone offers a smartphone option.
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by acr123 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:15 pm

Just renewed my Tracfone for the year. As stated above, bought $20 card ( used bonus code for extra minutes and have double minutes for life phone) which gave 90 days and was offered 1 year for $50 which I also got. I have plenty of minutes for my usage so 15 months for $70. Also used fatwallet which gives 15% discount. Grand total 15 months for ~ $59.50 and remember you can do international call for the same price as US calls.

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Dutchgirl
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by Dutchgirl » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:15 pm

Yes, the international calls on Tracfone at local rates is another great feature for those who make international calls.

steve88
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by steve88 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:43 pm

FireProof wrote:I use TMobile prepaid. After an initial investment of $8/month for a year, it's about 80c/month for me.

The way it works is that once you are a Gold member ANY refill gets a a year extension. Gold member requires spending $100. So you buy 1000 minutes and 1 year for $100. But then after that, on the last day of the year, you just buy 10 minutes for $9 and it extends you for a whole extra year and rolls over that 1000 minutes. However, you use 30 minutes/month, so that'll only last you about three years. It's much better for me, since that 1000 will last me pretty much forever.
The problem with this and the sneaky way tmobile is not informing the consumer is that when you refill for $9 even though you are a gold member your minute charge is not 10 cents a minute any longer it will increase to 12 cents to 13cents a minute. You will retain gold member but your minutes charge go up. Tmobile is getting worse.

sscritic
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by sscritic » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:08 pm

steve88 wrote: The problem with this and the sneaky way tmobile is not informing the consumer is that when you refill for $9 even though you are a gold member your minute charge is not 10 cents a minute any longer it will increase to 12 cents to 13cents a minute. You will retain gold member but your minutes charge go up. Tmobile is getting worse.
What's sneaky about saying you get 150 minutes for $25? I can divide. 25/150 = $0.167 per minute. If you want more $0.10 per minute minutes you can spend $100 for another 1000. But if you aren't going to use them, that's not a cost effective plan. Why spend $400 for four years when you only need to spend $175?

Note that what you are really buying with the $25 (or $10) is minutes, not minutes. When you spend that $25, you get 525,600 more minutes in which to use the other minutes you already have (527,040 more minutes in a leap year).

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by steve88 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:52 pm

sscritic wrote:
steve88 wrote: The problem with this and the sneaky way tmobile is not informing the consumer is that when you refill for $9 even though you are a gold member your minute charge is not 10 cents a minute any longer it will increase to 12 cents to 13cents a minute. You will retain gold member but your minutes charge go up. Tmobile is getting worse.
What's sneaky about saying you get 150 minutes for $25? I can divide. 25/150 = $0.167 per minute. If you want more $0.10 per minute minutes you can spend $100 for another 1000. But if you aren't going to use them, that's not a cost effective plan. Why spend $400 for four years when you only need to spend $175?

Note that what you are really buying with the $25 (or $10) is minutes, not minutes. When you spend that $25, you get 525,600 more minutes in which to use the other minutes you already have (527,040 more minutes in a leap year).
I think I am referring to the gold member.

sscritic
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by sscritic » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:12 am

steve88 wrote: I think I am referring to the gold member.
Who did you think I was referring to?

Answer these questions:
If you are not a gold member, how many minutes do you get for $25?
If you are not a gold member, how long will those minutes last?
If you are a gold member, how many minutes do you get for $25?
If you are a gold member, how long will those minutes last?
How many minutes did I say you would get for $25?
How long did I say those minutes would last?
Which type of member was I referring to?
Did you figure it out by looking at how many minutes I said you would get?
Did you figure it out by looking how long I said the minutes would last?

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snodog
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by snodog » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:06 am

I use page plus for about 15 months now. I buy 2000 minutes for $80 which last me about 9-10 months then rinse and repeat.

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mephistophles
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mephistophles » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:25 pm

Reviving post. I am now in need of a new cell phone and provider at the lowest cost. Will only use the phone for emergency and occasional short calls. Is there anything new on the market since this thread originated last winter?
Thanks

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mike143
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mike143 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:00 am

Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

2sls
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by 2sls » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:08 am

If you love data but hate data plan prices- the Tmobile/Walmart $30 data plan gives 100 minutes +5gig of data at HSPA+ (3.5G speeds. The beauty of this is that Tmobile has been refarming their spectrum to 1900 MHZ- which means current Iphones and all existing phones which can get 3G signal on AT&T are now compatible with Tmobile. This is still unofficial but go check out http://www.airportal.de to see where people are already getting coverage. Personally I am getting 9 megabits where I live and that's 3x better than the 3G speed I was getting, and still 1/2 of the speed that my friend's LTE phone is getting.

I think this is best for me and maybe others because unlike other competitors you are not stuck with a particular kind of phone (Virgin Mobile)- any Iphone will work as well as Androids (I am using a S3) and at $30, you are getting a lot of data, whereas other services will cap you when you hit above 2 gigs (Straight Talk). The speed is great and it's no contract so you can start\stop anytime. With free VOIP apps like Talkatone, you can easily get more minutes via data. Also it's unlimited SMS/MMS. And I think at $30, the value is tremendous for data, can't really do better except dirty tricks which I won't mention cause they also waste time.

The downside is that this is the Tmobile network so if you don't have adequate coverage, then obviously it's not a good idea for you.

In order to take advantage of this- buy the 99 cent tmobile sim card free overnight shipping from tmobile, then when you activate it online, select the walmart plan and you're good to go.

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linuxuser
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by linuxuser » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:09 pm

mephistophles wrote:Reviving post. I am now in need of a new cell phone and provider at the lowest cost. Will only use the phone for emergency and occasional short calls. Is there anything new on the market since this thread originated last winter?
Thanks
I don't see how you can get something that is that much cheaper than T-mobile where for $100 you get 1000 minutes which lasts the whole year.
That works out to $8.33 (~83 minutes) per month. I love that I don't have to keep refilling every 90 days to keep the account active.

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aja8888
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by aja8888 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:21 pm

linuxuser wrote:
mephistophles wrote:Reviving post. I am now in need of a new cell phone and provider at the lowest cost. Will only use the phone for emergency and occasional short calls. Is there anything new on the market since this thread originated last winter?
Thanks
I don't see how you can get something that is that much cheaper than T-mobile where for $100 you get 1000 minutes which lasts the whole year.
That works out to $8.33 (~83 minutes) per month. I love that I don't have to keep refilling every 90 days to keep the account active.
With PagePlus you can get a one year, 2000 minutes plan for $80 and port over any used Verizon phone. Plus it uses the Verizon network.

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Tall Grass
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by Tall Grass » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:52 pm

I've been happy with my calls/text only Virgin Mobile flip-phone; you just have to add $20.00 every three months, and it does carry over. If it builds up too much money, I just make a text donation to the Salvation Army with my overage...beauty!
"A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart." - Jonathan Swift

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by nisiprius » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:56 pm

We haven't done a close comparison. I've used Tracfone for about seven years, after about seven or so years of using Verizon's cheapest "real" plan. I'm a light user, but by no means an emergency-only user. Maybe 400 minutes per year. I bought the double-your-minutes card (or maybe it was bundled with my last phone). I typically buy 400-minute (really 800 but they've always got a deal going so usually 1000 minutes), 365-day packages. All the phone companies intentionally-I-think make their plans complicated, but it was very very clear that for a light user Tracfone is MUCH cheaper than a regular plan. Like maybe $10-15 month for Tracfone, $35 a month or so for Verizon.

Reliability and coverage is hard to judge. I've yet to be in a situation where my Tracfone wouldn't connect and other peoples' would. Lately I've been seeing unexpected coverage gaps--highway rest stops on the Mass Pike?????--but haven't been in a situation where I could ask a "real" cell phone user if their phone worked.

I've been very satisfied with Tracfone. I wanted cheap and I got cheap. I wanted to make calls, not browse the Internet or be a GPS substitute. It makes calls.

My wife stuck with Verizon for a while because she didn't want to sink the money into a GPS and her phone supposedly had GPS capability for "only" $10/month, but she found it to be sucky and not at all comparable to a real GPS.
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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by jane1 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:06 pm

sscritic wrote:t-mobile

$100 for 1000 minutes that are good for one year. If you then pay $25, you get 150 new minutes and all your old minutes roll over. Repeat each year. After four years, you will have spent $175 for 1450 minutes (48 months times 30 minutes per month is 1440). That's under $4 a month.
+1
T-mobile Pay-as-you plan, become Gold Member by first adding $100 (year 1) and then $10-100 each subsequent year based on your need & usage. Minutes get rolled over. So you could potentially spend $190 ($100 + 9*$10) over 10 years. I have had it as a backup phone for 4+ years.

http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/pay-as-you-go-plans

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by tadamsmar » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:41 pm

I am a T-mobile Gold Member.

You do have to remember to add at least $10 each year before the last renewal date to avoid losing your accumulated minutes.

You can set up an online T-mobile account to help keep track of the renewal date and remaining minutes. I am not sure if you can get the renewal date via a phone inquiry.

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by legio XX » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:41 am

2sls wrote:If you love data but hate data plan prices- the Tmobile/Walmart $30 data plan gives 100 minutes +5gig of data at HSPA+ (3.5G speeds. . . .
I swear lurking on B'heads is one of the best investments you can make. Didn't know about this one and have been thinking about caving for a SmartFone. Thanks!

Like sscritic et al. I pay T-mobile $100 and talk/text away. It comes to about $20 a month, and this is my main number. So far it's working well except that I don't have overseas access through this number - something I really miss every once in a while. But for everyday phone service the biggest problem I have is forgetting to turn the ringer back on when I leave the library. :oops:

Vic

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by meebers » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:14 pm

tadamsmar wrote:I am a T-mobile Gold Member.

You do have to remember to add at least $10 each year before the last renewal date to avoid losing your accumulated minutes.

You can set up an online T-mobile account to help keep track of the renewal date and remaining minutes. I am not sure if you can get the renewal date via a phone inquiry.
The wife and I are Gold members. Over the last 4 years, I have only had to add $10 a year to keep my remaining minutes. I am at 1184 minutes now, with the 15% extra. The wife on the other hand, we did another $100 last year, she is sitting at 844 now. The phone is on constantly and only use it when we have to. I have a google #, that in its setup, you can have it ring both the home land line and the cell phone at the same time. Works great when you are away from the house and expecting a call, others you don't answer and it goes to VM. I keep an eye on used phones and have upgraded 3 times so far, change the sim?? card, TMobile has not complained so far. We do updates etc to the phone with our WiFi, no data plan :D

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by Loon11 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:31 pm

I have a verizon phone - I put $100 on and it doesn't require refill for a year. It costs $.15 a min and less for text. has camera, etc
spouse has virgin mobile which is inexpensive but he can't use it in our mountain cabin. that's the only reason I have verizon. It used to be Alltel and verizon bought it out. if I could get coverage, would try t-mobile or something else but no real point. this is cheap. no taxes or contract.

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by aja8888 » Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:08 am

Loon11 wrote:I have a verizon phone - I put $100 on and it doesn't require refill for a year. It costs $.15 a min and less for text. has camera, etc
spouse has virgin mobile which is inexpensive but he can't use it in our mountain cabin. that's the only reason I have verizon. It used to be Alltel and verizon bought it out. if I could get coverage, would try t-mobile or something else but no real point. this is cheap. no taxes or contract.
If your contract with Verizon is expired, you could port your number to PagePlus (for free) and get 2000 minutes, one year expiration, for $80. That's $0.04/minute. Same service too as PagePlus uses the Verizon network.

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by ilovedogs » Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:31 am

nisiprius wrote:
Reliability and coverage is hard to judge. I've yet to be in a situation where my Tracfone wouldn't connect and other peoples' would. Lately I've been seeing unexpected coverage gaps--highway rest stops on the Mass Pike?????--but haven't been in a situation where I could ask a "real" cell phone user if their phone worked.

I've been very satisfied with Tracfone. I wanted cheap and I got cheap. I wanted to make calls, not browse the Internet or be a GPS substitute. It makes calls.

Your words caught my eye. Here's why. I have a Tracfone. I also own a seasonal cabin in rural Vermont. The year before I bought it, a terrible wind storm caused widespread destruction in the area that was all over the news in my neighboring state. Pine trees were the problem, with their more shallow roots. I had remembered this place from a realtor's website, but expected to buy property in the Adirondacks, so when I bought the place in VT, I was a bit off guard. I remember asking the realtor why my cell phone, the Tracfone, did not work. She said it would after a new cell tower that was built is working. That was not true.

I called the tree company to take down the pines close enough to the house to hit it. SEVEN people came for a job that needed 3 or 4. Six of them wanted to use their cell phones. One of them finally found a place where his phone worked if he stood right there. The other five tried and their phones did not work. The guy whose phone worked had a very recent model with Verizon.

I went into town later to a cell phone store to see if a better phone would help me with phone coverage, and the owner handed me his personal phone to go back and check. No. It did not work.

With many other experiences, I found that my Tracfone is very occasionally working in rural places -- hilltops and "downtown".

P.S. My Tracfone also did not work at a rest stop on the Mass Pike -- just like you said. I know Tracfone uses Verizon in the Northeast, so either there is something I do not know, or it depends on your phone and the moment. FYI, I noticed texting can work when a call doesn't, in case that helps.

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mrnutty » Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:46 am

Another option for very low usage is to use one of the services that are targeted for international travel (I'm familiar with Telestial but I'm sure there are others). Everything is prepaid. 50 cents for the first minute and 10 cents for subsequent minutes within the US. To keep the account active, they require one call every 3 months, so you can have service for as low as 17 cents a month. Uses AT&T towers so coverage is decent.

The only issue is that you can't port an existing number in.

(This is going off memory, so the numbers might be off a little).

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Re: What's the cheapest cell phone if you don't need minutes

Post by mephistophles » Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:36 pm

Loon11 wrote:I have a verizon phone - I put $100 on and it doesn't require refill for a year. It costs $.15 a min and less for text. has camera, etc
spouse has virgin mobile which is inexpensive but he can't use it in our mountain cabin. that's the only reason I have verizon. It used to be Alltel and verizon bought it out. if I could get coverage, would try t-mobile or something else but no real point. this is cheap. no taxes or contract.
Verizon is the company I am leaving. They require a new $100 payment each year. You will learn that on your anniversary.

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