Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

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rebellovw
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Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by rebellovw »

I was thinking about this yesterday when I left my iphone at home while driving - I do this all the time. I was thinking - what if I break down right here - I'm really screwed - I'd have to leave the car on the road and walk to someplace to make a call - Arizona is a pretty big and empty (yet beautiful) place.

My search shows that Tracfone is pretty much recommended - I want something cheap as possible that is only used for some random emergency (hopefully never.)

They sell a phone - ex 29.00 (even less I think if I look) - the 30 day plan is 15.00 but is only good for 30 days - so what I really need is a full time plan (and I assume they are cheaper than 15.00 a month) and good until I cancel the plan - so as long as I maintain it and pay the monthly fee - then my phone will work when I go to use it.

Is this still the best option? From what I've read the monthly fees are less than 10.00 - though I'm not sure that is still the case.

Anyhow - I wish I could just buy a phone and 200 minutes - and leave it at that - but as per Tracfone - their minutes will only be good for 30 days - which doesn't meet my requirements.

Thanks for your help!
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JoMoney
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by JoMoney »

If you want super cheap and would ONLY be used in legit EMERGENCY, consider that as long as the phone has working signal most mobile phones even with the service no longer active/paid-up can still call 911. That may not cover all your concerns though, since you don't want to call 911 for things that aren't true emergencies, and it doesn't allow anyone to be able to call you back.
Another option to consider for emergencies when you're out in the middle of nowhere is a GPS personal locator beacon. I think they start at around $200, but they don't have monthly service charges and work in areas that don't have cell service. It would have to be only for genuine emergencies... but something to consider.
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j0nnyg1984
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by j0nnyg1984 »

I was actually just looking into something like this for a different purpose. There's a company called FreedomPop who will give a SIM card for $0.01. You have to use a credit card to sign up for service, but you can downgrade it during the first month "free promo" period to get free, albeit limited, service thereafter.

It's worth your looking into.
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climber2020
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by climber2020 »

Whatever you decide on, make sure the device and its battery is able to survive constantly sitting inside a car with an interior that is heated up by the Arizona sun.
adamshousecat
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by adamshousecat »

Since you already have an iPhone- Apple Watch?
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celia
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by celia »

The problem with keeping a spare phone in the car is that you have to keep it charged. You can use the cigarette lighter, but then the engine has to be running. So that won't help if the engine dies. But you could get in the habit of charging the spare phone every time you drive. And if you have a Tracfone, you have to remember to turn it on every month to get the minutes for that month or you lose them. (Past unused minutes carry forward, but you won't get the new minutes.)

But if you are going to train yourself to follow a new habit (charging the spare phone while driving), why not train yourself to carry your current phone? You could put a note on the passenger seat or driver's seat to remind you at first. Better yet, why not keep your keys, wallet, and phone together all the time--on you or next to an outlet with a charging cable in it. That's what I do.

rebellovw wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:06 pm I was thinking about this yesterday when I left my iphone at home while driving - I do this all the time.
What do you do all the time--think while driving or leave your phone home? :happy

Since this sounds like a habit, why not change the habit into something more productive. Once you train yourself to carry your phone, you will be able to spend your thinking time on something more useful.
Last edited by celia on Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Watty
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by Watty »

rebellovw wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:06 pm I was thinking - what if I break down right here - I'm really screwed - I'd have to leave the car on the road and walk to someplace to make a call - Arizona is a pretty big and empty (yet beautiful) place.
At some point depending on the kindness of strangers to make a call for you is a viable option.

Just last week I called AAA for someone that had a car that died and a dead cell phone.

One thing to do though is to make sure that you have a printed list of phone numbers with you so you can actually call someone.

Don't ask how I know this. :oops:
likegarden
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by likegarden »

We have a Tracfone in each of our 2 cars, sitting there fully charged. They are rarely used. Annual cost is about $50 or 60, which we get by buying for a month or so and then adding 365 days at checkout. Why pay more. Those phones last several years.
runner3081
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by runner3081 »

j0nnyg1984 wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:20 pm I was actually just looking into something like this for a different purpose. There's a company called FreedomPop who will give a SIM card for $0.01. You have to use a credit card to sign up for service, but you can downgrade it during the first month "free promo" period to get free, albeit limited, service thereafter.

It's worth your looking into.
This would not be a good option for a backup phone.

The FP free plans run on data (for calls). There are significant portions of the country that have no cell data on AT&T. Granted, you could always call 911 and it will connect - other calls may not.

With that said, I am a huge fan of FreedomPop. My wife and I have been on their free plans for 1+ years for our main phones.
runner3081
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by runner3081 »

climber2020 wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:29 pm Whatever you decide on, make sure the device and its battery is able to survive constantly sitting inside a car with an interior that is heated up by the Arizona sun.
Honestly, there really isn't anything that will survive the heat in a car down here. Assuming you park outside all day at work, etc, the battery will always be dead and will likely expand not be usable.
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BL
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by BL »

I have purchased cheap and/or refurbished cellphones at Tracfone and selected 30 days, then they gave the option to buy 1 year no minutes for $50. It didn't show up on my current smartphone attempt, so not sure if that still works or not. Otherwise the 1 year + x minutes is + or - $100; sometimes coupons work.

I would be concerned about excess heat or cold if left in a car.
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iceport
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by iceport »

rebellovw wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:06 pm My search shows that Tracfone is pretty much recommended - I want something cheap as possible that is only used for some random emergency (hopefully never.)

...

Is this still the best option? From what I've read the monthly fees are less than 10.00 - though I'm not sure that is still the case.
I use a tracfone for exactly that purpose. I keep it in the car along with a charge cord for emergency charging. Mostly, though, I just charge it a fews time a year in the house.

► The cheapest flip phone will hold a charge for months if it is not used and not turned on.
► The coverage is excellent.
► The cost is $6.67/month. Top it up once a quarter with 90 days of service time for $20. I just buy a card at the grocery store. I think the phone cost something like $15.
► Usually you can find a double minute phone purchase deal at a place like Walmart that adds 2X the minutes with each fill-up, and the unused minutes keep accumulating indefinitely. Time is not an issue for an emergency phone, but it doesn't hurt.

I have opted to keep the phone completely unpersonalized, paying cash for the phone and minutes. It asked for another phone number when activated, so I gave it a time and temperature number or something. 8-)

EDIT: Looks like the phone is no longer available as inexpensively at discount department stores. This is basically it: https://www.amazon.com/TracFone-LG-L442 ... B01N7RK2HZ
Last edited by iceport on Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by Doom&Gloom »

celia wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:38 pm The problem with keeping a spare phone in the car is that you have to keep it charged. You can use the cigarette lighter, but then the engine has to be running. So that won't help if the engine dies. But you could get in the habit of charging the spare phone every time you drive. And if you have a Tracfone, you have to remember to turn it on every month to get the minutes for that month or you lose them. (Past unused minutes carry forward, but you won't get the new minutes.)

But if you are going to train yourself to follow a new habit (charging the spare phone while driving), why not train yourself to carry your current phone? You could put a note on the passenger seat or driver's seat to remind you at first. Better yet, why not keep your keys, wallet, and phone together all the time--on you or next to an outlet with a charging cable in it. That's what I do.

rebellovw wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:06 pm I was thinking about this yesterday when I left my iphone at home while driving - I do this all the time.
What do you do all the time--think while driving or leave your phone home? :happy

Since this sounds like a habit, why not change the habit into something more productive. Once you train yourself to carry your phone, you will be able to spend your thinking time on something more useful.
+1
I used to get in my car frequently without my phone. Sometimes I missed it; sometimes I didn't. Once I started using my phone to stream music to my radio, I have never forgotten it. Perhaps something similar would work for OP. Maybe just a phone holder on the dash or console, even if it never actually used?

If you forget to take your phone from home now, how certain are you that you will remember to keep the emergency phone charged?
jeff1949
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by jeff1949 »

I use T-Mobile and only pay $3.00 per month on a "pay as you go" plan. Start up cost was $20.75 for the SIM card + taxes. I use a cheap phone for this (Jethro).
epictetus
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by epictetus »

Tracfone has an option to buy 365 days of coverage with X minutes (I forget how many).
The cost is right at $100.
As long as you renew before the year is up the unused minutes will go forward.

I have been using a Tracfone for years for the same purpose you are describing (as an emergency back-up phone in the car).
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pshonore
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by pshonore »

Boost mobile is $5 for 90 days.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by adamthesmythe »

I think it will be easier and cheaper to train yourself to never get in the car without the phone.

I don't know where you drive- but some of the places in AZ where I most might need a phone...may not have cell service.
rec7
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by rec7 »

rebellovw wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:06 pm I was thinking about this yesterday when I left my iphone at home while driving - I do this all the time. I was thinking - what if I break down right here - I'm really screwed - I'd have to leave the car on the road and walk to someplace to make a call - Arizona is a pretty big and empty (yet beautiful) place.

My search shows that Tracfone is pretty much recommended - I want something cheap as possible that is only used for some random emergency (hopefully never.)

They sell a phone - ex 29.00 (even less I think if I look) - the 30 day plan is 15.00 but is only good for 30 days - so what I really need is a full time plan (and I assume they are cheaper than 15.00 a month) and good until I cancel the plan - so as long as I maintain it and pay the monthly fee - then my phone will work when I go to use it.

Is this still the best option? From what I've read the monthly fees are less than 10.00 - though I'm not sure that is still the case.

Anyhow - I wish I could just buy a phone and 200 minutes - and leave it at that - but as per Tracfone - their minutes will only be good for 30 days - which doesn't meet my requirements.

Thanks for your help!
I keep a cell phone in my winter jacket. I charge it up and it will last all winter. I use tello for a one time $10. You have to make one call every six months to keep it active. In the summer the weather in nice I figure I can walk to a pay phone.
Last edited by rec7 on Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BolderBoy
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by BolderBoy »

I use PagePlus Cellular and a very old (15 years?) flip phone. Not sure how it would hold up sitting in a hot car under the AZ sun...

$10/120 days/100 minutes which roll over if you don't let the time period expire. They have an $80/365 days/2000 minutes option, too. https://www.pagepluscellular.com/plans/ nearer the bottom of the webpage.

PagePlus uses the Verizon network.
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darrvao777
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by darrvao777 »

How old is your car? Both my cars are relatively new and have some variant of the old onstar system that you can use in the event of an emergency

More reliable IMO than keeping a phone in extreme heat or cold in your car and remembering to charge it

I typically sell my phones as I upgrade annually but you can always relegate an old phone for this job and get a prepaid Sim card for it (after dealing with multiple natural disasters this year, I opted for VZW for my prepaid Sim in my emergency kit bag even though I hate them and use tmobile for my every day phone)
TravelGeek
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by TravelGeek »

Stick a post-it note to your dashboard. “got phone?”
aristotelian
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by aristotelian »

You could get one of those spare batteries that can also jump your car.
mouses
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by mouses »

I have a second Doro from Consumer Cellular. It costs $20 a month to add it to my existing unlimited minutes plan. I keep it always in my purse so if I forget to take my main phone I have one with me.

I am sure to charge it once a month or so. It is also useful if I misplace my main phone in the house, I just call it with the spare. The Doros cost about $50 apiece.
Liberty1100
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by Liberty1100 »

I think there are two reasonable things to do:
1) As mentioned earlier, get a new Apple Watch to go with your iPhone. The new model, series 3, can be used to make calls independent of having your phone nearby. If you forget your watch and your iphone, then you would be where you are now.

2) Maybe upgrade your car so that you are less likely to breakdown and get one with OnStar or a similar service. By paying a monthly fee, you could always press the emergency button to get connected to emergency services or the regular button to contact a tow truck.

I don't think it is reasonable to add a second "car phone" as you would have to keep it charged and make sure the contacts are up to date. Keeping track of one phone seems hard enough for you. Why add another one.
Grasshopper
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by Grasshopper »

Another FreedomPop user, bought a phone for $30, I get 200 free minutes 500 texts and 500mb data free every month. I do buy data rollover for $3.99 a month, for travel. Mostly used at home on wifi.
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dm200
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by dm200 »

rebellovw wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:06 pm I was thinking about this yesterday when I left my iphone at home while driving - I do this all the time. I was thinking - what if I break down right here - I'm really screwed - I'd have to leave the car on the road and walk to someplace to make a call - Arizona is a pretty big and empty (yet beautiful) place.
My search shows that Tracfone is pretty much recommended - I want something cheap as possible that is only used for some random emergency (hopefully never.)
They sell a phone - ex 29.00 (even less I think if I look) - the 30 day plan is 15.00 but is only good for 30 days - so what I really need is a full time plan (and I assume they are cheaper than 15.00 a month) and good until I cancel the plan - so as long as I maintain it and pay the monthly fee - then my phone will work when I go to use it.
Is this still the best option? From what I've read the monthly fees are less than 10.00 - though I'm not sure that is still the case.
Anyhow - I wish I could just buy a phone and 200 minutes - and leave it at that - but as per Tracfone - their minutes will only be good for 30 days - which doesn't meet my requirements.
Thanks for your help!
No experience or specific knowledge, but I thought an operable cell phone not actually part of a plan can be used to call 911. Maybe others know? Old non-smart phones are everywhere.

Another possibility is to have multiple phones on a group or family plan (such as Sprint). Keep another phone on your plan in the car.
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Pajamas
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by Pajamas »

Seems like it would be much less expensive and much more practical to simply focus on making sure that you don't forget your phone when you get in your car.

Maybe put an orange cone behind your car or on the hood or even on the doorstep as a reminder. They are under $20 at Home Depot or Lowes or other hardware stores.
Topic Author
rebellovw
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by rebellovw »

JoMoney wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:17 pm If you want super cheap and would ONLY be used in legit EMERGENCY, consider that as long as the phone has working signal most mobile phones even with the service no longer active/paid-up can still call 911. That may not cover all your concerns though, since you don't want to call 911 for things that aren't true emergencies, and it doesn't allow anyone to be able to call you back.
Another option to consider for emergencies when you're out in the middle of nowhere is a GPS personal locator beacon. I think they start at around $200, but they don't have monthly service charges and work in areas that don't have cell service. It would have to be only for genuine emergencies... but something to consider.
Thank you
Topic Author
rebellovw
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by rebellovw »

Thanks everyone - great advice - I think I will work on simply not forgetting my phone. I'm great about not forgetting my wallet so one more item shouldn't be too tough.

Thanks again.
jjface
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by jjface »

rec7 wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:27 pm

I keep a cell phone in my winter jacket. I charge it up and it will last all winter. I use tello for a one time $10. You have to make one call every six months to keep it active. In the summer the weather in nice I figure I can walk to a pay phone.
Nb they changed it to 3 months.
Bmac
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by Bmac »

rebellovw wrote: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:37 pm Thanks everyone - great advice - I think I will work on simply not forgetting my phone. I'm great about not forgetting my wallet so one more item shouldn't be too tough.

Thanks again.
Hint: Leave phone with wallet.
TN_Boy
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by TN_Boy »

Bmac wrote: Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:11 am
rebellovw wrote: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:37 pm Thanks everyone - great advice - I think I will work on simply not forgetting my phone. I'm great about not forgetting my wallet so one more item shouldn't be too tough.

Thanks again.
Hint: Leave phone with wallet.
Better hint. Leave phone with car keys :-).
Topic Author
rebellovw
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by rebellovw »

I think I'll get one of those 70s Batman belts to keep everything in. :sharebeer
blgaarder
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by blgaarder »

Cold batteries drop out faster in use.

Warm them up and they are OK.
rec7
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Re: Looking for an emergency cell phone to keep in car....

Post by rec7 »

jjface wrote: Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:26 am
rec7 wrote: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:27 pm

I keep a cell phone in my winter jacket. I charge it up and it will last all winter. I use tello for a one time $10. You have to make one call every six months to keep it active. In the summer the weather in nice I figure I can walk to a pay phone.
Nb they changed it to 3 months.
Thanks I better make a call.
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