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Cheap Cell Phone Plan

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Susan1, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    Hi to everybody I can count on for experience and opinions -

    I guess I am the only person over 10 years old who does not keep a cell phone glued to the side of their head. Four years ago my cousin decided I needed a cell phone for emergencies and put me on his Verizon family plan. (Plus, this way I can call him and my aunt long distance for free.) I have paid him $15/month. And I usually don't even remember I have the phone until it beeps to tell me to recharge it. I've had to use it a couple times at this temp job to call the doctor or dentist because I do not have a phone at my desk and places are closed by the time I get home. Plus when I didn't have a badge here, I had to call someone to let me in. But I also haven't wanted to use up the family minutes because he travels a lot and depends on his cell phone for work.

    Anyway, now my cousin's daughter is old enough to have a cell phone, and I am being "un-family-d" so that he can put her on his plan.

    I need to get an individual plan. I wanted to keep my Verizon phone. (When he was adding me to his plan and asked what kind of phone I wanted, I said "pink"!!) Besides, people have that number and it's on my resume and it's free to call my relatives.

    But the Verizon plans seem to be rip offs. You have to add to the prepaid balance before the end of the month even if you still have tons of minutes left. So I would be paying for all these minutes I would never use. Or I would run out of minutes if I actually used them. And still have to pay for the next month's minutes. Or I could buy $100 worth of minutes for the year. How would I know how many minutes I have? Can I buy more if I get stuck on a lot of calls for some reason? Before a year is up, would I have to buy $100 more minutes? (I'm going to the Verizon store Saturday, but I don't want some 21 year old kid to treat me like a dumb old lady <I bought my parents a touch tone phone in the 90's to replace their rotary phone!!> or try to sell me all kinds of features I don't want.)

    Does anyone know of a prepaid plan that doesn't cost an arm and a leg for nothing? If I got another plan, I'd have to buy another phone though, and charger. And you have to pay whenever you cancel a plan (I know, not my cousin's family one since he is just changing family members).

    I don't want to sit around and text people all day while I am at work just to ask them what they are doing (that's what email is for ha ha) or download music or try to read the internet on a little bitty screen. I don't need a bunch of "apps". I want to slap EVERYONE I see driving or standing in line somewhere transfixed by a cell phone. Or using one at work when I need to ask them a question.

    And I know the minute I don't have a phone, something will happen and I will wish I had one. I always figured I could just say "cell phone" and everybody within spitting distance would whip one out.

    So, looking forward to everyone's input - before Saturday morning?

  2. Prancer

    Prancer Slave to none, master to all Staff Member

    Have you considered Boost, which gets the best reviews here: http://cell-phone-providers-review.toptenreviews.com/prepaid-cell-phones/

    There are also these reviews: http://www.consumersearch.com/prepaid-cell-phone-plans

    My only experience with prepaid was with Virgin Mobile, although that was actually Pay-as-you-go. It wasn't bad for emergency calling and such, but dropped calls and poor call quality were something of a problem. Since there were no contracts, there were no penalities for dropping them, which was nice.

    T-Mobile is very popular with my students who use prepaid; if you consider T-Mobile, be sure to check the coverage area. T-Mobile doesn't have full coverage in this area; you don't want to get one of their phones and then find out you are in a dead zone.
  3. nerdycool

    nerdycool Well-Known Member

    I currently use TracFone, and it works out well for me, because I too do not go around with a phone stuck to the side of my head or in front of my face. I paid $200 for 1500 minutes for 1 year, and at the time when I signed up, there was a deal where I would get double minutes for as long as I'm a customer. So my 1500 minutes turned into 3000. That's about $17 a month when you break it down (the bigger minute packages are for 1 year, pre-paid, though there are monthly pay as you go packages, too), and any minutes you don't use, roll over. My actual phone is pretty basic though. I can text, but can't receive pictures, nor can I take them. I think it cost about $20 for the phone.

    But they have cheaper minute packages, as well as more advanced phones. They will let you keep your current phone number, too. You just have to request it and they'll port it to your new phone.

  4. soxxy

    soxxy Guest

  5. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member


    Thanks (and to Prancer and nerdycool) - I do kind of want to keep my Verizon phone. I have occasionally taken pictures. Not that anybody else has seen them. Oh, and a friend sent me a picture when she went to the Paul McCartney concert in Cincinnati. (And called me cell to cell so I could listen for a couple minutes!)

    And how do I change the title of this thread to "cheap cell phone plan"? Duh. I didn't mean "cheap cell phone", huh?

    I've read the reviews pages. Too confusing. And I think Miamisburg does have "dead zones", down in the valley! Not with Verizon though.

    Just had a thought I'll have to research. I have AT&T home phone and internet. I wonder if they have a good cell phone package for customers. I REFUSE to bundle to get AT&T "cable" too though. Everyone I know who's gotten it, hates it. (In the Miamisburg area).
  6. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    Funny - the ad at the top of this page is for "Straight Talk" cell phones!!! How'd they know?
  7. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

  8. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    I currently use virgin mobile, and I like them a lot. They have a good variety of affordable cell phones, and I get unlimited texting/internet use along with 1200 minutes a month for only $45. Since I text more than I talk that works for me. They have a variety of pre-paid plans, and I'm sure you can find something affordable that suits your needs.
  9. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

    Just make sure whatever carrier you use, you can get coverage in your area. Verizon is the only signal we can get at our house. Both AT&T and T-Mobile suck at our house.
  10. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    no kidding!
  11. Prancer

    Prancer Slave to none, master to all Staff Member


    Of all the things I have ever researched for purchase, cell phones are the worst, hands down.

    Verizon is probably the best carrier locally, at least for coverage; I had them for years and never had a problem, even in my dead zone neighborhood where all the other carriers have problems. They are, however, expensive, relatively speaking. They have both prepaid and pay as you go plans; since you would like to keep your Verizon phone, you might get a good deal there, as you don't have to buy a phone. Your phone should work with other carriers, but they often try to make that a PITA for you.

    I have AT&T for home phone and cell; I believe (although I wouldn't swear to it) that you get a discount only if you get U-verse and bundle everything. They are always trying to get us to get U-verse and that's part of their pitch.

    Google ads tracks thread content, so you will often see an ad that matches something in a thread.

    Google also tracks people on the internet if it can. I'm not seeing a cell phone ad, for example; I see an ad for Wyndham Resorts. That's because I have a reservation with Wyndham Resorts and Google knows that I have been consorting with their site.

    :puppet:<--me Google -->:2faced:
  12. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    If you don't want to change phones, you are stuck with Verizon's plans.
    I don't use prepaid, but Verizon has the best coverage in my area so that is what I have.

    My mother uses TracFone, but she only needs it for emergencies. She doesn't talk on it, but she has it in case the landline is out or she is at the doctor and ready to be picked up etc. She buys the one-year 400 minute card for $99.99. She never uses the 400 minutes, but it comes out to $8.33 a month just to have it available. That is about the cheapest we have found. They also have pay as you go as low as $9.99 a month. She got a free phone when she started (back when phones were clunky), and then they upgraded her to a smaller phone at some point for about $15. YOu can also pay $19.99 to get double minutes for the year, but you have to do that when you buy the year card. You can't use half of them and then try to double them.

    If you change, depending on your phone, you can probably send the photos to your email and keep them that way.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  13. A.H.Black

    A.H.Black Well-Known Member

    I don't have a comment on which plan or phone to use but I do have experience on keeping your phone number. These days you can have your own phone number ported to whatever phone you choose. There may be an extra fee but it would save you from having to change the number with everyone.

    When my father died, the family phone number had been in the family for more than 60 years. I didn't want to lose it and kept paying the bill until I found a way to have that number ported to my cell phone. I still get political phone calls for him every once in a while.
  14. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    I use the Verizon pre-paid plan so I'll clarify a few things. Like you, I rarely use my cell phone, and when I do use it, the calls are typically just a minute or two long ("I'm on my way home" "Can you pick up some dinner" type calls). I have the cheapest plan which is $15/month (really $16 and change since you have to pay taxes, but not fees), and as you said, you have to add money each month even if you have minutes left over, which sucks because I could make that $15 last a long time otherwise. :p

    Just to be clear though, you don't "lose" the minutes. Once you pay your $15 for the next month they do carry over, which is nice so that I don't have to feel guilty if I ever need to do a longer phone call since I have a huge balance. Once, I got lost and decided to download GPS onto my phone for one day, which was only like $5 so it barely made a dent in my balance. Sometimes I'll donate $10 here and there to the red cross via text just to burn off some of that excess balance that I'm not using. I'd still prefer to be able to not buy minutes every month, but at least I don't lose what I have already paid.

    There are actually different "plans" within prepaid as well. http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/prepay/processPrePayRequest.do?&&type=ppdaily (click view plan details) This is where it's important to gauge your habits. If you tend to use your phone infrequently, but talk for a long time when you do, you'd probably do the $1.99 daily plan which charges you 1.99 for the day but no per-minute fee. Since I use my phone a couple of times a week, but for about two minutes at a time, I have the plan that doesn't incur a daily charge but charges you 25 cents a minute per call. The mobile plan is a la carte (I only used it in that one emergency). This is why you have to be careful with prepaid, because if you do the 1.99 daily unlimited plan and use it every day, suddenly you're paying $60/month and you may as well have a regular plan.

    The phones on that website are expensive, but you don't have to get an expensive phone. I have the Samsung Juke which is very old but it's pretty and it doubles as an mp3 player; it was only $20 at the time. I can take, send, and receive pictures, and can go on the internet, but my screen sucks.

    You might not need to buy a phone - google your phone's make and model and the word "prepaid" or call verizon to see if it can be used that way.

    To address some of your other questions/concerns:
    -You could find out how many minutes you have by creating an account on their website and/or sign up for free texts from them when you reach a certain low point (either in terms of cash left or available minutes). There's also a function that tells you how many minutes you have left every time you make a call, but it was annoying so I turned it off.
    -I wouldn't bother going into the store to ask. They will probably try to sell you a plan. I did all of my research online. You could also try calling verizon; when I called to switch from a plan to prepaid, I went over my options with the girl and she agreed that the prepaid plan I chose made sense, and seemed knowledgeable.
    -You have to add minutes at least once a month, but if you run out of minutes, you could add more.
    -You should be able to port your current phone number to a different plan or different carrier without problems.

    I'm happy with Verizon except for the fact that you have to refill every month. I have to use it because it's the only provider that has a good signal at my workplace. You might want to consider T-Mobile. http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans My mother uses their gold plan. You pay $100 for 1000 minutes which is good for one year, but after doing that once, you only have to add $10 to the phone per year to keep the same phone number active (you could certainly add more if you ran out). This is probably the best plan for people who realllllllly don't use their phones much.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  15. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    Your situation sounds very similar to mine a few years back. My Dad wanted me to have a cell phone - I got one free on a family plan - free calls to family, about $30.00 a month. But when my Dad passed away, I couldn't call for free anymore, and didn't want to pay $30.00 a month for a phone that sat on my dresser. I paid off the contract for $200.00 and badgered the cell phone rep til he told me about the $100.00 prepaid that was good for a year. I've used this ever since, and if it gets close to the year end and I still have a lot on the phone I just call my friends in Africa and use it up quite nicely. I mostly use it for texting. I figure it's cheaper than $10.00 a month, which was the next cheapest option.

    Good luck.
  16. acraven

    acraven Well-Known Member

    This is what I do with T-Mobile, but I think a $10 purchase would only be good for 90 days (and extend the life of your older minutes for 90 days). Still, if you don't use the phone much, $10 four times a year (for a total of 120 minutes) might actually be a smarter purchase than $100 once a year (for 1000 minutes). If your situation changes, you could start buying more minutes. You just need to buy on schedule, before your remaining minutes expire (though you might not really care if you were only spending $40 a year).

    However, it sounds as if coverage issues dictate that you stay with Verizon. The 25 cents per minute plan looks like a winner, but I had to dig around on their website to find out how frequently you would need to buy minutes and how long they would last. This seems to be the pertinent information:

    Once applied to your account, payments expire as follows:

    •$15 – $29.99 payments expire in 30 days
    •$30 – $74.99 payments expire in 90 days
    •$75 – $99.99 payments expire in 180 days
    •$100 or more payments expire in 365 days

    So it looks as if the cheapest option to maintain service would cost you $100 (plus taxes) for 400 minutes to be used over the course of a year, with unused minutes carrying over as long as you buy more before the year is up. Obviously, you want to find that information in writing yourself before handing over the $100+.
    Cherub721 and (deleted member) like this.
  17. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    Wow - you guys are good! Can you come live next door to me!!???? All of you?????

    I still can't figure out how to quote multiple posts (yes, I see the " thing, but I'll just try to remember what I read..............without referencing who said what - you know who you are!
    Thanks for changing my thread title!

    I read all the Verizon stuff, but it makes so much more sense having a person repeat it. And you probably just copied exactly what I did! Whatever.

    If I just decide on a plan, how do I get it transferred to my phone without going into the store. I do not put my credit card information online. Not even at work, where it's more protected. Um, the thing about the amount of minutes. I don't plan to make long calls, but what if the dentist puts me on hold or something. As it is, I've been going in the conference room and using that phone if I think I'm going to have to wait. And, geez, my aunt will talk for 2 hours - even long distance on regular phones. She'd use up my year of minutes pretty fast. ha ha I guess I could add to my $100 worth of minutes if it got too low?

    I checked out the AT&T cell phone deal. Not great.

    I was still thinking - I've been paying Tim (cousin) $15/month - which is $180/yr., and certainly not using $15/month of calls. So $100/yr. is cheaper whether I use it or not. And if I can do all the different things above to find out how many minutes I have, then I could add some if I need them later. Or start the next $100 worth? Oh, do we know if it's going to cost anything to switch to prepaid?

    AARRGGHH. This is why I never wanted a cell phone. When I got on Tim's family plan, he already had the plan, just added me. I don't hear very well on the cell phone. I can't read the screen out in the daylight. How does the rest of the world go around with these things plastered to their faces? And why? And have to stand in line for 12 hours to get the next new thing?

    That's all I can think of for now. I'll read everything again tomorrow at work - where I have two big flat screens. And I have all my questions (so far) typed up for the Verizon store clerk.

    Hugs to all!
  18. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    Ditto. When I first signed up for a cell phone back in 2004, I went with Verizon. Ended up returning the phone and switching over to Sprint within 24 hours, because the only place I could get any signal in my apartment was in the bathroom. I was going to jettison my landline so reception was a must. Been with Sprint ever since; in fact, I just upgraded to a smartphone in the last week (finally!).
  19. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    How do you find out if you can get coverage from the various carriers in your area? The only way I know is to ask your neighbors what they use and like, or get friends with different providers to come over to your house and try making some calls. We have AT&T and get a reasonable signal about 90% of the time. My friends with Verizon get much better coverage, especially when we go on trips to remote places in the Western U.S.
  20. Meredith

    Meredith what a glorious day!

    Great information! Recently I had to replace my cell phone and noticed on Verizon's website they had special rates/minutes for those customers 65 and older.

    It probably would have been a good idea for me to sign up for such a plan, since I don't usually talk too much on the phone. The past couple of months were the exception and I was happy I had the minutes of my original calling plan, or the bill would not have been pretty.
  21. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    I've had strangers tell me my phone was ringing :eek: That's how unaware I am of my surroundings. But text messaging works okay - it repeats a ding every five minutes and eventually one of those dings will penetrate my thick skull. So normally I might only have five or six calls in a year, but 60 text messages.
  22. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

    You can check the coverage maps, and I think the providers can check for you, too. You won't get an exact account, but they can give you an estimation.
  23. Lizziebeth

    Lizziebeth the real Lizziebeth

    Those maps are good in a general sense, but it is still good to check at home. Right now, I have Verizon and sometimes I think my smart phone is just an expensive contact list. I actually end up looking up the number on my phone and dialing the call on my land line. Some days my cell phone works fine, other days calls drop if I can even call out at all. I live in a river valley, plus some of this appears weather related. It is not just me. I see the neighbors parked at the top of the hill making calls too! The internet works all the time though.

    AT&T and Sprint do not ever work here. TMobile works sometimes too.
  24. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Ask your neighbors how well their service works. And don't forget to check at work.

    My interpretation of the cellphone coverage maps -- at least for AT&T and Sprint -- is that they're very accurate in showing where you WON'T have service, but not to be relied upon for how the service will be inside the coverage area.

    AT&T did give us a micro-cell tower that helps at our house. (We'd complained about cell coverage after they did something to the local tower.)
  25. bek

    bek Guest

    I had Virgin Mobile for awhile wish I had kept it. Now I have Sprint and am paying twice as much-stupid move. Sure its faster internet, but double the freaking bill!
  26. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

    Pretty much, but I think if you talked to a rep, they can let you know in general how strong the coverage might be (i.e. let you know how far away from a tower you are). I think.
  27. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    This. I have Verizon and it does not work inside my house. No one's cell phone works in my house except to occasionally ring but then you can't answer on it. I have to go to the end of my driveway to use it which I don't do. :lol: Love my land line. The Verizon map shows complete coverage in my area, even when I zoom into my actual house. If my home was older I'd think it was haunted. :eek:

    It works everywhere else, though.
  28. Lizziebeth

    Lizziebeth the real Lizziebeth

    And I thought I was the only one who could not use a cell phone at home!
  29. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    Just curious, which plan have you got with Sprint? I just upgraded to the Everything Data 450 (had to - also upgraded to a smartphone!). I'm still in that blissful period before the next bill comes with the increase! :lol:
  30. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    We are two lone voices in the wilderness. ;)