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  1. #1
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    school me on pre paid cell phones

    I have a cell phone that was activated about 5 years ago but I only used it for a year and then cancelled. I hate cell phones and paying for them.

    However, I decided to get mine reactivated for emergencies so I figured one of those prepaid card things would be the best and cheapest ways.

    My phone is about 5 yrs old and its the cheapest most basic one you can have. Not a "smart phone".

    Can I just go into best buy and pay cash for a few minutes and no contract or monthly fees or anything ?

  2. #2
    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    I don't know of any prepaid plans that you can just buy minutes for and then ignore until those minutes are used up. As far as I know you have to buy new minutes every month and your old minutes expire. It's because talk time is made with milk. Sure you can buy a gallon of milk and sip on it a little bit at a time, but once that expiration hits that stuff is no good anymore and you gotta dump it out and buy a new gallon.

  3. #3
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    Check out http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans and look at the Pay as you go plan.

    Some carriers will have a monthly fee. With the T Mobile plan you buy the phone and pay for minutes. You replenish as needed. It is pretty painless.

    I like the option of not having a monthly bill.

  4. #4
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    tracfone.
    it's a pay as you go, and was the top rated in consumer reports. i used it for years before i signed on with the major carriers. definitely your #1 choice.
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  5. #5
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I've been using a tracfone for a long time for my light talk and text needs. I have a LG420g flip phone. It has a double minutes feature. A 365 day/400 minute card is $99. If I look around on ebay or amazon I can usually find one of these cards for $70 to $80. I can usually find a bonus code to use when I load the card that give 200 free minutes. So I get 1000 minutes and a year of service for <$100.

    Tracfone has android smartphone type phones now but I have not tried them yet.

    If you are a light cell phone user and can be disciplined to watch your minutes Tracfone can be pretty cheap.

    I subscribe to a good Tracfone user Yahoo group and Howard Forums is a good place to look for Tracfone info.
    Last edited by eofelis; 01-24-14 at 01:59 PM.
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  6. #6
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Depending on the model you have, you might be able to get a new SIM card for it, but you should shop for a plan/provider before getting one. You may end up having to just get a cheap new phone and donating/recycling your current one.

    We went from contract plans with Sprint and then US Cellular to no contract w/Tracfone. They were the best for us at the time and although I keep checking the competition, they are still the best option for us today. Our average phone bill for 2 phones was ~$10/month. We got our daughter one for Xmas, so the average will go up, but it will still be less than what the major carriers typically charge for a month for just one phone.
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  7. #7
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    Okay I took my phone into ATT today and it was so old it still had the cingular SIM card in it, haha.

    Anyway, for $25 I got a 3 month deal where its 10cents a minute for phone calls.

    I plan on using it maybe once every 3 months so it sounded like an okay deal.

    I am so glad I don't pay the $100 a month that so many people do.

    I've lived for 41 years without a cell phone !! I know people that cant live 4 seconds without theirs.

  8. #8
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    I have an elderly parent in a nursing facility. She wanted a phone to "keep in touch", so I got her a very basic Net10 phone. Net10 is the very same company as Tracfone.
    How it works: You buy the phone, and you own it. You simply buy minutes, via the cards sold at consumer outlets, including most grocery stores, or buy minutes online,
    via the Net10 website. It's just that simple. No bills, contracts, statements, or anything else. You just need to make sure you buy more minutes before you run out of them,
    or the time expires. i.e. The number of service days left.

    Difference between Tracfone and Net10? None that I can really detect.

  9. #9
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I use an AT&T GoPhone. I usually buy $25 refills (250 minutes) which is good for 3 months before expiring and usually lasts me about that long with my average usage. I don't buy data but my phone has wi-fi. I don't like to BS on the phone so this is perfect for me.
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  10. #10
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    I use an AT&T GoPhone. I usually buy $25 refills (250 minutes) which is good for 3 months before expiring and usually lasts me about that long with my average usage. I don't buy data but my phone has wi-fi. I don't like to BS on the phone so this is perfect for me.
    I use GoPhone too. The tricky thing about that is renewing on the last date. As far as I can see, if you renew before the expiration, your renewal is still good for just 3 months, meaning that if you renew early, you just throw away days. Though any unused minutes are rolled over if you renew on time. I normally use 1-2 minutes per 3 months.
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  11. #11
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    I use GoPhone too. The tricky thing about that is renewing on the last date. As far as I can see, if you renew before the expiration, your renewal is still good for just 3 months, meaning that if you renew early, you just throw away days. Though any unused minutes are rolled over if you renew on time. I normally use 1-2 minutes per 3 months.
    I usually start running out of minutes before expiration and reload when my phone is down to under $5. But this last time I reloaded with $100 which gives me a whole year to use up. It's been 7 months and I still have about $35 left on the phone. Texting uses up minutes also so I don't use that. Instead, I get on the wi-fi and use Text Free if I need to text.
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  12. #12
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I have an old tracfone that has so many minutes left that I just renew the service days (the minutes roll over). A years worth of service was about $60 I think, and I bought minutes once last year so it came to about $7/month. That's hard to beat unless you have a habit of chatting a lot on the phone.

    I am tempted now by the smartphones that tracfone is now offering. My scheme is to set up an app for voip calls when I'm at home with wifi, leaving the cell service minutes for incoming calls and when I'm out and about, and I'd hardly ever use data since I'll usually have wifi. Thus keeping the bill down around the same 8 or 10 dollars.

  13. #13
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    I have an old tracfone that has so many minutes left that I just renew the service days (the minutes roll over). A years worth of service was about $60 I think, and I bought minutes once last year so it came to about $7/month. That's hard to beat unless you have a habit of chatting a lot on the phone.

    I am tempted now by the smartphones that tracfone is now offering. My scheme is to set up an app for voip calls when I'm at home with wifi, leaving the cell service minutes for incoming calls and when I'm out and about, and I'd hardly ever use data since I'll usually have wifi. Thus keeping the bill down around the same 8 or 10 dollars.
    I've thought of doing that as well, but have always been too lazy to get into it. My wife and I share a tracfone for emergencies/travel that is pretty much always kept in the car. Minutes expire after 90 days if you don't buy more (or buy a years worth), but our phone comes with double minutes and we hardly use it, so we almost always run out of days before minutes, so we pretty much spend $80 for a year's service. Not to bad for an insurance against emergencies thing. My wife's been talking about wanting a smart phone but I can't see the point. I've got phones in the office and at home. A computer (or two) at each location, and when I'm out away from either location, I don't really want to be on the phone or computer 99% of the time.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    Yet another GoPhone user here. We don't use them for calling. We just text. I have 3 Android phones, my wife, oldest daughter (13), and myself. We just use them for text. No data and just use them on WiFi at home or at work.

    Online the smallest amount you can upload is $10. I'd like to get $300 saved up for the 365/$100 on each account. For the $10/month I purchase either 200/$5 or 1000/$10 texts depending o how much was used the previous month. I typically use 300 texts, my wife about 700-900 because she texts her mom all the time and my daughter uses 200. We only use calling 3-4 times a year so just have the $0.10/minute which was pretty handy when my wife was sitting upside down in her car last year.

    I've never had a contract phone. Previously I had a Tracfone and when Wifey went back to work we shared because she worked evenings. When we went to Disney we picked up 2 new Tracfones for when we split up. That's when we discovered the convenience of texting. When the LG800 came out, I wanted to get those for easier texting but found out about GoPhone.

    We love theGoPhone plan. With just texting, you get a lot more texts for the money over Tracfone. I'll never have a $200/month contract plan.
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  15. #15
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I've thought of doing that as well, but have always been too lazy to get into it. My wife and I share a tracfone for emergencies/travel that is pretty much always kept in the car. Minutes expire after 90 days if you don't buy more (or buy a years worth), but our phone comes with double minutes and we hardly use it, so we almost always run out of days before minutes, so we pretty much spend $80 for a year's service. Not to bad for an insurance against emergencies thing. My wife's been talking about wanting a smart phone but I can't see the point. I've got phones in the office and at home. A computer (or two) at each location, and when I'm out away from either location, I don't really want to be on the phone or computer 99% of the time.
    I feel the same way, but I want it primarily as a pocket size tablet, with cell so that I don't need to also carry the old flip-phone. If I can do that for a few dollars per month.

  16. #16
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    I bought a Nexus 5 and signed up with T-Mobile for a $ 30/month plan that gets me 100 cell minutes, unlimited texts and 5 GB of data.
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