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  1. #1
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    Alternatives to a cellphone

    Although not directly related to Living Car Free, I think this topic follows many of ideals some posters of this forum have, namely minimalism/saving.

    I currently own a $500 smartphone and pay $80/month for unlimited voice, text and 4G LTE data. I pay $960 each year to use a cell phone. In five years I will have spent $4800. That is a decent amount of money that could have been used for a trip, or a new bicycle. I'm getting very tired of paying so much money for a cellphone. Although I am not pinched for cash, I feel like I want more money put into more meaningful things (such as retirement or hobbies). I don't even want to spend $40/month for a cellphone because I consider it a ripoff.

    I've been researching alternatives to the standard monthly $50+ cellphone plans. I'm thinking about getting a prepaid phone for emergencies only. Something I am spending less than $100 per year on, not counting the cost of the phone. There doesn't seem to be many options available in the US. The big four (ATT/Verizon/Sprint/Tmobile) all offer some form of prepaid phone plans. Many of them are expensive ($45/month) and the minutes, or prepaid card refills, have expiration dates varying from 30-365 days. I'm also considering buying an Android tablet because there are many apps that offer phone calling. I could also setup a Skype subscription where I can make/receive calls from traditional phones. My goal is to either find a prepaid phone plan where I am spending less than $100/yr and/or finding an Android tablet that can do it just as cheap or free.

    How much are you paying for your mobile phone? Are you cellphone free? What are the cheapest phones and plans available? Anyone having success using a tablet for all of their phone needs?

  2. #2
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Looks like you have a T-Mobile plan. If you're happy with T-Mobile, the have a $30/mo prepaid plan that includes 100 minutes talk time, unlimited text and "unlimited" data (4G/LTE up to 5 GB). That's what I had until a few months ago. Worked very well for me.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  3. #3
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    I have a rotary dial cell phone.

    Well, almost. It's a Samsung flip phone, with a Metro plan. I share a plan with my parents and sister, and it's $30 each for unlimited talk/text to each other, and a pretty high limit for other minutes that we don't approach. No roaming charges and such. The phone was $30 at walmart, and it works reliably, and the service (the bars) is good, too.

    It seems to be a necessity these days, as there are no pay phones to speak of, and people expect to be able to reach you, or at least leave a message. I'm not sure there is a working alternative for many people (a land line and an answering machine?).
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  4. #4
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    Tracfone has 3 1-year pre-paid cards available. They have one for 99.99 that includes 400 minutes, and up to 199.99 for 1500 minutes. Data is extra though.

  5. #5
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    TracPhone. The phone cost $10 with automatic doubling of any minutes bought, costs $100/year including an additional 400 minutes (prior to doubling and bonus of 200 more minutes for 1000 minutes). Minutes never expire. Since I hardly use it (usually just to tell my wife if I will be late for supper) I have over 3000 minutes accumulated. It can access the internet and text, but I never use Internet feature and seldom send a text message.

  6. #6
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    AT&T, $25 every three months, rolls over as long as you renew before the expiration date.

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  7. #7
    Senior Member Smallwheels's Avatar
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    http://LAS.Ting.com This company lets you bring your phone to their network and you pay $6 per month to connect to the service. You can mix and match your minutes between data and voice. You only pay for what you use and your minutes roll over. They also sell phones if you need to get a new one. You can use a feature phone or a smart phone.

    I would chose them but they don't have much coverage in Montana. I had to go with a Tracfone. It is only used for business. For personal calling I have used Skype for years. I pay $2.95 per month and I can call anybody in the USA and Canada. The quality isn't always good. It depends a lot on the quality of the internet connection.
    Smallwheels

    Take my stuff, please. I have way too much. My current goal is to have all of my possessions fit onto a large bicycle trailer. Really.

  8. #8
    Senior Member raqball's Avatar
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    I have been cell phone'less for about 2-years now..

    I still have a smartphone but no service.. I use Google Voice and Wifi..



    Oh, I don't have cable TV either.. Local channels via an OTA antenna and a Roku works great!

  9. #9
    winter wipeout kitty wipekitty's Avatar
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    My partner and I share a T-Mobile plan...$80 per month (total), unlimited minutes, unlimited text, very limited data (500 MB or something).

    We've looked for more economical options, but this is what's worked out best for us given our usage (and without having to buy new phones). I use LOTS of minutes talking to elderly parents in another state, and my partner's teenage kid (also in another state) only knows how to communicate using text. My partner also likes that I have a cell phone for when I take bike adventures by myself or have to go out of town for work.

    On the bright side, our phones are almost four years old...and we don't plan on replacing them until they fall apart!

  10. #10
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I have a cheap tracfone flip phone. I can usually find a deal on the 1 year/400 min card for $80 (reg $100). Minutes are doubled and with a bonus minutes code I can get ~1000 minutes. I am currently deciding if I want to go to a tracfone feature phone or Android smartphone that gives triple minutes.

    I have a Nexus 7 tablet. I have a Google Voice number and an app for making phone calls but I have not used it.

    I mostly use the Google Voice number at home with an Obihai box hooked to a regular handset phone for free voip calling. On May 15 GV won't work with Obihai anymore so I have a GVMate to use with the GV number next.
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  11. #11
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solid_Spoke View Post
    Although not directly related to Living Car Free, I think this topic follows many of ideals some posters of this forum have, namely minimalism/saving.

    I currently own a $500 smartphone and pay $80/month for unlimited voice, text and 4G LTE data. I pay $960 each year to use a cell phone. In five years I will have spent $4800. That is a decent amount of money that could have been used for a trip, or a new bicycle. I'm getting very tired of paying so much money for a cellphone. Although I am not pinched for cash, I feel like I want more money put into more meaningful things (such as retirement or hobbies). I don't even want to spend $40/month for a cellphone because I consider it a ripoff.

    I've been researching alternatives to the standard monthly $50+ cellphone plans. I'm thinking about getting a prepaid phone for emergencies only. Something I am spending less than $100 per year on, not counting the cost of the phone. There doesn't seem to be many options available in the US. The big four (ATT/Verizon/Sprint/Tmobile) all offer some form of prepaid phone plans. Many of them are expensive ($45/month) and the minutes, or prepaid card refills, have expiration dates varying from 30-365 days. I'm also considering buying an Android tablet because there are many apps that offer phone calling. I could also setup a Skype subscription where I can make/receive calls from traditional phones. My goal is to either find a prepaid phone plan where I am spending less than $100/yr and/or finding an Android tablet that can do it just as cheap or free.

    How much are you paying for your mobile phone? Are you cellphone free? What are the cheapest phones and plans available? Anyone having success using a tablet for all of their phone needs?
    In the UK I pay £16/month (a little under $30) for my phone and my wife's phone combined.

    When I'm in the US I buy a burner phone for $10 and put an extra $20 of credit on it. The phone is the cheapie thing that makes calls and sends texts and not much more. If you're a light user that credit will last a while. Unless you need data on the move I'd bet you could get by on something in the region of $100/year. That works out a little under $10/month - if you're a light user I reckon you could do that. In the US I'm a light user and go through less than $10/month in credit.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  12. #12
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    120628105147-phone-history-07-story-top.jpg

    Wait in line for a pay phone?

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I had a tracfone for years. Now I have a Metro PCS flip phone. It cost about $75 to buy the phone and activate it. After that it's $25 a month for unlimited talk/text. I pay at the local store that's a block from my house.

    I don't think flip phones will be available much longer, so my next phone will be a smartass phone.

    We have a land line bundled in with our Internet/satellite but we never even bothered to set it up. Most people I know only use their cell phones.
    Last edited by Roody; 05-04-14 at 07:16 PM.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  14. #14
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
    Wait in line for a pay phone?
    The only pay phones here are in the bus station. I haven't seen anybody using them for years.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  15. #15
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    This topic comes up every so often in Foo (but I'm not inclined to move the thread there).

    I have a Tracfone, as does my wife and daughter. Our usage varies- $20 typically lasts me for 90 days (and it is rare that I don't roll over minutes), my wife generally can make it 45 days before adding airtime, and my daughter has lasted less than 30.

    I also have a Google Voice number, which is one of the reasons why I don't use that much airtime on my Tracfone- I can make outbound calls and send/receive SMS for free. Downside to it is that you have to be connected to the web and the app/tab in the background at all times to receive calls.

    I also have a Nexus 7 that is WiFi only. As a result4 of not having that 3G/4G/LTE connectivity, a lot of the apps aren't as useful... like the communication ones like Skype and Google Voice/Hangouts. If it is WiFi only, you will have to rely on VoIP technology- you can't use it like a cell phone.

    Someone earlier mentioned Ting. Unless things have changed, Ting runs off of the Sprint network, which means your current phone has to use the same tech as Sprint or you can't port over to Ting.
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  16. #16
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    The only pay phones here are in the bus station.
    I actually saw one at the library today. It was a different branch than the one we usually deal with- wife went to meet & greet/book signing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  17. #17
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    AT&T, $25 every three months, rolls over as long as you renew before the expiration date.
    The new plans don't roll over.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    AT&T, $25 every three months, rolls over as long as you renew before the expiration date.
    That's a good plan. I have AT&T and will look into that.

    I see too many people buying expensive phones and then having to pay $70.00 dollars a month for service! No way. I have AT&T Nokia 510 (Windows smart phone)and pay $25.00 dollars a month with no data plan. At work, I'll connect to Wifi and listen to music that way. Also, if I really need Wifi, I'll call AT&T and for $5.00 dollars, they give me a couple of megabytes which is more than enough in case of an emergency.

    I have to thank all those who are buying expensive cell phones because the quality of the lower end smart phones gets better each year!

  19. #19
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Republic Wireless has a $10 plan unlimited everything except data. No data, except for wifi. If that was available with the Moto-G phone when I set up with tracfone + smartphone I'd have gone that way.

    With tracphone and a Samsung smartphone it's triple minutes, data comes with that automatically which I almost never use, so I'm just buying time every 3 months. A little more than $7/month.

    If you want to eliminate the phone entirely get a DID number and outgoing account with Callcentric (free NY based number) and use a VOIP client on the tablet. I have that, it does work, but I decided to set the phone up with it instead. My incoming calls on the phone to that number are free (when I have wifi) so I'm not using tracfone minutes much.
    Last edited by wphamilton; 05-04-14 at 09:07 PM.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solid_Spoke View Post
    How much are you paying for your mobile phone? Are you cellphone free? What are the cheapest phones and plans available? Anyone having success using a tablet for all of their phone needs?
    1. $0
    2. Yes ... I've never owned a mobile phone.
    3. Wouldn't have a clue.
    4. I'm not that keen on tablets and wouldn't want to use one as a phone.

    I've never been a phone person.

  21. #21
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    I am one who has never had a contract phone. I started with a Tracfone that I just kept in the car if I ever needed it.

    When my wife went back to work, we shared the phone. When we went on our first vacation, Disneyworld, I thought it would be a good idea for both of us to have a phone as we would be separate often with her and the youngest going on the small stuff and our oldest and myself hitting the big rides. We discovered texting with having 2 phones and found it was nice to have easy communication during work time (I work daylight hours and she works evenings and weekends.)

    A few years ago when Tracfone brought out the LG 800, I thought it would be a nicer phone to text on with a regular keyboard like smartphones had. I was going to replace our $10 flip phones when I discovered AT&T GoPhone.

    I bought 2 Android GoPhones at $100 each (now our phones are newer versions and only $50 with more expensive options available as well.) We never use them to call, only in an emergency, thus we only have the $0.10/minute plan. We only use to text and have no need for data either (a would-be-nice-to-have feature, but not something I would quadruple the cost for.) We have since added a phone for our oldest and each phone costs us $10/month.

    From that $10/month, I use $5 on my phone and my daughter's phone for 200 texts. We each text about 300 and since they roll over, I put 1000/$10 on for the first month, then $5/month after that for half a year or so. My wife texts her mother and coworkers all the time so she pretty much uses up her 1000/$10 each month.

    Since we only text, GoPhone compared to the old Tracfone, I get about 3 times as many texts to use for the money.

    Other cost options available are $25/month for 250 minutes, $20/month for unlimited texts, and $50/month for unlimited both texts and talk. They changed policy a year after we had our phones and now can only get data with the $25/250 minute or greater talk options which doesn't bother me at all. I first had data but the only time I used it was when I was away from the house or work and the apps automatically updated info (weather app and such that update per hour.)

    If you use a phone minimally but still want to have a phone, you can't beat the AT&T GoPhone.
    Ride no faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!

  22. #22
    Senior Member Zedoo's Avatar
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    I like minimal size and prepaid minutes. I never had a contract or data plan. Flippers and smartphones are extra bulk I don't want in my pockets on rides.

  23. #23
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raqball View Post
    I still have a smartphone but no service.. I use Google Voice and Wifi
    This is very do-able if you live in a metro area. I find there are few places I travel where I can't find a wifi. And with Google voice, you can connect.

    However, if you are riding out of town or out camping... you might need cell service.

    I buy 1,000 minutes a year from T-Mobile for $100. I also have a smart phone, but mostly hook up on wifi.

    Another provider you might consider is Ting, if you need a voice, data, text...

  24. #24
    Senior Member Astrozombie's Avatar
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    It is a rip off, I was looking at the $100 Tracfones and ended up seeing what the cheap $30 would be like and so far I love it (Later on i can upgrade)

    Every 3 months I buy a $20 60 minute card w/free Triple minutes. Though if you actually want fancy smartphone capabilities you should try the $100 phones as this one doesn't cut it, no monthly contracts!
    Assume nothing; Question everything

  25. #25
    Cabrõnista™ dprayvd's Avatar
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    Hey there, hey, how arya? Say, can I use your cell?

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