Here's what I'm looking for: I want to have a cell phone but I also want to use it as little as possible. Any cell phone will do - all I'm looking for is the cheapest possible phone and the cheapest possible airtime.
So, I realized I use my cell phone very little (less than 300 minutes a month) and that the cheapest contract I could find was T-Mobile's $30/month for 300 minutes, which works out to $.10 a minute.
Then I noticed that they also offer prepaid plans that are $.10/min, which could actually be a lot cheaper since I wasn't using the 300 minutes. However, I'm new to the world of prepaid phones, and I'd like to make sure that I'm getting a good deal.
T-Mobile seems to be the cheapest of the major carriers. They have 2 types of prepaid accounts, "Pay by the Day" and "Pay as you Go." Both are only $.10/min (with pay as you go you have to spend $100 to get that rate; not a big deal to me.)
With the pay by the day plan you also get charged $1 per day that you use your phone, but it also has the advantage of unlimited calling from 7pm to 7am (unlimited here means no per-minute charges; I'm sure you still get charged $1/day if you only use it after 7.)
I've had my T-Mobile Prepaid plan since 2001, so 7 years now... (actually it was Voicestream when I purchased it). I have the Pay As You Go service, since the Pay Per Day service wasn't even an option back then. I am quite happy with the plan so far, when I first had it, I could put $100, and use it for about 10 months. During the 7 years, I've gotten 5 different phones, mainly because the first phone sucked, it was mono-color, didn't have a clock or alarm, and very basic, then I kept upgrading phones through purchases on eBay, now I have an unlocked Nokia N95 running my prepaid plan. It works really well, and $100 will still last me about 5 months, and is still the only phone I use (I don't have a landline). I am satisfied with the service, and I do believe it is the cheapest prepaid plan overall.
Limited T-Zones is free. With it, I can check my account to see how many minutes I have left, browse a couple of sites like CNN or ABC News, I think they have limited ESPN too, but I've never been there.
Here's my advice, if you do Pay Per Day, you might as well just get the 300 minutes post-pay plan. Since if someone calls you once each day of the month, you're gonna be spending $30 PLUS 10 cents a minute. So you might as well just go for the $30 plan and not pay extra for your minutes during the day. I really recommend the Pay As You Go plan. Especially if you're just a light user like me. I tend to spend more time chatting with people online anyways.
EDIT: Oh yeah, I wanted to add, that I just recently upgraded to the Nokia N95 because of the GPS and the WiFi features. If you end up upgrading your phone to a wifi phone like me, you can get one of those VOIP plans. I dropped $10 to a VOIP company, and my minutes cost 1.9 cents every minute that I call using a wifi network. So when I call my friends when I'm at home, my price is even sweeter, or if I ever drop by a place with open wifi. The only down side to the VOIP plans are that your friends will always see it as a private number whenever you call them using the wifi.
yeah, pay per day really makes no sense, if you could get a monthly plan for $30/mth.
my sis uses t-mobile and it works great. with the $100 card, she's good for the whole year. and it gives her kids something to get her for birthdays, Christmas, etc etc. the nice thing with the gsm t-mobile phones is that if her phone breaks, there are many easy options to replace it!
I agree that pay as you go probably makes more sense for most people. But if you can get 2 prepaid phones free (after rebate), couldn't you just have a separate line on the pay by the day plan?
The point was that it comes with unlimited nights (not weekends) and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling. Although my plan was to make most of my long calls from home or work, I might want to occasionally do this somewhere else. So if I had a second phone with a pay by the day plan, it would only cost $1 as long as it's after 7pm or I'm calling another Tmobile customer.
I have Page Plus Cellular and it works great for me.
There is no pay per day, and the minutes last for 120 days. When I found it a few years ago by accident, I had spent tons of time looking for a plan because I didn't want the full plan because I don't use it that much. I put a $25 card (300 minutes) on about every three months or so.
It uses the Verizon network and works on any Verizon phone.
But if you can get 2 prepaid phones free (after rebate), couldn't you just have a separate line on the pay by the day plan?
The point was that it comes with unlimited nights (not weekends) and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling.
.... So if I had a second phone with a pay by the day plan, it would only cost $1 as long as it's after 7pm or I'm calling another Tmobile customer.
If you don't mind having two phones with two numbers, then, yes, it might be most economical if you had one phone set up to receive and make calls that last for less than about 10 minutes per day, and the other phone set up for less frequent calling (less than once per day) but used for longer calls and calls at night.
But this is only an advantage over the postpaid $30 plan (though that plan will probably come to a few dollars more with taxes and fees) if you plan to use a lot more minutes on your cell phones than you have been averaging -- i.e., you want to use a lot more minutes at night at flat $1/day unlimited rate, but not every day.
As others have pointed out, load your T-Mobile prepaid phones with $100 (gives you instant Gold status and 10 cents per minute calls and one year expiration, as well as one year expiration on all recharges),
You can then give the phone number of the "pay-as-you-go" line to friends, and save the other phone to use when you want to make long calls at night.
I haven't found other plans that give you rates lower than 10 cents per minute without adding other fees or charges or that have shorter expiration dates.
The best deal on this is Net 10. Hands down. You can go into Wal mart and pick one up. You can get a phone WITH 300 min already on it. After that, you can get 150 min cards for $15 or 300 min cards for 30 bucks. It is 10 cents a min, anytime, anywhere. A 300 min card also extends airtime for 60 more days. Although, it has extended my airtime as much as 5-6 months before. It's as cheap as it gets for a pre pay phone. The only thing I don't like is that they don't offer the unlimited nights and weekends, but it's a prepay so that's not really expected.
I have never had a problem. As soon as you get your card, you enter the pin into your phone and the minutes are sent in like 5 seconds.
Also, those trac phones are rip offs, you have to pay for airtime PLUS minutes. I heard it can be as much as 25 - 30 cents a min or more. You'd be better off using a pay phone.
Oh ya, and I believe they use multiple networks, depending on where you are. It has the widest coverage. I think the Sprint network is the main on they use.
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