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For those of you that don't really need a mobile phone, there are some inexpensive options that can allow you to have one for as little as $5 a month.
We got a $20 GoPhone from Walmart and bought $25 of prepaid calling with it. After two months we had $17 of credit left, but on 5/31 the balance went to zero because the credit expires after 60 days. Yeah, having your money expire sucks.
So I went to the gophone web site to put some more money in and discovered I could put in as little as $10, which is great. I put in $15 and now my phone works again. Then I looked at the auto-refill options and discovered that it not only keeps you from running out, but you can also put in as little as $10 each time, and BEST OF ALL once you refill it carries over any existing balance! You don't lose your bucks for no good reason.
If we keep the phone (the qwerty keypad means the keys are really, really hard to read if you are old like me) then we will use the auto-fill option. :-)
But having a phone to use when we need to for as little as $5 a month is pretty nice.
Christian Nielsen's Blog
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Set it up on autopay and you should be good to go!
Tim ClaremontSystems AdministratorRochester, NY
I have a Tracfone. Not because I have bad credit (I don't), but because I'm still not ready to by a smart phone (I still use a lap top for working remotely, making calls on Skype, etc.). It's an LG with a qwerty key board (which I need to be wearing glasses to use, because I'm old, like Christian) and can go on Facebook or Twitter in a pinch if I need to update everyone about whatever I'm doing and don't have my laptop. I bought the double minutes for life card and now, indeed, I spend about $5 a month on my phone. Oh, and it works with my motorola headset earpiece no prob.
It has ONE downside: Tracfone does not allow users to send nor receive text messages from outside the USA. Phone calls, yes, but not text messages. And as I work with international NGOs, some of whom like to text message... it's a pain. But probably not a problem for most people.
TechSoup Community Forum Manager
Bit more on TracFone - I've used one for several years, now have a slider model with triple minutes, so my cost is about 6c/minute. (Look for discount phone packages on Amazon etc.) Service and coverage are generally OK. I find that voicemail and text messages sometimes don't show up for a day or more, but usually are prompt. TracFone includes some 60 foreign countries at no extra cost. Customer service is marginal, but available.
cheapest way if phone not use too much, I recommend tmobile prepaid. once you refill reach $100 everytime you refill your expiration will be extend 1 year. example: you open new line and fill $100 right away on 6/1/13. your expiration will be 5/31/14. let say, on 5/30/14 you fill $10 now your expiration will extend 1 more year to may 29 2015.
"TracFone includes some 60 foreign countries at no extra cost."
Only for phone calls to the USA - not for text messaging, and not for use in those countries. Unfortunately...
When you travel outside the US, check out RebelFone.
They've got decent plans for roaming in most of the main countries.
Also, another way to get the most out of your phone is to use Viber or WhatsApp in lieu of SMS texts.
When you get cheap data packages (e.g. Straight Talk), it lasts forever with one of these plans.
Speaking of Walmart, I got a Samsung Galaxy III and went with the Family Mobile plan. Your choice of phones may be limited but I get unlimited talk, text, & web for $40 a month. If you just want talk and text it's $30 a month.