Cheap Cell Phone Service?

I’m looking for a cheap, basic cell phone service, less than $30 a month with minimal activation fee, and minimal length of service commitment, a year or less. The phone will have minimal usage, less than 200 minutes per month, mainly calling out (either to cell phones or landlines). I have AAA and they referred me to Sprint which has a 2 year minimum contract.

I use Tracfone, which has no contract, no activation fee, and is pay by minute. You do have to buy the phone from them, but the most expensive one is maybe $50. If you buy 200 minutes, that will cost $40. But they always have deals for double minutes, so $40 will get you 400 minutes.

Seconding Tracfone. It’s all the phone service I need and a much better deal than what I had with Alltel.

The only problem I have with Tracfone is that their support staff are dunderheads. But I don’t know if anyone else’s are any better.

Go with pay-by-minute. I use T-Mobile’s plan ($100 for 1000 minutes) and have been happy with it. Coupled with a wifi capable phone and Google Voice, it’s even better.

Tracfone again, if you don’t talk much on the phone. Get a minute-doubler card and your expenditure was around $8 a month last I calculated it.

If you can get onto a family member’s Verizon (or probably other carrier’s) plan, it’s around $20 per month.

Tracphone. My husband has it - he doesn’t use it a lot - I throw 20 bucks on it every few months.

You can get the doubler card, but when I upgraded the phone itself, it came with double minutes for life. And the phone was cheaper than the card!

Yeah, I use Tracfone too. You just need to pay attention when you add time. Some time expires in one month, some in three months and some in a year. I generally get the cheapest three month time ($20, this is likely what Missy2U does). You can access your account online & they will send you emails when your time is expiring (by the way, it does not actually expire if you add to it before it does). I have found the coverage to be excellent (I live in NJ), but you might want to check out coverage where you are.

I am talking only about basic telephone, mind you, not texting or web browsing. I think those are possible, but I have never used them.

Thank you. Tracfone looks perfect for me, much better than Sprint anyhow.

There’s also Virgin Mobile. $20 a month for 400 minutes.

If your income happens to be low enough and you live in one of the states where it’s available, the best deal is 250 minutes a month for free plus a free cheapo phone.

If you want more than just basic phone service, Virgin has plans with unlimited messaging and data (and 300 minutes) for just $35/month. Of course you have to pay full price for a phone, but you easily make up that cost pretty quickly even with a $300 phone, against any one of the “big 4” plans.

If I weren’t already locked in with T-Mobile for another year that’s what I would get (and will have a year from now).

I use PagePlus.

$10 gets you 100 minutes that last 120 days. Texts are, I believe, 25 cents each.

$25 gets you 400 minutes that last 120 days. Same text stuff too.

My phone was $70 because I bought a “nice” one. :slight_smile:

That’s probably the extra cost to add a new phone to a family share plan. With a new user, they might need to bump up their minutes as well, and of course text messaging costs extra (either per-message, or for a monthly allowance).

And if you do that, chances are you’d be using a new phone gotten from Verizon, requiring that 2-year commitment on that contract (I think it would extend the contract for all phones on the plan).

All in all, I don’t know that this is the best option.

Tracphone, T-mobile and maybe Virgin prepaid should be a good option for the OP’s needs. My kids have cheap T-mobile prepaids, which was a good choice since each lost their phone at least once. I throw about 10 bucks a month at each phone’s account. The money is good for 3 months after the last time you top off; once you’ve added a total of 100 dollars, it’s good for a year (so for example I went most of a year before adding to my daughter’s account, as she rarely used it).

Last time I looked, Verizon’s prepaid plans were not nearly as good as the other carriers - money expired far too quickly. It was clear they weren’t interested in wooing the prepaid market.

If you’re near wifi much of the time, Republic Wireless should have some spots opening up soon. $19 a month with the understanding that wifi will handle much of your calling and data needs.

Ting Wireless could be as low as $15/month plus taxes for 500 minutes. No contract, either.

Another vote for Tracfone. As was mentioned upthread, their support staff is primarily based in India that read off a script, so don’t expect any great customer support stories.

The main selling point with them is pure economics. Unlike other pay-as-you-go providers, the only charge by the minute (however, you must purchase additional minutes every 90 days, even if you have a surplus). Other services tack on a “daily usage fee” for every day that you actively use their service. Receive one text message or make a 30 second call? Pony up that surcharge, sucker.

I don’t make that many calls, probably using less than 2 minutes per day, on average. I spend less than $12/mo (taxes and fees included), so it’s been a pretty good deal for me. Unlike some of the contracted phone rates, text messages are pretty reasonable too. Depending on how many minutes you buy at a time, they cost about 2.5 - 5 cents a pop.

No offense but I must VERY stongly UN-recommend them; I just had them and they were horrible! Screwed up my account from the very beginning and continued to do so and their alleged customer service was horrible. Not helping is their English skills not so goodly. Total nightmare.

I got an AT&T phone no contract, pay-as-you-go per minute. Working fine for me. I also love that unlike others I’ve had, after every call it gives a brief “here’s your balance” msg. Easy to keep tabs and know where I’m at that way.

I looked at Tracphone and balked because either the phones or the per-minute costs were high, forget which offhand.

There are a lot of options for Tracfone that don’t involve the every 90 days thing.

As I mentioned in a previous thread, what I do is sign up online for the cheapest 90 day plan, and they offer me a 1 year extension. So I get 1 1/4 years for something like $72 and keep unused minutes. (Which we have a ton of.)

Note that if you are like us, and quite rarely use the cell (or any other) phone, then the “double minutes” thing isn’t the best deal. We go with cheap phone/longest time combos.

Some others are also strictly pay-for-what-you-use as well. My only direct experience is with T-Mobile, obviously, but back when I was researching things, they offered a couple of different plans. One, you paid a fee when you used it that day but then that covered everything for that day. Another, you paid a fee and got unlimited texts for that day, but phone calls were more, or something like that. We set up our kids with a strict pay-per-use plan since we figured in general they’d go days without using it, then do 3-4 messages / calls in a single day.

With Tracfone, if you top it off every 90 days, do you lose what you bought before or does that allow your surplus to stay available as well?

Verizon, at least when I was looking 4 years ago, really was a lousy deal for pay-as-you-go. Their per-call and per-message prices were similar, but at that point it was set up so that your money expired far too soon (e.g. add 30 dollars, it died in 30 days). We had wanted to go with them because of the free calling to other Verizon customers (we’re Veridiots) but the economics just didn’t work.