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Emergency phone with no monthly cost?
Old 03-28-2013, 03:38 PM   #1
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Emergency phone with no monthly cost?

I read the other thread on cell phones but nothing in that addresses my need. I'm sure a lot of people would like this same thing so I suspect it is out there but where?

What I want is a cell phone to use in an emergency. I don't mind buying it but I want to purchase a minimal number of minutes (say 60 minutes) and expect those minutes to last until I use them without the need to purchase more minutes on a regular basis. I don't want a camera, clock, GPS, radio, I don't text, no interest in apps... all I want is a phone that I'd use in an accident or breakdown situation ie an emergency.

Last week my car broke down at 6:45 am on a very very cold day in a very inconvenient place. This phone I want would have allowed me to call the police or a towing company. I'd pay 10 or 20 cents a minute to buy the time but if I don't use it then 5 years later I want it all to be there and again I do not want to have to buy more time every x days.

Does such a thing exist? $5 or $10 a month is way too much to pay for this. The last time my car broke down was in 1998 and I never had an accident. I expect to die and never use those 60 minutes but just in case! Any ideas?
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:15 PM   #2
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Good luck with that.... no profit in it for phone companies..

Also, how do they know when you die and do not need the phone number anymore


From what I remember, you can to T-Mobile for $5 per year, that is the cheapest I have seen.... that is after you are Gold or something.... which cost $100 plus phone....
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:36 PM   #3
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From what I remember, you can to T-Mobile for $5 per year, that is the cheapest I have seen.... that is after you are Gold or something.... which cost $100 plus phone....
Yes, this T-Mobile prepaid plan is exactly what I have. I had to purchase the phone (I have a very basic one) and think I spent around $50, including the car charger. Then I added $100 worth of minutes (1000 minutes good for one year) which upgraded me to "Gold" status. Now all I have to do is remember every year, before those minutes expire, to add just the minimal amount (I think that is $10/year). Unused minutes roll over to the next year, provided that I add more minutes before the end of the year. The only gotcha was the year that I missed my expiration date by a few days, and lost all my accumulated minutes.

I keep it purely as an emergency phone. I don't keep it turned on, don't give out that number, and don't text.
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:42 PM   #4
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ksr's deal sounds good for OP's need in that 5 year cost would be $140 ($100 for first year and $10 a year therafter), or $2.33/month, (ignoring the cost of the phone) below OP's $5-10 a month threshold of pain.

Best deal I am aware of is AT&T gophone which is $50 for the phone and then $100 a year, or $8.33/month (plus a little tax brings it up to ~$9/month IIRC).
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:48 PM   #5
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If you just need a phone for 911 any cell phone can be used, for free.

Dollar General had a cheap Tracfone last week for $10, a 3 month card is $20 ( 6.67/month ) for Tracfone
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:56 PM   #6
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This may be old rules, but thought that for emergencies that a cell phone without any minutes still could call for help, like 911. No?

For me, I just reload a year of time (which also adds about 800 minutes) in Jan. That should last me for the entire year.

I know with Tracfone, you can also get an automatic load of 50 minutes a month for about $9.99 if you don't want to fool with having to reload separately.
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:58 PM   #7
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I posted this before, but with Page Plus you have to add $10 every 120 days, so $30 a year. It is on the Verizon network. You can buy a cheap Verizon phone (not prepaid) off eBay or someone might even give you one.

To go with auto pay you have to kick up to the $80 a year plan.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:46 PM   #8
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DW wanted a cell phone about 15 years ago for "emergencies" and such. So we bought a phone and signed up and linked somehow to a company that I worked for. We often do not make any calls. I guess that we are still somehow linked to that company.

A recent monthly bill was for $1.08 and was all fees~Fed universal svc .02, Regulatory Cost recovery .45,Tx universal Svc .01, 911 surcharge .06, sales tax .01...you get the idea. The days of "no monthly cost" are over.
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
If you just need a phone for 911 any cell phone can be used, for free.

Dollar General had a cheap Tracfone last week for $10, a 3 month card is $20 ( 6.67/month ) for Tracfone
As rbmrtn wrote, calling 911 is free from any cell phone whether you have minutes or not. You can get a cheap feature phone from craigslist for almost free. Lot of people have them sitting around at home from when they upgrade to a fancy phone.
Of course, if you need to call a tow-truck, etc you will need a phone with minutes. Tmobile prepaid is the cheapest I know of.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:41 AM   #10
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Yes, this T-Mobile prepaid plan is exactly what I have. I had to purchase the phone (I have a very basic one) and think I spent around $50, including the car charger. Then I added $100 worth of minutes (1000 minutes good for one year) which upgraded me to "Gold" status. Now all I have to do is remember every year, before those minutes expire, to add just the minimal amount (I think that is $10/year). Unused minutes roll over to the next year, provided that I add more minutes before the end of the year. The only gotcha was the year that I missed my expiration date by a few days, and lost all my accumulated minutes.

I keep it purely as an emergency phone. I don't keep it turned on, don't give out that number, and don't text.
+1

I have been using this plan for several years now, and it is perfect for me as I only use a small number of minutes a month (I have never spent more than $25 to refill and I still have over 300 unused minutes from previous rollovers). Actually, you don't need to buy the 1000 minutes upfront, although this is the best deal in terms of cost/minute. You can spend as little as $10. Once you've spent $100, you are upgraded to Gold Status, and then it works the way KSR described. As a Gold Status member you get 15% additional minutes for free each time you buy minutes.

Another thing I like about T-Mobile is that if you get a new phone you can simply move the SIM card from the old phone to the new one, thereby saving all of your unused minutes as well as any stored information (phone number, personal phone book, etc).

Finally, from time to time T-Mobile has specials on phones for this plan. When I last purchased a new phone, I got a Samsung t139 flip phone for $30 with free shipping and a free $25 refill card, so my effective cost for the phone was only $5.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:20 AM   #11
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DO you have unlocked T-Mobile or at&t phone? If you don't then you can definitely buy it from ebay. You can use Airvoice Wireless $10/3 months, 10c/min or text.

I am using it for 9 months now. No problem. It uses at&t network.

Airvoice Wireless | Pay As You Go
Buy their SIM card from ebay for a buck.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:51 PM   #12
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So what I want does not exist based upon replies. Calling 911 is only for an emergency and that would work. Calling 911 for a tow truck, you can't do that.

Believe it or not the least expensive option mentioned is way too expensive because I do not want to add minutes period... LBYM thinking. I do not use a cell and do not want to be accumulating minutes. This is why I'd be willing to pay an inordinate amount for say 60 minutes but those minutes have to remain until I used them.

As I mentioned the last time I needed "the phone" other than a week ago this morning was in July of 1998. So I guess that's that, thankfully all you other people, what 99 out of 100, have a cell so someone can make that call when I need it in another 15 years.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:15 PM   #13
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Definitely a younger generation thing at the moment, but many people are giving up their land lines entirely (up to $35 with long distance) and just using a cell phone in its place. Now that cells seem to work everywhere (at least in metro areas). Wal-Mart is rolling out an unlimited minute cell phone for $40-45 a month soon. They think in another couple years this cost will go down even more as cell companies stop paying to maintain the land lines and instead boost production of cell towers (cheaper to build, more profit, more coverage, more range).

Many predict that the aging infrastructure of wired land lines is a sinking ship. What happens when all of those wooden telephone poles across the country start to deteriorate and phone companies are seeing a drop in subscribers? Up to this point those in cities have subsidized the miles and miles of telephone lines to rural areas by paying the same rates. As more people move to cell we'll see a steep drop in land-line use - except in the most remote areas, where the cost of maintaining them will send monthly bills way up. I predict we'll have what look like land lines, but they'll really run on the internet... much like Vontage. My guess is that wired telephone lines across the country will be extinct by 2025. By then internet, satellite and cell will take over the entire infrastructure.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:20 PM   #14
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Definitely a younger generation thing, but some people are saving the cost of a land line by removing it and just using a cell phone...
We did away with our land line and went cell only in 2006. I had no idea I was in "a younger generation" at age 59...
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:42 PM   #15
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We did away with our land line and went cell only in 2006. I had no idea I was in "a younger generation" at age 59...
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:58 PM   #16
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As I mentioned the last time I needed "the phone" other than a week ago this morning was in July of 1998. So I guess that's that, thankfully all you other people, what 99 out of 100, have a cell so someone can make that call when I need it in another 15 years.
Are you saying you have no phone at all, no land line, no cell, no VOIP, no nothing? Or, are you saying you have a land line or some sort of phone at home but you are talking about finding some sort of cell phone while out and about?

If you have a landline at home one option would definitely be to ditch it for some sort of prepaid cell phone which would end up being much less expensive than a landline.

We got rid of the landline awhile ago. We actually have cell phones with unlimited minutes so could use them for everything. As a practical matter though I paid $30 or so annually to Skype to be able to call phones using Skype so 95% of our home calling is through Skype.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:14 PM   #17
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Please excuse my ignorance, but for those of you who have gotten rid of your landlines, how do you get your internet?

At my house the DSL service is on the same cable pairs as the landline.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:20 PM   #18
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one - You can actually get DSL without having a landline. We had DSL for awhile without a landline.

Two - I don't actually like DSL since I find it much slower than getting broadband through the cable company. You can get broadband from the cable company without having cable TV.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:20 PM   #19
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Landline=conventional wired phone service, you can buy DSL only from the phone company. Same wiring.
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:08 PM   #20
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So what I want does not exist based upon replies. Calling 911 is only for an emergency and that would work. Calling 911 for a tow truck, you can't do that.

Believe it or not the least expensive option mentioned is way too expensive because I do not want to add minutes period... LBYM thinking. I do not use a cell and do not want to be accumulating minutes. This is why I'd be willing to pay an inordinate amount for say 60 minutes but those minutes have to remain until I used them.

As I mentioned the last time I needed "the phone" other than a week ago this morning was in July of 1998. So I guess that's that, thankfully all you other people, what 99 out of 100, have a cell so someone can make that call when I need it in another 15 years.
I understand where you are coming from, I use ~ 5 minutes a month average. But I think you need to look at it as a total cost of ownership - forget minutes or anything. Just what is the cost to have this convenience/insurance (like insurance, you pay for it hoping you never need it). For me, the $100 first year, $10/year there-after with T-Mobile Gold status is close enough.

So, like it or not, I think you are going to have to pay something to keep the account active so it's there when you need it. It's just the cost of doing business. I think you can understand that the cell companies, esp because they are in a market with a high barrier to entry, aren't exactly bending over backwards to attract customers like you & me.

One option - if you expect your 'once in a decade' phone call could be put off until you get to a wi-fi zone, there are ways to make free calls, or pay-by-the-minute-no-monthly-fee calls from a wi-fi zone. Otherwise, just bite the bullet or decide to do with-out. Or carry a dummy cell phone and rely on a good Samaritan, telling them that your battery is dead (since 2001!), could you use their phone?

-ERD50
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