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?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-11-2006, 12:02 AM   #1
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?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

My trusty $19.99/mo. TDMA cell service is going obsolete. Will have to go elsewhere. I use very few, like usually <10 minutes a month. But I want to be able to use it pretty much anywhere in the US, in inhabited areas. And in case of emergency somewhere (hasn't happened yet), I don't want it cutting off because of some plan that is cutting it too close on minutes.

Not thrilled with "reloading" minutes every month or something like that.

T-Mobile-to-go prepaid has a phone for $50, and I can get 1000 minutes for 1 Year period for $100. That works out to an effective low rate per month. But it looks like pay-to-go is restricted to single-frequency phone. Looking at their coverage map, with addition of 850MHz roaming, it would be good enough for me. But 850 isn't part of pay-to-go, from what I read of it. And without 850 roaming, it poops out along interstates out of the bigger TX cities, much less away from the interstates.

Tracfone has a phone for $20, and 250 minutes for 1 year period for $100. Lot less minutes in that package than T-Mobile. Additional minutes look like they are in bigger blocks of $.20 per minute. But the Tracfone service area looks much better. And Tracfone has remaining paid-up minutes displayed on the phone.

Does anyone have cheap prepaid cell phone services like these?
What do you think of it?
Any "gotcha" that you didn't realize about till later?
What about the phone # they assigned, did you get bogus calls for previous number user? Like maybe previous user was in the drug sales business?
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-11-2006, 06:44 AM   #2
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly
My trusty $19.99/mo. TDMA cell service is going obsolete. Will have to go elsewhere. I use very few, like usually <10 minutes a month. But I want to be able to use it pretty much anywhere in the US, in inhabited areas. And in case of emergency somewhere (hasn't happened yet), I don't want it cutting off because of some plan that is cutting it too close on minutes.

Not thrilled with "reloading" minutes every month or something like that.

T-Mobile-to-go prepaid has a phone for $50, and I can get 1000 minutes for 1 Year period for $100. That works out to an effective low rate per month. But it looks like pay-to-go is restricted to single-frequency phone. Looking at their coverage map, with addition of 850MHz roaming, it would be good enough for me. But 850 isn't part of pay-to-go, from what I read of it. And without 850 roaming, it poops out along interstates out of the bigger TX cities, much less away from the interstates.

Tracfone has a phone for $20, and 250 minutes for 1 year period for $100. Lot less minutes in that package than T-Mobile. Additional minutes look like they are in bigger blocks of $.20 per minute. But the Tracfone service area looks much better. And Tracfone has remaining paid-up minutes displayed on the phone.

Does anyone have cheap prepaid cell phone services like these?
What do you think of it?
Any "gotcha" that you didn't realize about till later?
What about the phone # they assigned, did you get bogus calls for previous number user? Like maybe previous user was in the drug sales business?
We had both phones/systems at the same time and in Texas.
We got no "bogus calls" that I remember. The Tracphone seemed
to have a wider coverage area, but the T-Mobile had better voice
quality if you stayed in their area. I use T-Mobile whenever I go to Texas and it works well but I am mostly in the same territory every time.

JG
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-11-2006, 09:17 AM   #3
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

If you go with STImobile's (www.STImobile.com) pre-paid plan they'll charge you 10 cents a day (or ~$3.10/month or ~$36.50/year) plus 10-12 cents a minute for calls (using their calling plan #1). Any minutes that you don't use would roll over to the next month as they never expire. And there are no roaming charges. STImobile is a SPrint reseller so they have a great nationwide network. I have used my phone in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona and had perfect service everytime.

If you are like me and only use maybe 10 minutes per month then your yearly total cellphone cost is only $50.90 per year.

I got a free flip-phone with rebate from STImobile. Although last time I looked that deal isn't available anymore. They have another flip-phone (LG-125) that you get for free if you buy $80 of airtime. And their flip-phone is quite a bit better than the disposable phone that Tracfone gives you.

The only potential downside of STImobile is if you don't use it for 60 days they suspend your account and you have to pay $6 or so to re-activate. So what I do is make at least one 1-minute call every month. Another issue is that their service is only through 800- numbers (with long waits) so you can't go down to the local cell-phone store if you have problems. However once you get set up you never need to deal with the service department again.

Stimobile also allows very cheap international rates.

I have had the STImobile phone for about a year now after a recomendation on this forum. For me and how I use the phone it works out great.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-11-2006, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster
STImobile is a SPrint reseller so they have a great nationwide network.
Well....uh......maybe. When you go to their coverage map on the site, look very carefully. The extended coverage area and one of the types of no coverage areas are color coded two different shades of light green. It's a real session of squinting to be sure! It's better to type in your home zip code and the zip code of the most common few areas you visit to be sure.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-11-2006, 10:01 AM   #5
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by youbet
Well....uh......maybe. When you go to their coverage map on the site, look very carefully. The extended coverage area and one of the types of no coverage areas are color coded two different shades of light green. It's a real session of squinting to be sure! It's better to type in your home zip code and the zip code of the most common few areas you visit to be sure.
If you look at the STImobile homepage just under the logo it says in small print...

"Airtime is carried over the SPRINT Nationwide PCS network"

I have to take them on their word for that. For what it's worth I have never-ever had a dropped call or couldn't get a signal. If you go up into some canyon or something however, then like all cell carriers you may or may not have coverage. I haven't had any problems in the way that I use it.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-11-2006, 01:56 PM   #6
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster
If you look at the STImobile homepage just under the logo it says in small print...

"Airtime is carried over the SPRINT Nationwide PCS network"

I have to take them on their word for that.
I agree that STImobile uses the Sprint network. That's why I carefully compared their coverage with Verizon, ATT/Cingular, US Cellular, etc. before making my decision. Sprint does not have the best coverage in all areas of the country and their coverage map is darn hard to read.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 01:11 PM   #7
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

I have the T-Mobile prepaid plan and I like it.

I got a basic Nokia phone for either free or very cheap from Costco. The phone number I got was in my area code and I have not received any bogus calls for a previous owner and also no telemarketing calls. I did put my cell # on the national do not call registry shortly after I got it.

The only "gotcha" I have had that was a surprise is that I was not able to use my phone in Costa Rica. Which was no big deal; I was on vacation anyway so I just left it home and told people I was not reachable those 8 days, and gave them the number to the hotel in case of extreme emergencies.

I buy the 1000 minutes for $100 deal and they last a year. I am going through that many minutes about every three months, so I don't worry anymore about the service expiring. I like that I can fill up my minutes by going to my bank ATM -- there is an option to buy wireless minutes. I get a slip with a number on it, punch it in my phone, and I'm done. Bank is USBank (www.usbank.com). I get coverage everywhere I need it, but I only use it pretty much within my metro area.

I think there are some sign-up deals from time to time -- if you want an existing TMobile client to refer you for one of these I'd be glad to.

2Cor521



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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 02:33 PM   #8
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly
My trusty $19.99/mo. TDMA cell service is going obsolete. Will have to go elsewhere.
Were you given a deadline? Has service deteriorated in any way?

I'm on a dirt cheap TDMA plan myself, so will have to switch too someday, but not sure if that will be in two weeks or two years.

(my plan is about 10 to 15 cents a minute, minutes never expire if use phone 1 minute every 60 days.)
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 04:35 PM   #9
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Here's my info page about tracfones:

Tracfone Page

It talks about my experiences with it, and how the system really works.

For me the tracfone has been almost free, because through that page a few people have asked me to refer them. I paid $30 for the phone in July and that's all. I have about 400 minutes that will last until February. They are revising their Refer-a-friend program, so things may change.

But I've been happy with mine, and recommend it. No problems with coverage. Once, when I was high on Mt. Rainier, the phone even found the home network back in California. And when I'm high in California...
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 05:45 PM   #10
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

TromboneAl:

Free sounds good. I really like free. Even almost free is pretty good

However, I tried several times but I couldn't get the link to work.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 06:07 PM   #11
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Oops, sorry. Should work now.

http://members.cox.net/tracfone-info/index.htm
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 07:09 PM   #12
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Al:


I read through most of your webpage. I guess either Trakfone or STImobile would fit the bill for low-usage users like me.

Nonetheless, beating the finer points to death, here are my comments...

- Your referral free minutes would not likely be applicable to me though. And as you suggest the referral thing may go away on Tracfone so I can't see any advantage. So other than maybe getting the initial perk, the long term referral advantage is not likely to be there.

One thing that really jumps out is just how primative those Tracfone phones are. With STImobile you get phones that maybe weren't this years model, but look like they were developed this decade.

The big difference in the two plans are that there is no daily cost on Tracfone (versus 10 cents/day on STImobile) but minutes cost ~25 cents on Tracfone versus 10 cents on STImobile.

So using your usage of 20 minutes a month, that would cost you around $60-100 on tracfone and also around $60 on STImobile after you have purchased your phone. Note that with the phone the first year for tracfone would cost you around $130/year and only $80 with a much better (flip-phone) from STImobile. For someone who uses more than 20 minutes a month STImobile would beat out Tracfone. For someone who uses alot more than 20 minutes per month, well they would be better served by a regular service plan. My brother got rid of his land line and only uses his cell phone. He gets 1000 minutes a month for $40. That's hard to beat.

For an infrequent/emergency user like me who uses maybe 10 minutes or less a month it costs ~$48/year for STImobile but would cost ~$60-100 for Tracfone. So, for me, I read your webpage on Tracfone but after careful consideration I think I'll stick to what I have

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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-12-2006, 09:42 PM   #13
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

We are with VirginMobile. Their deal sounds a lot like STI Mobile. 18 cents a minute & you have to "top off" at least $20 every 90 days. No monthy fee. Minutes that you don't use will carry over. I think they are also on the Sprint system.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-15-2006, 08:07 AM   #14
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/mess...hreadid=661979

$100 for a decent new phone and a $100 T-Mobile phone card good for one year.

At the end of the year, you should be able to add a small card to keep the old minutes from expiring. If their plans change, at least you got a year and a phone for $100. It should be possible to unlock this phone to use with another carrier.
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-15-2006, 08:54 AM   #15
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmpi
We are with VirginMobile. Their deal sounds a lot like STI Mobile. 18 cents a minute & you have to "top off" at least $20 every 90 days. No monthy fee. Minutes that you don't use will carry over. I think they are also on the Sprint system.
Unless they changed... it was 25 cents up till 10 minutes and then 10 cents...

You also can elect for automatic top up every three months and drop it to $15 every 90 days...

Wow... justed looked at the site and it does say 18 cents!!!
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 10-16-2006, 09:18 AM   #16
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

Quote:
Were you given a deadline? Has service deteriorated in any way?

I'm on a dirt cheap TDMA plan myself, so will have to switch too someday, but not sure if that will be in two weeks or two years.
I got a letter, a month after they added a extra $5 "TDMA Fee" onto my bill:
"The TDMA/Analog network used by your current phone will no longer be available as of February 2008, and some TDMA networks or overlays may be phased out during 2007..."

My concern is that some part of the TDMA network may be turned down early, and I won't know until I travel to that area, and it's dead.

Thanks for all the comments and experiences. So far, STI Mobile looks the most interesting for me. Coverage looks ok, their maps are pretty detailed, but I have to think up zipcodes one after another to check out different states/towns. I like the detail, but it would sure be nice to be able to pan the map!

I see the LG125 phone free for buying $80 of airtime. There is a tag-on comment about that airtime to get the phone:
Quote:
*With purchase of $80 of airtime which will
be added to your handset upon activation.
Promotional airtime is not transferable or
refundable and expires 90 days after activation
The italics are mine.



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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.
Old 11-15-2006, 03:53 PM   #17
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Re: ?'s on cheap pre-paid cellphone service - T-mobile, Tracfone, etc.

MasterBlaster - Thanks for the tip on STIMobile.

I'm up and running on STI. I had them port my existing number over. The Sprint network has better coverage now than when I had Sprint years ago. Everything is good so far. LG125 has lots of features I'll never use, but it is small and works well.

I did notice that my outbound Caller ID now shows "Wireless Call", rather than my name. Maybe STI doesn't support outbound CID, don't know.
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