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Tracfone Strategy
Old 03-03-2009, 12:01 PM   #1
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Tracfone Strategy

We use our Tracfone just a few minutes per month. As a result, the minutes accumulate, but we come to the end of our airtime. Ideally, I could buy a year of airtime and no minutes, but those kind of deals are not available.

Looks like I'll have to get the 600 minutes and 1 year of air time plan for $99. Anyone come up with a better way to handle this?

Thanks,
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:06 PM   #2
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We usually buy the "phone plus free 60 minutes of airtime" for $20. This gets you 3 months of service on the phone plus 3 months with the 60 min airtime card. Or a year for $40. Last valentine's they had a $20 phone plus 2 free 60 min cards for 9 months service total. Got a few of those.

They also have an auto renewal deal for $5 a month billed to your CC when your service runs out. No minutes, just 1 month service for $5. = $60 for a year of service.

Another option is 4 x 60 min airtime cards (that come with 3 months svc) for 4 x $20 = $80 for the year. Add a promo code when you activate each card and you might get closer to 500 minutes for the year, and sometimes extra months of service too.

Play around on their website and there are deals to be had. We love our tracfones and they never cost more than $40-60 a year for service.
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:37 PM   #3
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Based on I think CFB's (thanks bunny )advice a year ago Target had a deal on phones where for a low price and $99 got a bunch of minutes for a year. Can't remember all the details. I just dont kepp close track of expenses. I'm a natural cheapskate, no need for tight accounting.

Just last week I still had 90 or so minutes left. By adding $10 all the remaining minutes rolled over for another year, plus the minutes the $10 bought. I rarely us the the so the minutes stay. I found it is good all over the eastern seaboard, though there are gaps in coverage.

This sure beats my old Verizon plan of $49/mo. which I also barely used. The best offer from Verizon was $ 26/mo. This tracfone deal still beat it for my purposes.

So for the past 13 months my cost is $120.-
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:04 PM   #4
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Based on I think CFB's (thanks bunny )advice a year ago Target had a deal on phones where for a low price and $99 got a bunch of minutes for a year. Can't remember all the details. I just dont kepp close track of expenses. I'm a natural cheapskate, no need for tight accounting.
What brand is that from target? T-Mobile? I saw where t-mobile has some deal now where you get a phone and $25 worth of minutes for $20. No clue as to how many months of service that equates to.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:38 PM   #5
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What brand is that from target? T-Mobile? I saw where t-mobile has some deal now where you get a phone and $25 worth of minutes for $20. No clue as to how many months of service that equates to.
CFB was talking about T-Mobile. I have been using T-Mobile for nearly 1.5 years, and they are a good deal for someone who doesn't use a lot of minutes. The minimum renewal fee is $10 for 3 months and 30 new minutes, and all unused minutes rollover, so the cost is just $3.33 per month. Once you have spent $100 on renewals you enter the "Gold Rewards Program", whereby each subsequent renewal lasts for a year, so for $10 your unused minutes plus your new 30 (actally it's 34 because you get 15% bonus minutes in the Gold Rewards Program) are good for a year. From this point on, the phone cost is $10 per year.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:02 PM   #6
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CFB was talking about T-Mobile. I have been using T-Mobile for nearly 1.5 years, and they are a good deal for someone who doesn't use a lot of minutes. The minimum renewal fee is $10 for 3 months and 30 new minutes, and all unused minutes rollover, so the cost is just $3.33 per month. Once you have spent $100 on renewals you enter the "Gold Rewards Program", whereby each subsequent renewal lasts for a year, so for $10 your unused minutes plus your new 30 (actally it's 34 because you get 15% bonus minutes in the Gold Rewards Program) are good for a year. From this point on, the phone cost is $10 per year.
Yep -- I'm on that plan, and the first year I had it (about three years ago) I loaded mine with $100 (and they were having a special offer giving 300 bonus minutes at the time), for a total of 1300 minutes. The next year I paid $15 for a $25 refill and since then, two more $10 refills. I still have over 1200 minutes and they'll keep rolling over for $10 per year.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:20 PM   #7
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I have found that if you wait until about a week or less before the airtime expires they will throw in another 20 minutes with a 60-minute card. So I buy the two 60-minute cards at the grocery, Wal-Mart, etc. and wait for the promo code to arrive.
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:04 PM   #8
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What brand is that from target? T-Mobile? I saw where t-mobile has some deal now where you get a phone and $25 worth of minutes for $20. No clue as to how many months of service that equates to.
Just pulled the gizmo out of my coat pocket. I t is a Nokia phone with T mobile service.
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:34 AM   #9
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We keep a tracfone in the car for emergencies. Renew every August. Last time I did it I had an option for 1 year air time with no minutes for $49, but took the $99 deal with the minutes. Biggest hassles??----triying to remember to switch it from car to car for whatever car's being driven, and since we only use it once or twice every couple of months, every time I use it I have to learn the darn thing over again (can't seem to remember how to turn it off, etc.).
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Old 03-04-2009, 06:06 AM   #10
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Being outside the states but back often enough and long enough that it made sense to have a prepaid mobile, we got a couple of tracfones maybe 7 or 8 years ago. Got tired of paying a hundred bucks to keep the number alive for a year with 100 minutes (this was a while back). In 2006 we bought a T-mobile for $29 bucks or so and a $100 card worth 1000 minutes. DW and I would never use that much in a year but DD does...almost all in a two month summer vacation. We have two of them now (one for DW and one for me). DD uses whichever one has the most minutes left. Overall, they have been ok for what we need (emergencies, or calling each other for opposite ends of the mall when christmas shopping is done). The price is fine and the handsets are much better than the tracfone clunkers we had. With DD going to school, it would be great if we could find an option that kept the number for a year but gave us maybe 100-200 minutes for $30-40...that option has so far been elusive.

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Old 03-04-2009, 09:45 AM   #11
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Thanks, guys. I'd missed that $5.99/month, no-minutes plan, that's perfect, thanks Fuego.

I'd do T-Mobile, but they don't do this area.
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:27 AM   #12
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Anyone come up with a better way to handle this?
Here's a dumb lifestyle question-- could you put the phone away for a month or two and live without it? No offense or criticism implied, just saying that we all managed to live for a few decades without one.

I watch our kid use her iPod Touch and her pay-as-you-go cell phone, but so far we geezer dinosaur parents have somehow survived around the island without benefit of either. While I know I could find plenty of ways to use a cell phone, I don't need one and I certainly don't want the responsibility hassle.

And I'm still not sure how I'd react to some kook bringing one out to the lineup. I'm pretty certain there'd be an accidental immersion shortly afterward.
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:37 AM   #13
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I was anti-cell-phone for years. Here's my report after having had a tracfone for a few years:

1. We haven't yet needed it for emergency
2. I always take it with me on long bike rides, for breakdowns or emergency. A few times DW has called me when she gets worried that I'm not back yet.
3. It is useful when on vacation. Avoid hotel phone costs.
4. We've used it in the car a few times to check whether a store is open, see if someone is home, etc. -- saves a trip.

Overall: it's worth the cost.
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:46 PM   #14
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Here's a dumb lifestyle question-- could you put the phone away for a month or two and live without it?
Easy question... if you live in Germany and are 20-something.

German twenty-somethings prefer Internet to partner
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:48 PM   #15
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I was anti-cell-phone for years. Here's my report after having had a tracfone for a few years:

1. We haven't yet needed it for emergency
2. I always take it with me on long bike rides, for breakdowns or emergency. A few times DW has called me when she gets worried that I'm not back yet.
3. It is useful when on vacation. Avoid hotel phone costs.
4. We've used it in the car a few times to check whether a store is open, see if someone is home, etc. -- saves a trip.

Overall: it's worth the cost.
I'm with you T-al. Worth the $40-80 a year it costs us. Payphones seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur around here. But having the phone in the glove box if I ever need it is handy. And in case I'm in the middle of nowhere with an inoperable car, it will come in handy. On vacation, it is very convenient to use it from the hotel w/o worrying about how phone charges are accounted for.

I do find it to be a bit of a hassle if I try to keep it in my pocket and carry it around all the time. But I just leave it turned off in my car in general unless I'm out somewhere where I think I might want it.
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:05 PM   #16
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We gave up a land line, long distance charges and wristwatches for two cell phones. The annual cost works out to be 10% more but the added cost is more than offset by the convenience factors mentioned by others.
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:09 PM   #17
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Payphones seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur around here.
Pay phones are just like public transit systems. When fewer people use it, they try to make up the revenue shortfall by jacking up the price to use it, which in turn chases more customers away, which in turn hurts revenue, which begets more price hikes, which...
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:11 PM   #18
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Pay phones are just like public transit systems. When fewer people use it, they try to make up the revenue shortfall by jacking up the price to use it, which in turn chases more customers away, which in turn hurts revenue, which begets more price hikes, which...
The good thing about everyone having a cell phone is that you can always borrow one from somebody if you REALLY need one. Or go to the customer service desk or cashier at a store and ask to borrow their phone. Since no one does that anymore, they will probably let you borrow it.
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:55 PM   #19
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I finally gave up and got a Tracfone just over a year ago. I purposely did not set it up to take messages and I rarely give out the number, because it's just for emergencies.
It's worth it for me. I keep it in my coat pocket, turned off.
It was becoming rude to not have one, when I'm trying to meet people somewhere. When one is held up (and one friend chronically is), they want to call and let me know, and vice versa.
It's useful to have, too, at our remote cabin, where it's a long hike to anywhere. I hope I never need to use it there! It's barely on the edge of a coverage zone.
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:07 PM   #20
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We've also never gotten into the habit of having it with us all the time and on. Thus, if I think of something that DW should get on the way home, I'm out of luck.

We also use it infrequently enough that we're not very good at it. DW left a message recently, and then put in back in her pocket without hanging up. Her message was thus several minutes long, but luckily something disconnected before we used up all our minutes. She admitted that she didn't know how to hang it up.
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