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Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 12:24 PM   #1
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Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Go to www.hsn.com and search for 'nokia'...the phone is on sale for $71.92 and is on at&t's 'free2go' plan.

On checkout, apply coupon # 415045 for $15 off.

Submit rebates for $40 to at&t and $10 to simplywireless.

Phone comes with a small (I think 20 minutes) airtime card.

Before you activate, call at&t wireless service (611 on the phone or 800# from home phone) to see if you can 'port' your current cell phone #. While you have them on the phone, ask them to put you on the 12/20 program. This will add 20 minutes of free airtime per month for a year on top of whatever you keep activated in the phone. It will also extend any airtime you add to last for a year. Some customer service folks dont know what the "12/20" plan is, so keep asking. You will probably get it.

You can then buy airtime cards in $10-100 amounts. The $100 amount gives you about 11 hours of airtime and that is carried for a year. Lesser cards, minutes expire in 90 days unless you add another card. You can frequently buy the $100 cards for less on ebay, 7-11, walmart, or various web sites.

For base emergency use, the phone costs you roughly $10 after rebates one-time, then $100 a year gives you about an hour a month of 'emergency' use. Long distance is included.

I've got one of these on order to replace my unlimited $33 a month cell phone as we just arent using it much anymore but the wife wants one in the car for emergencies.

As far as the fact that she doesnt bring it with her 90% of the time...dont get me started...
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 06:53 PM   #2
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

TH, thanks for the tip. I just ordered one.

Cheers,

Charlie
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 06:59 PM   #3
 
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

My Nokia phone was free with a one year contract
at 19.95 per month, plus taxes. This includes 60
weekday minutes per month and 500 weekend minutes per month. I have had it since last October and have not come close to using up my minutes. Of course it helps that there are lots of "dead zones" where it won't
work. I got it for travel and to use in Texas as it works all around our condo. It probably would be a good deal
if we spent more time in Texas. As it stands it's not
worth the cost. Even if I needed it due to a vehicle
breakdown, chances are I would be out of range.

John Galt
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 07:41 PM   #4
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Chuck - No problem...eight bucks a month for an hours talk time for emergency/light use is a steal. It was a PITA when the minutes expired every 3 months and you had to remember to add more minutes to keep the old ones rolled over, but recharging once a year for $100 is manageable. Happy new year...buy a phone card with the champagne...off you go.

John -

Who is your carrier? AT&T has pretty good coverage nationally, although other carriers are better regionally. A few years ago when I needed a phone for a cross country drive (route 80, coast to coast) I checked the coverage maps and at&t was the only one that had 100% coverage on route 80, end to end. At least thats what they said, coverage maps lie...

You might check your phone settings...there should be one for 'home carrier' or 'home system' or 'allow roaming'...you usually want this LOCKED to your home or default system or to disallow roaming. Reason is roaming minutes usually cost more than local minutes.

I've found enough weak spots in my local providers system that if I hadnt locked my phone to only use the default home carrier, I'd have ended up being switched to a roaming cell tower and paying out the wazoo.

The flip side to this is that turning the roaming on in the phone when you've got 'no signal' during an emergency might just pick another one up.

The phone's network type also plays a part in this...some are cdma, some tdma, and others gsm. GSM is almost all anyone else in the world uses, so phones get good coverage outside the US. There are plusses and minuses to each technology, but at the end of the day they all get the job done. Some phones are dual mode or tri-mode and can work with multiple signal types. The point is, check to see which carriers in your area predominately use, and get a phone that works with that technology. Increases your 'roaming' potential for emergency situations.

Cingular and t-mobile phones can work with each others networks, but not with at&t's, for example.

It'll all probably end up GSM at some point, then it'll be easier for us. Which is obviously not a priority for US cell companies at this time...
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 07:52 PM   #5
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

One more thing...these plans take free incoming text messages, ten cents a pop for outgoing text messages.

So anyone can send you a note to [Cell Number]@mobile.att.net and you'll get it as a free text message.

Handy for dropping you a shopping list or a reminder...
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 09:02 PM   #6
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Where do you find the cards on ebay?
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 07-31-2004, 09:17 PM   #7
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Search for 'free2go', there are a couple. They usually close around $88-92. There isnt any tax or shipping as the seller will just email you the cards 'code' to fill the minutes on the phone.

Amazon has them for $99.99 with no shipping or tax, which would save me $8 in tax.

Couple of other places I saw sell them for $95-98 a pop...walmart and 7-11 in particular (YMMV)...in fact I need to check out sams club as I think I saw them selling free2go cards there but I didnt note the price.
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 08:48 AM   #8
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

What sort of emergency use did you have in mind?

For a police/fire emergency, you can call 911 from any previously activated cell phone without paying any fees.

In a catastrophy, chances are that your cell phone will be worthless. Assuming the cell infrastructure stays in place, you won't be able to get a call through due to heavy volume.

But if you're expecting to have a kid soon, then a cell phone is probably the way to go Otherwise, get a ham radio (and license).
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 10:20 AM   #9
 
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Like TH, I recently bought a cell phone for emergency purposes. As a matter of fact the only reason why I bought a cell phone at all is for emergencies.

Being able to make free calls to 911 on a cell phone is not useful if you don't have a cell phone.

In my case, I developed a heart arrhythmia early last year. The condition seems to be controlled fairly well by medications. However, If I'm out for a walk (exercize is encouraged by my cardiologist) and an irregular heartbeat starts, I may have difficulty walking without fainting. I am unlikely to faint if I just sit down. My plan is to whip out my cell phone and call 911 if this happens.

I bought a cell phone from VirginMobile, which mainly markets to teen-agers. The deal I got is pretty good, but not as good as TH's deal. I am however a bit skeptical of AT&T, which among other things is withdrawing from the residential market. I dumped AT&T long distance a few months ago because they wanted to charge me an extra $2 or $3 dollars a month 'cuz. My new cell phone has much better long distance rates than AT&T. I think AT&T is circling the drain.
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 10:27 AM   #10
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Quote:
I am however a bit skeptical of AT&T, which among other things is withdrawing from the residential market.
They also withdrew from the cell market. As strange as it may seem, AT&T Wireless is owned by Cingular.
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 10:35 AM   #11
 
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Why aren't they called Doubular?

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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 10:53 AM   #12
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Mostly for car related emergencies, like the time my wife got a nasty flat just outside of town on a rural road. She might have sat there for hours until a sheriff came by, and who knows who might have come along before then.

Plenty of "small" emergencies...forgotten calls, last minute shopping items, etc.

Given the phone is free after rebates and other offers, and will work on several different networks if the current 'plan' becomes not to my liking, at least you're not out anything.

Any old cell phone WILL work for 911 emergencies, and if you have old unwanted cell phones lying around, you can donate them to http://www.phones4charity.org/ who will either refurb and sell them, or provide them to various causes such as emergency phones for battered women.
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Cell phones, common sense, & service value
Old 08-01-2004, 11:27 AM   #13
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Cell phones, common sense, & service value

GDER, are you and I the last people in America without cell phones?

I've always regretted being given a "free" cell phone by the office. They were a colossal PITA when people started bringing them aboard submarines. I'm with the guy in the Corona commercial-- the one who was skipping rocks into the ocean from his lounger table when his buzzing pager started hopping around on it.

I think that cell phones, like being licensed to carry concealed weapons, can facilitate carelessness. If you're walking unarmed down a street at midnight and you see something scary, you quickly retreat and perhaps call the police. It's the smarter part of valor, especially if your spouse is reluctant to run interference for you while you verbally intimidate the miscreants. But, ah, if you're packin' heat-- well by golly you scratch your armpit (or your back or wherever your holster itches), roll your shoulders, tip back your hat, and ride on with Doc & Wild Bill.

I see a lot of chronic cell-phone addicts who proclaim "Oh, if I forget to bring it I'll just call them on my phone and have it read to me" or "Eh, if I'm stuck in traffic I'll just call them and let them know I'm running late". We used to have to avoid those problems by making sure we brought everything we needed and by leaving early for traffic delays. It was worth it to avoid having to return home or to pull over and find a pay phone (no small challenge these days).

And about once a month the Coast Guard hauls in some clueless powerboat "mariner" who didn't buy an EPIRB "Cuz I got cell, brah!" Of course it's hard to access the antenna when you're 20 miles over the horizon and the phone's submerged in your shorts pocket (probably without a lifejacket, too), but they didn't think of that until the water started coming over the stern...

If cell phones were more reliable or offered real voice quality or cost less than a landline, then I'd reconsider. But even Russell Simmons, a marketer of teenage hip-hop pop culture who's enriched himself by predicting the next big thing in personal electronics, has pointed out that cell phones don't do the job they're supposed to do. They can take pictures, surf the Web, send e-mail, play games, beam your contact data, turn on your kitchen oven while you're at work, and coordinate anonymous sexual liaisons while leaving your Bluetooth-equipped hands free... but they can't grab enough bandwidth to transmit a voice signal of landline quality at less cost.

I'm no technological Luddite and I'm happy to wait while Bill Owens restores value to my Nortel shares. But as for owning a cell phone, I'll give it 5-10 years and try again.
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 12:47 PM   #14
 
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

Tracfones are also a good deal if you only use it occasionally. I think the minimum cost is around $7 per month when you buy the annual plan. http://www.tracfone.com/
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 03:00 PM   #15
 
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

To answer a long ago question, my carrier is T-Mobile.
When I was considering the "deal" and the saleslady
found out where I lived, She said "Oh, we don't have
service there yet." I said that was okay as I only wanted it for traveling and they had extensive coverage all over north Texas. It could work out okay yet.
So far though, it's not worth the money.

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Re: Cell phones, common sense, & service value
Old 08-01-2004, 03:58 PM   #16
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Re: Cell phones, common sense, & service value

Quote:
GDER, are you and I the last people in America without cell phones?
Nope, there are three of us. Too expensive, bad reception, unreliable, and most calls I get I don't want anyway. It would be nice to have in an emergency, but I've survived 52 years without one and plan to continue.

Just got a call from my brother - all my siblings have cell phones now. He left a message on my answering machine when I was out on the porch. He's on his way to my place and is late arriving. He talked for around 60 seconds and maybe 10 words got through so I have no idea when to expect him - fairly typical.
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 04:18 PM   #17
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

No cell phone yet either.
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-01-2004, 04:48 PM   #18
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

None here either.

I've been looking at the Virgin phone for emergency use; pretty decent plan. Not the cheapest but good reviews, I've heard too many horror stories about AT&T (quite a few of them from ex-employees!)
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-03-2004, 04:57 AM   #19
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

TH,

Does that SMS also connect to a gateway to the SMS system in Europe? I'm living in Europe right now, but will be returning to the US and would really like to SMS my friends here in Europe from a cell phone in the US. I read in the WSJ awhile ago that the gateway would be opening, but wasn't sure if that had happened yet.

SMS messaging is great cuz it's cheap and easy!

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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan
Old 08-03-2004, 08:24 AM   #20
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Re: Cheap emergency cell phone plan

In Canada with Telus Mobility You can get a Pay As You Go for $10 a month.

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