Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Traveling around USA, need a Cell phone for emergencies only
Old 02-23-2013, 04:36 AM   #1
Full time employment: Posting here.
jambo101's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 940
Traveling around USA, need a Cell phone for emergencies only

I dont have a cell phone but was thinking of acquiring one for an upcoming trip around the USA, something that could be used to call AAA/CAA if the car breaks down.
What would be the cheapest way to go and avoid roaming charges if i did need to use it.
Thanks
__________________

__________________
"Second star to the right and straight on till morning"
jambo101 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 02-23-2013, 05:09 AM   #2
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Rocky Inlets
Posts: 24,487
A pre-paid phone is an option. Some alternatives in this thread Cell Phones
__________________

__________________
MichaelB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 07:20 AM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
JoeWras's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,531
I like prepaid, that's all I use. I have a grandfathered plan with Virgin Mobile that costs me only $5 per month most months, with money that doesn't expire. Most of the new plans are a bit different now and will cost more. Still, not a bad idea.

HOWEVER -- this is important -- check your coverage map. I like Virgin Mobile, but hate the coverage. They use Sprint's network. There is ZERO coverage in most of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and other places. For an "emergency phone", this is not good. Some of the other guys have much better coverage, at least at a minimum they are covered on the interstate corridors out West.
__________________
JoeWras is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 07:52 AM   #4
Administrator
Gumby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,156
I have a cell phone almost solely for emergencies (i.e. - I almost never use it). Several years back I switched to the AT&T Go-phone. It carries a $1 per day fee for any day that you use it, plus $0.10 per minute. Preloaded money is good for 3 months. However, if you load $25 every 3 months, any remainder rolls over. So, for $8.33 per month you're covered for emergencies.

Of course, my old flip phone does nothing but make and receive calls. If you need to text or take and send pictures or surf the web on a fancy smart phone, it may not be the plan for you.
__________________
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
Gumby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 08:34 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 13,287
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
I like prepaid, that's all I use. I have a grandfathered plan with Virgin Mobile that costs me only $5 per month most months, with money that doesn't expire. Most of the new plans are a bit different now and will cost more. Still, not a bad idea.

HOWEVER -- this is important -- check your coverage map. I like Virgin Mobile, but hate the coverage. They use Sprint's network. There is ZERO coverage in most of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and other places. For an "emergency phone", this is not good. Some of the other guys have much better coverage, at least at a minimum they are covered on the interstate corridors out West.
I would NOT recommend Virgin at all.... now the costs are higher and as mentioned the coverage sucks...

I have been using Virgin for many years and bought one for my DW... the three times she was in NEED of a phone she did not have any coverage...

She is now on Tracfone and only had coverage trouble once (in a remote state park, but is she climbed the big hill she did have coverage)....

Son has TMobile and so far it seems to be using the same system as Tracfone (I believe Verizon)....
__________________
Texas Proud is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 10:16 AM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Mulligan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 7,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud

I would NOT recommend Virgin at all.... now the costs are higher and as mentioned the coverage sucks...

I have been using Virgin for many years and bought one for my DW... the three times she was in NEED of a phone she did not have any coverage...

She is now on Tracfone and only had coverage trouble once (in a remote state park, but is she climbed the big hill she did have coverage)....

Son has TMobile and so far it seems to be using the same system as Tracfone (I believe Verizon)....
I have to agree, about Virgin coverage, though I am pleased with the $30 monthly price for everything it offers,and it is my only phone. But for traveling, yep, not so much. Even within my own coverage areas, go just a few miles on the back roads, and you better have a long string on that tin can to communicate as the phone isn't going to do you any good.
__________________
Mulligan is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 10:19 AM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,899
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
I like prepaid, that's all I use. I have a grandfathered plan with Virgin Mobile that costs me only $5 per month .........
I got rid of that exorbitant $5 a month Virgin. Now I have Page Plus which is $2.50 a month and uses the Verizon network. Plus I can use a smart phone with this plan, though I leave the 3 G turned off.

You just need to pick up a used Verizon non-prepaid phone off eBay or similar to use. PagePlus also sells phones, but they are not a good deal.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 10:33 AM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
mpeirce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Columbus area
Posts: 1,595
You mention calling AAA, but if you only need it for calling 911 you don't even need to have a phone that is on a plan or has prepurchased minutes.

Repurpose an Old Cellphone as an Emergency Phone for your Car, Other Strategic Locations

and

9-1-1 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the U.S., Federal Communications Commission rules require every telephone that can access the network to be able to dial 9-1-1, regardless of any reason that normal service may have been disconnected (including non-payment) (This only applies to states with a Do Not Disconnect policy in place. Those states must provide a "soft" or "warm" dial tone service, details can be found at FCC On wired (land line) phones, this usually is accomplished by a "soft" dial tone, which sounds normal but will allow only emergency calls. Often, an unused and unpublished phone number will be issued to the line so that it will work properly. With regard to mobile phones, the rules require carriers to connect 9-1-1 calls from any mobile phone, regardless of whether that phone is currently active. The same rules for inactive telephones apply in Canada.
__________________
mpeirce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 11:03 AM   #9
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
JoeWras's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,531
Go Phone has good coverage.

Yes, 911 is available without a plan, but you need to get a phone that works, i.e. NOT Sprint/Virgin Mobile in Wyoming.

The Sprint/VM coverage is kind of a bite in the rear for someone wanting to travel the USA. Want to see Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Yellowstone, Glacier? Leave your Sprint/VM cell phone home 'cause it ain't gonna work.
__________________
JoeWras is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 11:24 AM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,001
Another reason not to use Virgin Mobile. I'm on the paylo/pay by the minute plan. Phone needed to be topped up by 2/21 and we had a balance of $280 on it. They used to give you a grace period of 6 months to keep your balance and number. Now, it's only 1 day before they drain your remaining balance to zero! I had to call in a ticket to try to recover my balance. We're trying to use up the balance before we move to another service.
__________________
Dimsumkid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 11:46 AM   #11
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 731
I use consumercellular.com - they have a variety of plans and are reliable. It's fairly cheap. I chose to get a smartphone about a year ago and pay about $27 a month (there are much cheaper plans). I did have to pay for the phone. They also give an AARP discount of 5%.
__________________
Retired July 2, 2010 at 62. My only regret is that I couldn't do it sooner.
thinker25 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 12:22 PM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
youbet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chicago
Posts: 9,965
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpeirce View Post
You mention calling AAA, but if you only need it for calling 911 you don't even need to have a phone that is on a plan or has prepurchased minutes.
One minor catch......... The 911 dispatcher is not obligated to call your preferred auto service provider. For example, you lock your keys in the car at a remote campground. You call 911. You wind up with a trooper on scene taking and filing a report and some service provider who is on the state police current preferred "list." Whether AAA will honor and reimburse you for the service call provided by this other service, I'm not sure.

A "no-plan" phone isn't a bad idea if you can't afford a cheapie pre-paid situation. When your car is stalled on the railroad tracks and the next train is due in 15 mins, it's good to have someone to call for help! Just don't expect the 911 dispatcher to do anything custom for you to solve routine automotive breakdowns, lost keys, itinerary changes, etc.
__________________
"I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam
youbet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 12:51 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,820
I use pre-paid Verizon. A $100 deposit doesn't expire for a year. They charge $1.00 each day that I use it plus $0.10 per minute. The phone cost $20 at WalMart. It works fine for occasional use.
__________________
Independent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 05:32 PM   #14
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 88
been using Tracfone for years. takes a while to time your usage with the 3-month time frame that comes with each minutes purchase. if you getone, make sure to get the "double minutes for life" feature/option
__________________
drb391 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 05:58 PM   #15
Full time employment: Posting here.
Accidental Retiree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 975
Quote:
Originally Posted by Independent View Post
I use pre-paid Verizon. A $100 deposit doesn't expire for a year. They charge $1.00 each day that I use it plus $0.10 per minute. The phone cost $20 at WalMart. It works fine for occasional use.
Can you transfer an existing phone number to such plans? This might be a good option for DH's next phone, when his dinosaur finally gives it up.
__________________
Accidental Retiree is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 09:23 PM   #16
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
JoeWras's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,531
Quote:
Originally Posted by youbet View Post
One minor catch......... The 911 dispatcher is not obligated to call your preferred auto service provider. For example, you lock your keys in the car at a remote campground. You call 911. You wind up with a trooper on scene taking and filing a report and some service provider who is on the state police current preferred "list." Whether AAA will honor and reimburse you for the service call provided by this other service, I'm not sure.

A "no-plan" phone isn't a bad idea if you can't afford a cheapie pre-paid situation. When your car is stalled on the railroad tracks and the next train is due in 15 mins, it's good to have someone to call for help! Just don't expect the 911 dispatcher to do anything custom for you to solve routine automotive breakdowns, lost keys, itinerary changes, etc.
Yes, in many states they have "the list" and simply go to the next in rotation, by law. You have little choice unless you do it yourself. Friend had a medium scale accident and let the trooper handle it and "the list" guy was in a horrible neighborhood, etc. He easily could have called AAA himself but didn't even realize he had that option. So, he ended up paying for tow that was expensive, in a bad neighborhood, and on the other side of town from his preferred body shop.
__________________
JoeWras is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 09:27 PM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 7,531
You can get a tracfone for $20 from their website. It will come with 2 months service and 20 minutes talk time. They probably have a deal where you get an extra 3 months service and 60 minutes talk time free with the $20 phone. And they used to have free shipping on these $20 phones. And there are often coupon codes online to knock another $3 or so off the $20 phone. So you could have a phone, 5 months service, and 80+ minutes of talk time for $17-20.

We used tracfone for years but recently switched to T-mobile.
__________________
Retired in 2013 at age 33. Keeping busy reading, blogging, relaxing, gaming, and enjoying the outdoors with my wife and 3 kids (5, 11, and 12).
FUEGO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 08:16 AM   #18
gone traveling
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 333
I've been using an AT&T Go-phone for more than 5 years now. (Still have the same original flip phone which was given out "free" at the time). As others have said, it carries a $1 per day useage fee for any day that you use it, plus $0.10 per minute charge. No other charges. I add $100 per year to my account which is good for a full year and rolls over any unused dollars. I use it an average of 2 or 3 times a month and have found the coverage to be as good as you can expect for most cell phone.
__________________
HighRoller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 09:19 AM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
imoldernu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Peru
Posts: 4,616
Older link:
TracFone Takes Three of the Five Top Consumer Report Magazine Slots For No-Contract... -- MIAMI, Dec. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Tracfone is almost always on sale... currently @ our Walmart for $9.98...
Plans to suit your needs. We keep one in our second car... just in case... can use the 911 function.

Switched to T mobile in Fl ... fine, but when we got back to Il, no service in our area.
__________________
Today is the oldest you've ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again. - Eleanor Roosevelt
imoldernu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 12:01 PM   #20
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 183
T-mobile prepaid (you can use any unlocked GSM phone instrument) and just get a free SIM from t-mobile store or online. It comes loaded with a some 10-15 minutes. You can charge for as little as $10 and it will be good for 90 days. On days when you expect to make or receive a lot of calls you can convert to Pay-by-the-day plan. Or just get deducted the minutes. Check tmobile prepaid website for details. I have used it for years, no roaming charges, etc. Overall prepaid SIMs and plans by any carrier are relative inexpensive, so you can use generously without breaking your bank while traveling. Comes handy checking hotel availability, restaurant and museum hours, etc. $30 per month gives 1500 talk and text. In fact if you have a smartphone GSM unlocked, you can get for $30 per month, unlimited 4G data, text and 100 mins voice. No contract in prepaid.
StraightTalk and several other prepaid carriers have similar plans.
__________________

__________________
pixelville is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:43 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.