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I am looking for a cost-effective prepaid cell for light-to-moderate usage as a replacement for landline. I have been reading a lot of recommendations here for T-Mobile as the best prepaid deal. But I have been comparing them with Net 10, and T-Mobile isn't coming out on top. Here is what I've uncovered so far...

Both plans have -
Voice Mail
Call Waiting

T-Mobile has WAP, but it's limited to just a handful of sites, so it's basically useless for me.

Both charge 5 cents to receive SMS, but T-Mobile charges twice as much to send as Net 10 does.

Net 10 is owned by TracFone, who I've read here selects the best network provider for each area, so roaming coverage and signal quality might be better than for T-Mobile?

Comparing per-minute costs, total per-minute costs (including the phone), and minimum monthly cost, unless you're willing to cough-up $130-$140 up-front, Net 10 seems to be a much better value?

For example, from what I've been able to figure-out from what has been posted here and on their web sites...

Net 10 phone costs $40, and includes $30 of airtime (300 minutes). Airtime cost is 10 cents a minute, total cost (including phone) is 13 cents per minute, minimum monthly cost (for first 2 months, including phone) is $20.

T-Mobile phone costs $30+, and includes $10 of airtime (30 minutes). But usage without an add-in card is ridiculously priced - airtime cost is 33 cents a minute, total cost (including phone) is $1 a minute!

But even if I also buy an extra $50 card up-front, total cost $80+ - Airtime cost (based on formula provided here for calculating combined minutes) I think would be 13 cents per minute, total cost (including phone) is 17.4 cents per minute, and minimum monthly cost (for first three months, including phone) is $26.67.

So even after spending double the up-front cost to get a better rate ($80 vs. $40), T-Mobile is still a worse deal than Net 10?

And if you add a $30 card to Net 10 after your initial period ran out (total cost $70), you get - Airtime cost is 10 cents per minute, total cost (including phone) is 11.7 cents per minute, and minimum monthly cost (for first four months, including phone) is $17.50.

Unlike T-Mobile, Net 10 gives you a decent amount of airtime at a good rate included with the phone, so I don't have to buy an add-in card up-front in order to get a reasonable rate.

The best rate T-Mobile offers is no better than Net 10's regular rate, and requires that I buy an extra $100 card up-front in order to get it? (as well as having to buy additional minutes in large amounts to maintain that rate, even after you have "Gold" status?)

The actual cost of the phone (price less included airtime) is also higher for T-Mobile that Net 10.

The only cost benefit for T-Mobile that I could see is if you bought an extra $100 up-front, and then rarely if ever used your phone (such as an emergency phone) - per-minute costs (including phone) would still be higher, but you might save a few bucks on the minimum monthly cost.

I am trying to decide between these two companies. I like the idea of going with a recognized name brand (T-Mobile), but the closer I compare them, the worse T-Mobile looks! Is there some other advantage that T-Mobile has that I am not aware of? Are they really the best deal, or is Net 10 the better choice? What am I missing here?

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doesn't net10 have that sucky method of keeping track of minutes?

assuming your in a tmobile coverage area, I doubt you are going to find tmobile prepaid
user like myself using the latest cell phones that would switch to some kind of junk tracfone service --- I pay $92 for a year --- and it takes me about a year to burn through the minutes --- I have no complaints about tmobile --- but that's just my opinion

We have had very good service with T-Mobile To Go (upper Midwest). Their coverage areas meet our needs and seem to be continually expanding and they continue to "in-fill" existing areas. We purchased our latest phone, a Nokia 6030 for free after rebates, so with a $100 card, we'll have 1,000 minutes and a year's worth of use (plus the minutes that come with the phone). I buy the cards at Ritz Camera using Dealpass gift cards, so my actual cost per minute is .08. It works for us since we only use about 1,000 minutes per year per phone and we are not locked into plans or monthly fees.

I have a prepaid T-mo phone because:

1) The Nokia 6030 Phone + $100 Refill Card was only $88 on sale from Target. If you add on the free $10 starter credit, that's 1100 Minutes for $90.15 (including CA tax). (Yes, the $10 card automatically converts to 100 minutes IF you become Gold Status.) That comes out to be $0.0819/min.

2) $100 Refill cards can be bought for cheaper than $0.10/min most of the time. Target just recently had a 10% off promotion for all T-Mobile-To-Go Refill Cards (if you buy a $100 card, it works out to $0.09/min). There's no tax on refill cards (at least in CA) so that works out even better. Even IF there were tax, you can purchase refill cards from WWW.CHEAPPHONECARDS.COM for at least 8% off (with 3% instant savings and 5% coupon code and FREE shipping, NO tax). You can also buy Dealpass Gift Certificates at discounted prices, and use THOSE to buy T-Mobile-To-Go cards for cheap at retailers too. And lastly, you can also purchase T-Mobile-To-Go refill cards from eBay for around 20% off (ie: pay around $80 for a $100 card).

3) ALL your minutes roll over for another year with ANY refill after Gold Rewards Status is acheived. What I did was I bought a BUNCH of minutes when the refill cards were on sale for cheap, then on every 364th day from the last day I last refilled, I plan to purchase a cheap $10 refill card, add it to my account, and ALL my minutes then get carried over for another year. I don't know ANY other reliable nationwide prepaid phone provider that allows that other than T-Mobile. (Usually you'd have to buy another $100 card, or only the minutes you added get carried over and all your other minutes expire 1 year from which they were added.)

4) Even though I have a Nokia 6030, if I wanted to, I could use ANY GSM phone I want with this service (with the 1900MHz band... although phones with 850MHz would be useful for roaming in 850MHz only areas). T-Mobile also offers "regular" higher-end phones (like the RAZR V3) for purchase as well, if you don't want the hassle of purchasing from a 3rd party. But for now, I'm fine with my Nokia 6030 for prepaid service.

5) T-Mobile also works everywhere I need it to work. Sure, I could pay more for another carrier's service, but why would I? As long as I can make phone calls everywhere I need to for around $0.08/min and unlimited 1-year extensions for as low as $10/yr, I'd say I'm getting a pretty dang good deal!

6) And of course, I have to add that T-Mobile's 24/7 customer service is the BEST I've experienced in the industry so far. (That's not to say that other companies don't have good customer service, or 24/7 customer service though, but in my experience T-mo is the best.)

Those are my reasons for going with T-mo prepaid.

EDIT: And I don't use SMS or data on my prepaid phone. It's used strictly for when I am about to go over my other phone's Anytime Minutes (very rarely), or when VIP guests come over (more often), which is why it's important to me that I can carry over my minute balance indefinitely for just $10/yr, and NO daily usage fee. If I wanted to use SMS or data, I'd use it on my T-mo postpaid phone, on which I have Unlimited of both.

I have both a T-Mobile ToGo phone (Nokia 6101 from their recent $49 deal) and a Tracfone with a Motorola.

Both have excellent coverage for me, which for a T-MO/Net10 comparison comes out even.

Net10 does have the time/date display - T-MO has #999# that displays talk time. Even again.

T-Mo has the luxury of swapping SIM cards if you damage or upgrade phones. Case in point... broke my RAZR from my postpaid T-Mo days, switched to a Nokia 6030 from a ToGo kit, freind gave me a RAZR - realized it's really a pathetic POS phone even compared to a $29 cheapie that worked better - sold it, bought the $49 Nokia from a recent (current?) special. All along I never had to call CS... just moved the SIM card from phone to phone. Can't do that with Tracfone/Net10. One up for T-MO

If you do need to call CS, T-MO is stellar. TF/Net10 is the luck of the draw. Might get a good rep, might wish you didn't call. One more up for T-Mo.

So overall, IMHO they are both good providers. T-MO is getting better in terms of coverage, and TF/Net10 go with whoever is best in your area. But as someone who has both, if I only had one - it would be T-Mo.

I had Tracfone for a few years and switched to Tmo TOGO because the pricing was outrageously better. My usage is very low so I get the annual cards. At the time with promos the $100-1-year card at Tracfone got you about 250 minutes, and Tracfone at 1000 was the single reason I switched. I've never looked back, and every time I see a tracfone phone in the store I think about how wildly uncompetitive they were. Have no idea what the pricing is today, I just know that my Tmo service is adequate, the pricing is great, and the customer service is out of this world.

Let me know if there is another thread in which I should post this:
In setting up my TMo TO GO PREPAID account and porting a number over from another (GOPHONE) prepaid account I got bounced around the T-Mobile phone banks and at one point ended up giving out my SSN and info. Well I just pulled my credit report to find a hard pull by T-Mobile!!!! I'm pissed off to say the least.

Edit to respond to helpfull advice below:
I searched and didn't find too much so I put a post in the flame free finance ?s Though from what I gather this a fairly big mistake on Tmobiles part.

Mattthew said: [Q]Let me know if there is another thread in which I should post this:
In setting up my TMo TO GO PREPAID account and porting a number over from another (GOPHONE) prepaid account I got bounced around the T-Mobile phone banks and at one point ended up giving out my SSN and info. Well I just pulled my credit report to find a hard pull by T-Mobile!!!! I'm pissed off to say the least.

do some searching for unathorized credit check pull --- see what you can dig up first

once you have finished your research --- reference it in your post (if choose to make one) in the finance forum under TMobile made unauthorized hard pull on my account

be prepared for some negative posts if has been recently been discussed

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