• Go to page :
  • 1 2
  • Text Only
rated:
My elderly parents (in their 80s) are interested in having a cell phone for emergency situations. I seriously doubt they'll use it enough to justify a contract so pay-as-you-go is probably the best option for them. They'll never take a photo, surf the Internet, or text message. I'll be lucky if they aren't too scared to review call history and use the contacts stored on a phone. They want to do more than call 911 - they'd like to call one of their children in an emergency situation while travelling.

What is the best deal for a pay-as-you-go service when the phone will almost never be used? I've reviewed a few services and most charge some units/fee per month even if no phone calls are made. (I understand why they do this for business purposes.) Has anyone seen a plan that has a minimal or non-existant monthly fee?

There are so many plans that I thought the FW community might point me toward one I haven't seen. Thanks in advance for any advice!

(PS - I wanted to just add them as an extra line on my service, but they feel funny having a non-local cell phone number. They don't understand that long distance isn't as big an issue with cell service.)

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
WM has Cingular Go Phones $19.00 OTD and includes the sim and activation and some time.


Tmobile prepaid, $100 or less for... (more)

yesidonoitall (Dec. 03, 2007 @ 1:34p) |

I'll give you a quick rundown:

- TracFone resells: Verizon, Alltel, Cingular, T-Mobile, and Dobson (I believe)
- Virgin Mo... (more)

S105dude (Dec. 03, 2007 @ 1:51p) |

Page Plus and Airvoice resell Verizon.
Speakout Wireless (7-Eleven) and Airvoice resell AT&T.

Take a look out the pre-paid... (more)

NoMoneyInMyWallet (Dec. 03, 2007 @ 1:53p) |

Quick Summary is created and edited by users like you... Add FAQ's, Links and other Relevant Information by clicking the edit button in the lower right hand corner of this message.
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TracFone is probably going to be your best deal.
Do a search here for "tracfone" and be sure to use all the codes that add on to whatever you get.

Try the Jitterbug - link

The AT&T/Cingular GoPhone Pay as You Go plan might work for them. I use one as a spare and am on the plan that is $.10 per minute anytime and $1 per day only on days that you use the phone. If you get a $100 prepaid card, it is good for an entire year. After that, adding only a small amount allows you to rollover any unused balance. That works out to $8.34 per month. Also, be sure to confirm that you can not add them to your plan with their own area code. I know my brother had two different area codes among the 4 phones in his family plan without any problem.
BTW - there are some great deals to be had on the GoPhone, especially through the Deal King Cash Back program. Check out the HD thread for more info. With rebates and Deal King's $20 Cash Back, your monthly cost will be even less.

PS There is also unlimited mobile-2-mobile with the GoPhone so there would only be the $1 per day charge if calls are made to another AT&T/Cingular phone.

With AT&T (aka Cingular), you CAN add them to your FamilyTalk line and they CAN have a local phone number for their area. That might be the best option IMHO, since that way they'd get free M2M w/ other AT&T customers (like yourself) and whatnot. Plus, check over @ HowardForums.com when you add their lines, and try to get the CSR to put the bonus codes on to get your FamilyTalk line additional minutes. For example, my two sons are on the FamilyTalk 550 plan, and each of them ALSO get a combined total of 450 additional minutes each at no charge, plus 7pm N/W at no charge.

The next best option, if you opt for pre-paid, is T-Mobile. Get the $100 card to start with, which makes them "gold level" so the minutes don't expire for a year. (Note, you can get two $50 cards and add them at the same time; as long as all the cards added at once = $100 or more, it qualifies for "gold" status.) There's been lots of deals on the T-Mobile phones/pre-paid airtime cards; a few months back there was a free Nokia 6030 + $100 phone card for $80 + tax @ Target. People used a 10% cpn to save another $8 on the deal. A couple of week ago, the $50 card was $40 @ Target, and people used a $5 Target cpn (scanned, no less!) to get them for $35 + tax.

bozo007 said: Try the Jitterbug - link

Was curious and decided to check this out. Great concept but the phone is expensive at $147. Plans also have a recurring monthly fee, the lowest being $10 with $.35 cents per minute. Not sure about the Tracfone plans but the GoPhone would definitely suit your parents more since there is no monthly or even daily fee if the phone is not used.

Thanks, everyone, for the good ideas. I will first check with my carrier (Sprint) to see if they can have an extra line with a number in their area code. Otherwise I have a few good leads to pursue for a pay-as-you-go option.

geezlouise said: The AT&T/Cingular GoPhone Pay as You Go plan might work for them. I use one as a spare and am on the plan that is $.10 per minute anytime and $1 per day only on days that you use the phone. If you get a $100 prepaid card, it is good for an entire year. After that, adding only a small amount allows you to rollover any unused balance. That works out to $8.34 per month. Also, be sure to confirm that you can not add them to your plan with their own area code. I know my brother had two different area codes among the 4 phones in his family plan without any problem.
BTW - there are some great deals to be had on the GoPhone, especially through the Deal King Cash Back program. Check out the HD thread for more info. With rebates and Deal King's $20 Cash Back, your monthly cost will be even less.

PS There is also unlimited mobile-2-mobile with the GoPhone so there would only be the $1 per day charge if calls are made to another AT&T/Cingular phone.



RE:
The AT&T/Cingular GoPhone Pay as You Go plan might work for them. I use one as a spare and am on the plan that is $.10 per minute anytime and $1 per day only on days that you use the phone.


$1.00 a day, so that one call on that day is $1.10 if only talk for one minute.
That is ludicrous.


Tmobile is good, I use it, but the way to keep it going is too much for some to comprehend.

Since I rarely use a cell phone unless I'm travelling, I've had Virgin Mobile for a couple of years now and have been happy with it. You can get by on $80 a year ( closer to $60 if you get the top-up cards when they are on sale at places like target) and new phones are as cheap as $20. They basically resell the sprint network so if you are happy with Sprint's coverage, you'll get the same coverage with Virgin Mobile.

geezlouise said: The AT&T/Cingular GoPhone Pay as You Go plan might work for them. I use one as a spare and am on the plan that is $.10 per minute anytime and $1 per day only on days that you use the phone. If you get a $100 prepaid card, it is good for an entire year. After that, adding only a small amount allows you to rollover any unused balance. That works out to $8.34 per month.$8.34 a month? Why not get T-Mobile and pay ~$0.83 a month? Just get a $100 card and use a $10 to extend your minutes for a whole year when the current year is about to expire?

Essentially the same thing as the AT&T plan except you dont pay $1 each day you use it

user0001 said: geezlouise said: The AT&T/Cingular GoPhone Pay as You Go plan might work for them. I use one as a spare and am on the plan that is $.10 per minute anytime and $1 per day only on days that you use the phone. If you get a $100 prepaid card, it is good for an entire year. After that, adding only a small amount allows you to rollover any unused balance. That works out to $8.34 per month.$8.34 a month? Why not get T-Mobile and pay ~$0.83 a month? Just get a $100 card and use a $10 to extend your minutes for a whole year when the current year is about to expire?

Essentially the same thing as the AT&T plan except you dont pay $1 each day you use it
Precisely. I have AT&T (as do my kids); my GF has T-Mobile. When she finally got her daughter a cel phone, we discussed pre-paid a LOT. And looked at every option out there. T-Mobile pre-paid is the best option for casual usage, period, bar none.

If you already have a family plan, just add them to the plan. It's $10 a month or so...

Otherwise, Tracfone seems like the way to go.

I have this exact situation and Tmobile is about the best, if you can find a free phone or close to free-- just keep posted for deals - I found a FAR tmobile phone about two years ago and there have been some quite close to free since then. $100 one time for 1000+ minutes (Target had a recent deal described on FW for $80 for the $100 card) for one year, ..........then buy a $10 card (35minutes) to roll unused minutes over for an additional year.

Adding them to your plan is always an idea and it's possible some of the other prepaid plans are getting close.

Agreed with above post....T-Mobile is the way to go prepaid.Simple plans and rates priced right. I'd stay away from Tracfone, AT&T and Verizon.

bamadad said: I have this exact situation and Tmobile is about the best, if you can find a free phone or close to free-- just keep posted for deals - I found a FAR tmobile phone about two years ago and there have been some quite close to free since then.Keep in mind that the AT&T pre-paid phones that are $9.99 can be unlocked (for free from AT&T) and then used with T-Mobile service. That's another option to get a decent cheap GSM phone for prepaid service.

yankees4life said: If you already have a family plan, just add them to the plan. It's $10 a month or so....
Plus fees and taxes, more like $15 for me.
Otherwise, Tracfone seems like the way to go.I just ordered the refurbished C139 for my son, $25 (with shipping) and you get $50 in phone cards. Be sure to read the threads here for codes to get extra minutes and/or time.

Awesome T-Mobile deal going on right now - LOOK HERE - Nokia 6030 phone, with $10 and $25 cards for $40 shipped. Use the fatwallet link first and get an extra $5 CashBack. Makes the phone free.

No love for Page Plus?

$30/yr ($10 every 4 months). $10 gives you 83 minutes, but there is a 50c/mo (4 mins deducted) fee. Airtime is 12cpm w/ $10 card, less for higher denomination cards. Roaming is 59cpm, but your parents may never roam off of native Verizon.

Page Plus uses Verzion InPulse coverage area. You can activate any used (w/ clear ESN) or new Verizon phone. You can get a new Verizon InPulse phone at Wal-Mart for as low as $40.

I agree with T-Mobile being the best - I'm very happy with them as my main provider (I keep the GoPhone for areas w/o T-Mobile coverage). I only mentioned AT&T/Cingular since I did not know OP's service provider. If it was AT&T/Cingular, then the GoPhone would be better for the unlimited mobile-to-mobile. But by my math, even with the rollover minutes on T-Mobile, then two years for $110 is $4.60 per month (a great deal BTW), not $.83.

I'm not a big fan of Sprint but perhaps there is a prepaid Sprint service with unlimited mobile-to-mobile that would be even cheaper than OP adding her parents as a second line, which I believe requires a 2-year contract as well. Probably not worth it considering how infrequent the phone will be used.
Lots of good choices here. I certainly learned a lot

FYI
I have heard some persons shocked to find out that air time is in and out calls and 800 numbers on most pre paid plans.
Including Tmobile.

Cool post.

I recently got something like this and the best deal is pagepluscellular. Buy any verizon cellphone and use on it. The only trick is the phone must not have been used on verizon network within last 4 months. You can buy the activation and some 100 min for less than 10 bucks. Cell phone you can buy a used one on eBay or look locally.

I vote for T-Mobile. My parents use the Nokia 6103 (in their 70's) and they love it. Buttons are big, easy to distinguish and the screen font is easy to read. T-Mobile is easy to use with no complicated rate structure.

HotStuff2 said: user0001 said: geezlouise said: The AT&T/Cingular GoPhone Pay as You Go plan might work for them. I use one as a spare and am on the plan that is $.10 per minute anytime and $1 per day only on days that you use the phone. If you get a $100 prepaid card, it is good for an entire year. After that, adding only a small amount allows you to rollover any unused balance. That works out to $8.34 per month.$8.34 a month? Why not get T-Mobile and pay ~$0.83 a month? Just get a $100 card and use a $10 to extend your minutes for a whole year when the current year is about to expire?

Essentially the same thing as the AT&T plan except you dont pay $1 each day you use it
Precisely. I have AT&T (as do my kids); my GF has T-Mobile. When she finally got her daughter a cel phone, we discussed pre-paid a LOT. And looked at every option out there. T-Mobile pre-paid is the best option for casual usage, period, bar none.
Concur 100%. T-Mobile charges 10-cents per minute so you get 1,000 minutes for the year, plenty for your parents. Who needs AT&T's scam-like $1.00 per days when you use the phone.

Net10 hands down. I've had it for over a year. 10 cent a minute...no other fees, includes long distance and roaming. You can even purchase at $15 increments. Service last for 60 days per $30 increment. Is very reliable. If you purchase from their website, you can get the phone plus $30 worth of minutes (300 minutes). Wish you the best.

NoMoneyInMyWallet said: No love for Page Plus?

$30/yr ($10 every 4 months). $10 gives you 83 minutes, but there is a 50c/mo (4 mins deducted) fee. Airtime is 12cpm w/ $10 card, less for higher denomination cards. Roaming is 59cpm, but your parents may never roam off of native Verizon.

Page Plus uses Verzion InPulse coverage area. You can activate any used (w/ clear ESN) or new Verizon phone. You can get a new Verizon InPulse phone at Wal-Mart for as low as $40.


my whole family is on pageplus, only $2.5 activation on the Bay, used verizon phone can be had for $20, and minutes are so cheap after that, 83 mintues for $10 as opposed to tmobile's 35 min on the "GOLD" plan, and verizon is reported to have much better coverage than tmobile

I vote for adding them to a family plan. I've added my grandparents onto a plan with me with TMobile. Free mobile to mobile, saves us money calling from the landline. My grandparents tend to be a bit antisocial and refuse to answer the phone if they are avoiding someone and have no answering machine so this provides easy access. And because they do use the phone to keep in touch with me, the phone is always on.

They were previously on a prepaid phone just for emergencies. They never left the phone on, it was never charged because they rarely had a need for it. The extra 10$ a month to add them to a family plan is worth it if it'll make sure they keep the phone usable.

NoMoneyInMyWallet said: No love for Page Plus?

$30/yr ($10 every 4 months). $10 gives you 83 minutes, but there is a 50c/mo (4 mins deducted) fee. Airtime is 12cpm w/ $10 card, less for higher denomination cards. Roaming is 59cpm, but your parents may never roam off of native Verizon.

Page Plus uses Verzion InPulse coverage area. You can activate any used (w/ clear ESN) or new Verizon phone. You can get a new Verizon InPulse phone at Wal-Mart for as low as $40.


No love for PagePlus because:

CDMA phone needs to be charged up say, every three to six days VS. GSM phone that holds a charge for 10 days easily.

CDMA pagePlus phone is refurb, quality mediocre. GSM Nokia is new.

I have both. Or should I say all three, PagePlus, ATT and Tmobile.

TMOBILE IS THE BEST ROUTE TO GO! ENJOY AND DON'T BE AFRAID TO CALL HOME JUST TO SAY HELLO...$0.10 PER MINUTE ROCKS!!!

HPMaster

Oh yeah, the other thing is that a $10 refill card on Tmobi1e lasts 90 DAYS so you can easily plunk down a ten spot and be in business for a quarter-year. $40/year to keep your phone active...the only provider to beat that IS pagePlus, but the phone will be the issue then...like it is dead in a glove box or suitcase and you try to call it and go directly to voice mail...GSM rocks...

T-Mobile is a fine way to go IF they have coverage in your area... I have a prepaid T-Mobile but it doesn't get service in my house.. at the end of the driveway there is service.. but no where else on the property... so be sure to check coverage

I like Virgin. We got phones for $20 + tax at Target, and they included $20 of airtime. You have to reload every 3 months, but if you have an automatic reload, it's only $15. Airtime is reasonable. You can also switch around, from prepaid to various monthly plans and, I believe, back again.

I don't use my cell phone much...so I got a tracfone. I can recommend them. They also make net 10, I've been told.

I heard that AT&T go phone charges 911 fee monthly. Can anyone confirm this?

oversky0 said: I heard that AT&T go phone charges 911 fee monthly. Can anyone confirm this?


I beleive they have two types of prepaid, a monthly fee for so many minutes, that probably would have added fees of which 911 would or could be one.
A prepaid type that is for so many minutes regardless of time, that minute fee would be all inclusive of any fees/taxes.
With Tmobile prepaid, they only have the latter type, all fees are included in the minute rate.

Why is no one recommending Sti mobile? It's 10 cents per day plus 10 cents per minute. Total! That's it! They use the Sprint network. I've used it for 3 years now. Great value.

fir2 said: Why is no one recommending Sti mobile? It's 10 cents per day plus 10 cents per minute. Total! That's it! They use the Sprint network. I've used it for 3 years now. Great value.


At $3.00 a month it has to be lowest cost if never even used, excedt for the one call every 60 days required.

yesidonoitall said: At $3.00 a month it has to be lowest cost if never even used, excedt for the one call every 60 days required.Page Plus is only $2.50 a month ($10 every 4 months) and, unlike STi, you still have $ left after $.50/mo fee to use your phone (~67 minutes over 4 months) and you can carry over your unused minutes.

TMO to Go is $3.33 a month ($10 every 3 months) with no fees. And for that $3.33, you get 30 minutes over 3 months to actually use the phone instead of just paying daily fees as you do with STi. After you've added a total of $100 (will take 3+ years), any time added going forward is good for a year, bringing the cost down to $.83 per month. This is by far a better deal than STi, assuming you have TMO to Go coverage in your area.

Not sure if anyone else mentioned this, but just in case you're interested, T-Mobile ToGo service includes text messaging; each TM takes away 1 minute (so the $100/1000-minute card gives you 1000 TMs.) You can send your grandparents a quick TM to say "Hi, miss you" or whatever.

The other companies mentioned might be alright, but all things considered, T-Mobile ToGo is the best, cheapest pre-paid service, period. No daily or monthly fees, no call requirements every X days, nothing. All you need to do is buy the $100 worth of pre-paid to start with, which makes it good for one year, then every year add another $10 to extend whatever is left for another year.

There's an issue no one has touched yet: COVERAGE. What good is a great rate if you can't use it to call where you live (all wireless companies are notorious about having blind spots in their coverage...)?.

OP, check first which wireless companies cover wherever your grandparents live and/or most likely will use 'em. Then, decide which would have the best rate for the little use they'll have. The $100/once-a-year (only 1-2 times/year to fuss w/top-up's...) T-Mo option is fantastic ONLY IF T-Mo's coverage is available (in PR ["my neck of the woods"] it seems the best option is Tracfone once you put the $50 double minutes card [AT&T coverage [blanket coverage in the Island...] here and in the States, I can take it with me when I'm on vacation in MIA and no extra long distance charge...]).

You should just pay $10 an month and add your parents as an extra line. Sure it costs a few bucks extra a month but you won't have to deal with all of the fine print you mentioned in prepaid service. They also get a free phone to use which is typically nicer than the prepaid ones. Free nights and weekends are also a plus, along with getting to talk to you for free as well.

Skipping 21 Messages...
henny said: Who resells Verizon and ATT?Page Plus and Airvoice resell Verizon.
Speakout Wireless (7-Eleven) and Airvoice resell AT&T.

Take a look out the pre-paid comparison chart.



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014