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Old 03-24-2014, 09:52 AM   #15
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My wife, son and I have used Tracfone for many years and been very satisfied with the service. The phone you buy determines the carrier. Mine looks like a Blackberry with the keypad and has AT&T service. They both have flip phones and are with T-Mobile. Mine cost about $30 and theirs were $17 each. You buy what you want. We purchase minutes every 90 days and any unused minutes roll over to the next period, as long as you continue the service. If you let it expire you lose the minutes but you can reactivate the phone.

I purchase $20 refills for them. The phones have lifetime double or triple minutes. The $20 gives you 60 x 2 for 120 minutes for 90 days ($6.66/mo). Sometimes they'll throw in an extra 20 minutes and there are many offers for other services. I purchase $30 240 minute (120 x 2) refills ($10/mo). If you need more you can purchase at anytime and it adds the 90 days to your current refill date.

The phones have Internet access (albeit slow), voice mail and texting. SMS Texts are 3/minute of airtime. Multimedia costs more so I rarely use it. Internet time is the same as a phone call.

You can get the phones in many box stores but I buy mine directly from Tracfone and have it sent to me. They have a better selection online.

Like I said, it has worked for us for many years and the phones are good quality. If you lose one just buy another and notify Tracfone and they will transfer the minutes. There is no contract, a very reliable, cheap service.
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:15 AM   #16
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Cheapest Pay-as-you go phone plan

Tracphone and straight talk are either the same or closely affiliated.

The difficult thing about cell service is that it is very location dependent. GSM service to me is better for data. At my home for example T Mobile has no signal and Verizon is weak. ATT reigns but that us not the case everywhere else.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:54 PM   #17
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Actually, it's kind of bizarre with T-Mobile. We had a true-blue T-Mobile monthly account here in Angel Fire some years ago; a bunch of local people did. Then T-Mobile simply cancelled all of us. It came entirely without warning. We were all eventually told that we did not live in the native T-Mobile service area, and poof.

But with the pay-as-you-go account from T-Mobile, they don't seem to care where you are.


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Old 03-24-2014, 01:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
Tracphone and straight talk are either the same or closely affiliated.

The difficult thing about cell service is that it is very location dependent. GSM service to me is better for data. At my home for example T Mobile has no signal and Verizon is weak. ATT reigns but that us not the case everywhere else.
I think they are plans from separate companies but serviced by the same company. I've been happy with their service but customer service is not always a good experience.

OP was looking for a cheap phone service / backup and Tracfone and Straight Talk are probably the cheapest cell services; no hidden fees and no contracts. Mine is on AT&T, which uses their "Edge" network, a type of GSM, when it's available. (There is an "E" that appears by the bars display.) I don't know if T-Mobile has something similar or not. My wife has used her phone in Florida and Kentucky with no issues.

I have always had a strong signal on highways and in all cities and towns. There have been some areas in the past (read 'boonies') where coverage is spotty but overall, for a cheap phone, it does the trick. I carried a company phone along with mine and normally mine did as well or better than the company phone.
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
Tracphone and straight talk are either the same or closely affiliated.

The difficult thing about cell service is that it is very location dependent. GSM service to me is better for data. At my home for example T Mobile has no signal and Verizon is weak. ATT reigns but that us not the case everywhere else.
América Móvil operates TracFone, StraightTalk, Net10 and a couple of others I can't think of at the moment. They're just a big MVNO, though, so in all cases they're reselling service from AT&T, VZW or T-Mo... they may also resell Sprint, but I'm not familiar with the plan if they do (and I went with StraightTalk specifically to get away from Sprint, so I didn't go looking for a Sprint MVNO.) Our StraightTalk lines are AT&T, but my mom's is T-Mo (because that's all that was available for SIM-based lines at the time I bought her phone.)

Customer service approaches non-existence but if you can do it with the web interface or the voice-response system, it's quick and easy and $45/line (plus tax) for unlimited voice and text and "unlimited" data (2.5 gb/month of LTE followed by penalty speeds beyond that.)

Someone else was theorizing that you could put your SIM into an iPad... on StraightTalk this is expressly prohibited, but one of their other brands may have a tablet/hotspot plan.
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