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Old 10-26-2010, 07:32 PM   #1
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Cell Phone Rates USA

Can anyone out there give me an idea of what "Pay as You Go" rates are now with the various major carriers?


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Old 10-26-2010, 08:53 PM   #2
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My Virgin Mobile pay as you go (the phone cost $12 at Best Buy) has two basic ways to pay.
1. You put cash in (credit card/prepaid card or PayPal).
2. You can then make calls at 20 cents a minute until your out of cash.
3. You can buy a "minute pack" -- presently $20 gets you 200 minutes, $30 gets you 400 minutes BUT the minutes expire in a month.

The coverage isn't great -- major cities and Eastern interstate corridors. Out west, major cities only.

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Old 10-26-2010, 09:08 PM   #3
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I bought my sister a prepaid phone through T-Mobile. It's a good plan *IF* you don't talk a lot every day or want any "mobile to mobile" freebies. There are phones at various price points (sold at Radio Shack, Target, T-Mo stores, Costco... I bought hers at Costco for $50 which included $15 of airtime, I think.

Here's the trick to make it a decent deal... once you've bought $100 of airtime, the prepaid airtime lasts 12 months from when you last added minutes. So, I bought her $100 of airtime right off the bat, and she had a phone that would work for a year or until she used a little over 1000 minutes. The more airtime you buy at once, the cheaper it is but 10 cents/min is the best rate. For her it's just to use when traveling, in emergencies, when she's not near a landline, etc. She only has to buy an airtime card every 12 months, etc. In 3 years, I think it's averaged out to something like $8/month including the purchase of the device, but she doesn't talk on the mobile phone that much.

If you think you'll be talking on the phone a LOT, Wal-Mart's "StraightTalk" has a $45/month unlimited-everything plan.

One caveat of most of the prepaid services is that roaming isn't available... For example, if you have a contract T-Mobile phone it'll work on AT&T's network if you can't pick up any T-Mo signal, but the prepaid will only work when it detects its "home" towers. That offers some benefits on the StraightTalk service, because they use Verizon's network so there's pretty extensive coverage.

Another thing that I noticed is that many prepaid plans have gotchas like a $1/day charge for every day during which you use the phone at all... so if you have one of those plans and make a 1-minute call today, it'll cost you $1.10. Usually those plans come with something like unlimited mobile-to-mobile on that company's network, so for your $1 you can then talk all day to your friends on the same network... sounds like something designed for teenagers who live on the phone, but I think modern teenagers just text each other.
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:01 PM   #4
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When we gave up our land line last December, for a second phone, I bought a Track Phone at Wal-Mart. It is a "double minute" phone. It is an LG and came with case, 110 and 12v chargers. It makes phone calls. No photos or text messages. Then I purchased a 450 minute, one year card for $100. that gave me 365 service days and 900 minutes, There was another 200 minutes and more service days in bonuses for being a new subscriber. Just before the service days run out, I will get another 450 minute card (900 with the double minute phone), and my unused minutes will roll over. Long distance is nation wide charged at the same rate as local calls.

Since Track Phone has no cell towers, they contract with other providers. Service has been great everywhere.

Today I have 791 minutes and 118 service days remaining.
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:07 PM   #5
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T-mobile are, as far as I know, the cheapest with 1000 minutes for $100.
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