"Pay As You Go" Cellphone Plans

If you are thinking about buying a cellphone but don't want to sign up for a 1 or 2 year contract, pay as you go cellphones plans are a great option. You can buy a reasonably nice cellphone for as little $30.00 to $60.00. The phones come with a small amount of minutes, when those run out, you buy a card to reload the phone with more.


If you are only an occasional cellphone user, you can spend as little as $100.00 a year on a pay as you go phone which is much less than even the lowest price 1 year contract. Minutes do expire with a pay as you go plan, but with most providers, once you spend $100 on minutes, your will not expire for a full year. Be sure to read the agreement for details for specific providers.

By ThriftyFun

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I am wondering if anyone has any advice on purchasing a "pay as you go" cellphone plan? My current contract has expired, and I'm looking to save money from my nearly $60.00 a month cell phone bill.


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Hi Heidi

I personally don't think pay as you go is a very good deal. I had it before, and you don't get very many minutes for your money. Also, if you buy more, and don't use them all, you just lose them.

I got on a family plan with my daughter, and it works out well. She always went over her minutes on the plan by herself, so got large over charges. Now that we share, there are more minutes to use. I don't use as many as her, so she gets my extras. She is actually paying less now than she was when it was only her!

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I have used a Tracfone for several years as my cellphone provider. I got the phone for free on their websitewhen I ordered a phone card. They have frequent promotions on tracfone.com. You buy a 40 min or up to 100 min card for 60 days or longer-depending on what card you buy. They carry over the minutes not used for the next time cycle so you never lose anything. I only use my phone for emergency calls, not on a regular basis, so this works out to about $9.50 a month for me. If you use a lot of minutes, it may not be cost effective. They are a reputable company. Again, check out their website for more detailed info.

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My husband has a Tracfone and fills up the card for a year. This is basically for emergencies & maybe an occasional call. It serves the purpose for him.

I also have a Verizon cell phone with employee discount which is used as our primary long distance and try to use it on weekend FREE minutes and emergencies.

We personally, do not feel that we need to keep phones on all the time and talk endlessly on the phone.

Get a plan that suits your life style.

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I have a Tracfone I have used for 2 years now and I really love it!! If you buy the double unit card, it lasts one year and every time you need more units before the year is up the units are doubled. I have not figured it out specifically, but the double unit card cost $150 giving me one year due date and 150 units. Since then I have gotten 100 unit cards for $30, when I run out of units, that gave me 200 units on my phone, but my due date hasn't changed. So you need only have money when you run out of units, not every month, unless you talk alot.

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I think that pay-as-you-go plans are good, Depending on how many minutes you use. My husband is on a pay-as-you-go plan with Cingular, and I am on one with T-mobile. I just recently switched off my monthly contract. If you don't use a lot of minutes each month, it's a good way to go. You get the benifit of the big carriers coverage area, and no monthly bill. I only use about 100-200 minutes a month. So while i'm paying $.10/min, my 1000 mintues last me 6+ months (of which i'm only paying $100 for). Better then any of the cheapest monthly billing plans i've seen around that start at $20/month and usually only have 60 minutes or so. If you don't use a lot of minutes, then you are paying big bucks for minutes that if you don't use that month, you loose.

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I agree.

We gave our Mother a cell phone for Xmas last year, it is pay as you go, but she only uses for emergency's. It costs her @$10.00 / month

If you use a lot of minutes, stick with a plan.

We are from Alberta and have tried both Telus and Rogers, and found Rogers have the best deals, with the most minutes.

Most plans have unlimited evenings and weekends.

Good Luck

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my DS has had a cricket phone for over 6 years - he loves it. No contracts and a really great network.

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I have an STI mobile prepaid phone, uses the Sprint network. I got a rebate on the phone making it free, and it's .12 a minute weekdays and .10 weekends. Minutes don't expire if you use it every 60 days. I think the website is Cheapphonecards.com. I don't think the rebate is on right now, but it might come on again.

There is one other one that is .10 a minute now, available at Walmart, the phone costs $79, still a good deal if you don't use many minutes.

If you use prepaid and get in the habit of using your cell phone mostly for emergencies, you will be a safer driver and save a lot of money!

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I had a pay as you go cell phone many years ago. The minutes would expire if not used within a certain SHORT period of time. Be aware that this may still be practiced.

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I have had a pay as you go with Alltel. I liked it so much that I purchased one for my Mom for Christmas. I started using my phone more and have now switched to a monthly plan.

With Alltel you do not loose your minutes if not used in a certain amount of time. The only rule that they have is you need to use your phone at least once a month or they charge you a small service charge (I think it is like $3). So to avoid this my mom will just make sure she calls home even to her own answering machine during the month. The last I knew the charge was like 30 cents a minute. But for people who use the phone mostly for emergencies it is the perfect choice. I guess my suggestion would be to check with the carriers in your area and see what plans they offer for the pay as you go. They are always coming up with new offers and options for monthly plans as well as the pay as you go or prepay options

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I use a "trac Phone" where you purchase time as you need/want it. The phone and the "time cards" are available at Wal-mart as well as other stores.

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I just joined the post so my comment may be a little late but I discovered the best pay as you go deal with go phone from Cingular wireless. It's like having a contract phone without the contract. You have three or four cell phones to choose from and you get 200 anytime minutes depending on your plan, free nights and weekends starting at 7pm, I think long distance is included also, and your minutes roll over. I think you should check it out. Just go to www.cingularwireless.com and click on plans and go phone. Good Luck and God bless all.

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With the Tracfone I bought a week ago at the gas station, it cost me 32 dollars including tax for the phone. The deal I got with my phone was that you get ten free minutes upon activation. If you do it on the website (www.tracfone.com), you get another additional ten minutes. They also offer "1000 free minutes". What this deal is, for every higher amount of minutes card you buy on their site, you get a promo code that you enter when you order minutes on their site. It's a good deal but you only get it online, I think. If you buy the minutes online, the price seems to be slightly less than at a convenience store. The double minute card was 129.99 before tax. I checked a local gas station in my town and they wanted 150 dollars for the same card. Do your homework and you will save here. The same phone I bought was twenty on the webpage instead of the thirty I paid with cash upfront. If you don't use it all the time and monitor your minutes, you'll be ok. Hope this helps you out.

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I got a Tracphone pay as you go and subcribed to it for one year which was the least expensive way to go. I basically wanted it for emergencies but find that I use it some times in place of my land phone and I can send short e-messages too. Verizon is the "network" carrier and is BIG in my area. My reasoning was that I had a deer hit my car coming home from my sisters on the 4th of July. I am physically challenged when it comes to walking and had it been a more serious accident it would have really come in handy. I feell a lot more secure driving even short distances knowing I can call 911 immediately. Basically it cost around $9.00 monthly which by far is cheaper than with a "plan". However, I don't make a multitude of calls like lots of people I know.

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My service is from US Cellar, never lose minutes as long as buy card on time. Use it only for emergencies or computer is messed up.Only use land phone for toll free calls, would like to go completely with cell phone if not need for computer , find this is the least expensive way.Any one have any idea please let me know, we seldom use land phone. Thanks

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Hi, I bought a Cingular PAYG phone last year and also bought an extra $75.00, 90-day Pay as You Go card. I let the first card run out and didn't use the phone. Today (May 07) I tried to activate the $75 card using 611. This failed. So I talked with a (very polite) operator who checked twice and then told me "the card has expired." Ditto his manager, "Sorry." The operator also told me that he could not determine WHEN it it had "expired," only that it HAD expired.

The card sates: "The expiration period for service commences after you activate the card and refill your balance."

There is NO indication anywhere on the plastic card that there is an expiration period the commences PRIOR to activation.

This is thievery. Cingular has stolen 75 bucks from me.

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I use net10 pay as you go, I pay 30.00 a month and get 300 min. they get carried over and with adding before the end of the month that will take you into another month

They have deals for new customers that you can find. One is getting 300 mins. for 15.00 AND it is a easy phone for anyone to use.

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Virgin mobile! Best service - wide variety of plans - cheapest per minute charges - reliable - great coverage.

I have a basic plan: $6.99 a month and I pay $0.10 a minute, anytime/anywhere in the US. No limitations on minutes used. You talk as much as you want - pay for minutes as you go. You fill up your account whenever your balance is low. I don't talk much so I end up spending less than $20 monthly on my phone bill (that's over 100 minutes plus monthly charge).

My husband also uses Virgin Mobile. His plan of choice: $49.99 a month and for that he gets 400 regular minutes and unlimited weekend/night minutes (nights start from 7PM to 7AM; weekends from 7PM Friday to 7AM Monday).

My dad (also a Virgin Mobile user) has a $34.99/month plan, which includes 300 reg. minutes and 1000 night/weekend minutes. Once he talked it all out in 20 days and to avoid overcharge he shortened his month cycle and bought another one. Virgin lets you start your monthly cycle whenever you want to/feel you have to, to avoid overcharge. It takes you a click and a 10 second wait and viola! Your plan is changed.

Why I love Virgin Mobile?

- They have THE WIDEST range of plans to choose from.

- They are the most flexible when it comes to changing plans mid-month.

- They keep the things fresh. Always introducing new plans, changing things up. You don't have to stick with one plan. Whenever they introduce something new (like now, they made Roll Forward minutes) you can go and change your plan like that *snaps fingers*

- They introduce new phones almost every month! Easy to swap phones without changing your number.

- No customer service contact. EVER. You do everything online: from the activation (takes about 3 minutes to activate), filling up the account (you can find the top-up cards at any pharmacy), to the plan-changing. Never talk to anyone again!

I recommend it to everyone!

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Currently, AT&T go phones do not offer roll over minutes, so you either use them or lose them.

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Hands down, T-Mobile is the way to go. My phone, bought on the internet for $30, no shipping, came with a $25 time card. Good prices are regularly available at the TMobile web site and elsewhere on the internet.

The best time deal is !,000 minutes for $100;they are good for a year and any unused will carry over to the next 12 month period when a subsequent card is purchased before the year expires. My last $100 card was $95 at pinzoo.com, no tax, no shipping.

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I also use Virgin Mobile. Have been for 4 yrs now, and not a bit of trouble. I just "Top Up" when it gets low. With such a financial squeeze on everyone, I find it is the best way to go. Recently our local 7-11 Convenience Store had a Virgin Mobile advertisement to buy a new Virgin Mobile flip top phone for only $7.11.

Since I needed a new one, I bought one, and love it. I can buy the top-up cards at 7-11 too. Even a $10.00 card to help between monthly payday top ups. I do have a home phone and use it only when I go out or am on the computer on dial-up. They also have monthly plans.

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I use Virgin Mobile. Have not had any problems with them and top it up when it gets low...have had mine for several years now..

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Hi Heidi!

I been using "Pay as you go" since last year; never had a problem. I cancelled my account with t-mobile family plans since it was costing me $25.00 a month which I realized I don't even use much of my minutes. I use my cell for emergency only. This is because I am a stay at home mom doing a lots of errands during the days and if any ER from school they can contact me on my cell. I give my family/friend members a schedule to call me at home so this way i can save money on my cell & still be connected with friends and family! Good Luck!

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Budget & Finance UtilitiesOctober 31, 2005
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