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In filling out one of those endless surveys online the other day (don't take them, they truly are endless), one interesting thing came out of it. A window popped up advertising a federal program offering completely FREE cell phones and service.
What a blessing for those who cannot afford a phone, or who would benefit greatly from an additional one. I just thought everyone should know this is available.
Source: internet surfing
Ok. How many remember the TV show "Laugh In" from the late 60s - early 70s? The title of my tip originated from that show. I have a small cell phone. It's not a smart one, but it's fine for what I need it for. Anyway, my husband had purchased me a nice $15 case for it and I had the case for several years. Then I lost it and I would not spend another $15 to get a replacement case. Instead, I bought a pair of toddler socks. The phone fits perfectly down inside the sock and is easy to see in my purse. It protects my phone and serves its purpose. The added plus is I have a "spare case" if I should lose the sock. So "Sock It To Me."
Cell phones are many times free to anyone receiving any kind of assistance: Lower income families, SSI, food stamps, Medicaid. I believe this service is available in many states in the US. Check the link below or Google - Free phones.
Also, many land-line companies offer a reduced rate for people in these programs. You have to ask about this as they will not volunteer this information.
What do you need? Cell phone or land line? Or both? Things to consider:
Here is one link that has some phone services described:
If you are out on the water, particularly in smaller vessels such as jet skis, canoes, kayaks, etc., take note of the following tip. Place your cell phone inside a drink cozy and then place inside a plastic zip top bag. This way should your cell phone take a dive in the water, it should float as well as stay dry.
By Jayme from Harrisonburg, VA
You can get a cell phone for absolutely nothing. Go to to SafeLink Wireless It is for low income people, every month you get 80 free minutes.There is no catch, no hidden charges. If you lose the phone, they will send you another one for free. I just got my replacement phone.
Source: A friend
By moonseekerjade from Onset, MA
Editor's Note: Not available in all states yet.
Did you ever notice that a cell phone plan/contract is 2 years and the phone only works for a year? Instead of spending a ton of money to buy a new phone, buy a Go phone (prepaid phone) for $15-$20. DO NOT have it activated.
I dropped my monthly cellphone charges by getting a 20 dollar cellphone.
Tips for saving money on cellphones as suggested by the ThriftyFun community. The main thing you have to be careful of with a cellphone company is whether or not you'll have good coverage.
I recently noticed an ad for a free Verizon smart phone and was about to upgrade two of my family's older technology smart phones when my son pointed out to me that in doing so, I was giving up my unlimited data plan.
Looking for ways to lower cell phone bills? I have a generous Data Plan but my kids kept going over the megabytes allowed and increasing my payments. Since the text message plan we have is unlimited, my kids now mostly text message instead of BBM, lowering my costs.
If you are on a cell phone plan that offers Family and Friends calls, update your list before taking a trip. Family and Friends phone numbers are the same as mobile to mobile and there is not a charge for the call. This list updates within 24 hours.
I have a cell phone that I use for business purposes and have an unlimited plan that is very expensive. I have found out through my service provider (Verizon) that they offer a favorite five like another company.
I left my cell phone in my car for 2 hours with the heat index down here in the Rio Grande Valley being 110. When I picked it up, it was DEAD. No way to turn it on, or to charge it.
To save cell phone minutes, do as much online as you can. You can pay bills, contact companies, and email.
I receive 19% off my cellphone bill, each month, for being an educator. My husband and I also switched to the family plan. Contact your provider and they will give any information you need.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
What is the most economical cell phone plan for a light user with no texting?
By Flowery Trail from Chewelah, WA
I have a Tracfone and I'm not committed to a contract of any kind. I prepay for minutes using my credit card. Once in a while I receive a text message, but won't answer them. The text messages are just nonsense from people who I don't know. So I just delete all text messages.
I forgot to mention that Tracfone will give you free minutes. If I buy 400 minutes, Tracfone will give me 400 free minutes for a total of 800 minutes. How many carriers will give you free minutes?
Check out http://www.tracfone.com
Net10 is 10 cents a minute and phones start at $10. You can buy them at Walmart, 7-11, Kroger, Dollar General. I just bought one for my 66 year old mom. She loves it. $30 gives her 300 minutes to use over two months.
Hope this helps.
I use tracfone also. If you look you can find a model that will give you double minutes for the life of the phone, an important feature for some. I have been as high as 350 minutes of time because if you renew on time your minutes roll over. They also have great coverage. Text message take 1/3 of a minute off the phone, I only get them from my daughter and tracfone and the trac phone messages don't take anytime off.
I have used several carriers, but I like Consumer Cellular. It's only $10.00 a month and you only get chargedfor the minutes you talk. If you decide to go that route, let me know, please. OK? (oh, and I forgot...no contract!)
I looked at the Concumer Cell offers.
Tracfone is still the best, least expensive way to go for someone like me who uses it only accasionally, but wants to have it available if needed.
I have had my Tracfone for 5 years.
You should check out Tracfone.com before deciding.
Dear Sally, I wanted to say, Thank you for continuing the work your sister started. I know there are others doing their share also. To the family of Susan and to the ThriftyFun staff/ family, Thanks is not enough. But Thank You. Great Granny Hugs,Vi
I love my Tracfone. It came with a charger for the house and I purchased one to go in the car. I've had it for 3 years and have had no problems.
I used to use Virgin Mobile & I loved it. There are no contracts & you pay as you go. You must top up every 90 days, but I got the deal where I paid $15 (+ tax). So it was just $5.00 a month, which was great for me, since I rarely used my cell phone. (you save $5/month if you sign up for auto top up) The time costs $.25 a min. for the 1st 10 mins. and then just 10 cents/min. after that, per 24 hrs. You rollover your time, also, so it's real easy to accumulate mins. & then you have them if you need them. They have real cheap phones, too, so I highly recommend it if you rarely use your phone. :)
My whole family uses STi. Our plan is 9 cents a day plus 9 cents a minute, no minimum. I put $25 on it and it lasts me 6 months or more. The minutes don't expire and you don't have to buy them until you need them. We've had these phones for years, they work wherever we've traveled. Look online. Check the STi plans, one is 8 cents a minute but it's 25 cents a day, not as good a deal. Phone costs about $20, sometimes less. GREAT customer service, too.
I only turn on my phone when I need it, don't encourage anyone to call me on it unless they are late to meet me somewhere. This way it's there if I need it but costs almost nothing.
I too cannot recommend TracFone enough either. No plans, no costs other than my time that I buy every few weeks (and it rolls over)... I have used TracFone for several years now and every few years I buy a new phone for 19.95 and have my number and minutes transferred over (Very easily!) and have never regretted giving up the "fancy" companies. Also, TracFone has sent me free phone replacements before due to certain features no longer being in use in my area, so I've been more than happy with TracFone.
I have an Alltel (now Verizon) prepaid phone, and it's great. $7.50 a month, and even though you don't use texting, it's included. (Though I'd recommend using Google SMS with your text feature...you can get the weather and all sorts of info via text when you're on the go.)
If you go to a place like Wal-Mart or Target, they have lots of phones with cheap plans. Tracfone isn't the only one; I switched from Tracfone to Alltel/Verizon, and I like this a lot better.
(Plus, if you buy a Tracfone, it could be a refurbished phone, esp. if you buy it from their website--so beware.)
I have been very happy with STI Mobile (STIMobile.com). I think their cheapest plan is 7.9 cents/minute. The minutes do not expire as long as you make at least one phone call every 60 days, which for me is an incredible deal as it allows me to have a cell phone for emergency use that costs me about $3/month. The downside is very limited choice of phones and perhaps a spotty coverage in remote areas.
I need a cell phone with minimum features and a low monthly service fee. I just want to make and receive calls, maybe a couple of times daily. Please recommend a phone model and service provider.
By Ed from DC
Let me tell you what I have learned from my experience with cell phones.
First let me recommend you buy a phone via the internet or off a friend or family member. Especially if you want a very basic phone, many people upgrade phones and toss their old phone aside. Offer them 10 or 15 bucks for the old phone and they will probably take it. Buying your phone out right eliminates the requirement of having a 2 year contract with your carrier. You just pay month to month.
Second - if you are 65 or older you can get a lower cell plan. It may be fewer minutes but it usually isn't that bad. For example, my father and I used my cell to make calls. When I first acquired our provider we were making 150 to 200 minutes a month. The VERY basic plan was 49.99 a month and it had 450 minutes. I was reading thru the avaiable plans and found out their was a senior plan for 29.99 a month at 250 minutes. More than enough based on past usage. So we switched the phone to my fathers name and got on the senior plan. I still pay the bil but we both still use the phone.
Now, providers, I had AT&T but when I moved to TN it didn't work in the hoouse and barely worked around outside. My father had a nokia pay as you go phone and it never worked in the house either. We found out by accident that Verizon actually had a signal we could use. So we picked up Verizon. Other benefits of Verizon, the senior plan I mentioned above, calls to other Verizon customers are free (that included just about everyone we knew) and if I am not mistaken some newer models can be used over seas. That you would need to check on for where you want to go.
Also, I think calls to anyone in the evenings and on the weekend are free (no matter what provider or if it is a land line).
Talk to some people you know with cell phones and ask them what providers they have and the type of plans. To be honest, if you know roughly how many minutes you would need a month you could get away with a "pay as you go" phone. You just have to buy minutes for the phone every month and what you don't use is lost. For some people I know this is exactly what they need. One of the phones I have seen advertised and seems like it would be very good in the right areas would be the Jitterbug http://www.greatcall.com/ But face it, if the phone has no signal in the areas you plan to use it then why bother.
Just a note - if you have an old cell phone and you keep it charged you can use it to dial 911. You need NO service provider. The AT&T phone and Nokia I mentioned above we keep in the spare cars (with car chargers) in case of emergency.
Tracfone has ABSOLUTELY no monthly service fee. You only pay for your minutes. My own Tracfone doesn't have a lot of extra features. You can buy one at many of the dollar stores.
Here is their website: http://www.tracfone.com
I use a tracfone. I paid $15 dollars for the phone and $20 every 3 months for a top up card. The leftover minutes rollover as long as you put a new card on before the old one expires and the phone shows a message that you need to add a card before time is up. The other thing is I get great coverage. My kids have virgin mobile and sprint and in the rural area we live lose reception fairly often where as I have only had 2 short spots along the road where I have lost reception and neither lasted more than 5 seconds as I was driving. (no I wasn't talking, we were on a trip about 400 miles from home checking a college for my son and he was on the phone).
I also use tracfone, and highly recommend it. Inexpensive, no contract; and if something happened that made me need a contract, I won't lose anything.
It is also a great plan for teens--you can provide the basics, and they have to pay for extra.
In the UK major supermarket Asda/Walmart sells mobile phones, here text 4p per text calls 8p per minute most of the major networks charge 35p-45p per min. Pay as you go...buy the handset basic ones are cheap then buy a Sim card of your choice choose a network charge the phone register and away you go.
SafeLink Wireless is a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and airtime each month for income-eligible customers.
If you are in the US, check out www.consumercellular.com. You can get the basic service for $10 per month and a free phone as well. You can check to see if your area is covered.
I recommend Tracfone. No monthly fee at all. All you need to do is buy the phone which you may likely find in Walmart, Big Lots, Dollar General, or Walgreens. The features on phones vary, but the last one I bought only has text and talk and cost about $5.00, but I have seen more fully featured phones for around $20.00. After you select your phone, pick up a Tracfone phone card. The cost of these varies depending on how many minutes you want to buy. The cheapest is 60 minutes ($19.99). I am not sure what the most expensive is. I have had my tracfone for over a year. Instructions come with the phone to get it set up, but you don't even have to talk to a person to get it charged and set up. It's all automated. I like knowing that there is NO bill. When my minutes are up (which is about every six to eight weeks for me), then I just get another minutes card.
I want to have a cell phone for my home, no texting, just a basic cell phone. Any ideas? I had Triple Play with Comcast and after my contract expired my monthly rate went up about 70% so I dropped phone service. Now I'm trying to find a very basic, cheap cell phone plan to replace my land line.
By Comcast Hater
Where can I get a free or cheap cellphone?
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My husband has started a new job. I need to pick him up everyday from the job sites so he needs a cell phone to call when ready. I got on a couple of sites and all the plans started at like 39.99, can anyone recommend a company that has cheap, basic plans for less? Would it be better to go with a plan or a prepaid? I also have tons of old cell phones just laying around, so if I could use one of them it would be great.
Natalie from Utah
Get a tracfone. You get 800 minutes a year for $100. (07/24/2008)
We have Verizon and get our home phone with unlimited long distance and a cell with (I think) about 400 minutes (we use usually 18 min/mo.) and they cost us $31.00 all together. You can go to Verizon.com and find out all the plans. Also, we have free (no minutes used) when we use our cell to call other Verizon people. Good for kids who are away and mother wants to check often. (07/24/2008)
I second the comment about the Tracfone. I just bought a phone for $40 and it has a promotion that doubles all the minutes for the life of the phone. You can also do a search for Tracfone codes that give you bonus minutes when you add minutes to your phone. For less than $20, I added 200 minutes that will last until December, and will carry over as long as I add minutes before then. (07/25/2008)
I use Net10. It's the sister company to Tracfone. It's all prepaid minutes and so easy to use. If your minutes get low, buy another card, go online to add minutes or add them from your Net10 phone.
You can get the phones at places like Walmart, Dollar stores, or on the Net10 website.
I add minutes every 60 days and it costs me $30. So I'm using their basic prepaid plan = 300 minutes, 60 days, $30. 10 cents a minute.
It couldn't be any easier and it's great area coverage and I can talk anytime, anywhere to anyone. (07/25/2008)
I agree Tracfone is a good option for what you described, but ask around about which company is their carrier in your locality. I used one for years with great results, until they changed carriers and I had nothing, but dropped calls and had to quit using them. (07/26/2008)
I'm using a T-mobile prepaid phone. The minutes are cheaper than the tracphone, you can get as many minutes as you need. I buy a 1,000 minutes for $100.00 and it is good for
1 year. Otherwise, your minutes will be deleted every three months if you don't use them. I don't use many minutes, but this way I have lots of time to use them up. I have been able to use it most anywhere.
I have had an STi phone for several years and have used it all over America including Hawaii. It costs .10 a day plus .10 a minute. Since I only use it when needed to change a meeting, etc, or on vacation, it costs me $3 to $5 a month. I got the phone with a total rebate, but now you have to pay a little for the phone. You can buy them at Staples or at cheapphonecards.com.
You can buy the cards to add minutes at cheapphonecards.com, there is a 3% discount and no tax. You can buy $10, $25, or $50 at a time.
On TMobile you have to buy $100 worth to get the .10 a minute rate. I know some others have .10 a minute, but on most the minutes expire and you really can't use the phone for less than $9 a month. I've never seen anything cheaper than this STi. (07/26/2008)
I saw a print ad for a phone called the Jitterbug. They claim to have plans for as low as 10.00 per month. (08/03/2008)
I recommend Net-10. You can get a basic phone starting as low as $19.99 and it comes with 300 minutes and 60 days of service upon activation. Also, super simple to buy additional minutes on-line. (07/16/2009)
Not a decade later, I found myself in a cellphone store (late nineties) and purchasing one with a plan. Even then, not everyone had a cellphone so our costs were really low. We used them mostly to contact each other (my partner and I) if we were meeting up somewhere or plans changed. It was very convenient but we didn't live by them. I think sometimes we forgot we even had one. And text messaging wasn't what it is now, most people didn't text back then.
Then fast-forward another decade. I don't know anyone who doesn't own a cellphone. Even friends of mine who swore 5 years ago that they'd never get one, have one. It has become commonplace. Many of my friends who live in apartments don't have a LAN line and just use their cell as their home phone.
On one hand, I like the convenience but on the other hand I really hate them. I don't spend a lot of money on mine but many of my younger friends are constantly glued to their phones, especially since Blackberries and IPhones came out. It seems as though I can't have a coffee, dinner or even a nice day out with someone without them having to text or call someone or even taking a call.
Please consider shutting your phone off when spending time with friends and/or family. I love going to Holland since many restaurants there have a no-cell usage sign on their door. I am then guaranteed quality time with whoever I am with as I know their cellphone won't be dining with us.
All this being said, we are obviously using our cell a lot more than before which means our costs are probably a lot higher as well. So how do we cut costs? Have you ever received a ridiculously high cellphone bill? Are you on a budget and still spending $100 a month on it? Here are a few things you can do. Look at your bill, figure out when and who you call and pick a plan that is appropriate for your life. Believe it or not, some companies have plans that they don't advertise so it's a good idea to call, tell them what your needs are and find out if they have any suggestions. They are trained to do this and will look at your bill for you to determine what's best for you. Don't let them talk you into something you don't need though. Make a point of saying that you want to stay with that company but that you need to reduce your costs. The nice thing about Pay as You Go is that all services are included and you won't run up a bill. It's like being on a cellphone diet. Some people I know hated it because it limited their usage but that's the whole point. Do you really need to text your friend to say that there is a good sale on at the clothing store or that you ran into an old friend? My mother does the same thing when she goes to Spain for a month every year. She has a Spanish pay as you go and just gets a card when she arrives. The nice thing about European cellphones is that all incoming calls are free, so even if we have run out of minutes on our card, his parents can still call us on it. It might cost you 30 euros to get a cheap phone and card but that's a lot cheaper than paying roaming charges. If I am only going out of the country for a few days, I just turn off my cellphone and don't use it at all and use payphones or my laptop to send emails. Cellphone usage has become a scary addiction, I really wish most people I knew would go on a cellphone diet because it has not enhanced my friendships at all, if anything I feel as if it has made them less personal. I always feel less important than their cellphone. We have this obsessive need to be connected to everything and everyone at all times. I don't think it's healthy. Although I do find them useful, I do think it's time for most people to reevaluate their usage. Not only to save money but to enhance personal connections. Good luck! Source: Written by me and taken from my blog: By freya1970 from Halifax, NS
Change Your Plan As Your Life Changes Cellphone companies have plans depending on our usage. Sometimes one plan is good for a while but then life changes and that plan no longer works. I used to have a 5-faves plan when my friends lived in the city. These are people I would call on a regular basis and I didn't call others as much. So I could text, call and receive calls from these people constantly and it wouldn't cost me a dime. Everyone moved away so I had no use for this anymore. I changed my plan and am now saving $20 a month.
Get Pay As You Go A lot of people won't like me for suggesting this, but it's the only way to closely monitor your usage. I knew a lady who bought a $15 card monthly for her phone. Once it ran out, she didn't buy another one till the month was up. This was her way of monitoring her costs. She then realized when she really needed it and when she just wanted to use it.
Don't Bring Your Cell When Traveling Overseas. Unless you are there for work and your cell is paid for, leave it at home! The roaming costs are ridiculous overseas. When we visit my partners parents in Holland, we have a Dutch Pay as you Go (we have a used one his mom gave us) and get a card for it.
Get Work To Pay Part Of Your Bill If you have a personal cell but find that you are using it for work sometimes, talk to your employer and find out if you can expense some of your usage. I know a friend who used to do this and part of his bill was paid for by his company. If they refuse to pay, tell them that you can no longer afford to take work calls on your cellphone, they might change their minds.
Get A Basic Phone With No Bells And Whistles. Most of my friends are serious tech geeks so telling them to get rid of their Iphones or Blackberries is nearly impossible. Myself, I have a basic phone with no data plan, I can just call and text, that's it. It's not very exciting looking but it does the job. I can text easily and it works perfectly. There is no need to get the latest gadget to keep up with the Jones'. I got my cell company to block the internet portion of it so I wouldn't use it. My bill is less than $30 a month right now and believe it or not I am still trying to find ways to reduce it.
Send Text Messages Online. There are a number of free text messaging services online such as freetxt.com or freetxt.ca. You can also text message from the cell providers website. I have done this before when I didn't have a text plan way back when. Texting your friend's cell from your computer will save you money. Some people have their cellphones set up with MSN so you can text someone's cellphone if they are not online and it goes right to their cellphone.
Look at your bill, figure out when and who you call and pick a plan that is appropriate for your life. Believe it or not, some companies have plans that they don't advertise so it's a good idea to call, tell them what your needs are and find out if they have any suggestions. They are trained to do this and will look at your bill for you to determine what's best for you. Don't let them talk you into something you don't need though. Make a point of saying that you want to stay with that company but that you need to reduce your costs.
The nice thing about Pay as You Go is that all services are included and you won't run up a bill. It's like being on a cellphone diet. Some people I know hated it because it limited their usage but that's the whole point. Do you really need to text your friend to say that there is a good sale on at the clothing store or that you ran into an old friend?
My mother does the same thing when she goes to Spain for a month every year. She has a Spanish pay as you go and just gets a card when she arrives. The nice thing about European cellphones is that all incoming calls are free, so even if we have run out of minutes on our card, his parents can still call us on it. It might cost you 30 euros to get a cheap phone and card but that's a lot cheaper than paying roaming charges. If I am only going out of the country for a few days, I just turn off my cellphone and don't use it at all and use payphones or my laptop to send emails.
Cellphone usage has become a scary addiction, I really wish most people I knew would go on a cellphone diet because it has not enhanced my friendships at all, if anything I feel as if it has made them less personal. I always feel less important than their cellphone. We have this obsessive need to be connected to everything and everyone at all times. I don't think it's healthy. Although I do find them useful, I do think it's time for most people to reevaluate their usage. Not only to save money but to enhance personal connections.
Source: Written by me and taken from my blog:
By freya1970 from Halifax, NS