Every year I receive a text message on my cell phone reminding me that my minutes are about to expire. For the last 5+ years, I’ve added $10 worth of minutes every October to keep the plan alive.
Just $10/year for cell phone use?
Yep. I don’t recall when I got this phone. 4, 5, 6 years ago. It is a Motorola v195 flip phone. When I got it, it came with $30 of minutes and the phone for $30. Quite the bargain. Those minutes were set to expire in 90 days. Fine, but there was an offer. If I put $100 more minutes on the phone, then all future minutes would last 365 days regardless of the amount. Prior to that point, I was paying $35/month ($420/yr) for a personal cell phone that I barely used. I had a work-provided phone for all work-related needs.
About a week before those minutes expired, a text message reminded me to add some more. I visited Walmart, bought a $10 addition minutes card and added them to the phone.
Anyway, Here’s the annual cost breakdown for my cell phone.
- Yr1 – $30 – phone + initial minutes
- Yr1 – $100 – Annual Club + tons of minutes
- Yr2 – $10
- Yr3 – $10
- Yr4 – $10
- Yr5 – $10
- Yr6 – $10
$180 – Total
What’s the monthly cost for this? $180/(6 × 12) = $2.50 per month
My current balance is $94.xx – I’m just starting year 6, so the that will be the costs until October 2012.
But You Don’t Use Many Minutes!
That’s correct. I don’t, but that doesn’t matter to you. The way I see it, if you use less than $30/month ($360/yr), then you are coming out ahead. That’s a ton of pre-paid minutes.
Smartphones – This doesn’t work.
This method doesn’t work for smartphones. Ok, it probably won’t work for smartphones because all the cell plans demand that you also have a data plan associated with the phone. That’s $40+ more per month.
The network isn’t any different for the $10 pre-paid plans than for the $120 super-premium plans. Ask your friends for which providers have the best coverage where you live, work and on your commute. For elsewhere in the town and the country, you’ll probably be in airports and on interstates. I’ve had 3 different cell phone providers over the years. They all work about the same when I’m traveling. Coverage at home was very different, but that was years ago.
T-mobile is the provider that I’ve been using. They are in the USA and UK and perhaps elsewhere. Over here the plan is called “pre-paid”. In the UK, “pay-as-you-go” plan. I spent a few minutes searching for the plan that I’m under online and didn’t find it. But I know you can visit a convenience store, drug store, Walmart, Target, Kroger, etc., buy a phone and additional minute cards from 2 or 3 providers.
Your local area may have other providers with pay-as-you-go plans.
What do you have to lose? About $30 for the cheap phone + initial minutes. If you have another GSM phone already, you may be able to switch the SIM card from the cheap phone into your nicer phone. Obviously, this might not work. If it doesn’t, this is an ideal phone for a teen or grandma for emergency use. I think a friend is going to hand me a GSM Android smartphone this month. I’ll swap the SIM cards and post whether it works here.
No More 2 Year Contracts
If you are under contract currently, breaking that probably has a hefty penalty clause. With this pre-paid phone, you’ll never need to worry about that again – after your current contract ends and you switch.