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Best no contract cell phone server?

by redneckcelt / July 27, 2011 11:45 PM PDT

My home is in an absolute dead area for cell phone service. As a result my wife and I only use our phones when away from home. I currently have Sprint, but their absolute minimum family plan with no internet access or texting and twk basic phones is $59 per m,onth which becomes $77 per month by the time they add taxes and surcharges. Figuring the actual amount of paid time I use each month, this works out to about $5.00 per minute. I've been a Sprint customer for nearly 10 years, but their unwillingness or inability to offer me anything at a lower cost has me fed up with them.

I am looking at Tracfone and Consumer Cellular, but I have questions about both. First, Tracfone. This seems like the cheapest way to go, but I have questions that they seem unable to answer. First, they say that my phone must be activated for my Zip coce, or my phone might be roaming should I ever be able to make or receive calls at or near my home. Secondly, Would activation of a Tracfone phone require making or receiving a call from my home. I can get a signal within a few miles of my home, but I have no idea if it isin the same Zip code. There are three different codes within a few miles of me.

For consumer Cellular, First, they wouldn't even talk to me about service until I gave them the Zip code for a rental house I own in another zip code area.Secondly, their activation charge of $35 per phone is higher than I can afford right now. By the time I add in the cost of two decent phones, I'm paying well over $100 just to get started. This is prohibitive as my wife and I are on a "less than fixed income.

Can you recommend a servier where I could get two phones, splitting 150 minuts or less per month, and with free or low cost activation? I need something which would run me $50 or less total per month, including any fees and taxes. I would like some internet access and limited texting ability, but I can live with a reasonable pay for use cost for that as I would rarely use those features.. I also don't mind if I have no signal at my home, because no one has any. If someone should put a tower near me, I wouldn't mindd paying a bit more, but I want to get what I pay for.

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Clarification Request
It *is* all about zip code/address
by Pepe7 / July 28, 2011 12:07 AM PDT

That's the rub. What's your actual zip code where you will be using the cellular service? I can't recommend something that's not available at your particular location. It's the first thing you have to worry about ahead of the pricing you require.

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Reply to clarification request
by redneckcelt / July 28, 2011 10:28 AM PDT

I am not sure if this is what you are asking or not, but my Zip code is 23833. There is service in some of that zipcode, but not at my home, and I do not know eactly where the zip code lines are located. As I said before, my home is nearly equidistant from 2, and nearly so from a third [post office Looking at the Va zip code map, I believe that I do get a signal about 5 miles from my home and am still in the 23833 zipcode.

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OK. It look like Verizon has coverage there
by Pepe7 / July 28, 2011 3:17 PM PDT

Since Verizon (supposedly) covers your neck of the woods west of Richmond, you would ideally go with one of the prepaid MVNOs that uses Verizon's native network for their coverage/service. Page Plus wireless is one of options that might work out, but it will likely cost a little more than $50/month for two phones including text and a small amount of data. Probably closer to $60. And the phones will not be spectacular either- refurbished motorola flip phones starting at around $35. I'd wager you could likely find some of these Page Plus enabled handsets online on the cheap either @ ebay or craigslist/etc. YMMV.

All Answers

Best Answer chosen by redneckcelt

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Perhaps STi Mobile.
by j_golkin / July 29, 2011 6:36 PM PDT

For my admittedly low usage I've been quite pleased with STi Mobile (http://www, I have their basic "Easy 8.9¢ Plan" for only 9¢ per day and 8.9¢ per minute of airtime. Minutes NEVER expire and the only 'trick' is that you have to make or receive at least 1 call every 60 days. At the minimum that comes to less than $34. a YEAR!!! (That's per year and not per month!).

It's an MVNO that runs on the Sprint network. It has worked great for me, but of course your mileage may vary. I picked up a phone and the service about 4? years ago at a local national store that had advertised this, but has since gone out of business. Unfortunately I haven't seen STi Mobile at any other retail store and they don't seem to advertise much if any, but one can buy the phone and the service through their website as well as check out their coverage map (Which shows that 23833 [Richmond I believe] should be ok).

STi Mobile has worked out great for me and I'd highly recommend it. Your situation and phone usage will be different from me I'm sure, but anyone looking for basic, plain-jane service (Although you can add web browsing for an additional 19¢/day) at an incredible price should at least check out their website and see if might work for them.

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Thanks to everyone who has treplied
by redneckcelt / July 30, 2011 9:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Perhaps STi Mobile.

I have pretty much decided to go with Consumer cellular for now. They offered me 300 shared minutes with two free Mototola WX345 phones, and 30 MB of text and internet time for just over $35 per month total, including taxes, and it is no contract so I can cancel of change the plan at any time. The WX345 is fairly highly rated and seems like it will do what I want. They do use AT&T's towers, but I don't have to stay with them if it doesn't do what I need. I'm not totally out in the boonies. I'm only 35 minutes or so from Richmond, and only about 25 from Petersburg. But even if you look at Verizon's coverage map, there is one tiny hole in their coverage which is centered exactly over my home. I am going to seriously take a look atr T-Mobiles yearly plan sometime after we get our tax refund,It looks like I would have to get the $100 plan for each phone plus buy and activate the phones so start up cost would be over $300. This is a bad time of the year for an old couple on a fixed income due to high cooling bill, caused by temperatures in the low 100s. The start up cost for Consumercellular would be $70.Thank you to everyone who has replied to this thread, and if anyone had any info about Consumer Cellular, good or bad, please post that.

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Consumer Cellular
by old.giant / July 30, 2011 11:44 AM PDT

I haved Consumer Cellular for about 1 year, I Love them!!! I had T-Mobile for 9 years but they would not upgrade my old phone for me.
I have the big "M" phone 'w259' just the basic plan (300 min) and I can call and upgrade to 600 min if I use more for $10. more a month and downgrade for the next month.
William the old giant

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What Do I do?
by redneckcelt / August 2, 2011 6:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Consumer Cellular

Okay, Big Problem. Because Consumer Cellular has no service in my Zip Code, They will not let me get a phone from them. How do I make these idiots understand that I AM NOT TRYING TO GET A PHONE I CAN USE AT HOME???". I only need a phone when I am out and away from home! Why should it be anyones business if I don't use the phone except when I am away from home? I can drive (or walk if I was younger and didn't have arthritus) less than 5 miles and get a signal with most any cell company.

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It's a weakness of some prepaid services
by Pepe7 / August 2, 2011 11:59 PM PDT
In reply to: What Do I do?

Sometimes their business models require them to only be able to activate service for folks who can legitimately receive it. Seems logical for both seller and buyer since most people do not want a service that does not work at home, and a company does not want to have to deal with support if (obviously), someone's off their radar to begin with. Consumer cellular is not a good choice for you unfortunately.

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Now at 5 years with a tracfone.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 28, 2011 11:14 AM PDT

I don't use it much and there is no support. But I never need support.

Look at the Tracfone and you can test drive their cheapest phone for under 20 bucks here. Why not?

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We have VM too.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 29, 2011 1:51 AM PDT

My son has the Android slider from Target. 25 bucks a month gets 300 minutes and unlimited text and data.
Might be an option.

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rate increase
by cliffdunaway / July 29, 2011 10:47 AM PDT
In reply to: We have VM too.

Last week Virgin Mobile (sold at Target, Best Buy, etc.) increased from $25 a month to $35 for new customers. Still not a bad deal, just not as good as before.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 30, 2011 12:57 AM PDT
In reply to: rate increase

My son paid 4 months in advance so we'll see when the rate goes up.

Thank you for the update!

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Since you use Sprint
by Pepe7 / July 28, 2011 3:22 PM PDT

You could just as well in the meantime utilize Virgin Mobile, one of the prepaid services that uses Sprint's network. It would be much cheaper, and at least you know you wouldn't be losing anything since you state there isn't coverage there anyway.

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How about $8 a month?
by cliffdunaway / July 29, 2011 10:44 AM PDT

I have been using T-mobile prepaid for 6 years. I buy 1,000 minutes for $100 and they last for a year. The upfront cost would be $100 plus the phone, but you wouldn't have another bill for a year. No monthly taxes, either.

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You need to check the coverage viewer
by Pepe7 / July 29, 2011 1:43 PM PDT
In reply to: How about $8 a month?

T-Mo doesn't cover his part of VA very well.

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Pay as you go
by gemma_one / July 29, 2011 10:58 AM PDT

You might wish to check out PlatinumTel. Go with the 100 dollar pay as you go for a year and get a free phone. Check it out, I think you will like it. I use it and love it.

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Again, it's about coverage
by Pepe7 / July 29, 2011 1:46 PM PDT

If you look online at their maps, they appear to use Sprint coverage area. Nothing much once you get off the main drag unfortunately. Verizon covers more of the nooks and crannies, so those MVNOs make more sense.

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T-Mobile has best no-contract cell service
by jxrich / July 29, 2011 2:53 PM PDT

If you can go $10 higher, to $60 total for 2 cell phones, see T-Mobile's new data plans which start at $30 per cell phone and have no contract.

If you forego the internet (but do want text), get a T-Mobile pay-as-you go account (the one with no charge per day). Pay $100 at one time, and your calls will be 10 cents per minute. Moreover, the $100 does not expire for a year, and won't expire then if you add any amount just before the year ends. (But adding $100 at a time gives you the cheapest call rate.) I loooooove my T-Mobile.

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