HolidayBuyer's Guide

Phones forum

General discussion

Cell phone w/no plan

by Greg / February 27, 2004 9:46 PM PST

All the listings and reviews I see are associated with a service provider.
Where can I find reviews of cell phones available without subscribing to a service plan? I want a phone I can use, say, with a phone card. I do not want to subscribe to Verizon, Cingulat, ATT, etc. If I don't use it, I don't pay.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Cell phone w/no plan
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Cell phone w/no plan
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Re:Cell phone w/no plan
by Mary / March 5, 2004 5:34 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

I don't know where you cant get reviews but I can tell you my experience with what I have. My husband and I each have had a Verizon prepaid account for 3yrs. and we love it. With the verizon prepaid you can only use one kind of phone they sell to go with the prepaid so you can't go and buy a regular cell phone with more features and such but I am happy with the phone I have had for 3yrs. Every two months you have to log on a prepaid card and the lowest one I think is $15. The minutes carry over from month to month and build up so you don't loose any unused minutes. Every time we log on a $50 card we get a lot of free weekend minutes so I make all my long distance calls to relatives with it on the weekends or give it to my Mom. We also have caller ID and voice mail but I don't use the voice mail. I have traveled to different states with it and have had no problems making calls, it just uses a few more minutes. I live in NY on the border of Canada and make frequent trips over the border and it has worked from there but again it uses a few more minutes calling from there. We only need the phones for emergency purposes in the car or if my tennage son is home alone and needs to contact us so we really don't make a ton of calls and it has worked out well for us and I like the fact that we don't get a bill every month. Hope this helps in your search.

Collapse -
Verizon prepaid....please!
by c203nxi / July 21, 2007 11:41 AM PDT

I was happy to hear that both you and your husband were happy with your service from Verizon. Just one thing. Take a closer look at T-Mobile's prepaid plan. For one, all your minutes roll on until you use them; the basis for a "prepaid plan". If Verizon is separating the weekday and weekend times from each other, you really do need to look further. First suggestion. Look at T-Mobiles prepaid plan. They also have a discount on minutes. It happens whenever you have spent (accumulated) over 100 minutes since you began using the service. What is more, there is no time limit! For most of us, that is easily done in one month! By the way, purchased in $100.00 increments, your total per minute charge is only $.10 per minute. Think about that, all you people on these savings "plans". Because you are using a service like Verizon, Sprint and Nextel, your choices of telephones are restricted as you mentioned. In a company that uses the far advanced (the rest of the world uses it and does not use the antiquated CDMA) are compnies like T-Mobile, Cingular, AT&T and most other smaller companies. Why? Because it is a better system. The other added bonus, once you buy the first telephone (do this on line!), you can pull the sim card out of your original GSM phone and move it to any other telephone you want. What's more, any GSM phone can be unlocked from their original plan company! Rub those eyes again! Yes, I said that you can move that sim card from any phone you own and install it into a newer phone or an older phone and it costs you NOTHING!!! Good luck!

Collapse -
(NT) Three-and-a-half year old post......please!!
by neocon / July 21, 2007 12:43 PM PDT
Collapse -
Cell phone w/o plan
by birdmantd Forum moderator / March 23, 2005 10:43 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

Not possible in the US. The closest option is prepaid. You can purchase a phone from another source (not directly from the provider) but you will have to have some type of calling plan from some carrier. Secondly, unless the phone is unlocked, you cannot switch carriers.

Collapse -
Try tracfone
by secret123 / March 23, 2005 5:16 PM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

hi: Try tracfone for no plan wireless phone calling. More info at I've just bought it, and I'm still setting it up, so I haven't tried it out yet. Still, it looks hopeful. You can buy more minutes to add airtime, and phones and airtime cards are available at Target, Walmart, and also online.

Another type of plan is simplefreedom (or similar type name). I heard they have nationwide local rates (instead of roaming which Tracfone has).

Hope this helps

Collapse -
Tracfone cost
by maddogthegreat / March 24, 2005 11:07 PM PST
In reply to: Try tracfone

For $95 you get 150 minutes and a years usage. If you expect to use much over 200 minutes a YEAR get a regular cell phone contract. If you want it just for emergency (like my wife) it is a great service. The main reason for long contracts is to recoop the cost of the "free" phone you get when you signup.

Collapse -
Cell phone without a subscription
by quest1918 / March 24, 2005 6:42 PM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

For my money, TracFone was the way to go. You have the option of purchasing minutes that are good for two months or purchasing a year in advance. The lowest amount was about $20.00 for 40 minutes which was good for two months. For $95.00 your phone remains active for one full year and you get 150 minutes. However, they will continually send you various offers which are better than this. I recently signed up for their 'Sweetheart' deal which was offered around Valentines day and they threw in an extra 200 minutes. So I got 350 minutes total for a years worth of service for $95.00. Not too shabby! Go to to check it out. Good luck!

Collapse -
Cell phones without a contract
by Carol77garr / March 24, 2005 8:05 PM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

As soon as my contract is over, I'm going with TracFone. A friend has 2 of them, 1 for her 10-year old son & she loves it. No more contracts for me since I only use mine for telling my husband when I'm coming home from Va. Beach. You pay for your minutes ahead of time & if you don't yak all the time, mine should only cost me like $5-8 a month, compared to $31.56 I'm paying. That way, you save like $20-25 a month.

Collapse -
Cell phones without a contract
by mym39 / March 24, 2005 9:16 PM PST

You might check out Virgin Mobile. Just buy at least $20 in minutes every three months to keep active. Has lots of features. Go to to find places to purchase phones and minutes.

Collapse -
by rlegro / March 24, 2005 11:04 PM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

I've been very happy with the AT&T (now Cingular) GoPhone service. It's prepaid/no contract, and there is no credit check. You can even opt out of giving them your Social Security number (which I refuse to do). No roaming charges, nationwide service, free night and weekend minutes and for plans at $40/mo and up extra minutes are only 10 cents.

And, you don't have to use those minute card you buy in a store; rather, you can pay month to month via credit card, via the phone itself or the GoPhone website. Or, you can set things up so that when you're out of minutes, your credit card, debit card or checking account automatically will be billed and your service continues seamlessly (you get a text message when this happens, just for assurance) -- and you can instantly switch between these options whenever.

Plus, the GoPhone service is fairly robust. You can choose among several free phones or spend a few bucks and get a better unit. The service uses GSM and in travels all over the country I've almost never been without signal. You can roll over unused minutes, too.

Finally, the GoPhone service offers as an option for around $5 a month AT&T's M-mode Internet functionality (renamed with a slightly different feature set under Cingular, with certain phones). You can access Yahoo services, send email via an external web mail address or one built into your phone, send SMS or multimedia mail messages, go to Mapquest, and so forth. Not bad for an el cheapo service.

I'm thrilled with the phone I chose: A Siemens S56 color screen model that's very tiny yet very powerful. A B&W version, the A56, was offered free for awhile.

Here's a URL:

Collapse -
Look out for other fees
by dbliever / April 1, 2005 8:44 PM PST
In reply to: GoPhone

I was set to buy a slightly different plan with Cingular, but the rep "forgot" to tell me there was a $1.00/day access fee on top of the $.10/min charge. I was willing to pay the $.10/minute, but not the $1/day which I initially was not told about. The phone-a particular model was $99 from the rep (was $199 at a local store). With a prepaid $15 card (150 min), the card would last 90 days, so that sounded good. Then I found out about the $1/day each day the phone was used-either incoming or outgoing. Not so good! So check carefully on all these prepaid plans.

Collapse -
Hmm, They should have told you. $1 a day is not bad.
by TechGeek2005 / July 8, 2005 2:28 AM PDT

The $1 a day is only when the phone is used. Verizon pre-paid charages $1 whether is is used or not. GoPhone can be switch to $0.25 a minute without the $1 a day charge. I look at it this way: The rate is either $0.25 per minute or it is $1.00 for the first miunte and $0.10 for additional minutes. A 5 minute call is nearly the same on both plans, any calls over 5 minutes or multiple calls in one day are cheaper on the $0.10 per minute plan.
I understand that they may not have told you about the charge (that is taken off your pre-paid balance) and they should have - that is BAD! However, the rate is still about the best there is. The only other that is close is TracFone.

Collapse -
Pre-Paid is your only option
by CingularBabe / March 24, 2005 11:27 PM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

Pre-paid plans are your only option. And you will pay FULL retail price for your phone, AND you will end up paying MORE for your use. You may THINK you won't use it much, but, and I think most would agree, once you realize the affordability and convenience, you will use it more than you realize. You could even cancel your landline and save more $$$$!!! There are plans out there as low as $29.99 per month!!!

Collapse -
i agree...... use a SIM card or aka pre-paid
by mr.gadget / March 25, 2005 1:06 AM PST

well i agree with you,cingularbabe. pre-paid(aka to the rest of the world SIM cards, SIM meaning subscriber identifying module, i think)is the only option you have, without no monthly bills(and we don't want another one of those esp. with a plan). with the SIM cards(sorry i've grown accustomed to calling it that and not pre-paid), you pay as you go. meaning if don't have no contracts or legalities with such-such company, all your doing is reloading the SIM card. my job calls for a tri-band (aka world phone in the states) phone which makes it easier to buy and the phone is plugged into the local network of the country.

i would strongly recommend the pre-paid option.

Collapse -
by PhoneDepot / April 1, 2005 1:27 AM PST

Sim Cards and Prepaids are totally different. A sim card is a module or chip in the back of a GSM phone. It is a storage feature that holds the phones information and Identifier sequence for towers and 250 Phone numbers.

A prepaid is a system that asks you to pay for service prior to usage. THis is different than a standard postpaid account where there is no opportunity to use more than the alotted time on the account. It works similar to a debit account.

Collapse -
SIM card???????????
by nycboy0156 / June 6, 2005 8:15 PM PDT

I have a prepaid phone which has no sim card!!!!

Collapse -
No Service Plan
by jerrew / March 25, 2005 1:00 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

Try Virgin Mobile. You must buy a phone, and buy 20.00 worth of service every 3 months. Its ideal for us, since we do not use cell phones extensively. Good Luck


Collapse -
by PhoneDepot / March 25, 2005 2:17 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

The service plan is required to utilize that companies towers. The way it works is a cell phone connects to a tower that connects to a phonline. While you can use a phone card on a cell phone, without a service agreement you will be denied access to the towers hence not be able to use the phone

Collapse -
Cell phone w/no plan
by grglaub / March 25, 2005 7:07 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

It happens that Home Shopping Network has a sale today (Friday) on a cell phone with prepaid minutes. there is no contract, but you may have to use or buy a minimum amount of minutes from time to time to keep the program active; I don't know. search for HSN

Collapse -
prepaid would be the way for you to go
by karnis / March 25, 2005 8:22 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

as a prepaid customer myself, i'm lovin not having to pay overages and such, although as often as there are times when i use so many minutes as to berate my self for not getting a regular contracted phone, there are nearly as many times when i don't use but 20min every couple months, such as recently, and applaud my fiscal sense Happy !
most prepaid services require you to reload some minutes (as few 20min. in some cases) every 45-90 days, and make a phone call at least once a month. typically you have to purchase the phone yourself but in the case of some providers, the services can be purchased on a used or older, "unlocked" phone.

some providers (in no particular order):
1. locus telecom
2. callplus wireless
3. o2 wireless
4. liberty wireless
5. virgin mobile
6. boost wireless
7. tracfone
8. verizon free2go

there are numerous others out there, but in general, these would be the ones you run across most often in local shops. the good thing about #'s 1-4 is that with those, one can purchase a used phone (usually $20-30 less than a new one) with service from an independent retailer, and when you buy, often times it will have 30-60 min preloaded on it. if you need anymore info, you can go to your local independent wireless phone dealers' shop(s) or each providers website.

hope my verbosity helps! Happy

Collapse -
Re: Cell phone w/no plan
by Sam_UNC / March 26, 2005 2:00 AM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

I think the best thing for you to do is to look at the phones availble for prepaid on the carrier websistes. They usually have a limited selection of phones available for use with thier prepaid services.

Collapse -
sim-free cell phones
by hvn / March 26, 2005 7:35 PM PST
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

Please submit info re: sim-free cell phones , would be interesting and beneficial .



Collapse -
SIM free
by birdmantd Forum moderator / March 27, 2005 12:18 AM PST
In reply to: sim-free cell phones

Only prepaid service w/out SIM would be SPRINT, VERIZON, NEXTEL, VIRGIN MOBILE or related carriers using CDMA technology would be your best option.

Collapse -
cell phones w/out plans
by bapstt / June 2, 2005 7:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan

I want a new phone but I don't want to be tied into a wireless plan-any suggestions?

Collapse -
prepaid cell phone plan cheat sheet
by digdug15 / July 21, 2005 5:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Cell phone w/no plan
Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

The Samsung RF23M8090SG

One of the best French door fridges we've tested

A good-looking fridge with useful features like an auto-filling water pitcher and a temperature-adjustable "FlexZone" drawer. It was a near-flawless performer in our cooling tests.