The 411: Cheap prepaid plans

Every two weeks, CNET editor Nicole Lee answers your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories in The 411.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
2 min read

Welcome to the 411, my column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have similar queries, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at nicole.lee@cnet.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.

Question: I have a question about your 411 article on Android syncing. I have two Gmail accounts, do you know if that is handled well by Android?--Joe, via e-mail.

Yes. With Android 2.0 and later, you are able to use multiple Gmail accounts in the Gmail app on Android. Simply go to the Accounts setting and select "add account" to have more than one.

I have a BlackBerry with the unlimited plan and unlimited text messaging, so my bill is about $125 per month. I don't want to pay for the data plan any more, so I am looking for a basic Verizon phone--very basic--on eBay to purchase. However, the problem is I can't tell what phones will not require me to have a date plan--not even the $9.99 data plan.--Stacy, via e-mail.

Samsung Intensity II - metallic blue (Verizon Wireless)
The Samsung Intensity II doesn't require a data plan. Josh Miller/CNET

Luckily for you there are quite a number of phones for you to choose from. You just have to look for what Verizon calls their "feature phones"--essentially any phone that doesn't have 3G. Some of the feature phones we reviewed recently include the Pantech Jest, the Samsung Gusto, the Samsung Intensity II, and the Samsung Haven.

An Indian Fulbright scholar has just joined my department for the next 10 months. She is on a tight student stipend and needs a cell phone to make calls within the United States and to call home to India. She doesn't text or surf the Internet on her phone. Since she doesn't have a credit history in the United State, a prepaid phone seems to be the best option. However, I'm at a loss regarding how to compare plans. I saw your column on CNET and hoped you could offer some advice. Which prepaid phone plan would be best for her needs? I don't think she will have a very high call volume.--Erin, via e-mail.

There are many prepaid plans you can choose from, and the right plan for her depends on her budget. I did some legwork and researched the various prepaid carriers, and I think Virgin Mobile might be your best bet. It offers 20 cents per minute for 90 days of service as the basic rate, or $20 for a 400-minute plan that's good for a month. It also has the cheapest international rates for India--only $0.05 cents per minute. Of course, you could try to fix her up with Skype or a VoIP service that will let her to make international calls for even cheaper. If any of our readers have other suggestions, feel free to chime in.