My mother recently retired and she doesn't use her cell phone much, but wants to maintain service. She lives in Florida, so with the storms, she still wants a landline. During the hurricanes of 2004-2005-2006 she was the only person with phone service (hardwired old-school AT&T princess phone). She has had AT&T wireless for over 10 years and asked about switching to TracPhone or some other pre-paid type. She just wants phone service and to keep her number. No text, photos, internet, etc.
Any thoughts or experience with these?
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I use T-Mobile's prepaid service. I did a lot of research before starting with them and they had by far the best deal. I pay $100 for 1000 minutes which are good for a year. You can buy less minutes, but then they are only good for a certain number of months (look up the details on their site). Basic phones can be bought at a T-mobile store or Radioshack for $20.
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What's her estimated budget? Tracfone are great, I had one, and ended up giving it to my son when I got a "big boy" phone and no longer needed it. You can buy minutes for $30 and they last until you're out of minutes.
Well, out of minutes or time - your cards for either 1 year (it's about 100 bucks) or 60 days (as cheap as 20 bucks, I think).
They use either AT&T or Tmobile Towers. Our Tracfones were great until we decided to go contract.
and the Go-Phones by AT&T seem good too - I have one that I used briefly and now just use it to drop in a prepaid SIM when I go to Mexico or Canada.
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I'll second the love for Tracfones. I used them for several years and was very satisfied with the service, but the minutes do expire. For $30, you get something like 90 minutes that are good for 60 days.
The best thing about Tracfone is how the minutes and the days roll over, which I don't think the other services match, but I could be wrong. For example, if I activate a new card on day 37, then I will have 83 days to use my minutes and if I have 43 minutes left when I activate a new card, then I will have 133 minutes to use.
It's not a good deal if you use more minutes per couple of months than you get in a single purchase, however, if you just need a phone for emergencies, then Tracfone is pretty good at the minimum $15/month average, compared to the cheapest contracts which are $30/month but with several hundred minutes. You can buy a card that doubles the value that you get per time purchase for the life of the phone, but you may want to consider whether that's even necessary for a "just in case" phone.
Also, because they don't own any towers, they lease service from whichever provider happens to have some towers in a given area, implying that they should have service in more places than any single "tower-owning" carrier. I've traveled in some pretty rural areas and maintained service longer with my Tracfone than some of my friends did with their contract phones, but YMMV.
FYI, Net10 is owned by the same company, but I never used those phones so I can't speak to their value.
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