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Q: cell phone service with no monthly fee ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: cell phone service with no monthly fee
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: dianemarie-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 04 Dec 2005 07:40 PST
Expires: 03 Jan 2006 07:40 PST
Question ID: 601237
My company pays for my cell phone, so I am not familiar with the
services. I would like to get a cell phone for an friend who isn't
into the idea, but admittedly does need a cell phone option to use on
occasion or in emergencies. Aren't there services where one ONLY pays
for the minutes you used and that do not include monthly fees?

Request for Question Clarification by efn-ga on 04 Dec 2005 08:51 PST
There aren't services where you can keep an account open for months
without using it and pay nothing.  What the industry offers for people
like your friend is prepaid service.  There isn't a monthly charge as
such, but you have to buy a certain minimum amount of minutes
periodically to keep the account open.  This is generally cheaper and
involves less commitment than a plan that provides a fixed number of
minutes for a monthly charge.

Would you like information about plans like this?

Clarification of Question by dianemarie-ga on 04 Dec 2005 10:50 PST
Yes, that would be very helpful - particularly those that don't have a
hight demand for use.  Thank you
Subject: Re: cell phone service with no monthly fee
Answered By: efn-ga on 04 Dec 2005 12:46 PST
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Hi dianemarie,

The topic of prepaid cell phone service is pretty well documented on
the Web, so rather than writing another article, I will recommend some
hand-picked pages.

"Prepaid Cell Phones" by Grace Aquino for PC World is a good introduction.,aid,116595,00.asp

"Prepaid primer: the what, why, and how of prepaid cell phones" by Ben
Patterson on CNET goes into more detail.

"U.S. Prepaid Cell Phone Service Plans" on has a table of
information about the offerings of six carriers and a system where you
answer some questions about your projected usage and it projects your
costs with various carriers.

Additional Links

"Nuts and bolts of prepaid plans" by Kamil Skawinski on

"Look Carefully at Prepaid Cellular Phone Plans" by Joe St Sauver,
from the University of Oregon's Computing News, Winter 2001

These links should help you determine whether prepaid cell phone
service is right for your friend.  If you need any more help, please
feel free to ask for a clarification.

dianemarie-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: cell phone service with no monthly fee
From: irlandes-ga on 05 Dec 2005 15:49 PST
A sample name is TracFone, Paul Harvey had an ad recently for them
selling the phones at Target for around $20.  I looked into that a
couple years ago, and while it does provide no monthly fees, the cost
per minute are very high.

I  would have bought one since our needs are seldom and short, if they
didn't have such a short time to account/minutes expiration.

Also, they have no local service in many places we go, and when you
are roaming, the price goes even higher.

Still, you need to look at your exact needs versus the plan, or any
other plan, and see if it if suitable.
Subject: Re: cell phone service with no monthly fee
From: loughj-ga on 06 Dec 2005 15:31 PST
For occassional use, T-mobile's "t-mobile to go" may be a good
solution:  A year's worth of service (and 1000 minutes) can be
purchased for $100 plus the price of the phone ($30 and up depending
on model, purchase location, etc.).

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