I've been using Tracfone for about 3 years now. I'm not a heavy user and don't roam much, so I can't comment on their coverage (or lack thereof). But it's always worked when I used it.
Also, it's cheap for a casual user like me. They offer a 1 year card for about $95.00 with 150 minutes plus, with e-mail coupon, an extra 100 minutes. 250 minutes is far more than I use in a year, so it costs me less than $10.00 per month to have an emergency phone in my glove compartment.
Anybody else with some info? This is something I'm also very interested in, not having a cell phone right now, but realizing it is mighty handy when you're stuck in traffic and want to alert a friend that you're being late...
Been using Verizon Free-up for a few years now and it is averaging $15 per month. That is with the minimum $30 card (or addition) every 60 days.
Nice advantage to Free-up is that the weekend minute rate is very low so I do my family calls on the weekend. The normal hours rates are similar to the other plans mentioned. 0.30 per minute maybe? Dunno, I keep my phone turned off except to make a call except on the weekends. Just don't get voice messaging as that is charged the same rates as a normal call. I think that is the way they "get you" on the plan.
I've set up Virgin Mobile for my wife and her mother. I think it works well for low volume users. You buy a phone from their website, or Target, or Best Buy, etc. for about $60-120 depending on which model you want. Then everyday that you use the phone, it's 25c for each of the first 10 minutes, and 10c per minute after that. You have to add at least $20 into your account every 90 days (or was that 60 days?) The easiest way to add money is to register a credit card on their website and then you can add money directly from your phone. The phone also reminds you when your account balance falls below $5. You can also check your balance from the phone and it also tells you your deadline for adding the $20 minimum. I'm paying for my mother-in-law's phone and their website makes it easy for me to keep up with her balance and manage the account.
Virgin leases network capacity from Sprint PCS so coverage is exactly the same. My wife says the Voice Mail prompts are very slow so maybe that's how they milk a few extra minutes out of you.
Do any of these phones fix the problem with my prepaid cell phone? I have an ATT Free2Go phone plan and I know whenever I'm not like in my home calling area, I have to dial like 1000 numbers just to make a phone call.
Scenario is this:
To make a long distance phone call when outside my calling area, I have to:
1)Dial the phone number that I'm calling 2)Dial MY phone number 3)Dial my PIN 4)Dial the phone number again, at which point I've completely forgotten the number because I was dialing it from my phone book.
Stupid, really stupid. it makes it useless pretty much unless I have a pen and paper handy.
The other thing I forgot to mention about Virgin is that there's a maximum amount you can have in your account (which is $150, I think). So if you never used the phone, and you kept putting in your $20 minimum, you would eventually reach that max and your $20 would just go in the toilet. But I think that scenario is unlikely. Besides that little twist, the dollars in your account never expire.
We have several cell phones. My wife and I, and our older children, each own one. We've been using Tracfone for a couple of years, and have found it to work very well. I like the modest control one has over their bill. If we didn't want a computer in our home, we'd probably switch exclusively to a non-land line. (The options for using a computer over a cell phone line are quite limited in our area.)
I also use Virgin and set it up to automatically add minutes whenever they're needed. Someone said $60-120 for the phone but I've seen basic one's at Target, etc. for $19.99 which might be all you need.
And you do need to add $20 every 90 days (not 60 ) but that's only $7 a month. All my calls are local so I can't comment on long-distance but the coverage in Northern California is great.
25 cents a minute for the first 10 sounds expensive but for light usage it's cheaper in the long-run.
I need a land line for my computer and my brother works for AT+T so to keep peace in the family I keep my land-line otherwise I'd drop it. My brother says this is becoming a real problem for AT+T. Land-lines are a real money-maker.
Those are good points. We paid $20 per phone (and $15 for two of them when they were on sale). We received 90 days plus two free months (= 150 days).
Somewhat curiously, a couple of our phones have web access, while two do not. And they're all from the same company. I don't understand the actual reasons for this. The manual says it has to do with what providers are out there relative to our phone. In any event, I really only need web access (which as most know eats up quite a few minutes) to check ball and puck scores when I'm on the road, and my wife's phone does this quite well.
"I need a land line for my computer and my brother works for AT+T so to keep peace in the family I keep my land-line otherwise I'd drop it. My brother says this is becoming a real problem for AT+T. Land-lines are a real money-maker."