Prepaid/pay-As-You-Go Cell Phones

Lounge By CakesByJen2 Updated 15 Nov 2008 , 12:30am by jen1977

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CakesByJen2 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 6:27pm
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My 13 yo daughter has been begging for a cell phone for the last 2-3 years, and insists that she has to have one, and everyone else has one icon_rolleyes.gif

We are thinking of getting her one for Christmas, if we can find a really cheap plan and can't come up with a better idea. Our cell phones are thru work, so to get a regular plan just for her would be too expensive, so we are thinking the pay-as-you go phones might be a good idea. She doesn't really need one; she just wants one. Of course she wants an iPhone, but that's not going to happen.

Any input on pay-as-you go plans, and/or the actual phones that go with them??

13 replies
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TheCakerator Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 6:33pm
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I don't really have any input on the prepaid cell phones, but I do think it's funny how all these young kids "need" this and "need" that .. my niece got a cell phone for her 11th birthday! I just can't imagine needing such high tech devices at such a young age .. when I was eleven I "needed" new roller skates and I "needed" new books to read .. hahaha .. how times have changed ....

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jen1977 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 6:44pm
post #3 of 14

I have a Net 10 phone, and I really like it. I put a 300 minute card ($30) every 60 days. I only use it if I really need to, so it works for me. You can get the cards in different amounts, and the more minutes you put on the longer they last. They also roll if you don't use them. You can get the cards at places like Wal Mart, Kroger, etc.

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adonisthegreek1 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 6:54pm
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We've gone the Pay As You Go route and the contract route. I got my daughter a Virgin Mobile (PAYG) when she was 14. The only reason that I did that is because she was playing soccer and volleyball and they usually don't have access to a phone on the field. If I wasn't at the game, I needed to be able to reach her.

With Virgin Mobile you have to add a minimum of $20 every 90 days. Each phone call cost 10 cents per minute. It's a good plan if the phone is just for emergency. If you daughter in like mine, she'll use the $20 up in a couple of days trying to show off to friends and you will be adding $20 a lot more often than every 90 days. If she has used up the $20 and you try to reach her in an emergency, the call will not go through.

Now my daughter is 17 and driving. With work and other activities we felt that she needed to be able to reach us at any time. We currently have a shared family plan and it works out great.

Since you said that your phone is through your job, I would not take out a contract for a 13 year old. If she breaks or loses the phone, you may have to pay up to $200 for a replacement or up to $300 if you want to cancel the contract. You could pay huge $ in overages if all of her friends are using her phone. Personally, I'd try to steer her towards a new iPod or something.

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CakesByJen2 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 6:58pm
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Originally Posted by TheCakerator

I don't really have any input on the prepaid cell phones, but I do think it's funny how all these young kids "need" this and "need" that .. my niece got a cell phone for her 11th birthday! I just can't imagine needing such high tech devices at such a young age .. when I was eleven I "needed" new roller skates and I "needed" new books to read .. hahaha .. how times have changed ....

I know, I think she's finally starting to learn that telling me "everyone else..." will never win the argument with me. I will say I think any girl of dating age should have a phone, for safety. Now, my dd is a ways off from that, but she on the school cross-country and track teams, and a swim team. I go to most of the meets, but sometimes I can't make it, and that's probably going to happen more often as my youngest child is getting old enough to start having his own activities. I would feel better about her having a phone when she is at meets, particularly away meets, that I can't be at, or other activities that I'm not around for, just in case.

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jjkarm Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 7:56pm
post #6 of 14

We bought our DD a pay-as-you-go phone about 9 months ago....she was 15. She's extremely busy with band: marching band, steel drum band, jazz band, percussion performing group, etc. She absolutely loves it....she's really found her nitch and is extremely talented! Anyway, needless to say she's gone a lot and a phone helps me keep in touch with her.

We told her she could have a phone and that we would by her a $100 phone card every 6 months. If she used her time up before the 6 months was over, then she'd have to buy her own time. During the first 6 months she used her time wisely and it worked really well. After we bought her the second $100 phone card it was a little different story. The second card lasted her all of 1 month! icon_eek.gificon_eek.gificon_mad.gif . But she knew we would not give in and buy her more time, so she's resolved herself to the fact that she probably won't have a phone for the next 5 months. (Lesson learned!!! shhh.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif )

However, she leaves tomorrow for a huge trip to Indianapolis for the Grand National Marching Band Competition. Since it's so far away, and she doesn't have her own phone anymore, I will let her take my phone just for safety sake.

All around it's actually been a pretty positive thing. We've been able to reinforce several teaching opportunities. And she's learned a few valuable lessons as well! thumbs_up.gif Plus it gives me peace of mind.

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ziggytarheel Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 9:20pm
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With both of our kids, we got them Tracfones when they turned 16. I'm not sure how good an option that company is now, but the idea behind any of the prepaid phones is good, I think. We paid for a certain minimum per month. Anything above that, they had to pay. My husband and I both had phones through our work and we felt as though they only needed it for emergencies or very brief calls.

When they were ready for college and wanted more, they ended up getting their own cell phone plan. We pay the equivalent of what we would pay for a prepaid phone every month and they pay all the rest. That has worked great. We haven't had to deal wtih the surprise gigantic bills.

My husband just changed jobs and has no cell phone with this job. We are thinking about a prepaid for him, since it is possible he'll get a work phone before a 2 year contract would expire. Virgin sounded great until we looked at the coverage map. Not great!

I would love to hear other ideas of good prepaid plans. I would think he would want at least 2 or 3 hours a month.

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kimkait Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:56pm
post #8 of 14

My 15 year old has at&t prepaid. It is .10/minute or for $1 a day she can talk unlimited to other at&t cell phones. Since her friends are all at&t, this works great. She also adds unlimited text for $20 a month(pays herself), and that works even when she runs out of minutes before her month is up(most of the time). The unlimited text works to any carrier.

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cmp24 Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 5:31am
post #9 of 14

For a teenager net 10 is best. It's 10 cents a min day or night, no matter who or where you call.

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Chippi Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 5:43am
post #10 of 14

We did prepaid for our daughter when she was that age and never had a problem ever. Kept us from receiving ungodly bills also. She had a virgin mobile phone. There are alot more out there these days. I am just glad we didn't have to experience alot of what her friends parents had to experience 500.00-600.00 bills!!! arghhhhhhhh


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shooterstrigger Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 12:51pm
post #11 of 14

If the phone is for emergencies only, pay as you go are great. I assume though if she needs it will be used more often. I would check and see if you have cricket phones available in your area. You don't have to sign a contract with them and they offer unlimited minutes (and text) for a standard price. What ever you decide, don't forget to take the texting into account.

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CakesByJen2 Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 1:07pm
post #12 of 14

Thanks so much for all the input! We're convinced that the pre-paid is the way to go, and have been looking over the various plans and started to narrow it down. We know we want one that displays how many minutes are left and when the service ends right on the phone; no having to call a number to find out. We know we want one that is just straight-up so much per minutes, none of this $1 a day plus 10 cents/minute. I just don't get how that could be a good deal. We are thinking we want to buy her the phone and a Wal-Mart gift card to put towards buying a big minutes package. (If we bought the whole minutes package then she wouldn't get any other gifts from us and we know she'll get cash and gift cards from other people). We would require her to always leave a minimum number of minutes available and she can buy more if she needs it.

So at least for right now, we have narrowed it down to TracFone and Net10. Net 10 is cheaper, but it bugs me that their website is not working, and I like that with TracFone you can buy the 1 year service card so you don't have to worry about adding minutes ever month or two just to keep your service going. And they have a camera phone for a good price; don't know about Net10since I can't get on their website. A friend told me they had trouble with TracFone being confusing with how they track/bill the time, something about minutes vs. units. Anybody know anything about this?

If anybody has any more specific info about the pro's and con's of these two companies, or the phones themselves, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

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costumeczar Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 11:09pm
post #13 of 14

I have tracfone and have no problems with it. You buy the minutes, so it's not units vs. minutes, I don't know what they meant by that. It tells you clearly on the phone how many minutes you have and when you need to renew the calling plan.

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jen1977 Posted 15 Nov 2008 , 12:30am
post #14 of 14

My net 10 phone works today, so the website doesn't affect it at all. I've had mine for 1 year in December, and have never had a problem with it. The phone does display how many minutes and the end date for them on the screen when you flip the phone open. They will also email you or text you a reminder of your time being up. Texting is 1/2 minute if you use it. I had a Trac phone and hated it.

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