Personal computing discussed

Moderators: renee, David, mac_h8r1, Nelliesboo

 
SecretSquirrel
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Topic Author
Posts: 2722
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: North DFW suburb...
Contact:

Pre-paid mobile plans...

Tue May 28, 2013 9:44 pm

Here is the background. My mother needs a cell phone. She lives in BFE (North Arkansas) and has no coverage from any network at her house. She does however travel from time to time and has decided that having a cell phone would be a comfort and convinence when driving. The two options are:

1) Add her to my family plan. End cost would be something like $15 per month after taxes and fees.

2) Get her on a prepaid phone.

#1 I am familiar with. #2, not so much. I'm especially looking for "gotchas" to be aware of. For example, my assumption on "daily" plans, would be that an incoming wrong number or tele-marketer is going to force you to pay for that day. Same for incoming spam text messages. Expiring blocks of minutes are ok and are what she thinks of for prepaid plans anyway.

Nothing on the Sprint network (Boost, Virgin, etc). Coverage just isn't there. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile networks are all viable.

Like I said, I'm interested in gotchas and things people wish they had thought about ahead of time.

Thanks for the input.
--SS
 
ludi
Lord High Gerbil
Posts: 8639
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Tue May 28, 2013 10:12 pm

If she has no coverage at her house, can she force the provider to supply a broadband-connected microcell?
Abacus Model 2.5 | Quad-Row FX with 256 Cherry Red Slider Beads | Applewood Frame | Water Cooling by Brita Filtration
 
DancinJack
Maximum Gerbil
Posts: 4494
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Tue May 28, 2013 10:14 pm

I'd be careful with prepaid stuff. Coverage is almost always a subset of post-paid coverage. If you have a GSM phone, you could just buy a SIM, add a tiny bit of money, and try it out for a few days/week to see if the coverage is there.
i7 6700K - Z170 - 16GiB DDR4 - GTX 1080 - 512GB SSD - 256GB SSD - 500GB SSD - 3TB HDD- 27" IPS G-sync - Win10 Pro x64 - Ubuntu/Mint x64 :: 2015 13" rMBP Sierra :: Canon EOS 80D/Sony RX100
 
NovusBogus
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:37 am

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Tue May 28, 2013 11:07 pm

I use Platinumtel, the rates are pretty good and they use the T-Mobile network. Have not had any issues with dropped calls and call quality, while not great, is no worse than when I was with AT&T. It's pretty rare that I get a random call or text, though a few months ago I did get a rash of about 40 from some drug-addled geriatric fool who mistook me for her dealer (I thought about reporting it but found the whole thing rather amusing). I would shy away from the daily plan as it's generally a bad deal.
 
Arvald
Gerbil Elite
Posts: 761
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:14 pm
Location: Gerbil-land, Canada

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 11:11 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:

2) Get her on a prepaid phone.

#1 I am familiar with. #2, not so much. I'm especially looking for "gotchas" to be aware of. For example, my assumption on "daily" plans, would be that an incoming wrong number or tele-marketer is going to force you to pay for that day. Same for incoming spam text messages. Expiring blocks of minutes are ok and are what she thinks of for prepaid plans anyway.

Nothing on the Sprint network (Boost, Virgin, etc). Coverage just isn't there. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile networks are all viable.

Like I said, I'm interested in gotchas and things people wish they had thought about ahead of time.

Thanks for the input.
--SS

I am in Canada so the facts may not be quite right, but my best friend and my girlfriend have both had prepaid (with Virgin)
Prepaid is basically just like having a contract except you pay up front and it can only be 1 month at a time.
I've never heard of daily, but that could be a quirk of your carrier. I would assume if the phone is on and connects to the network you would be charged.
The better idea may be a pay as you go and make sure that the cards you put on don't expire (as long as you add a card in time your balance does not expire, I know people who have nearly $1000 on their pay as you go and converted to prepaid to use it up)
as for SPAM do you have the option of forwarding them to SPAM (7726) like we do here so you do not get charged?
 
dmjifn
Gerbil First Class
Posts: 103
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 4:21 pm
Location: Indianapolis

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 12:44 pm

If minimizing cost isn't a concern, and you don't need to worry about separating accounts for some reason, I'd consider just adding her to your plan with a quality phone.

I do have some experience with TMO's prepaid minutes-only plans, though, and I can tell you how that went. In 2009, I bought a $35 prepaid flip phone from TMO. I bought a block of 1000 min and nursed that with annual 30 min refills for 4 full years. Given that refill cards used to be available for a decent discount (without ebay scams), this all cost me about $3 / mo. I mostly used it for emergencies and those "I'm here - where are you?" calls, though. I found the whole thing very easy to manage and monitor. That downside was that coverage seriously sucked when I traveled. Also, the $ / minute is pretty poor if you're a big talker. As for the phone itself, reception was typically adequate. It didn't have a lot of features and tended to overestimate the amount of battery remaining, which was a problem a couple times. Seriously, those were the only gotchas. I would do it again if I needed a non-smartphone, but maybe try a carrier with better rural coverage.

When you do this, I'd consider the quality of phone and your mom's likely habits in addition to coverage and plan type. By habits - is she likely to lose the phone? Will she keep it charged? Is she likely to decide it's super duper awesome and want a smart phone with a data plan right after you commit to a minutes-only plan? Etc.
 
dmjifn
Gerbil First Class
Posts: 103
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 4:21 pm
Location: Indianapolis

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 12:58 pm

Something else I almost forgot! Speaking of spam texts, it took several months before calls stopped coming in for the number's previous owner. Mostly debt collectors, but also a couple calling services (their pharmacy, their kids school) who couldn't figure out how to remove the number from their system. Another downside of a low-cost prepaid provider, I suppose.
 
Ryhadar
Gerbil XP
Posts: 463
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:51 pm

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 2:42 pm

I highly recommend T-Mobile pay as you go. My girlfriend and I used it pretty extensively in college as we didn't use a lot of minutes and didn't want to pay for a full plan (I think $30 gets you 150 minutes, so you can see how little we actually used it for talking).

I imagine your mother would just be using the cell phone for emergencies/light chatting? If you get the T-mobile pay as you go the minutes last 3 months after you pay for them too, so she wouldn't necessarily have to worry about paying out of pocket every month. You can pay through the phone too so as long as she has a credit/debit card. If it runs out of minutes she can refill it on the go. I believe you just dial *233 from the phone. If I remember correctly, they'll send you a text when your minutes are about to expire.

After looking at their pay as you go plans it looks like they start at $10 per month for 30 minutes.
 
cliff
Gerbil In Training
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:25 pm

T-Mobile

Wed May 29, 2013 4:37 pm

For $100 you can get 1000 pre-paid minutes. These are good for one full year. If you add $10 or so before the year is up, you can keep all your remaining minutes plus the new minutes for the year following that refresh date. You can do this indefinitely. The last I looked, the basic phones (no text for the ones I'm familiar with) are very inexpensive but have great voice quality and battery life.
 
Captain Ned
Global Moderator
Posts: 28422
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 4:51 pm

Contrarian here. Mother-in-Law was added to my plan several years ago and given a "stupid-phone" (Seriously. No contacts with multiple numbers, i.e. I'm 3 contacts; home, work, & cell). Costs me $10/mo plus what the gov't collects and it's the best $10 I ever spent. Phone can't text or Web; both would be useless to an 80-YO. She uses it as her free long distance to keep up with the dwindling circle of friends & family. I already had more than enough minutes to add her and, in fact, she's the largest consumer of minutes on the plan.

Did I say that when she decided to quit driving last month she gifted us her car for my 15YO's first car? Yeah, $10/mo is cheap for a mint 2002 Honda Accord with 44K miles (and some serious old lady smell).
What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
SecretSquirrel
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Topic Author
Posts: 2722
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: North DFW suburb...
Contact:

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 7:03 pm

Usage would be emergencies and scheduling/coordination type stuff when she goes into town. Sounds quaint, but in reality, if she is somewhere were she has a cell signal more than 4-5 times a month, that would be unusual. However, I can certainly see where the daily plans could turn into not such a good deal especially when she does travel -- perhaps two or three times a year. In those cases, she could be spending a week in the "civilized world" and that alone could kill any savings from the light usage the rest of the year.

Adding her to my family plan is certainly the most well defined. I already have unlimited texting for all lines and she would not have a data plan, so it really would be $9.99 + taxes and fees. The T-Mobile "recharge" hint is nice to know though. T-mobile is slightly cheaper for the plan, however I would have to buy a phone which would negate the difference for the first year. If I add her to my plan, I have access to what limited "feature phones" AT&T has, plus the old phone drawer we have at the house.

So given that it looks like T-Mobile pre-paid or AT&T family plan, I'll just give her the options and let her choose.

--SS
 
Captain Ned
Global Moderator
Posts: 28422
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 7:16 pm

SecretSquirrel wrote:
Sounds quaint, but in reality, if she is somewhere were she has a cell signal more than 4-5 times a month, that would be unusual.

That's the New England/Northeast in me, where at this point 4 bars is taken as an attribute of birth.
What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
DancinJack
Maximum Gerbil
Posts: 4494
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 7:36 pm

ATT is going to have better rural coverage than TMobile in almost every case. I'd pick the 10 dollar add on, of the two you've narrowed it down to.
i7 6700K - Z170 - 16GiB DDR4 - GTX 1080 - 512GB SSD - 256GB SSD - 500GB SSD - 3TB HDD- 27" IPS G-sync - Win10 Pro x64 - Ubuntu/Mint x64 :: 2015 13" rMBP Sierra :: Canon EOS 80D/Sony RX100
 
AntiSp4wn
Gerbil
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:06 pm

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Wed May 29, 2013 8:52 pm

Your best bet is probably going to be an AT&T prepaid. They have 10 cent/minute plans, no daily charges, or $2 unlimited daily only on the days you use it. And their coverage is going to almost surely beat t-mobile in rural areas.
 
Dizik
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
Posts: 3054
Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 3:57 pm

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Fri May 31, 2013 1:42 pm

How about StraightTalk using an AT&T SIM?
Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn't work, you can always hit them with it.
 
derFunkenstein
Gerbil God
Posts: 25404
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:13 pm
Location: Comin' to you directly from the Mothership

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Fri May 31, 2013 3:03 pm

If there's no coverage at home, why not go with a UMA-capable T-Mobile phone? Wifi calling works on their prepaid plans. Even their cheapest Android phones will support it, but if you really LOVE her, you'll get her a semi-decent phone like the LG Optimus L9. Jelly Bean on a qHD screen with a dual-core processor for $200 at Wal-Mart.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Twittering away the day at @TVsBen
 
SecretSquirrel
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Topic Author
Posts: 2722
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: North DFW suburb...
Contact:

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:11 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
If there's no coverage at home, why not go with a UMA-capable T-Mobile phone? Wifi calling works on their prepaid plans. Even their cheapest Android phones will support it, but if you really LOVE her, you'll get her a semi-decent phone like the LG Optimus L9. Jelly Bean on a qHD screen with a dual-core processor for $200 at Wal-Mart.


No, I won't. She is entirely clueless when it comes to technology and getting her such a device would only result in me no longer speaking to her after the daily calls for tech support. It took me years to get her to stop asking "left or right button" after I said "click on ...". She can write down exact steps on how to do something and then not be able to follow them two days later. The last thing she needs is a smart phone. Even texting will be beyond her. She won't program numbers into the phone's phone book - she carries her phone number list with her.

The thing is, she doesn't want a cell phone to talk on. She wants a cell phone because there are no longer pay phones anywhere. She wants a cell phone for roadside emergencies and for unexpected delays and such. She has no desire to be constantly connected and always on. She checks her email once in the morning and once at night and that is because she will get business orders via email on occasion.

I've pretty much settled on the AT&T family plan option. It has the potential to be slightly more expensive, by perhaps $20 a year, when all is said and done, but she will have much harder time incurring overages or unexpected expenses.

--SS
 
Captain Ned
Global Moderator
Posts: 28422
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:34 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:
No, I won't. She is entirely clueless when it comes to technology and getting her such a device would only result in me no longer speaking to her after the daily calls for tech support. It took me years to get her to stop asking "left or right button" after I said "click on ...". She can write down exact steps on how to do something and then not be able to follow them two days later. The last thing she needs is a smart phone. Even texting will be beyond her. She won't program numbers into the phone's phone book - she carries her phone number list with her.

Did you kidnap my mother-in-law?
What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
DancinJack
Maximum Gerbil
Posts: 4494
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:50 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
SecretSquirrel wrote:
No, I won't. She is entirely clueless when it comes to technology and getting her such a device would only result in me no longer speaking to her after the daily calls for tech support. It took me years to get her to stop asking "left or right button" after I said "click on ...". She can write down exact steps on how to do something and then not be able to follow them two days later. The last thing she needs is a smart phone. Even texting will be beyond her. She won't program numbers into the phone's phone book - she carries her phone number list with her.

Did you kidnap my mother-in-law?


Any mother-in-law, for the most part.
i7 6700K - Z170 - 16GiB DDR4 - GTX 1080 - 512GB SSD - 256GB SSD - 500GB SSD - 3TB HDD- 27" IPS G-sync - Win10 Pro x64 - Ubuntu/Mint x64 :: 2015 13" rMBP Sierra :: Canon EOS 80D/Sony RX100
 
yokem55
Gerbil
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2002 7:00 pm

Re: Pre-paid mobile plans...

Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:58 pm

Page Plus is a fantastic option for prepaid if a basic/dumb phone is all you need. $80 gets you 2000 minutes that are good for a year. You get Verizon coverage (arguably the best coverage for rural areas) with the option to roam on sprint towers if need be at 30 cents/minute, and pretty much any Verizon 3G phone (4G phones can be made to work, but require some third party flashing) will activate over the air.

Now, you probably won't want to work directly with Page Plus, but a dealer like kittywireless.com would be great at getting you going.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest
GZIP: On