questionsshould i switch to prepaid cell service?

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I would say it would depend on your usage, and if you can find any good prepaid plans. A lot of the prepaid companies are backed by major network companies, so the coverage is normally pretty decent.

I was able to get VZW to drop me to an unadvertised family plan for myself and my wife because we rarely use any of our minutes.

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I have TMobil prepaid - basic and I do mean basic Nokia phone (belongs in an antique shop about now) and I add 500 minutes to it on a yearly basis - more if I need if but I rarely do. When you add minutes, it picks up what you have left and adds the new purchase thereto. I do not pay for anything but the minutes, and I don't know if this is offered any longer. I had AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon over the years on contract because I was never home if my husband needed to get in touch with me. I was taking care of my father about 30 miles away and needed that type of service for all of the calls I needed to make and receive. That is no longer the case, and I decided to get rid of the contract.

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I have Virgin Mobile service. I travel all over New York and I have service everywhere I go (they use Sprint servers). My phone is the Motorola Triumph which is a decent Android phone. It does what it's supposed to with hardly any hiccups. It doesn't compare to the high end Androids out there but it is definitely good enough for me. My "plan" is unlimited text, unlimited data, and 1200 minutes for $45 a month. They also have unlimited everything for $55 a month.

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Also on Virgin Mobile and have no complaints. Kwenlu beat me to the response ;) he offered good info.

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i have straight talk. they have a plan now where you can buy a sim($14) and keep whatever phone you have. you have to use the unlimited plan if you want this option it's $45 per month. all you can eat phone, text and web. also they have an unlimited card available on walmart.com that is 3, 6, or 12 months for a percentage off the 45/month.
for me i have never come close to using all of their $30 plan (1000 minutes, 1000 text, and 30mb of web for 30 days) but i also have an oldish phone. you can search their site to see if they have a phone you like better.

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I spend about $100 a year on my Tracphone minutes. I have an LG500 android phone. I haven't had any other cell phone service, so I can't compare. But I can say that I travel all over the country and have never had any problems getting connected, even when my friend with a major provider and $200 phone can't get a connection. The downside with Tracphone is that, as far as I can tell, you have to buy ringtones and apps from them at grossly inflated prices rather than simply downloading them. But I am not at all skilled in this arena, so maybe someone who knows what they are doing could easily get around it.

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I too like @moosezilla have a straight talk phone plan, got it at Walmart. It's a simple Samsung that allows me to easily text and make calls, and I could get on the web if I needed, but I've only done it maybe 3x since having it over a year now (it's not a smartphone). I am also on the $30/mo plan and have never come close to hitting the max. Mine happens to be on AT&T's network and I have no issue with service. It's cheap and serves my phone needs.

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@moosezilla: I wish I could just pop a sim card into my iphone and use it, but Verizon locks out other carriers.

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@jcl945: You can stay on the Verizon network with the same phone at a much lower price if you switch to Page Plus. You can port your number for free and then either buy minutes cards or get on one of their monthly plans.

I made the switch 2 months ago and am really glad I did.

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Honestly I have been with Simple Mobile for a year now. I got to bring my own phone (unlocked HTC G2) which they programmed over the air. I have unlimited 3g internet for 40$ a month flat. NO taxes or surcharges. I also have free 411, unlimited messaging including international, and of course unlimited minutes. I would strongly suggest them as their customer service is in the United States and it only takes a minute or two to get a live person. Whereas, before I had page plus and waited for two hours and still no live person that was when I switched. Also had straight talk but they are in India and phone selection is horrible. Heres to recap simple mobile:
CONT.

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CONT
1) Bring any phone you want to as long as it takes a sim card.
2)Unlimited 3g, messaging, talk, 411, tethering, international text 40.00 flat a month.
3)US based customer service without long wait times
4)will program the phone you bring for free
5)NEVER dropped a call at all and only one small area in my sity where I do not have service(approx a 500ft section of road)

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@jcl945: You can sell your iphone and get one that takes a sim card and have it unlocked and go to simple mobile their website is www.mysimplemobile.com
Ive had Page Plus, Straight talk, Virgin Mobile, and now Simple Mobile.

Out of all of them Simple Mobile is the best and the cheapest with 3G data which you will need for a smartphone. IMHO

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@kwenlu: Mine is only 40 and unlimited everything as well as free 411 and unlimited international text and I also kept my number when I switched to my carrier.

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@samstag: Nut page plus data sucks...oh wait it is absolutely horrible. It is slow and there is hardly no usage allowed for the price point that you listed. According to page plus this is their best plan:

http://www.pagepluscellular.com/Plans/55%20Plan.aspx

55.00 a month and if using an android to download apps or stream anything this will not be enough at all. Simple mobile is unlimited 3g internet for 40 or unlimited 4g for 60.00
MAke the smart decision lol.

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@newgen87: I didn't link to a plan, I linked to their home page. I use prepaid minutes with no data plan. Data is free via local wireless networks.

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@samstag: But you are not going to have local wireless wherever you go. Say riding in a car down the interstate what if you wanted to stream Pandora through your car stereo?

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@newgen87: I decided that Pandora on the road isn't worth $30+ per month. I'm paying under $10 per month for voice and text and listening to mp3s in the car, like I used to do before they invented 3G.

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I use Boost mobile and have for over a year now. I have their "shrinkage" plan, where after 6 mos of paying on time, your bill drops by $5. Since plans start at $50, it's a pretty nice deal. I'm down to $40/mo for unlimited everything. You can get down to $35/mo using Shrinkage. They offer Android plans for an additional $5/month, and Blackberry plans for an additional $10/mo. They use the Sprint Network, and I've travelled up and down the East coast with zero issues (only exception is a couple of "dead" spots where NOBODY gets service). You do have to buy the phone outright, but a small initial investment ($175ish for an Android phone) pays off over time.

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Thanks everyone, you gave me some things to look at.