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Ask Slashdot: Best Pay-as-You-Go Plan For Text and Voice Only? 246

Posted by timothy
from the sticking-things-places dept.
sconeu writes "My wife uses an assistive communication device. She wants to use it for SMS texting... We currently have Verizon, so we don't have a SIM. The computer will take a SIM. I'm looking for a pay-as-you-go plan where I can take the SIM from a cheap phone and put it in her computer. Any suggestions?" It would be interesting to hear how this question would be best answered both in the U.S. and around the world.
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Ask Slashdot: Best Pay-as-You-Go Plan For Text and Voice Only?

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  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @12:53PM (#42707893)

    Local sims are better for roaming as the costs are VERY HIGH.

  • StraightTalk (Score:5, Informative)

    by jhaygood86 (912371) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @12:55PM (#42707909)
    StraightTalk has a program just for this called StraightTalk SIM. It's $30/mo for 1000 minutes / 1000 texts or $45 for unlimited.
    • Re:StraightTalk (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:02PM (#42708495)

      StraightTalk has a program just for this called StraightTalk SIM. It's $30/mo for 1000 minutes / 1000 texts or $45 for unlimited.

      I work at Walmart and sell a lot of straight talk phones to people, and have activated many "bring your own hardware" plans with the straight talk SIM card, and you can NOT use the $30 a month plan with it, you can only use the thirty dollar plan with the dumbphones with the SIM card locked to the phone serial number that it came with.

      If you're using a straight talk SIM with an unlocked device you can only use the $45 plan, and if you use more than 100-150 MB a day or more than 2GB in a month your service WILL be turned off, without warning or refund.

      • by cparker15 (779546)

        I just got the T-mobile SIM through Straight Talk a couple days ago. I'm very pleased. I switched from T-mobile's $50 prepaid plan because it throttles you to 2G after 100 MB. I was unaware of this restriction on Straight Talk's plans... considering they advertise unlimited data with no restrictions.

        If I'm streaming music (which I often do) I go well over these amounts. I fully expect to now pretty regularly now that I've got my Ingress invite.

        I'll let you know what my experience is like.

      • by gooman (709147)

        "I work at Walmart..."

        You have my deepest sympathy.

      • If straighttalk ever cuts me off for going over supposed "limits" I'll fucking Sue their ass. Their website says "UNLIMITED" for mobile web, with no * beside it detailing "UNLIMITED execption". If you can point me where those limits are issued, contractually, I'd love to know.

        Additionally, you can get convert a feature phone over to ST if you need a sim.

        What you're seeing is people who are using Verizon CDMA phones, which ST also carries service for, which do not have a SIM card what so ever.

        Yeah, there is

  • T-mobile (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kotoku (1531373) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @12:55PM (#42707913) Journal
    T-Mobile will sell you a SIM only (No Need To Buy A phone) for pay-as-you-go and is a pretty cheap option. Otherwise, many of the pay-as-you-go providers are CDMA based, But for SMS anyone should do.
    • Re:T-mobile (Score:5, Informative)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:08PM (#42708053)

      T-Mobile will sell you a SIM only (No Need To Buy A phone) for pay-as-you-go and is a pretty cheap option.

      I use T-mobile and when it works it works great. When I decided on them several years ago they were the ones that met my requirements (GSM, unlocked phones, true pre-pay and not monthly contracts). Buying in bulk I get $100 for 1000 minutes, and they don't expire for a year, and I typically use no more than 2000 minutes a year so it is way cheaper than a contract and I hardly ever text anyway (and I also reserve my data usage for when I am in front of a dedicated computer). However I do encounter quite a few dead spots with the network (including my own home), especially once you get away from the more populated areas where it is more a case of dead regions than dead spots. So you need to balance out your particular requirements with the downsides.

    • Re:T-mobile (Score:5, Informative)

      by slashkitty (21637) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:06PM (#42708541) Homepage
      I'll second the T-Mobile option. If you don't send a lot of messages, it's insanely cheap to keep the service activated.. $100 for 1000 messages lasts 1 year... $10 per year after that to keep service active. $1 to buy the sim card with 10 minutes to start to test out.
      • I will third the T-mobile option.

        When I was looking to get a cell phone years ago, I was so afraid of the 2 year contracts with ETF's and monthly rates that didn't match up with my meager (at the time) usage habits. I looked through a number of the pay as you go plans, and T-Mobile seemed the most reasonable. A number of the others had per minute/text costs in excess of 20 cents a minute.

        T-Mobile is 10cents a minute/text if you fill up at the $100 rate, and you don't have to worry about the minutes ex
    • My T-Mobile Prepaid plan: 10 cents/min for voice, 20 cents/text.

  • UK (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    UK Giffgaff.
    Free giffgaff-to-giffgaff texts/calls given £5 top-up every few months.
    Otherwise 6p/text, 10p/min.

  • by tanveer1979 (530624) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @12:59PM (#42707955) Homepage Journal

    But in India you have a choice of

    GSM prepaird SIM
    GSM postpaid SIM
    CDMA prepaid
    CDMA postpaid

    CDMA network is rare though, India is primarily GSM country.
    Depending upon whether you want lots of free minutes, you have your "packs" and packages.

    Other countries where I have used this is Thailand, where some 200rs equivalent in Indian rupee(4 USD) got me data which was enough for daily skype call for 7 days. Some kind of 15 day unlimited data on GPRS and 3G thing.

    As an international traveller, all you need is an unlocked GSM phone. If you need micro sim card, buy a sim card, and cut it yourself with a sim cutter(costs 120 INR(2.2$). Shops will cut it for you for 1$ equivalent.

  • Ting! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bziman (223162) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:14PM (#42708113) Homepage Journal

    Check out Ting [ting.com]. Brought to you by Tucows. They run on Sprint's CDMA/4G LTE network. I have voice, text messaging, AND data, and I'm paying less than $30 a month (no contracts) - less than half what I was on with Sprint.

    Each component is priced separately, and you only pay for what you use - they automatically move you to the correct service level for each part at the end of each month.

    They have awesome tech support - they actually turn off their hold system during the day, and the phone rings until a human picks up the phone... and then the person you talk to actually KNOWS something, not just follows a script.

    The only "catch" is that you have to buy your phone - but honestly the "free phone" nonsense from other providers is just a way to rope you into a contract where you pay ten times the cost of the phone over the life of the contract.

    Check them out!

    (Disclaimer: Yeah, I get a discount if you use that link to sign up, but go ahead, they're freakin' awesome.)

    • by bziman (223162)

      Right, but you need a SIM card... somehow missed that part. But you don't actually need a cell phone contract for that - you can send and receive e-mail using SMS. Check out Email to SMS [makeuseof.com]. Basically, you use the e-mail address associated with their phone number to send a text message. They text back, and you get an e-mail. And if you need mobile Internet, Ting does allow tethering, and sells mobile hotspots. See, I'm on topic!

    • by pesho (843750)
      Ting is great (I am with them), bit it is not going to work in this specific case. They need a SIM that can be plugged in the laptop or be exchanged between the laptop and the phone. From the original post it looks like they may be traveling outside US and want to have the option to stick a local SIM to avoid roaming charges. This is not going to work with Ting. Ting is using not only the Sprint network but also Sprint phones (complete with the Sprint logo). These are locked down in chains buried in concret
      • Modup. Ting is fantastic for what they do (very low priced usage-based plans) but it's too heavily locked into Sprint for what the article submitter wants. It's basically Sprint opening up their network to capture more price-sensitive customers, but still retains the downside of ESNs. My Galaxy III bill is about $12/mo for text + voice, but to me it's worth the trade-off because I don't use much capacity.

        One of the nicest things about Ting (and other MVNOs) is that it puts pressure on At&t, Verizon a

      • by sconeu (64226)

        No, we're not going to be travelling. She just wants to be able to talk and text with friends and family, and she can no longer use her traditional phone for that.

        If we were on a T-Mobile or AT&T plan, I'd just swap the SIM, but because we're VZW, I need to buy a SIM and a cheap plan.

    • by CNeb96 (60366)

      How much are the repeated monthly fee's on top of the $6 if you didn't use any minutes, texts, data, etc?

      • by pesho (843750)
        This is for two devices: Fed USF Cellular $1.08 E911 Tax (Wireless) $6.00 FCC Regulatory Fee (Wireless) $0.03 Some of these fees may depend on the usage. E911 depends on the state and is usually $3 per device.
    • Mod up -- we're with them too, quite good provider
  • A SIM only plan? (Score:4, Informative)

    by NoNeeeed (157503) <slash AT paulleader DOT co DOT uk> on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:14PM (#42708117) Homepage

    Here in the UK (and Europe in general) cheap SIM-only plans are numerous, offered by both the major operators and the large number of "virtual" operators (known as MVNOs) who piggy-back on the actual network operators.

    No need to buy a cheap phone and remove the SIM, they just pop the SIM in the post, or you can buy them at any mobile phone shop.

    There's normally no (or very little) upfront cost. They are available as both pay-as-you-go and contract. Some will offer data, others will be just for voice and text.

    Do you not have such things in the US?

    • The situation is bascially exactly the same in Japan. au, SoftBank and DoCoMo all have their own pay as you go data-only plans as well as unlimited, and piggy back providers like B-Mobile an E-Mobile have plans like first 2GB at 3G speed each month and after that 128kb but still unlimited for the price of a fancy coffee.

  • https://ting.com/plans [ting.com]

    It's a pay as you go, and as far as SMS, rather cheap. I've used them for a while now, and absolutely love 'em. On low usage months, I pay a minimal amount, more then making up for those few high usage months.

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:28PM (#42708237) Journal
    You can send text messages to e-mail addresses and vice-versa (see here [lifehacker.com] ), then get a cheap phone from Tracfone or something for voice service if she is able to use a phone for talking. I have my wife set up with a phone that gets triple minutes on the family value plan for $10 [tracfone.com] . She gets 150 minutes, which roll over from month-to-month. She almost never uses all of them, so this works out quite well for us.
  • by slimak (593319) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:41PM (#42708361)

    Wife and I recently signed up for Simple Mobile. It works with TMobile or unlocked GSM phones and is $40 for unlimited talk/text/data (ok, data is probably not really unlimited, but enough for my basic needs). I've only had about 10 days but seems fine. I also found that I can buy the plan online (I used a place called pinzoo) and then avoid tax. May not be best for you since you really only want texting.

    • I'm about 6 months in with SImple Mobile, and it has been perfectly fine so far. I bought my SM SIM for about a dollar on eBay, for use with an unlocked Android phone. I've had no trouble, and can tether to my laptop (only done it a few times, but it works in a pinch). $40/month is pretty darned good if you get decent T-Mobile service where you need it, which I do. HSPA+ (T-Mobile's so-called 4G, or 3.5G) is plenty fast for me at the moment, though I rarely exceed a few hundred MB of data in a month. I woul
  • "assistive communication device" sounds like a disability. If so you should speak to the providers yourself as they typically offer better deals for people with a disability. Case and point, I am deaf and with both AT&T and now Sprint I don't pay what a hearing person would pay and get a good deal. I don't know if that is a disability for sure for you since you didn't elaborate and I'm on a plan instead of pay as you go but it's worth it to talk to these companies and ask for the specialists in this are
  • by Foresto (127767) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:47PM (#42708833) Homepage

    http://www.howardforums.com/showwiki.php?title=General+Prepaid+Wiki:Prepaid+Rate+Plan+Comparison [howardforums.com]

    T-Mobile still offers their "unlimited web & text with 100 minutes talk" plan through their web site. It was originally a Wal-Mart plan. I've been quite happy with it. Never needed more than 100 minutes, but if I do, it's only 10 cents per extra minute.

    http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/monthly-4g-plans [t-mobile.com]

    I get my prepaid refills from third party web sites that offer them at a slight discount. For example, $30 of refill value for $29.70 (or less with a coupon code). Here's one:

    https://www.callingmart.com/ [callingmart.com]

    It's worth noting that, unlike most postpaid/contract plans, there are no additional tariffs or other fees to push a $30 plan up to $35 or so. I really do pay less than $30 per month.

  • I thought I'd be a bit more specific ....

    My wife has ALS, and cannot use her hands, and has difficulty speaking. She uses a Tobii C15 with EyeGaze [tobiiati.com] for speaking. Her computer also allows her to use it as a phone for voice (the voice output can be routed through the internal SIM) and SMS.

    I appreciate all the thoughtful suggestions. Coverage is not an issue for me, as I live in Los Angeles. I may go with the T-Mobile $15 unlimited text thing. However I am reconsidering some stuff... because it's very slo

  • Well, since the submission asks: I have this plan where the monthly fee is 66 cents, I can speak up to 24 hours a day and it'll cost me max. 1 euro -- ie. if I spoke 24 hours a day for the whole month it'd still cost a maximum of 30 euros + the 66 cents in monthly fees -- and I also have an extra 3G - service with no speed or data caps whatsoever and the extra costs 13.90 euro a month. Oh, and I can drop either the 3G - service or the whole plan whenever I wish to. SMS - messages cost 6.65 cents per message

  • 100 Minutes, 100 Texts and 400MB of data per month for free: http://ovivomobile.com/12/our-offer/the-ovivo-smartphone-tariff/ [ovivomobile.com]

    It costs £10 to get your sim card from them but you get £10 worth of credit for any calls or data you use beyond the free ones.
  • Have you looked at plans designed for this? From AT&T "AT&T is pleased to offer our Text Accessibility Plans (TAP). TAP was developed for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have difficulty speaking." http://relayservices.att.com/content/225/Text_Accessibility_Plan_TAP.html [att.com]

  • Is an MVNO of Verizon that will work with the phone you already have. How does 39.95 a month for unlimited talk and text or 29.95 a month for 1200 minutes and 3000 texts sound?
  • Everyone else which supports SIM-based (read: GSM band) Pay As You Go is a reseller of one of these:

    T-Mobile
    AT&T

    If you are talking about a CSIM rather than a SIM (you have Verizon with no "SIM", so I assume you are talking one of the standard WWAN cards in the device, which means they won't take a CSIM anyway), then there's:

    Sprint
    Verizon
    TracFone

    While there are a couple other CDMA carriers, they force you to take data plans. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_wireless_communicat [wikipedia.org]

  • Basically pay-as-you-go using the Sprint network. Requires a CDMA phone, but you get 5c a minute, 2c a text, 10c a megabyte. They frequently run deals and they have monthly plans too.

    The paygo plan has no contract, there is no conversion from money to minutes, and you can use your own phone (if it's unlocked). It's the cheapest pay-as-you-go option I've seen and from using them, I haven't had any problems with their service.

    http://www.platinumtel.com/

    (Apparently they changed things this year, they now also
    • Based on how much you use your phone it's possible to simply have a working cellphone for around $7 a month taking into account how long the phone remains active for and the cheapest plan.
  • 8ta is possibly your best bet, however 3g data coverage is spotty outside the major metros. When you do get coverage, expect over 5 megabits/sec. Pay-as-you-go data costs are pretty high, but a R300/month 2-year contract gets you 20gb/mo, or you can just buy their whopper 60+60gb bundle for R1800. Voice coverage is good.

    Voda will demand your firstborn -- they're rather pricey.

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