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

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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • UK (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @12:56PM (#42707927)

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

  • 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.

  • 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)

    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?

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

    by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:19PM (#42708163)

    It's $50 a month for unlimited talk/text and you're still stuck paying for data (included in the price) even if you never use it. I've been wondering the same thing as the author and I still haven't found it. Not everyone needs mobile data.

    Bah. Just sign up for Walmart Family Mobile. You still get T-mobile service and its $45 for unlimited everything. Well, they cap your 3G data, but you can get unlimited edge after you hit the cap. And I rarely hit the cap anyway.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:11PM (#42708567)

    CDMA (though not LTE) phones in the US don't have SIM cards. Look anywhere you like for confirmation. Those that do have SIM cards are almost all carrier-locked.

    You want a GSM service provider if you want to use a SIM card. That is mainly going to limit you to AT&T, T-Mobile, and a few minor prepaid carriers. You can order just a SIM card through these companies if you're going to do pre-paid. They can be had for $1-$10 online.

    GSM is the way to go if you want to have a phone not locked to a specific provider. It also lets you use a different provider just by switching SIM cards. If you want to be able to do that, you need to have an unlocked phone. If you get one through a carrier, it's going to be locked to that carrier. Technically the provider may unlock your phone for you if you meet certain criteria, but in practice they are not very cooperative about doing it. Unlocking the phone yourself was legal in the US until a few days ago. If you want a phone you can easily swap to another carrier, you can search for unlocked phones on Amazon, there's a pretty good selection, but obviously you're going to pay full price for the phone.

  • Re:A SIM only plan? (Score:5, Informative)

    by OAB_X ( 818333 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:25PM (#42708693)

    The parent AC is mostly incorrect. The major telecoms only emphasise post-paid plans, but do have pre-paid available without the need to purchase a phone. They don't want to sell them to you however, and will only tell you about pre-paid if you visit their website or ask them specifically.

    In Canada there a dozen or so MVNO's, most of whom operate on a pre-paid model in addition to the 'big three' incumbent companies. Each of the 'big three' providers (Rogers, Bell, Telus) owns one or two MVNO's. Rogers has Fido and Chatr, Bell has Virgin and Telus has Koodo. There are also several highly regional carriers (SaskTel, MTS, Lynx, TBayTel, ICE Wireless, etc.) that offer services where the 'Big 3' do not operate (Northern Quebec, Northwest Territories, Northern Ontario, etc.).

    All that being said, there is only one major GSM network, the Rogers/Fido network. Thus, (until 2008/2009) only Rogers/Fido were offering pre-paid plans you could use with a GSM phone. Telus and Bell were CDMA. In the last few years Telus and Bell have built their own HSPA+ network. Now that they have a network that takes SIM cards, all three of the major players are offering inexpensive pre-paid SIM cards, with fairly expensive per-minute rates (40c/minute, unless you get a pre-paid 'plan'. Some of the plans are even 'free' if you top up frequently enough).

    Further muddying the waters is the fact that most of the MVNOs don't specialise in pre-paid 'long distance' rates or pre-paid 'local' rates. Part of this is because of foreign ownership restrictions. These have been recently eased, but are still tighter than most other countries. Canada is also extremely large, with a small population. Canada is the size of Europe, with 10x fewer people. England, is approximately the same size as Southern Ontario (130,000km^2), but England has 50,000,000 people and Southern Ontario has 12,000,000. Let us not forget that a large part is because the owners of the networks don't want to give anyone a better deal than they give their own customers, at least not appreciably.

    All that being said, the 'big three' all offer prepaid SIMs for $10-$20 dollars, so do most of their sub brands. The MVNOs Petro-Canada Mobility and 7-11 'Speak out' wireless are reasonably easy to find and offer prepaid services depending on where you are visiting.

    Rogers Wireless - http://www.rogers.com/web/content/wireless-products/plans#,Tabset1--4 [rogers.com]
    Telus Mobility - http://www.telusmobility.com/en/ON/prepaid/rate-plans.shtml [telusmobility.com]
    Bell Mobility - http://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Cell_phone_plans/Prepaid_plans [www.bell.ca]

    Big three 'sub brands' (frequently with regional restrictions ie: major cities):
    Virgin Mobile - Bell Mobility - http://www.virginmobile.ca/en/plans/prepaid-talktext-plans.html?itcid=NAV:58 [virginmobile.ca]
    Koodo - Telus Mobility - http://koodomobile.com/en/on/plansandboosters.shtml [koodomobile.com]
    Fido - Rogers Wireless - http://www.fido.ca/web/page/portal/Fido/PrepaidPlans?forwardTo=prepaidPlans [www.fido.ca]
    Chatr - Rogers Wireless - http://www.chatrwireless.com/web/chatr.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PlanBrowse [chatrwireless.com]

    Regional Operators:
    Sasktel - http://www.sasktel.com/personal/mobility/prepaid/index.html [sasktel.com]
    MTS - http://www.mts.ca/mts/personal/wireless/mts+prepaid+wireless [www.mts.ca] ... etc.

    Independent MVNOs:
    Petro Canada Mobility - (Rogers Network) -

  • 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.

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