Author Topic: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan  (Read 8285 times)

beltim

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I've been doing some research on what the best way to keep a cell phone number active with minimal usage and I wanted to get feedback from the group as well as see if there's anything I'm missing.  This is useful if, for example, one is slow-traveling overseas, or moving abroad for a year or two, but wants to keep their cell phone number.  An internet search suggests porting to VoIP, but that eliminates the ability to use the number as a cell phone if you travel back to the US.  The priority then is minimizing costs while maximizing the time before your stored value expires.  I think this pretty much eliminates any postpaid plan, and any plan that includes anything every month.  So, using I.P. Daley's Superguide, I have a few data points:
  • Airvoice:
    $10 cards expire after 90 days, so it would be ~$40 per year to keep active.  $20 cards expire after 120 days and $30 cards expire after 150 days.

    Puretalk: 
    It looks like the minimum plan is $10 / month.

    Ting:
    Plan minimum of $6 / month, plus taxes and fees.

    Consumer Cellular:
    Minimum plan is $10 / month.

    Virgin Mobile:
    Is the lowest plan really $20 per month?  That's the cheapest I could find on their "payLo plan."

    EcoMobile:
    The smallest refill I saw was $10, and it expired after 30 days.

    H2O Wireless:
    Smallest refill is $10, expires after 90 days, also has $100 refill that lasts 1 year.

    AT&T GoPhone looks like there's a $10/month or $100/year minimum, although this isn't terribly clear and I'm not positive about it.

Based on these results, it looks like AirVoice and H2O wireless have the best options at $10 for a card lasting 3 months.  Anyone know of any better solutions?

Lake161

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2016, 11:15:43 AM »
I transferred my number to Google Voice for about $20 before heading overseas.  When I get back later this year I will just forward the number from GVoice to my new phone. And if we go overseas again, the number will keep working for voicemail or receiving VOIP calls

beltim

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2016, 12:48:44 PM »
I transferred my number to Google Voice for about $20 before heading overseas.  When I get back later this year I will just forward the number from GVoice to my new phone. And if we go overseas again, the number will keep working for voicemail or receiving VOIP calls

Google Voice is a good suggestion.  Can you answer calls on Google Voice while abroad?  I'm having trouble finding good information from Google without watching dozens of videos.

Also, this has the drawback of not being able to use your cell phone as a cell phone if you traveled to the US without porting your number multiple times, right?

elaine amj

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Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2016, 02:38:16 PM »
Truphone. It never expires. 9cents talk, 9 cents text, 9 cents MB. Only caveat - u have to use it once every few months to keep it active. I love that no topups are required. Also works in the UK if thats where u are going. Forget what the other "Truphone countries" are.

We travel to the Us occasionally and I found that to be the cheapest for our needs - about $20-30/yr.


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« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 02:39:47 PM by elaine amj »

WFUDEAC

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2016, 04:48:56 PM »
We got Ooma to keep our old landline. It's a one-time cost of $99 for the device, then you just pay the monthly 911 taxes for the basic service (about $4/mo).

beltim

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2016, 05:18:57 PM »
Truphone. It never expires. 9cents talk, 9 cents text, 9 cents MB. Only caveat - u have to use it once every few months to keep it active. I love that no topups are required. Also works in the UK if thats where u are going. Forget what the other "Truphone countries" are.

We travel to the Us occasionally and I found that to be the cheapest for our needs - about $20-30/yr.

Nice!  Thanks for the lead.

beltim

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2016, 05:21:39 PM »
We got Ooma to keep our old landline. It's a one-time cost of $99 for the device, then you just pay the monthly 911 taxes for the basic service (about $4/mo).

Ooma's web site says it only offers free home phone service in the United States, so I don't think this meets the requirements.

LifestyleDeflation

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2016, 05:32:45 PM »
Google Voice is fantastic. You can make and receive free calls to/from US numbers from anywhere in the world you have a data connection for your computer or smartphone. I run a seasonal business and use it as my only phone plan about 9 months a year. Then I buy a 3 month minutes card for my TracFone (cue I.P. Daley telling me how bad they are) that my staff use to contact me in emergencies in the very low chance that I'm not connected to a wifi network.

Thanks to GV, I've spent less than $120 total on phones & service since July 2013.

ETA: In case you aren't already aware, you can make 911 calls from any phone even without a real plan.

beltim

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2016, 05:38:32 PM »
Google Voice is fantastic. You can make and receive free calls to/from US numbers from anywhere in the world you have a data connection for your computer or smartphone. I run a seasonal business and use it as my only phone plan about 9 months a year. Then I buy a 3 month minutes card for my TracFone (cue I.P. Daley telling me how bad they are) that my staff use to contact me in emergencies in the very low chance that I'm not connected to a wifi network.

Do you have the same number for your TracFone and Google Voice, or do you need to do call forwarding from one or the other?

bluecollarmusician

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2016, 05:46:32 PM »
What about ringplus?  Free with data every month...haven't had a cell phone bill this year and wife and I both use it all the time....

bluecollarmusician

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2016, 05:47:35 PM »
Btw also use google voice and it works very well.

LifestyleDeflation

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2016, 06:21:09 PM »
Google Voice is fantastic. You can make and receive free calls to/from US numbers from anywhere in the world you have a data connection for your computer or smartphone. I run a seasonal business and use it as my only phone plan about 9 months a year. Then I buy a 3 month minutes card for my TracFone (cue I.P. Daley telling me how bad they are) that my staff use to contact me in emergencies in the very low chance that I'm not connected to a wifi network.

Do you have the same number for your TracFone and Google Voice, or do you need to do call forwarding from one or the other?

I have a phone number for each. I could set my GV number to forward if I needed to, but I prefer to keep them separate. My staff know to call the "emergency number" if they have a time-sensitive emergency. I like setting things up that way because even without a phone plan I spend way too much time on my phone, so everything I can do to disconnect (in this case limiting the number of calls I receive without wifi) is a good thing.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Lowest Cost Way to Keep Phone Number / Minimal Phone Usage Plan
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2016, 08:50:50 PM »
T-Mobile's Pay As You Go plan is $3/month for the first 30 minutes, which is slightly cheaper on a monthly basis than the plans that have $10 refills that you need to load up every 90 days. It might win out on convenience too if they'll let you buy a $50 refill once and not need to worry about it until the credit runs out (I don't know if this is true or not because I have an older version of that plan where you need to refill at least once a year to keep your number active).