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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: madamwitty on June 03, 2016, 11:39:16 AM

Title: Should I keep my prepaid cell phone plan?
Post by: madamwitty on June 03, 2016, 11:39:16 AM
I have a basic flip-phone with an old T-mobile prepaid plan. I never use it because I have a "free" smartphone through work. My question is whether I should continue to purchase minutes annually on my prepaid plan to keep it active.

Here are the details:
As long as I purchase at least $10 of minutes each year, my previous minutes roll over for another year. I probably have ~500 minutes currently. I expect to retire in ~3-4 years at which point I will no longer get to use a free cell phone through work. I might go back to using this flip phone. For now, I do not use the phone and it just sits there, charging, eating electricity and taking up space...except for the random occasional telemarketer. Now that I think about it, I am not sure why I keep the phone on and charging...guess I'm worried about missing the one person who still uses this number even though I have repeatedly told her my new (work phone) number.

I heard this type of plan is not available anymore (requiring only annual purchases to keep rolling over). Is it worth it to spend the ~$30-$40 in the meantime to keep the minutes active (buying them at a pretty poor rate) to keep the plan active? Will the plan even exist in 3 years or will I end up losing all my minutes anyway?

All thoughts/comments welcome.
Title: Re: Should I keep my prepaid cell phone plan?
Post by: robartsd on June 03, 2016, 11:58:32 AM
The flip-phone itself doesn't even need to be used to use the minutes as you could take the SIM card and put it in any unlocked GSM phone that works on T-Mobile frequencies. Let's assume you'll be able to keep this plan indefinately if you choose to keep it active. What do you expect your useage to be after you quit your phone providing job? If your planned usage would be low enough for an extended period of time after you quit your job keeping the plan active for yourself could be valueable, but that value declines rapidly as the minutes you'll use each month increases.
Title: Re: Should I keep my prepaid cell phone plan?
Post by: madamwitty on June 03, 2016, 12:25:44 PM
I hadn't thought about the ability to move the sim card to another phone; that's an interesting idea. I might be interested in buying a used smartphone for note-taking and photo-taking purposes, and using cellular only for voice, not data. Is that possible?

I would probably keep my usage pretty low, maybe 10-20 minutes a month? I keep a landline at home for family usage so I could go back to doing most of my calling with that. The cell phone would be mostly for emergencies or occasional "Do you need anything from the grocery store on my way home?" type calls.

Assuming the plan doesn't get discontinued, I should probably keep it active. I suppose $10 a year isn't a world-ending amount of money to risk.

Title: Re: Should I keep my prepaid cell phone plan?
Post by: robartsd on June 03, 2016, 01:26:19 PM
Yeah, if you're probably going to keep usage low, you probably could save a bit in the long run vs. getting a new cell plan later. My wife's Android defaults to data off whenever the SIM card is changed, so I assume you should have no problem keeping data turned off if that's what you want. Unfortunately the inexpensive unlocked Android we bought for her does not seem to function very well as a phone (she's always finding that she's accidentally changed settings when she uses it next to her face and the speakerphone is practically useless).
Title: Re: Should I keep my prepaid cell phone plan?
Post by: seattlecyclone on June 03, 2016, 03:44:35 PM
I have that plan. It's true that new T-Mobile prepaid plans have different requirements (namely a $3 minimum monthly spend), which makes the grandfathered plan better for light users.

You can move the SIM card to a smartphone. I have done this. I have voice access anywhere and can use "smart" data-requiring features whenever I have WiFi, which turns out to be most of the time.

Given that you plan to only use a few minutes a month, I think it's probably a worthwhile bet to keep the plan open until you retire. They could always discontinue the plan and you would be out $40, but if they don't you'll be in good shape for the foreseeable future.