Good Prepaid Cellphone for Austin, Tx?
November 15, 2009 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Hey there, I hate dealing with credit cards, signing contracts. Need a good simple and reliable Prepaid cell phone.

Hope you folks are having a great weekend...

I am thinking about finally getting a prepaid cellphone.
It's going to be mainly for business purposes. Going to use it in moderation.

A few questions:
1. Voice mail. I need it to have a reliable voice mail service. To be able to customize it with my voice.
2. What happens If I brake it, lose it, it gets stolen? Would I be able somehow to get the same number again?
3. Google Voice - Is any body uses that? Could it work for me?
4. Good/Bad experiences with providers in the area?
5. Other ideas?

Thank you in advance and have a great day,
posted by Sentus to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
T-Mobile has just launched a new no-contract set of plans including unlimited minutes at $49.99. You might want to look into that. They are subject to number portability rules and you wouldn't need to lose your number if you lost your phone or switched carriers later. I've been happy with them as my carrier, but I'm not in Austin, so YMMV.
posted by notashroom at 1:20 PM on November 15, 2009

1. Every prepaid service provider has normal, easy, reliable voice mail. All are customizable.
2. I'm pretty sure you could get another SIM with the same number, but I can't completely speak on that.
3. I have a google voice number - as far as voicemail goes, it's quite awesome, but only if you aren't married to the idea of being able to call in and listen to your voicemail.This way, you can access it from a smartphone or your computer, in a much better interface than the "press 1 for...". Also, if your phone ever gets lost or you had to get one with a new number, then you could just change your google voice account to call a different number but it wouldn't change the number people call. Also useful if you like the feature of having someone call and being able to have multiple phones (home, cell, work) ring and you could answer whichever you like.
4. I can't speak about Austin, but I do know several normal cell phone providers, such as st&t or t-mobile, which you may be able to get reports on quality from from friends, offer prepaid services.5. Here are some options (you may want to evaluate them price-wise based on your needs)
I'm sorry, don't have time to link any of them right now, but I'm sure a quick google search could find you each one easily.
t-mobile prepaid
at&t gophone
virgin mobile
metroPCS (this would not work if you travel)
posted by R a c h e l at 1:23 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

How much would you be using the phone? You can get a barebones net10 phone prepaid for 300 minutes for $30, and if you register with them on their website you can keep your phone number if you ever have to replace the phone. The prepaid rate is 10 cents per minute, so the phone is free with the first 300 minutes. If you use less than 300 minutes a month this could be the cheapest plan for you (I can't think of any other phone where I would be paying $10-$15 a month, which is about what my usage usually comes out to).
posted by idiopath at 1:27 PM on November 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for the speedy response. You guys rock.

Money is less of an issue. Good reception around the town and fast and reliable voice mail delivery (heard horror stories of messages delivered after three days) are the major concerns. Also, a Nokia phone would be best.

Any people from Austin with prepaid cellphones?

Thanks again,
posted by Sentus at 1:39 PM on November 15, 2009

I've been using Tracfone for almost 5 years now. I am a very light user and I feel like I've gotten more than my money's worth; my cell phone bills are about $50 a year altogether. They are spammy though so I would avoid giving them your home phone number; they have already gotten into trouble with the FTC over automated calls. If you lose your phone with Tracfone, as long as you have the ESIN (serial #) of the phone they'll transfer it onto a different phone; the old ESIN and credit card number is what establishes ownership.
posted by crapmatic at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2009

"transfer it" == transfer the old number
posted by crapmatic at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2009

Assuming you're in the USA Virgin mobile is cheap, simple, reliable. You can transfer your Virgin number to a new Virgin phone, though I've no idea if you can transfer the number to other carriers.
posted by anadem at 3:07 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I just bought a used Nokia 6015i phone on ebay and activated it with Page Plus Cellular after my old phone died. The phone cost $14 shipped and I'm paying about $0.06/minute and $0.08 per text on Verizon's network. They also offer either 1200 minutes/texts/ & 50mb data for $30/month or unlimited minutes/texts + 20mb data for $40/month. One nice thing is that there are no extra taxes on top of those prices (there may be a $0.50/month service fee, I don't know if they dropped that with the per-month plans).

Page Plus is in a price war right now with Straightalk (Tracfone's new unlimited CDMA product) so those prices may continue to fall over the next year. Pretty much all carriers will let you port your number in or out if you change carriers and like R a c h e l said above they all offer the same voicemail features.
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2009

Google Voice sounds like it would be great for you. If you forget to pay for your prepaid phone or whatever, you will still be able to receive voicemail and send and receive text messages. You can also set it up to forward calls to your work phone (etc.) during the day, so you don't have to use any cell minutes if you are near a normal phone.

I find Google Voice quite useful for the same reasons, even though I have a "real" contract. It is nice to be able to read your voicemail on the web and then delete it without having to call a number and press a bunch of buttons. It is also nice to be able to click one button to block annoying callers forever.
posted by jrockway at 4:51 PM on November 15, 2009

I switched from a Verizon Wireless contract to a TracFone about three months ago and have never looked back. I love my TracFone . . . I got one that had a deal where you get double minutes for life (so every time you add more minutes to it, they are automatically doubled). I have seen these "double minute" phones in Target as recently as a couple weeks ago, so they may still be out there.

I have traveled across the country with it and the reception has always been fine. The voicemail has never given me any problems. It isn't fancy, but it is functional and inexpensive.
posted by ainsley at 7:23 PM on November 15, 2009

Seconding Tracfone. Been using for years, it's cheap and reliable. If all you need is voice calls and texts, tracfone is a great option. Voice mail is immediate and you can get the prepaid cards anywhere. I've been told KMart is the best place to view the phones in person, but just about any Target/WalMart will have at least a couple to choose from. I've been using the Samsung T301 for the past 6 months or so. No complaints. Tracfone buys coverage from the big boys depending on which zip code you register the phone in. PM me if you need more details.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:27 PM on November 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all. You were very helpful. Got a tracfone today. Hope it will work allright.

Have a great week,
posted by Sentus at 6:47 PM on November 16, 2009

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