Best plan for unlocked Moto G?
June 27, 2014 7:30 AM   Subscribe

I have an unlocked Moto G phone and I'm looking for a good prepaid plan, for only voice and text, preferably 100 minutes and 100 texts and very cheap. I should have probably researched this before buying the phone! I assumed I'll just look at the basic plans from major carriers and pick the cheapest talk-only plan -- but I can't even figure out which ones offer talk-only prepaid, and which ones will accept unlocked Moto G. It's amazing how hard they make it for you to give them money in exchange for service, oy.

Bonus if I could just go to a store in Manhattan and activate this quickly and easily.
posted by rainy to Technology (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
More than you are looking for, but t mobile has an online activation plan that is $40/month for unlimited talk and text, and 500MB of data.
posted by fings at 7:41 AM on June 27, 2014

T-Mobile is pretty cheap and has plans geared toward BYOD customers.

I don't really have a firm understanding of their prepaid/PAYGO plans though, as I don't use one, but it looks like they start at $10 for 30 minutes of voice (expiring in 90 days), with texts at 10c each.

It seems like you wouldn't have to use a phone very heavily to make the $40/mo regularly billed plan worthwhile, but it all depends on usage. The traditional plans almost all come with unlimited voice and text now. But if you're only going to use 100 minutes per month of voice and not many text messages, you could probably do somewhat better on PAYGO as long as you buy in $30 or $50 increments.

Also I'd recommend buying from TMO by calling them up and doing it over the phone if what you want isn't easily available on the website. The site offers only a limited subset of what they will actually sell you.

Keep in mind the Moto G requires a "micro SIM". If you get a regular SIM card, you'll have to take it to a T-Mobile store and have them punch it down to size.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:53 AM on June 27, 2014

I use Tracfone in NYC - I think it may run over the Sprint network and I haven't had any issues with reception. I did not bring my own phone but bought a Tracfone-branded CDMA Samsung Galaxy Centura with an airtime card. Tracfone supposedly supports bringing your own device, and you can check whether they support your phone by entering your MEID here:

I paid $130 for the package - the phone and 1200 minutes/1200 texts/1200 MB of 3G data expiring at the end of the year. It averages out to about $11 a month for 100 minutes/100 texts/100 MB of data (assuming the phone is free). See also
posted by icemill at 7:57 AM on June 27, 2014

My wife has an unlocked smartphone that we bought off of eBay. She uses Ting as the carrier, and we're very happy with their service. They have a very easy-to-use web-based dashboard where you can monitor your minutes, texts, and data. My wife usually has her data disabled, but she can still use Wi-Fi for posting to Facebook, etc. Best of all, Ting's prices are very reasonable -- about half of what we were paying Verizon.
posted by alex1965 at 8:29 AM on June 27, 2014

I have this phone and am in the same boat. I barely use it and mostly text. The cheapest plan I found for my needs were on Republic Wireless. When I'm traveling and need data, it's easy (and cheap) to switch the plan and add data. I'm very happy with them so far.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:30 AM on June 27, 2014

She uses Ting as the carrier

Ting is a Spring MVNO (reseller), and as such only works with Sprint devices. You won't be able to use a GSM phone with them.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:45 AM on June 27, 2014

I use the "secret" $30 T-Mobile prepaid plan (5 GB data, unlimited texting, 100 minutes), and it's by far the best option if you don't make extensive use of voice calls, grandpa.

T-Mobile may try to tell you that you need to purchase the SIM at Wal-Mart, but I successfully set it up with one ordered online from T-Mobile for 99¢. I believe it does need to be a new activation--you can't transfer into this plan with an already activated SIM.

For me, it comes out to around $33 with taxes, which is the amount I used to spend on cheap-o PAYG plans if I scrupulously monitored and controlled my texting and mobile data use, which was exhausting. Now I spend the same amount and I don't have to think about it at all, which is much better. If you are a very parsimonious user PAYG may still be cheaper, but I generally used only 300 MB data at 6.6¢/MB plus 100 texts at 10¢/ea. and less than a dozen minutes of voice each month, which seems pretty minimal by anyone's standards.

I have the "international" unlocked Google Moto G. If you have this phone it's possible that this plan will only work well (i.e. provide usable data speeds) in markets where T-Mobile has refarmed their network, but you should do your own research. I live in Chicago.
posted by pullayup at 9:51 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

LuckySeven~, I love Republic Wireless too, but they don't let you bring your own phone yet - you have to buy the phone through them, as it has customized firmware. Moto G is one of the phones they offer, but if rainy already has one they probably don't want to buy a second one.
posted by timepiece at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2014

pullayup's T-Mobile option is by far the best if you really only need 100 voice minutes and T-Mobile has reasonable coverage where you are. I used it for a while, but I had to switch when I required more voice minutes. I bought the SIM at a T-Mobile store and took it home to activate on the website. They cannot activate the $30/5GB plan in stores.

You can actually pay slightly less than $30 a refill for it since you can get refill cards online (I like callingmart, but there are other sites) at a small discount. I think it was around $28.50 a month for me.

If you lean the other way and need more voice minutes and no data, AIO, h2o, and Cricket have $25-$30 plans. All of those are at&t resellers, FWIW.
posted by wierdo at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Actually, on second look, at&t's $25 GoPhone plan now has unlimited talk and text and would be by far the easiest way to go if you don't want data. Walk into a store and ask for a SIM and they'll hand you one for free. You'll still end up paying basically $30 a month, though, because at&t adds tax on monthly GoPhone plans rather than building it into the price like they do on the pay per minute.
posted by wierdo at 10:10 AM on June 27, 2014

They cannot activate the $30/5GB plan in stores.

I can confirm this. I activated it by calling T-Mobile. Their website seemed to think that the Moto G wasn't compatible, so I bailed out and did it over the phone, and it works just fine.
posted by pullayup at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2014

Thanks, timepiece; I did indeed buy my phone through them and didn't know that. Scratch Republic Wireless, OP, unless you want another phone.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:33 AM on June 27, 2014

Thinking a bit more about it, h2o's PAYG only costs 5c a minute (and 5c per outgoing text). If you really will only use 100 minutes of talk and send only 100 texts and will use only wifi for data, that's only $10 a month. You aren't going to find any kind of recurring plan for less money than that.
posted by wierdo at 11:15 AM on June 27, 2014

Thanks everyone, I'm going to try to go with h2o, even though they couldn't give me a straight answer, whether moto g will work there or not. I bought an h2o sim card on amazon for $0.01 with
free shipping.
posted by rainy at 5:38 AM on June 28, 2014

follow-up: h2o works great with moto G although it was a bit of a hassle to set up online because all of the instructions seemed to assume an older version of android.
posted by rainy at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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