cellphone during emergency
August 12, 2007 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Cellphone only for emergency purpose while travelling in u.s.a

I just need a cellphone while i am on travel (which is 1-2 days) a month and it will be only for emergency purpose, like
i get struck in my car in the middle of the highway.

Any suggestions.

I am trying to be frugal/economic.

Is it possible to rent from any shop etc. ?

Thanks for your time.
posted by tom123 to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Most cell phones require a contract. Virgin Mobile has pay-by-the-minute phones with good coverage. A few other carriers as well.
posted by theora55 at 7:50 PM on August 12, 2007

Any cellphone in the U.S. (even one without a "plan") will dial 9-1-1 (the emergency phone number) from anywhere within the U.S. as long as the battery is powered up. I don't have recommendations on what brand to get, but I just wanted to let you know that you don't have to purchase a plan in order to use the phone for emergencies.
posted by amyms at 7:51 PM on August 12, 2007

A lot of people use TracFone for this. They're a pay-as-you-go service, and their minutes have a fairly long expiration. (so you're not always needing to add more minutes to keep your account active).

The 911 post above is true, but I'm not sure how the authorities feel about use of 911 for an overheated radiator or blown tire. Also, if you're on your way to an appointment and have trouble, you may want to call someone at the other end and let them know you'll be late.
posted by altcountryman at 7:57 PM on August 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Seconding TracFone. I've very rarely had problems with their coverage, whereas Virgin Mobile has obvious coverage problems in more rural areas.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 8:06 PM on August 12, 2007

The 911 post above is true, but I'm not sure how the authorities feel about use of 911 for an overheated radiator or blown tire.

That's true, alcountryman, I hadn't thought about that. I was thinking about major emergencies and wanting to let the OP know that he can get 9-1-1 service for free, but your suggestion is way more realistic.
posted by amyms at 8:31 PM on August 12, 2007

Of course, in my little corner of the woods, when my husband gets dispatched for "emergency" calls like "Hey, my streetlight just flickered, send an officer!" a blown tire up on the highway would at least be something worthwhile to respond to... lol
posted by amyms at 8:34 PM on August 12, 2007

I used a TracFone for years and it was great for exactly that.

If you don't care if you keep the same phone number, you can just buy minutes as you need them and not worry about the service lapsing. When your service lapses, and then you buy more minutes, you get a new phone number. Uninterrupted service can be had for about $15 a month if I remember right.
posted by The Deej at 8:46 PM on August 12, 2007

I think there are threads here talking about the cheapest possible plan and if I remember correctly the lower limit is about $10/mo.
posted by rhizome at 8:54 PM on August 12, 2007

There's a pre-paid service with TMobile that has pretty good terms, and I think you can go longer without your phone number expiring. You can buy cards for $10 and up - once you've been with them (or spent a certain amount of money) you get a year before expiration on the minutes, but I think standard is 30 days. I don't know how this compares to Cingular's prepaid service, or to TracFone.

The service for TMobile is with whichever standard for phones is in place outside the US, so theoretically you should be able to get a phone and switch out SIM cards if you also have service in Europe (not sure what standard is in place elsewhere). I don't know what the status is for standards for other American carriers - for a long time TMobile was the only one in the U.S. that used this standard.

There's a new (here, anyway) carrier/service called Cricket as well, but I've not heard much about them other than their advertising.
posted by dilettante at 8:56 PM on August 12, 2007

Tracfone Tracfone Tracfone.

I live out in rural east Texas and use my phone minimally, and I get excellent coverage just about anywhere. Also Tracfones are only about $20 to start with, which INCLUDES the phone. Nothing fancy but it's functional. My customer service experiences have all been good.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:33 PM on August 12, 2007

tracphone at walmart--you can buy minutes and the cheapest is like 20 bucks
posted by uncballzer at 6:03 AM on August 13, 2007

With Cingular/ ATT's prepaid, a $25 refill gets you 90 days.
posted by forallmankind at 7:12 AM on August 13, 2007

With Virgin Mobile prepaid, $15 gets you 90 days.
posted by grateful at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2007

Are you always traveling in the same car (rather than renting)? What about getting OnStar?
posted by radioamy at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2007

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