What are the best disposable phone options?
December 28, 2007 12:46 PM   Subscribe

What are the best disposable phone options?

I need something cheap and easy to last me until June. I prefer not to pay for a phone, and I obviously don't want any sort of contract. The cheaper the better. I have seen stories about those phones that you can literally throw away after you are done -- do those really exist?
posted by adi to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm living overseas right now, and visiting my friends and family in the states right now, so I bought a little nokia from t-moblie at Walgreens for about 20 bucks. It's a good little phone, nothing fancy but even receives photo texts. I bought 100 dollars worth of minutes with it - it breaks down to something like 10 cents a minute, and it's 10 cents to send a text and 5 to receive one (or maybe the other way around, but you get the idea) and you can refill your minutes anytime by just dialing something built into the phone.

It pretty much rocks. Hey, here it is!
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 12:55 PM on December 28, 2007

I got my grandma a tracphone as an emergency phone when she goes on walks. The phone itself was 15 bucks (a very basic motorola). The minutes were overpriced, but not horribly so. They were about on par with other pay as you go plans I saw. It was a nice little phone, and the service seems workable around here.
posted by cschneid at 1:17 PM on December 28, 2007

If you're in their coverage area it would appear that Net10 is truly the most economical pay-as-you-go option because they have no daily fees or minimum usage requirements to avoid a daily fee. Net10 seems to be a subsidiary of TracFone, I'm not sure why they're going this way (forking off a "bargain" competitor to their main service) but other than cost I've never heard a complaint about TracFone.
posted by Dreama at 2:09 PM on December 28, 2007

I bought a used GSM tri-band phone on eBay for under $30, and used it with an Italian SIM card while I was on vacation this year. For the U.S., you could buy any unlocked phone that takes a SIM on eBay and get an Ameritech (or I believe, T-Mobile) prepaid SIM for it.
posted by Joleta at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2007

Dreama: the information on the page you link to isn't completely up to date - you only need to buy $100 credit to get 10c/minute calls with T-Mobile. And with T-Mobile, that credit lasts a year - with Net10, it only lasts 6 months until it has to be refilled.
posted by forallmankind at 3:06 PM on December 28, 2007

Virgin Mobile often has a several reasonable phones that they'll ship to you fast for free. All you have to do is buy $10 or $20 in air time (which you'll need anyway), and buy more airtime every three months to keep the number. You don't even have to talk to anybody-you can arrange it all online. At this time, they're offering the "Oystr" ($20 airtime purchase required) and the K10 Royale ($10 airtime purchase required). They have very reasonable per-minute prices, too.

When you're done with the phone, please don't just throw it away. Next time you order anything from Amazon, you'll find a prepaid envelope included in the box, from "Cellphones for Soldiers". Stick the phone in it and put it in the mail, and it'll help some soldier call home to his or her family. It won't cost you anything but it'll help someone else, and it'll reduce pointless waste.
posted by evariste at 4:04 PM on December 28, 2007

I'll second the Oystr - I bought one back in May, have been very happy with it - If you go the prepaid route, it's a dime a minute, and VM lets you earn up to 75 minutes a month for watching ads (the 'Sugar Momma' service). It's cheesy, but I have to refill a lot less...

The Oystr itself is fairly simple, but sturdy. Right now it's free with $20 airtime, if you order it online you get free shipping (FedEx in a couple days), and you can either refill online from your card, set it to automatically top-up, or buy the refil cards.

Big bonus to me - my Oystr developed a screen issue after about 6 months - instead of ending up pissed about it, I called VM, spent less than 10 minutes on the phone, and they overnighted me a replacement. Cheapest phone I've ever had, and best service. I used to deal with all the major carriers for a former employer, and even with hundreds of numbers on an account, and tens of thousands a month paid out to them, I could never get anything handled that easily...
posted by pupdog at 5:06 PM on December 28, 2007

oops, sorry- dime a minute is with a small monthly fee, standard rate is $,18 a minute - still cheap if you're not talking a lot, and the monthly plans are pretty good, all of it without a contract.
posted by pupdog at 5:13 PM on December 28, 2007

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