Please, just a few minutes more?
March 26, 2008 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I have cellular service through T-Mobile and have used up all my minutes this month, but there are still a few days before the month rolls over and I need to be able to make some calls for work purposes. What's the most frugal way to make calls without racking up $.35 per minute overage charges for the next few days? In addition to my regular T-mobile phone, I've got an old t-mobile phone with no SIM card and a computer at my disposal and am willing to buy a prepaid card or some other such thing if that's what you recommend!
posted by platinum to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Prepaid works for that. If your phone is unlocked, you could even slip in a sim from another carrier, though you'd end up with another phone #. If not, you can swap t-mobile prepaid and contract sims without any issue -- I've done this.

T-mobile might also retroactively change your plan to a higher rate for the month if you call them up and are willing to pay the difference.

But beware: over the last year I've had three separate issues with trying to update my plan with T-mobile. On one occasion they signed me up for a contract without telling me. On another occasion, the rep I spoke with missed the best option that would have fit my needs and switched me over to an inferior plan, and on another occasion, they told me I'd have one plan on the phone, and then billed me under a more restrictive plan. They have not taken financial responsibility for any of these mistakes, despite the fact that I was a customer for 6 years before all this happened. Needless to say I've dropped them.

This isn't to say you need to do the same -- the prepaid route will probably work, as might talking to them. Just be very, very careful to check back and make sure the arrangement is as you think it is when you hang up the phone.

And if you do start finding you're frequently using up all your minutes, then I would encourage you to look at moving. T-mobile has long been a pretty good value at the low end of their plans, but once you move up in usage, this advantage fades.
posted by weston at 6:14 PM on March 26, 2008

Do you have any sort of freebies whatsoever on your plan? 1st incoming minute? Text messaging? Free T-Mobile - to - T-Mobile calling?

My sister mastered this kind of stuff, being habitually broke and living on her own in another state. Some of the stuff she did was mildly annoying but it might get you through the end of the month. For a while she had the first incoming minute free, so she would call my number and hang up. Repeatedly. This way, she wouldn't get charged for the call, but when I called back wondering what the hell was going on she'd give me the 59-second version of whatever she had to say. You might also take advantage of call-forwarding, either to a landline or to a pre-paid number. Check first though - sometimes call-forwarding is not free.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:35 PM on March 26, 2008

Call T-Mobile customer care and ask. I am not sure on their policy but some carriers will allow you to change plans and backdate it to the beginning of the month OR you can up the current plan immediately and it will prorate the higher cost plan for the rest of the month.
posted by Octoparrot at 7:05 PM on March 26, 2008

Call Customer Care, explain your situation, and ask for some free minutes.

I started a new service plan a month ago, and I was about to go over in minutes. I called T-Mobile to see if there was a better plan for me. Before I called, I exported my call history into a spreadsheet (easily done on the website) to figure out if Fave Fives would be better.

I explained my situation to the CSR, and because I had done some homework and was doing my best to avoid overages, he gave me 150 free minutes each month for the next three months, which would roll over if not used. This way I could take a couple months to figure which plan would be best.
posted by anthropoid at 7:55 PM on March 26, 2008

Skype? It's something like $.021 a minute to call landlines. However, you'd need to buy credit, which is available in $10 chunks.
posted by PatoPata at 8:05 PM on March 26, 2008

I own a cellphone that retails T-mobile. My experience (countless times) has always been positive when calling customer care in situations like this. I would recommend calling them, and asking them to help you avoid overages. They will ask you to add on Tmob to Tmob mins or add my faves and backdate it. This will lead you to get extra minutes and no overages. I would be weary of plan changes because they come with contract extensions (unless you just signed one) Good Luck.
posted by boyinmiami at 9:13 PM on March 26, 2008

cellphone store... opps
posted by boyinmiami at 9:13 PM on March 26, 2008

You can buy SIMs on eBay, but this most likely won't get to you in time. You can also get a T-Mobile prepaid phone and a $100 card. This gets you 1150 minutes (you get a $15 airtime credit with the phone, and the $100 card gets you 1000 minutes, plus they re-rate your minutes at the better rate, so that $15 credit becomes 150 minutes. Plus the $100 card puts you instantly on Gold Rewards, which means the minutes don't expire for a year. So you have extra minutes for now, plus later if you overrun your minutes again.) Target sometimes (I know this doesn't help you at the moment) sells a phone and a $100 card for $88.

For the future, if you're not hidebound to T-Mobile or GSM service in general, take a look at Alltel. Sis, her hubby, and my niece share a plan. They have free mobile to mobile, and free nights and weekends, but the big thing is the My Circle bit. Even with the three of them (and they talk a lot), they've never come close to using up their minutes for a month.
posted by azpenguin at 12:31 AM on March 27, 2008

Thank you all for your suggestions! I called T-Mobile Customer Care and explained the situation and they did exactly as anthropoid outlined, adding an extra 150 minutes for 3 months, so I marked him best answer. That should get me through! Thanks again!
posted by platinum at 10:01 AM on March 27, 2008

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