TracFone and Virgin Prepaid Cell Phones and Services
October 2nd 2005
Our choice in
I finally broke down and bought
a couple pre-paid cell phones. This type of service is great for
someone like me that does not use the cell phone much. It is also a
great alternative for parents that worry about their kids running up
a huge bill.
Parents can give their children
an allotted of minutes / money to make calls. After the allotment
is used upthe parent can choose to recharge the phone either with a
credit card or over the Internet.
Personally, I wanted a safety
net just in case one of our cars broke down and I needed a tow, or
for some other emergency. We were paying about $75 per month for
two phones with taxes and everything included. I didnít use it much
and I might have been able to save a few bucks with a different
plan, but not much.
In an earlier
article my wife
compared a few plans including TracFone and Virgin. Target offers a
selection of prepaid phones including TracFone and Virgin phones.
The phones started at about $30 for a black and white display
model. The car charger adapter was another $15.
But what about the minutes?
TracFone offered a $20 plan where the minutes would last 60 days.
The $20 would get you 40 minutes. Their best priced plan will last
a year and would set you back about $130. You will get 300 minutes
with that plan. This works out to about 43 cents a minute.
The Virgin phones cost slightly
more. The starting plans were about 25 cents a minute. You could
save money by purchased minutes in bulk. Virgin offers a monthly
plan for $30 that includes 300 minutes (or 10 cents a minute). On
their website, Virgin claims they can get your cost down to 4.3 cents
a minute, if additional minutes are purchased.
We were looking for something
cheap. We wanted to get the price down to $5 - $10 per month per
phone. Since we hardly ever use the phones, it was possible. The
other day we stopped by the T-Mobile booth at Costco.
The T-Mobile phones start at $60
for the actual phone, but they offered a rebate that brought the
cost down to $30. Unlike the low end TracFone this was a color
I know most of you are leery of
rebates. I lost hundreds of dollars when Best Buy refused to pay a rebate to me once. Clark Howard has mentioned on his radio show
that he does not always get reimbursed on his rebates. I will let
you know if T-Mobile fails to pay me.
So now we were comparing
T-mobile to TracFone and Virgin. T-Mobileís plan blew the other two out of the
water. For $100 we got 1000 minutes. That works out to 10 cents a
minute, but the minutes will last you the whole year.
That works out to $8.33 per
month (not including the initial cost of the phone - $30). We also
got a free car charger at Costco. We would have had to pay an
additional $15 at Target for that.
Multiply by two and we have
$16.33 per month. Compare that to the $75 we are paying now for two
phones, and we will save about $700 this year alone. If for some
unforeseen reason we use over 1000 minutes in a year (per phone), we can always
recharge the phone with no monthly fee.
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