TracFone

december 12, 2003

A little bit before last Christmas, my mom and dad reevaluated their mobile phone needs. They were with Cingular on one of their old family plans. They were still carrying around their old Nokia 5190s and neither of them used more than 10 minutes a month -- on a plan that was $50/mo for 60 minutes with nothing else. My dad especially, didn't really use the phone, he used it maybe a total of three times since he got it a few years before. So, they gave up on that plan right before Christmas. For my mom, I switched her to [url=http://www.metropcs.com]MetroPCS[/url] which I was also using at the time. My sister, who was at college at the time, would call my mom all the time on the MetroPCS phone and my mom could talk with her as long as she wanted. She especially loved the hands-free option. For my dad, who never used the phone except for emergencies, I bought him a [url=http://www.tracfone.com]TracFone[/url]. A TracFone is a mobile phone that is pre-paid. The phone that was being offered at the time? A Nokia 5190 (which is a good thing since my dad really loved his mobile phone case and slipped the new 5190 right into the case after removing the old Cingular 5190). There are quite a few pre-paid plans on the market now, but there were less back then. But, even now, TracFone is the only one that I can find which offers something that the others don't. My dad is not going to go buy refill cards ever 60 days or even 30 days to keep his number alive. That is just too much technology (read: "trouble") for him (especially having to punch in the various codes to get the credits on the phone). So, TracFone made perfect sense for my dad because they offer a 150 credit plan (with a bonus 30 credits if bought online) that has a lifespan of one year. He did not have to buy cards to keep the number alive during the whole year, which really means that I did not have to do it. 180 credits is equal to 180 minutes of usage and given his usage patterns that was good enough for the whole year. The phone cost a bit of money, something like $50 and the 365-day plan was only $94. That comes down to about $7 a month for an emergency phone. That is pretty good, since there are no mobile phone plans that get close to that (pre-paid or post-paid). Just right now, two days before the 365-day plan ran out for my dad, I renewed his phone for another 365-days. It was plain and easy on the website (for me) and I did all the code punching. Now my dad is ready for another year of mobile phone service. If you have a parent who does not use a mobile phone a lot, or even if you do not use a mobile phone a lot (just an emergency phone) then a pre-paid plan like TracFone's is a great alternative to month-to-month post-paid plans. It is inexpensive and there are no catches. If you run out of minutes, there are no overage charges because, well, you are out of minutes. This kind of plan is also great for kids, though the phones are not the coolest, a pre-paid plan will keep them in check with mobile phone costs. If you're curious, my mom has moved to the $19.99/mo plan with [url=http://www.t-mobile.com]T-Mobile[/url] since my sister is local now. And she is happy with the plan since she doesn't really use her mobile phone much either, though she does use it more than my dad.