Tuesday, July 12, 2005

NET10 Offers 10 Cent Prepaid Cellular

What's the hottest thing in cellular service plans? Cold hard cash. It seems that the market for pay as you go cell phones is far larger than anyone thought possible just a few years ago. Some is due to consumers too tight on credit to qualify for the standard 2 year cellular contract. A lot more is due to the consumer's dislike of making a large financial commitment for such a long time, especially when you might have no idea how many minutes is too much or too little.

TRACFONE, one of the pioneers of prepaid cellular service, has come up with an attractive new service called Net10. The 10 in Net 10 stands for 10 cents per minute. No complicated math here. You pay 10 cents a minute for local calls, long distance calls and calls made while roaming nationwide. No more, no less. You can also send SMS text messages for a flat rate of 5 cents each.

The beauty of Net10 is that you know in advance exactly how much your calls will be. There are no nasty overage surprises on your monthly bill like you can get with regular cell phone plans. Actually, there's no monthly bill at all.

Here's how Net10 works. You buy a special Net10 cell phone for as little as $29.99. Then you buy your minutes in the form of a "card" of airtime. This can be a physical card or just charging up your phone with minutes. The smallest plan is 300 minutes that are good for 30 days of service. When the minutes or days run out, you need to recharge. Other plans include 600 minutes good for 60 days of service, 1,800 minutes good for 6 months, and 3,000 minutes good for a year.

The one year plan is especially good for an emergency phone that you might put in your glove compartment and forget about for long periods. It will be there waiting for you and full of talk time when you need it. Just check the phone from time to time to make sure the battery is charged. A car charger is also a good idea so you'll always have power.

By the way, you don't need to wait until you run out of minutes to add more. Anytime you add another card's worth of airtime, your expiration date is extended appropriately.

So how much do these cards cost? Ten cents a minute. Always. The 300 minute card is $30. Here's something else that makes Net10 different from many of the competitors you'll find in electronic retailers and department stores. There are no sneaky access fees or daily requirements. Oh, yeah. Read those service agreements closely. Some pay as you go cellular plans require you to talk for a certain number of minutes per day at a higher rate. Or, you may get dinged an extra fee by the day. Or they make you buy an expensive airtime card to get the best rate. Don't you hate that?

You'll have none of those problems with Net10. It's 10 cents a minute regardless of when you call, where you call from in the USA service area, how much you talk per day, or how many minutes you buy at one time.

What about phones? The best value right as of this writing is a Motorola V171 flip phone with vivid color screen and pre-loaded polyphonic ringtones, games, pictures and screensavers. It's selling at a $10 discount, making your price $89.99 with free ground shipping (3 days) through July 31 when you buy your phone plus minutes. If you are more budget minded, you can get a factory serviced Nokia 1100 for $29.99 or a new one for $69.99. Other phones include the Nokia 2600 for $99.99 and the Motorola C155 for $89.99. All come with the free shipping offer through the end of this month when you buy a phone and at least a 300 minute airtime card. Accessories such as headsets and vehicle power adaptors are also available.

So, if you want to pay for your cell phone service as you use it and not get stuck with a pre-determined contract, Net10 may be the perfect solution for you. It's about as up-front as you'll get in cell phone services, prepaid or contracted. NET10...Pay As You Go Made Simple


Anonymous said...

Its only 10cents a minute if you use 300 minutes on the 30th day. If you only use 100 minutes that month its 30 cents a minute. If you run out and need to add more airtime before the end of the month, your costs go up.
Why not 10 cents a minute and I buy more when I've used up my 300 minutes? Now thats a deal.

T1 Rex said...

Actually, if you want more time to use your minutes you can buy plans that offer 60 days, 180 days or 365 days. If you get close to the time when your minutes will run out, you can buy another card and you'll keep all your minutes. You don't have to lose them like you do with many regular cellular phone plans.

Like all wireless phone services, there is a cost to the company to keep your phone number working and available, so you do need to keep your service active. Most people who order Net10 prepaid cellular will want to use it on a continuing basis. Some may only want temporary wireless phone service. What you choose is up to you.

If you compare Net10 with other prepaid cell phone companies, or compare to conventional cellular contracts, I think you'll find that this service really is quite a deal.

lennygm said...

If I understand the Net10 site:
The minutes roll over but not the air time (like the Tracfone.) Example - activate a new 30-day card early and the expiration date is set at 30 days from today, you loose whatever time you had remaining from your previous card. If your previous expiration date is more than 30 days you keep that date but it doesn't add any 30 more days like Tracfone would. Also Tracfone lets you reactivate an expired phone within so many days (I think 30) without loosing your time and phone number. Net10 just drops everything if you accidentally hit the expiration date. Beware.

T1 Rex said...

No, it's much better than that. You never lose your minutes if you keep your service active. They rollover from month to month. You can confirm this for yourself by checking the Questions section on the Net10 site and reading "Will I lose the remaining minutes in my NET10 phone if I add an additional airtime card before my due date?"

You will lose your minues and phone number if you let your service expire by going past the due date without buying a new card. If you think that you might not be using your phone all that much and are likely to forget and miss your due date, you'd be better off buying a 180 or 365 day card.

Tracfone (the parent company of Net10) offers an Auto-Pay plan that keeps Tracfone service active for $7.99 a month, but you still have to buy minutes as you run low and they cost more than Net10. Be sure to read our Talk on Talk post: "Is TracFone Prepaid Wireless Service Right For You?"

ads66 said...

was is the activation fee on the net 10s?

T1 Rex said...

No activation fee. Everything is covered in the 10 cent per minute fee. By the way, you can get free 3 day ground shipping on your Net10 cell phone and airtime card if you act now!

Bruce Geerdes said...

If you want a low-budget phone (if you use ~1 minute a day on average), Virgin Mobile offers a better deal. You only have to add $20 ($15 if you set it to "automatic") to your account every three months. That's $7 (or $5) a month, quite a bit less than Net10's required $30.

T1 Rex said...

Careful, Bruce,

Those short calls will cost you a bundle on Virgin Mobile. You have to pay 25 cents per minute for the first 10 minutes of the day and only then does it drop to 10 cents per minute like Net10. Those first 10 minutes every day you use your phone cost 2 1/2 times as much as they do on Net 10.