Sep 14 2009

Buying a GoPhone to use with my regular plan

One of Johnny’s favorite toys is my cell phone. His face just brightens up any time I get it out. If I’m talking with one of his grandparents, I put it on speaker and he just smiles and smiles. Sometimes, I let him munch on it a little. I shouldn’t have.

The mic broke and I could no longer use the phone.

Since we don’t have a landline, I definitely needed a new phone pronto.

Shane’s parents let me know that they bought a GoPhone from AT&T, didn’t activate it, and put their old SIM card inside. It worked! Much cheaper than buying a new phone from AT&T.

Since I also have AT&T for my service provider, I gave it a try. I went to Walmart and picked out a $29 option.

“ATTENTION: If you are a current AT&T wireless customer, simply charge the battery and move your existing SIM,” it stated on the box.

And sure enough, it worked.

If I had gone through AT&T directly, my options would have been much more expensive. Since I have several months until I’m eligible for a discounted upgrade, I’d have to spend $100-$150 for a phone. No thanks!

Some people have found success buying phones on eBay or craigslist. I just didn’t have the time to do that.

When my contract expires in April, I think I’ll weigh our options. I have heard that you don’t have to sign and renew the contract — you can just keep going month to month. Can anyone confirm this? It would be really nice not to be tied to a two-year contract, ya know?

Maybe at that time, we’ll get the cheapest landline we can and use a few GoPhones for their original purpose — pay as you go.

9 Responses to “Buying a GoPhone to use with my regular plan”

  1. I did this a few years ago. My phone died (after only a year and a half! And I did nothing to break it! stupid crappy phone), so I bought a GoPhone. That worked pretty well until I got a new contract and new phone.

    We did the landline-prepaid phone thing for about 3 months or so, and finally ended up getting a phone with a plan (and dropping the landline). I know people who have made it work for them, but it definitely didn’t work for us. I don’t like being that hard to get a hold of. :-) And it was so hard when we’d travel and trying to arrange seeing people! Our society is so used to cell phones that people are confused when you don’t have one.

    I’ve been meaning to type up a post about all this… It’s actually sitting in my drafts right now.

    You can do the month to month thing when your contract is up – my parents did that for a year and a half. The catch is that you don’t get the free phone. Whether that is a problem or not would depend on the selection of prepaid phones.

  2. Yep, you can do a month-to-month thing, so long as you don’t upgrade your phone. Since I paid the upgrade price with my phone ($200 cheaper than just buying it outright), I am locked into a two year contract, which works for me since I text message a lot, am happy with AT&T, and am rarely ever home enough for a landline to be useful for me. But the month-to-month option is great nonetheless!
    Glad your Go phone worked for you. It makes me happy that these are out there as options for people seeing, how often we go “Oops!” when it comes to cell phones. Saves lots of money, and they work just as well!

  3. I also have AT&T. We’ve been with them for 5 years I think. We did month to month after our first contract was up. Then we decided to upgrade our phones, which required a new 2-year contract. That contract would have ended this past May, but last fall, we upgraded our minutes, which meant we renewed for another 2-year contract. But you can definitely do month to month if you don’t want to upgrade your phone or change your current plan.

    I had a friend who had the same thing happen to her phone after letting her baby play with it!

  4. I’ve done quite a bit of research on this, and my dad works for AT&T Mobile, so I have an idea how things work & have done a lot of math.

    If you don’t get a new phone, there’s nothing wrong with staying with your current plan once your contract’s up. As Risha said, you only have to sign a new contract if you get new phones through the stores (and maybe if you change your plan- not sure on that one)

    We have a landline (for DSL) and 2 cells. We seriously considered dropping either the landline or my cell phone a few months ago. It all depends on your usage whether a plan or prepaid minutes make sense. When do you make calls? Do you call long distance? What cell service is your family with? Do you call landlines often? How many minutes do you use in each of the categories I just named? I had a whole Excel sheet to make all the calculations. You can export your AT&T bill on their website and total the different types of calls for yourself. Numbers are fun.

    For our usage, Pay as You Go was more expensive than prepaid, and AT&T was not the cheapest way to go for prepaid phones (and I’d be disowned if I switched carriers!). The downside to prepaid is that the minutes expire- though at one company (I forget which), bigger blocks of minutes could be purchased & they would be good for a year. It was pretty common for minutes to expire after a month- which, in my mind, was creating another monthly bill. At that point, I might as well be on a plan.

    With all the math I did, I found that with our usage, we’re at the break-even point right now, where both plans cost about the same. We’ve made no change, but aren’t under a contract right now, so are leaving our options open.

    Another fun fact: If you go to sign up for a cell plan, you can often get a better deal going to a big box store (Best Buy, etc) because they get oodles of incentives for being an agent & can often offer you better perks. If you have a question or problem with your phone or plan, though, always go to a company store- the agents can’t do anything for you.
    .-= joanna´s last blog ..TIME gets it =-.

  5. I am glad you found a cheaper option!

    I know with Verizon, we’re not on contract and we’re going month to month. Of course, they keep wanting us to upgrade so we can lock in a new contract, but I don’t want to. :)

  6. I switched to a Tracfone at the beginning of the summer. Since my usage and texting is minimal, it is running me about $7 a month. It’s just another option to all the other plans out there.

  7. I’ve had a Tracfone for over 3 years that I like for the most part. I don’t use it often, but like having it with me when I go out. I also use it to make short-ish long distance calls so I don’t have to use my home phone and “pay” for them. Like Linda just said, I spend $21 every three months and the minutes rollover. There are always bonus minutes you can get for free by spending five minutes googling promo codes on the internet.

    The only thing I don’t like is that occasionally I can’t get service in certain places, which is definitely annoying. But perhaps since you live in an urban area you would not have that problem. The price certainly can’t be beat!

  8. What a great deal, I’m glad that your parents made the suggestion. Maybe you can find Little Johnny his own pretend cell phone to gnaw on. :-) I have T-Mobile and it seems our phones usually need to be replaced at two years. I know my husband is rough on his phone, but last time I used a leather case on my flip phone and the thing broke in half right soon after it turned two years old.
    .-= Mrs. Accountability´s last blog ..Transferring Balances =-.

  9. Oh, wow! Great idea. I never knew this but that’s a good thing to know. My brother loses/breaks his phones all the time so I will have to pass this tidbit along!

    On a side note, I am using the pay-as-you-go plan here in China, as it is much more common here and it’s what most people here use, but I have to say I don’t really like it. I’m pretty sure it ends up being more expensive than a monthly plan would be for me (I use lots of texting), and it’s just a hassle. The other night I was supposed to meet a friend and she was trying to call me to find out where I was, but (unbeknownst to me) she couldn’t get ahold of me because my phone was out of minutes! I also had been trying to make a few calls last week that wouldn’t go through, and now I suspect that this is the reason.. I was out of minutes without knowing it! My original plan when I got this phone was to always keep a spare phone card on me in case I ran out of minutes somewhere and really needed my phone, but then I sort of forgot about that plan!

    They do have monthly plans here, but I’m really not so sure how to go about getting put on one. Every time I go to the China Mobile stores here, they just start yelling at me in Chinese & I give up. LOL. So until then, I guess I’ll just have to live with it!

    .-= Brittany´s last blog ..How to Live without an Oven? (A Call for Recipes) =-.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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