Going Pre-Paid: My New Cell Phone Plan

StraightTalk vs. Apple
Different phones, different service plans, and very different prices.

Introduction

My first cell phone was a silver Sanyo with Sprint. My Mom got it for me when I started driving alone in 2003. Eight years later, I was with AT&T using the iPhone. Now, after nearly ten years of cell phones (and driving) under my belt, I ditched my smart phone on the un-smart plan for something a little different.

My Cell Phone Journey

The Sanyo had an antennae that stuck out and was practically indestructible. I had 200 text messages and I used as many characters as possible to stretch them out. When the first two years were up, Sprint offered me the free ‘thanks for sticking with us for two years, please sign another contract’ Samsung phone. I was excited to have a flip phone, and happy to be rid of the protruding antennae.

Eventually, I got tired of Sprint. They kept dropping calls, and they didn’t have what I really wanted: a smart phone. Correction, The Smart Phone. I wanted the iPhone. Suddenly, I could hear AT&T calling out to me. After agonizing over it for a few months, I made the switch. It was the most expensive two years of phone service I have ever had, or ever plan to have again.

I am not an expensive person. I enjoy having cool gadgets and things that help me get other things done, but I don’t like to go overboard. When I play video games, I hoard my rupees just in case I ever want to buy something expensive, which I never do, because then I wouldn’t have any more rupees. You can imagine how well I handled shelling out a million-bajillion dollars every month for cell phone service (okay, it was more like $70-$100). Decidedly not well. The only thing that stopped me from switching my plan was the $250 cancellation fee to break my contract, though I seriously considered paying it anyway.

When my contract was finally coming to an end, I began researching what my next move would be. Sadly, the other big carriers seemed almost identical to AT&T, with a few nuances between their plans and prices. The sales people were annoying, unintentionally insulting, and in some cases, rude. It seemed like no matter which of them I chose, I would have to pay $45-$55 a month with a subpar combination of minutes and text messages. While that was way less money than AT&T, I still wasn’t satisfied.

By this time, I was pretty fed up with the search for the right plan. It was time to just accept defeat and party like it was 1999. I survived without a phone then, surely I could survive now?

 The Pre-Paid Plan

When I realized that the me from 1999 had a landline, and the me from 2011 did not, I started to doubt my survival chances. I continued looking, and investigated Cricket and some pre-paid service options. The poor reviews of Cricket’s customer service reps and bill errors made me uneasy. If there’s one thing I hate more than paying too much for something, it’s getting hit with hidden fees and false charges. Because you pay everything up front with pre-paid, there are no hidden fees or errors. That tipped the scales in favor of pre-paid service. I saw an ad for StraightTalk, where you could get 1000 minutes and messages for $30 a month plus fees and taxes. I would need a new phone, and they had a $30 flip phone that would allow me to talk and text. I was sold. I bought the phone, and switched my cell phone number from AT&T to StraightTalk by filling out a form online (instructions are provided with your phone purchase).

Monthly Breakdown of my New Bill:

All-You-Need Plan…………$30.00
Tax…………………………….$2.48
Fees…………………………..$1.11

Total…………………………$33.59

I’ve had the service for five months, and I am happy. Sometimes I drop calls, but it isn’t noticeably different from any other carrier I’ve had. Now, if I run out of minutes or texts for the month, I can simply reload my account early. Since I have way more minutes and texts than I used to though, I’ve never had to do so.

After the fall, I might buy one of their Android phones for $130, and upgrade my service plan to unlimited internet, minutes, and texts for $45 plus fees and taxes. Cricket also recently announced that they will begin carrying the iPhone, no contract required, in the near future. But, maybe I’ll keep what I have. The greatest part is that I have the flexibility to choose and choose again whenever I want.

So, have you ever considered a pre-paid service? What do you think of it? Have you ever broken a contract to switch your service?

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