No Contract Mobile Phone Plans – Will The Economy Make This The Next Big Thing?

NET10 - No Contract Phone

NET10 - No Contract Phone.  Available for purchase online or at Best Buy retailers.
NET10 - No Contract Phone. Available for purchase online or at Best Buy retailers.

No Contract vs. Contract Mobile Plans

This week, my wife and I decided to make a change that hopefully will be the first step of many to our economic recovery. We decided to sign up with a “No Contract” mobile phone service and to ditch our T-Mobile plan.

For my wife and I the choice was simple. A “No Contract” phone seemed the right direction for us because we were not huge mobile phone users. Our mobile phones are typically only used to make phone calls and text on an as needed basis. We really don’t have a need for a data plan, and although this may seem blasphemous to those that live for the social media and cool Zynga games, it was a feature we really didn’t have time to use. Plus, our choice of phones have always been modest, and never had the bells and whistles that the iPhone or Android phones had to offer.

We looked at a number of different no contract plans and found quite a few offered by some very known companies:

But there were also some companies that were popular in the “No Contract” realm:

Each company had their pros and cons. Some offered strictly minutes but charged a specific amount for text and other fees for data. Others offered a specific amount per minute which could add up if you aren’t keeping track of the time you are using on your phone.

To sort it all out, however I used a review website:

http://www.prepaidreviews.com/bestrated.html

The NET10 "Pay As You Go" plan is what we decided on. It had a number of things we liked about it. Mainly, the fact that the minutes covered phone calls and text. Also, it applied to data as well, in the case we wanted to us e it.

Pay As You Go

The "Pay As You Go" plan allowed us to maintain a certain number of minutes over a specific time period. Basically this meant that if we reached the time period (30, 60, or 180 days) before running out of minutes, we would only need to purchase another card and the amount of time added would compound upon what we already had left over. Otherwise, if we ran out of minutes before the our time was up, we’d have to purchase more in order to use our phone.

Fairly flexible in our eyes. Historically our minutes for talk and text combined has been under 100 minutes. A plan with 300 minutes would make us safe. A plan with 400 minutes would make us comfortable.

Purchase Plan Options

NET10 provides online and phone purchasing of minutes which allow for refilling your minutes instantly. The minutes purchased online offers better than .10 a minute ($30 for 400 minutes, $40 for 600), or you could purchase the cards at retailers like Best Buy or Walmart. Not bad considering the provider was originally called NET10 because the cost of minutes were .10 per minute.

Estimated Fiscal Impact

From a fiscal standpoint, we determined that a pay as you go plan made the most sense when it came to saving on our monthly bill.

T-Mobile

  • $80.00/month* x 12 months
  • YEARLY TOTAL = $960.00

NET10

  • $30 /month** x 12
  • YEARLY TOTAL = $360.00

ESTIMATED YEARLY SAVINGS = $600.00


*No data plan kept our monthly low for our T-Mobile plan.

**$30 for a 60 day period. Averaging about $15 per month for two phones.

Available Mobile Phones

Now, I know what you are probably thinking. “No Contract” plans typically come with lame phones. Although they are not the sexiest phones available, they are cost affective ($39.00 to $99.00) yet still have the features you would expect from a mobile phone with enhanced features. Voicemail, MP3, Camera, Video Recorder, and e-mail just to name a few. And, in the end, they still do what you need.

My wife purchased the NET10 - LG 800G touch screen mobile phone, while I opted for the Blackberry-esque NET10 - LG 900G. I prefer being able to feel the QWERTY keyboard rather than try to type through the touch screen. Call me old fashioned.

We are both happy with our purchases and both phones were priced at a very reasonable $39.99 each, plus tax.

Activation and Customer Service

At home it took us only a few hours to port our existing phone number to our new phones. Although you can do this online, we were unable to do so because of our zip code. A quick call to customer service and the port was in process. A few hours to two business days is what they stated would be the time frame for activation, but a few hours later our phones were working without issue.

Overall, our experience with “No Contract” phones has been a good one. Time will only tell how our mobile service will turn out, but we are hopeful that the pay as you go plans will provide flexibility to our fiscal bottom line.

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