I've had a cell phone for a few years now, first with Sprint and lately with Cingular.
Some people use their cell phone for most or all of their calls. Some people need to have a cell phone to make and receive a bunch of business calls. Some people only want a cell phone to call 911. But I fall somewhere in the middle - I don't like to make "real" calls with my cell phone; I have home phone service; but I like for Mosch to be able to reach me all the time, and I like to be able to call and check in at various times to make plans, etc.
So, for $45/month, Cingular had me on a plan where I got, I think, a couple hundred daytime minutes, plus unlimited nights and weekends. Of those daytime minutes, I probably used less than 30 per month, and I almost never called on nights or weekends. I would joke ruefully that for only $45 per month, I had a device that would always tell me the time, and it fit right in my pocket! Whee.
I lost that phone last week, and decided to look into prepaid service. Tonight, I got my new TracFone in the mail, and it is set up and working. And it rocks!
For $20, I got a phone (a very basic Nokia phone that turns out to be pleasanter, to me, than my old phone) plus 80 minutes of service over four months. The way the minutes and time works is that you can buy more time and more units (minutes of talk time) and everything rolls over, but for instance, right now my phone has 80 units and will go until 10/24, so if I don't buy more minutes by 10/24, I'll lose my service. But if I buy another card by that time, the extra time and minutes will roll over. I think I can buy a year's worth of service, with as many minutes as I'd need in a year, for around $100, which I'll probably do in October.
Activating the phone took a few minutes, but it was pretty painless. I've heard that TracFone's customer service is terrible, but hopefully I won't need it. Since very few people ever even have my cell number, if the thing breaks in a year I can just buy a new one and start over, if I can't get good support. Big deal!
This makes me really happy. My old cell service was costing me $540/year and I bet this new service will be under $150. I hated wasting money on something so dumb, and now I don't have to.