Standard phone plans
There are many. Generally, minutes are added by paying for a refill, either by buying a refill card, purchasing online, or by sending a text. Price per minute varies widely, from less than 4 cents to more than 10 cents, and with many plans, they expire if you go longer than a set period between refills. Some companies allow you to "port" a phone number (land line or cell) that you already have to their service.
- Mint Mobile: Operates on the T-Mobile/Sprint network yet offers very competitive rates if you have just one or two lines
- Page Plus: $80 for 2000 minutes ($0.04/min.), good for 1 year, uses the Verizon network, supports porting an existing number in.
- If you can limit your usage to a minimal 20 minutes/month, the minimum monthly cost can be reduced to $2.41/month by buying a discounted 100-minute refill for $9.50 every 120 days. That's only ~$30/year!
- Be careful of frequent texting on Page Plus: each text message sent or received costs $0.05, so if the phone's user does more than about 5 texts/day, it's likely better to use one of their monthly "talk & text" plans.
- Calling Mart offers 5%-off coupons for a few days once every month or two if you get on their mailing list.
- Kitty Wireless offers automatic (but not discounted) refills for Page Plus service so you don't have to keep track of PINs or expiration dates for your minutes.
- Compatible phones are significantly cheaper on eBay than on Page Plus website ($20 versus $50).
- If you buy their triple-minutes-for-life option for $60 and then get their largest $200 refill option, the long-term per-minute cost can be as low as 4.5 cents. They do offer a choice of networks, so if you frequent an area where Page Plus (Verizon) has poor reception, TracFone may be a good alternative.
- There are many other options, most of them worse. See:
For these, the caller must provide his or her own computer system and internet service.
- Google Voice: Free, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts. International calls to phones might have a per minute cost. Google has offered free calls within the United States for 2010 and 2011, though this might expire.
- Bobsled: T-Mobile Product
- Calling: Bobsled Calling is the most flexible voice service you’ll ever use. Make high quality calls to your Facebook friends and any number in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico from anywhere you have an Internet connection - even when you don’t have your phone!
- Messaging: Bobsled Messaging flexes with your social life. Use your mobile number or Facebook account to message with one friend or a group from your PC, smartphone or tablet! Bobsled Messaging apps are available on select T-Mobile devices, and are coming soon to smartphones worldwide!
- SIPGATE: VOIP service. Sipgate one gets you a free phone number, voicemail and fax sending capabilities.
- $30/mo, 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, 100mb of data. Tax is roughly $3.40/mo in CO state.
- $41.58-$45/mo, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited data
- Join a "family plan" with friends or your actual family. If you get three or more like minded individuals together it is highly likely that you can pay far below the market rate and still get the exact same service.
- T-Mobile is extremely lenient on who is considered "family" and there is no official verification process.
- Other carriers might not be as forgiving.