You can purchase pay-as-you-go phones from TracFone Wireless at Target, Sam's Club, Rite Aid, Amazon.com, Lowe's, Walgreens and other retailers.

Go to www.tracfone.com for current offers and more detailed information.

Virgin Mobile offers an interesting prepaid cell-phone plan with minutes that do not expire. My only caution is that the service may be spotty in rural areas. Read the details of Virgin's prepaid plan at www.virginmobileusa.com.

Stop into any 7-Eleven convenience market and you'll see spinner racks with prepaid phones from providers like Cingular, T-Mobile, AT&T and Virgin Mobile.

Not a bad idea

Should you dump your current plan in favor of something in a lovely pay-as-you-go model? It depends on your needs.

If you are an active talker, prepaid is a very expensive way to go. Even though prepaid customers spend less on average per month than their postpaid friends they pay more per minute.

While pricing varies from one provider to the next and according to how many minutes you buy at a time, pay-as-you-go costs on average between 10 and 50 cents a minute. Ditto for text messaging. And minutes can expire, usually after 90 days.

If you have spotty credit prepaid is certainly an attractive alternative and something you may want to consider.

All things considered, if you can keep to the terms of a contract without going over your allotted time and you do not rack up roaming charges, commitment may be cheaper than pay-as-you go.


© 2005 The Cheapskate Monthly. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 "The Cheapskate Monthly" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt.  What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt.  Today, "The Cheapskate Monthly" is read by close to 100,000 Cheapskates.  Click here to subscribe.