My long distance carrier called the other evening with an offer for a cell phone. They want 9.95 a month and charge .099 cents (10 cents) a minute for all calls. I don't yak on the phone all that much and at most I might use my home phone 3 hours a month. I have been thinking about getting one for a while now but the cheapest plan I could find was in the 30 dollar a month range. I figure the phone will be very handy if my truck breaks down or need to call 911 for some reason or another. The company is GTC.
If you want a phone for emergencies only you might want to look at a pay as you go plan.
I got a phone for the car from Cingular, there is no monthly fee and calls cost 25c a minute. The only other cost is that you money you pre-pay expires: best value for money is to deposit $25 which I think expires in 90 days (in other words $8 a month with 100 "free" minutes every 3 months).
I have T-mobile, and was able to get a free phone with a plan that gave me 60 minutes a month for $19.95 and a 1-year contract. At the end of the year I switched over to a prepaid card for $100 that gives me 1000 minutes and a year to use them. If I don't use them all at the end of the year, I put a little more time on the card and all of the minutes get extended.
It's a pretty sweet deal, as I now pay no monthly fee and use 100 minutes or so a month on average for $10/month.
They even gave me a $5 credit when I switched from the monthly plan to pay-as-you go, supposedly to cover the airtime to set up my new voice mailbox. I got to keep my original number and found out that I could set up my voice mailbox from a land-line.
Even if you don't have T-mobile, you may have a similar deal near you.
Hi, IMO, the cheapest and best prepaid cell phone plan s for light/medium use is by Virgin Mobile (www.virginmobileusa.com) The phones cost as little as $25 (currently on sale). The plan is you have to add $20 only every 90 days to keep the phone active and the money goes into your balance. It costs 25 cents per minute for the first 10 minutes of each day, and 10 cents per minute after that. The same flat rate applies no matter where you call in the US. There are a ton of other companies but none currently offers a price as good as that.
The phone has an email address and you can also send and receive short (160 char) email messages (10 cents to send, free to receive).
I have been a happy customer of theirs for 4+ years now.