Canadian Snowbirds vacationing in Florida for the winter months need a cheap reliable telephone to communicate with their family back home. Most Canadian cell phone plans do not work in the United States and the ones that do are very expensive.
Prepaid Cell Phone Plans
Prepaid cell phones, also known as "prepay-as-you-go" phones offer a way around this problem, so let’s take a look at the advantages that they can bring with them.
The first thing in favor of prepaid cellular phones is the simplicity, you just buy the cell phone and don’t have to sign anything or even give any contact details.
• No contracts to sign
• No credit checks
• No monthly bills
• No service fees
• No cancellation fees
• No security deposits
• So some cell phone carriers appreciate this and provide different cellular phone plans.
Prepaid cell phones are very convenient and the best choice for Snowbirds traveling in the States. Another advantage to the "prepay" option is that it acts as a natural brake on excessive use of your wireless cell phone. For this reason, people on a fixed budget prefer prepaid cell phones.
On the downside, the price per minute rate is steeper than for a monthly billed plan. But, if you don’t use the phone a lot and you are only interested in the basics, the prepaid is your best choice.
There are so many cellular phones to choose from such as Panasonic, Motorola, Nokia, Philips and Sony Ericsson; Kyocera, LG, Sanyo, Siemens and NEC; Handspring, Palm, Audiovox, Qualcomm and Samsung; Denso, Hyundai, JRC, Mitsubishi, Neopoint, Novatel, Oki, and Bosch.
A 'pay as you go' plan you buy a cell phone made to use with this type of plan. You can purchase the phones from stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Seven Eleven and elsewhere. The phone needs to be made for the carrier you will be using. If you don't have a credit card or don't want to use it, you can purchase a phone card for that carrier. They cost anywhere from $20 up, and are just plastic cards used to add credit to your account.
To activate your phone just call the carrier's number listed in the phone manual. The representative will ask for the serial number of your phone and assign a phone number. Some carriers automatically credit your account with $10 for signing up with them, but if not, you can add credits to your account with the phone card you purchased. Your account is recorded using the cell number, so you don't even have to give the company your name! The phone can also be activated on line.
The cheapest prepaid cell plan is available at Wal-Mart. You can purchase a Tracfone made by Motorola for $12.88 and 60 minute card for $19.88. This gives 60 minutes of air time for less than $35.00 that is good for 90 days. Usually, this is sufficient for the average Snowbird to last his entire vacation and if more is needed, you simply buy another card.
Though standard plans differ, most involve a mandatory long-term contract of 1-3 years. A credit card and a minimum monthly fee of about $20 - $35 U.S are required. This gives you approximately 200 - 300 minutes of air time. You can buy more minutes for a higher monthly fee. If you go over your allotment you will likely be charged a premium rate for each additional minute. Unfortunately if you don't use all your minutes, they normally do not roll over. That is, you lose them and start over the following month.
Standard cell phone plans have other advantages over 'pay as you go' plans. They often include:
• Free weekends and evening calling
• Free calling to any other cell phone that uses the same service
• Free calling to certain cell numbers on other services.
• Free calling to friends or family members.
Carriers have their own combination of features to choose from. In fact these plans can present so many options that some people can find it confusing.
Finally, standard cell phone plans usually offer a high quality free phone with the plan or more expensive phones at deep discounts. This plan is probably the way to go for anyone who uses a cell phone more than 90 minutes every month. Unfortunately a standard phone plan is not an option for a Snowbird who does not resides in the States full time.