Changing Cellular Service On The Cheap

My cell phone history has been all over the place. I have used smartphones (both prehistoric and modern) and dumb phones - my current cell phone is a cheap flip phone which does not even have a camera. Unfortunately, I live is a slightly out-of-the-way suburb, and reception with my current provider, Virgin Mobile, is hit or miss while actually indside my home. Evidently, I am right on the edge of part of their service area - if I step outside my home, the reception is better (and I have used several different phones at this location with the same result). Virgin Mobile has been otherwise great, by the way - this is not a knock on them at all.
The things I like about Virgin Mobile and other carriers like them, is a relatively inexpensive plan (mine is $30 per month, which gives me 400 minutes and a bunch of text messsages) and the fact that these are non-contract plans - I pay each month, but can stop anytime I want as there is no long-term obligation.

After reading up a little and viewing their coverage map, I am going to try out Straight Talk, which I understand is from the folks that brought us Trac Phone, and is available both online and through Wal Mart stores. It's still $30 per month (for 1000 minutes and 1500 texts), and I can get a free refurbished phone so I am not putting out any cash to switch which is nice. The more observant among you will have noticed that I like cheap - I am Scottish, after all.

In some cases, you might be able to keep your phone handset and just swap out your SIM card. As I can snag a cost-free phone that is basically identical to the one I got from Virgin Mobile (for $12!), that's a moot point to me; I can spend 10 minutes manually transferring my dozen or so contacts to the new phone.

You can also get smartphones from these sorts of providers, primarily Android devices - although Virgin Mobile for one does allow you to purchase and use an unlocked iPhone with their plan. The plans are more expensive, around $45 per month, as the smartphones use more data if you surf and stream music and video on the devices (and that's the main attraction to a smartphone after all).

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