Prepay Without Losing Minutes?

by Ed

I am a senior citizen with one Verizon low-cost plan and a Verizon prepay on another, older phone. The prepay is kept only for emergencies and I have now gone for 3 or 4 months without actually using it. We do not text; we do not take photos; we do not use it for getting email. Each month Verizon wants another $15 despite the fact that we have used zero minutes. Is there a better solution for an emergency phone that provides just a little more than the inherent 911 capability -- the occasional phone call -- such as a prepay where the unused minutes don't expire and where you're expected to pay only when you actually use the phone? We don't use the cellphones for long distance as we have digital landline with free long distance through our homeowners association.

Comments for Prepay Without Losing Minutes?

Click here to add your own comments

May 25, 2023
No Question Is Dumb! NEW
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

#1 - The amount of money you add and the corresponding number of days it's good for before it expires is not related to whether or not you need to bring your own phone, or buy one from the carrier. Think about it as service vs. phone.

#2 - I don't know of any carriers that still accept checks. Checks can't be validated in real time, so you would need to wait 3-5 days before the funds are added to your account. This would be a very poor experience for you. If you have a bank account, you should have, or can get an ATM card. 99% of ATM cards have Visa or MasterCard logos on them, which means they can be used online just like a credit card. That said, if you absolutely need to use a check, you'd want to call the provider and ask if they have a way to take that payment method.

#3 - Prepaid has no bills. If you're on a pay per use/pay-as-you-go plan, you would add money to your account, and so long as you reload before the expiration date (ex. 90 days), those funds remain on your account until you use it, whether to make/receive calls, send/receive text messages, use data, etc. The other type of plan would be a monthly cost that gets you included minutes, texts, and data; use it or lose it each month. All-in-all, NO BILLS, and make calls, send texts, use data as you need it so long as you have an active monthly plan, or a prepaid balance that can cover the per use charges you need.

May 25, 2023
Dumb questions
by: Anonymous

I have a couple questions. I'm old and don't have or use a phone normally.
Seems like this is not for beginners.
1= As in the 10 bucks for 90 days.
Do I need to bring my own phone?
2= Can I pay with a check?
3= What if I do use it to receive a few calls per mo, do they bill me or must I estimate the usage and send $ before I use it?

May 11, 2017
You've Gotta Know The Terms NEW
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

While I definitely empathize with your concern, minutes/funds expiry is very well defined, and you need to understand your carrier's rules before making your decision.

I also keep an emergency backup phone in the house that is strictly pay as you go. I have a calendar reminder to topup before the expiration date so I don't lose any funds. I made a mistake once and missed the date by one day and lost $300. They wouldn't restore it. I've never missed a renewal day since!

Apr 10, 2017
Losing Minutes
by: Charles

Our phones are for emergency use (not 911), just to let someone know we may be late or had an accident. I lost over $700 in minutes to Verizon. They will restore only once. I feel that it should be a pro-ration based on how many times you have the minutes restored.

Oct 28, 2014
Low Cost Pre-paid Cell Service
by: Happy31

I use H2o (AT&T GSM network) for my minimal phone needs because they have plans as low as $10 for three months. H2o support is not that great, but once you learn how to do things yourself on their website the service is good.

I purchased an unlocked AT&T branded phone from Best Buy and called (long wait on hold) to have it set up. I have had the service for seven months and I am satisfied with it. As mentioned, my cell phone needs are minimal. In seven months I have averaged about one call per week. And since account balances roll over, I have not needed to add to the account other than purchasing new three month terms.

I chose a Nokia Lumia 520 Windows 8 phone for two primary reasons; 1- It syncs with my desktop, and 2- The GPS will function (minus some features such as traffic alerts) without an internet connection.

Jun 13, 2011
911 needs no service
by: Anonymous

If the ONLY reason you keep your phone around is to dial 911, then you do not need to even have a prepaid plan of any kind.

Cell phone carriers are required to accept ANY cell phone in their network range capable of dialing 911, and to connect the 911 call through immediately.

So, if that is the only reason you have a cell ("Glove box"), just remember to keep it charged and drop the carrier altogether.

May 03, 2010
Keeping Your Prepaid Phone Active With Minimal Cost
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

This is a really good topic. The wireless industry refers to people with this type of usage activity as "glove box" users. i.e. When someone basically puts the phone in the glove box of their car, and only uses it for emergencies. This is definitely a very legitimate use of a wireless phone, and I have family members who do the same thing!

I also understand why people get frustrated when they don't use their phone, and yet the money disappears after a period of time! To provide some perspective, however, prepaid carriers do have a fixed cost even if you never use your phone. These costs surround what's referred to as network carrying costs. Things like having a phone number on the account. A phone number is considered a resource that costs money. There's also a platform cost (usually calculated on a monthly basis) just to maintain the account with its status, balance, etc. The point here is that there's a cost for carriers that they need to recoup. Don't get me wrong, it's not as though they're just breaking even if you pay their minimum amount; they'll make money on it, though not anywhere near what they do on subscribers who use their phone more regularly. In other words, if all of their customers used their phones in this way, they wouldn't be able to stay in business!

That said, you'll still want to minimize your average monthly cost to meet your personal needs and objectives, taking into consideration the expiration date. But no, you won't be able to have your minutes never expire; at least not that I'm aware of.

What you'll want to do is check out the dollar value and expiration periods on the Compare PAYG page. The less money you can add, with the longest expiration date, the lower your average monthly cost will be.

The best rate I've seen lately is $10 for 90 days, which would give you an average monthly cost of $3.33/month. Now that's not a bad price for emergency/occasional use!

I'd also recommend signing up for automatic topup using a credit/debit card. Basically, when your balance hits at or below a defined amount (ex. $5), it will automatically replenish to a preset amount that you usually get to choose (in this case you'll want it to be set at $10). Also, note that it's important to ensure that the account will also automatically be replenished when the funds expire. This is important, because some plans don't work this way, and funds expiring will take your account to zero without triggering the threshold balance (in this example $5). I'm sure there are others that work this way, however, I can say for certain that Boost Mobile works this way (at the time of writing this at least).

I hope this helps!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Prepaid Wireless Questions.

Be Heard!  Let prepaid wireless providers know what you want; fill out the survey now.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.