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Prepaid SIM for once-a-year use

Prepaid SIM for once-a-year use

Old Aug 3, 11, 1:13 am
  #1  
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Prepaid SIM for once-a-year use

Hi, as the title suggests, I only visit New York once every year. What is the cheapest prepaid SIM (for GSM phone) option that would let me keep my number for a year?

I had a look at AT&T's Pay As You Go Plan and they requires a top-up of USD$100 to prevent the SIM from expiring for 1 year. By "expiring" does it mean the SIM card (and phone number) is no longer usable?
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Old Aug 3, 11, 2:05 am
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I'm 99.7% sure the only two GSM carriers here are AT&T and T-Mobile, however the latter is known for not being as bad about Shanghaiing you. It's unfortunate that more then half the the major mobile providers are CDMA.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 2:19 am
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Probably t-mobile at the moment, but you would still need to buy an initial fill of $100 to get the best rate on your minutes and to make them last a year, though you can buy the fills/refills slightly discounted at places like callingmart.com. (they offer 5% off on the web site, but they often have additional discounts that they announce on their facebook wall and via their twitter account. You can usually get the $100 refill for $92 or so if you wait for the sale price. Otherwise it's $95.)

If you top it up before the year is up, they extend all your time for another year. They send you a message on your phone with that info when your minutes are close to expiring.

Unfortunately, AT&T is trying to buy t-mobile, so there's no telling how long the t-mobile prepaid plan will last, since it's much better than the AT&T 2 GO prepaid plan.

If you let the SIM expire, you do lose the phone number.

-David

Last edited by LIH Prem; Aug 3, 11 at 4:59 am
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Old Aug 3, 11, 3:02 am
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Thanks for the helpful replies tgcujo and LIH Prem.

I was told by some guy on ebay (who sells SIMs) that the SIM and phone number will never be lost even if I do not top up past the expiration date. I was suspicious, thanks for confirming my suspicion.

Thanks very much.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 5:02 am
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You can buy the sim on the t-mobile web site, though not sure if they will ship it overseas or not. Or you can just find a t-mobile retail store when you get here. I think the SIM costs around $6 or something negligible.

here it is ...

http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/p...Activation-Kit



-David

Last edited by LIH Prem; Aug 3, 11 at 5:07 am
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Old Aug 3, 11, 5:17 am
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As mentioned, Tmobile is your best bet in this situation. Once you topup with the $100, you can just topup with the minumum of $10 yearly to keep it going. I have had a tmobile sim for the past 6 years that I use as a backup, and this is how I have kept it going.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 5:25 am
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I would absolutely agree about T-mobile but just add that their coverage is not as extensive as ATT's - not a problem, of course, in NYC but it is a problem in suburb land of some major cities. Both websites have coverage maps, of course.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 5:38 am
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Originally Posted by RyanTan View Post
I had a look at AT&T's Pay As You Go Plan and they requires a top-up of USD$100 to prevent the SIM from expiring for 1 year. By "expiring" does it mean the SIM card (and phone number) is no longer usable?
Yes.

I posted a similar question in the BA forum a few months back. I had some good responses, and eventually ended up with the AT&T plan. I am in the US once every 6/8 weeks or so and this is a great arrangement for me. A word of warning, the Samsung clamshell phone that comes with this plan is a true piece of junk!

My thread is http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...us-mobile.html.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 5:32 pm
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Originally Posted by mrcamp View Post
As mentioned, Tmobile is your best bet in this situation. Once you topup with the $100, you can just topup with the minumum of $10 yearly to keep it going. I have had a tmobile sim for the past 6 years that I use as a backup, and this is how I have kept it going.
One note: if AT&T merges with T-Mobile, expect this to go away.

What I would do is sign up for Google Voice and get a US number. Then whenever you come over, sign up for any old prepaid service with the minimum top-up (usually $10) and forward your GV number to it. Saves you from having to waste the initial $100 on airtime, and you don't have to worry about when T-Mobile's prepaid plans go away. You don't care what your prepaid cell number is and will probably end up with a different one every time, but no one will ever know it because you will only give them your GV number.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 7:43 pm
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Originally Posted by RyanTan View Post
Hi, as the title suggests, I only visit New York once every year. What is the cheapest prepaid SIM (for GSM phone) option that would let me keep my number for a year?

I had a look at AT&T's Pay As You Go Plan and they requires a top-up of USD$100 to prevent the SIM from expiring for 1 year. By "expiring" does it mean the SIM card (and phone number) is no longer usable?
With T-Mobile PAYG if you initially buy a $100 voucher it will last a full 365 days. After your initial $100 a $10 voucher is all that is necessary to renew for another 365 days. Buy an extra $10 voucher when you're in the states and you'll always be able to have a working account. I believe you cannot buy time with a non-US credit card though the easiest thing to do is to get a voucher or vouchers in the states when you're here. Just note that $10 will fulfill your obligation, but for the best per minute rate you need to fill with either a $50 or $100 voucher. You can also get voucher PINs through places such as callingmart.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 8:54 pm
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Yes.

I posted a similar question in the BA forum a few months back. I had some good responses, and eventually ended up with the AT&T plan. I am in the US once every 6/8 weeks or so and this is a great arrangement for me. A word of warning, the Samsung clamshell phone that comes with this plan is a true piece of junk!

My thread is http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...us-mobile.html.
For residents of the UK, Australian, and the Netherlands, look at Truphone. You get a standard UK Mobile (or Aussie Mobile number) with free incoming calls in the US (or one of the other listed countries) and calls to the US, UK, and OZ for $0.15 a minute (landlines). While $0.15 a minute is more expensive than $0.10, they bill by the second which makes it much closer. You can rent a US number for $8 a month.

Just as importantly, you can use the home back home to satisfy any usage requirements. While the other options may prove a bit cheaper, you can sit these SIMs to recharge from your credit card. It is a nice balance for some.
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Old Aug 3, 11, 11:04 pm
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Originally Posted by mrcamp View Post
As mentioned, Tmobile is your best bet in this situation. Once you topup with the $100, you can just topup with the minumum of $10 yearly to keep it going. I have had a tmobile sim for the past 6 years that I use as a backup, and this is how I have kept it going.
Huh? How are you topping up with only $10/yr??
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Old Aug 4, 11, 1:11 am
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http://www.mysimplemobile.com/index.aspx

$60 for unlimited text/calling/data per month. No contract.
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Old Aug 4, 11, 1:25 am
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Originally Posted by weekilter View Post
With T-Mobile PAYG if you initially buy a $100 voucher it will last a full 365 days. After your initial $100 a $10 voucher is all that is necessary to renew for another 365 days. Buy an extra $10 voucher when you're in the states and you'll always be able to have a working account. I believe you cannot buy time with a non-US credit card though the easiest thing to do is to get a voucher or vouchers in the states when you're here. Just note that $10 will fulfill your obligation, but for the best per minute rate you need to fill with either a $50 or $100 voucher. You can also get voucher PINs through places such as callingmart.
wow, that's quite an idea. I wish I had posted something like that. oh that's right. I did in post #3.

-David

Last edited by LIH Prem; Aug 4, 11 at 4:27 am
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Old Aug 4, 11, 1:37 am
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Originally Posted by RyanTan View Post
Thanks for the helpful replies tgcujo and LIH Prem.

I was told by some guy on ebay (who sells SIMs) that the SIM and phone number will never be lost even if I do not top up past the expiration date. I was suspicious, thanks for confirming my suspicion.

Thanks very much.
I can't speak for AT&T, but with T-Mobile if you have a SIM that hasn't had any money added to it 90 days past the expiration of minutes the account will be terminated and you will be required to get a new SIM and activation code.
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