Things You Will Need
Computer, Internet access, Cell phone
The first step is to decide on the number of minutes you expect to use based on your current average use. Purchased minutes can range from a low of 30 to a high of 1,000. They usually have to be used within 30 days to a year depending on the plan and the number of minutes you buy.
Next, decide on the best prepaid plan available that fits your needs. Most major wireless carriers including Verizon and AT&T as well as a number of smaller carriers offer prepaid plans. Plans are also available at a number of retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target. There are several websites that you can use to help you make comparisons. Prepaid Review.com rates and compares prepaid providers. Also, Billshrink.com, while this site does not compare plans, helps you tailor a plan based on your estimated phone use. I have included links to both sites in the Resources section below.
If you want a cell phone for emergency use only, there are 911 cell phones available. These are provided fee for victims of abuse and seniors. Local law enforcement or abuse and senior service agencies will be able to tell you if a program is available near you. You can also visit www.911cellphonebank.org/agencies.asp for contact information.
Most prepaid phones have no contract, fixed monthly bills, credit checks or hidden costs that come with traditional cell phone plans. The savings can be significant as many plans average less than $10 a month.
Tips & Warnings
If you already own a phone with one of the major carriers you may be able to convert it to a prepaid phone plan and save the cost of the phone.