I decided to try a little experiment with the hope it would help me and potentially others. The experiment was to create a backup cellphone that cost $0.00 per month to have and ideally cost $0.00 extra in the case of a small emergency.
Caveat: The experiment uses an old iPhone I already have so that is not included in the cost.
I chose FreedomPop for the service. They offer a basic service with has a monthly fee of $0.00. It does have a one-time cost of $(.99 for the SIM card (There are frequent deals for $0.99 which I used.) and the phone number. There is also a minimum balance required of $5.00.
Here is what the basic service includes:
- Talk 200 minutes
- Text 500 text messages
- Data 500 MB
By default, you get one month free of of the Premium 2GB LTE Unlimited service (priced at $24.99 per month) and the Premium Plus Services package (priced at $7.99 per month). It’s important to either avoid signing up for these free trials or to cancel before the end of the first month. If I did nothing, I would see a charge of $98.88 which represents a pro-rated charge for 6 months of the services.
I had to wait 24 hours after signing up to then go back into my account. My first task was to change the password. Next, I “downgraded” my service to the free basic service package and “downgraded” the Premium Plus add-on service (removed it). I also searchd online to learn about any other “gotchas” and found out that my account would automatically get “topped up” with a $15.00 charge if I started to incurring any usage for service overages. As long as I already had the $5.00 balance, I could turn off the “automatic top up“.
While I was at it, I also went into the account email settings and unsubscribed from most of the email notifications and disabled voicemail because it looked as though I could accidently incur charges if I used it.
Now that the account is setup for the the basic package and automatic charges have been turned off, I am ready to start the experiment … that is, once the SIM card arrives in the mail (the introduction email stated it could take up to 10 days).
Current cost: $5.99 to setup the service (using an existing cellphone) and approximately and hour of effort.
The next part will focus on what services I can use for free and does the emergency smartphone use any chargeable services if it is turned on but not used.
Stay Tuned !