Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

I have an iPhone 3G in the Pay-as-you-Go Plan.  This is my lesson learned on "How to Feed the iPhone as a GoPhone."

 

MY BASELINE (which may not match exactly your use pattern):

  1. Pay as little as possible.  No sales tax (6.5% DC tax), no AT&T hidden "recovery" levies,  no E911 fees.  A total savings of 12% on each refill.
  2. Heavy use of data and email.  Cellular and WiFi connected, always.
  3. No real use for talk, other than emergency outgoing calls, and little use for texting.  Definitely no need for MMS.
  4. No voicemail enabled (Notification says:  "This number has not activated its voicemail").  No airtime used on litening to playback.  Good enough for me -- I communicate via email.

LESSON LEARNED:

  1. Only use digitally-provided GoPhone refill cards, bought from a reputable website using PayPal.  Example: http://www.callingmart.com
  2. Avoid sales tax, and all hidden fees and in addition get a discount between 2% and 5% on each refill, depending on denomination.
  3. Never buy directly from the GoPhone account using a credit/debit card as you will be charged by AT&T the maximum levies allowed by law.  (In my case, these levies would amount to a 12% surcharge).

DAY 1, IGNITION:  10cent-minute + 100MB-month (smartphone data feature plan)

DAY [30-1], DATA FEATURE RENEWAL:  100MB-month (smartphone data feature plan)

  • Bought $15 refill card for $14.70 using PayPal (2% discount).
  • Applied all $15 to 100MB-month data feature package (30-day expiry window)

DAY [30-1], TALK/TEXT AIRTIME $5 BALANCE CHECK:  10cent-minute

  • If Balance < $5.00 add $15 refill card for $14.70, to provide additional talk/text "airtime".
  • If Balance > $5.00 do nothing, as $15 data refill extends the expiry by an additional 30 days or leaves it as is, whichever is later.

This says that my iPhone 3G as a GoPhone averages a tad over $15-month, allowing for the occasional talk/text.  Pretty fair deal, I would say, when compared to the alternative of monthly plans with two-year commitments.  No contract, no taxes, no fees, no overages.

 

NOTE:  If you have a "feature" GoPhone, not a smartphone, and you want the $50-month unlimited talk/text/data (because data is unlimited for feature phones) you can get a (slightly better) monthly 5% discount (you pay $47.50) with no sales tax or hidden fees if you buy the following $50 card, instead.  Example: http://www.callingmart.com/products/wireless/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=150

 

Others may add to this, but this is what I do to avoid AT&T surcharges.  And, hope that this post helps others.

 

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Message 1 of 15
Master

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

I'm with you on this! I'm using a prepaid Android smartphone GoPhone on my plan. No data plan required, because data services are not of use to me; I use Wi-Fi instead.

My phone costs me $25 a month. $19.99 for unlimited messaging and the leftover $5.01 for $0.10 a minute voice calls. I get the equivalent of 50 minutes of talk time, which I never use. Smiley Tongue I have an extra $2.55 in my account right now, and I have to add another $25 tomorrow, so then I will get 75 minutes from the rollover $2.55. Sweet!

I get my $25 refill cards from Walmart. They only cost $24.88. 12 cents off from the card value price.

Cat Happy Remember that Wild Banchi... 1993-2010 Cat Happy



Message 2 of 15

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


Wild Banchi wrote:
I'm with you on this! I'm using a prepaid Android smartphone GoPhone on my plan. No data plan required, because data services are not of use to me; I use Wi-Fi instead.

My phone costs me $25 a month. $19.99 for unlimited messaging and the leftover $5.01 for $0.10 a minute voice calls. I get the equivalent of 50 minutes of talk time, which I never use. Smiley Tongue I have an extra $2.55 in my account right now, and I have to add another $25 tomorrow, so then I will get 75 minutes from the rollover $2.55. Sweet!

I get my $25 refill cards from Walmart. They only cost $24.88. 12 cents off from the card value price.

Different mix pattern, but same idea.  Excellent, Wild Banchi.  I say there is no sense paying AT&T "discretionary" line fees, sales taxes and E911 charges, which just adds to their hefty margins.

 

 

 

Message 3 of 15
Master

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

When I buy refill cards, I get charged 6% state tax for every dollar, bringing the outstanding total to $26.37 instead of the $24.88 I would like to pay... But tax is applicable to almost everything, so it makes sense.

I have never noticed E911 charges to my account for the past 19 months up until last month. I think it's a $0.97 deduction from my balance, but I guess that's just the way it goes. *Shrugs* Smiley Indifferent

Cat Happy Remember that Wild Banchi... 1993-2010 Cat Happy



Message 4 of 15
Teacher

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


OnlytheShadowKnows wrote:

Others may add to this, but this is what I do to avoid AT&T surcharges.  And, hope that this post helps others.

 



I'm a US Citizen, have a US billing address, and a verified Paypal account, but Callingmart doesn't want my business because I happen to be in Australia. My order went through to Paypal, but Callingmart flagged it (probably because I'm in Australia), said they would call me (I gave them my US Skype number), but they never did. I even changed my voicemail greeting to let them know I was in Australia, but I guess it's in the "too-hard basket", as they say here. I'll be staying with myprepaidrefill.com - at least they don't discriminate. Smiley Mad

Message 5 of 15

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


nospamboz wrote:

OnlytheShadowKnows wrote:

Others may add to this, but this is what I do to avoid AT&T surcharges.  And, hope that this post helps others.

 



I'm a US Citizen, have a US billing address, and a verified Paypal account, but Callingmart doesn't want my business because I happen to be in Australia. My order went through to Paypal, but Callingmart flagged it (probably because I'm in Australia), said they would call me (I gave them my US Skype number), but they never did. I even changed my voicemail greeting to let them know I was in Australia, but I guess it's in the "too-hard basket", as they say here. I'll be staying with myprepaidrefill.com - at least they don't discriminate. Smiley Mad


Hello nospamboz .  Sorry to hear that it did not work for you.  Please, note that I have no links to CallingMart whatsever, but do enjoy the discounts (close to 12%[T-Mobile]+2%[refill]=14% on every refill).

 

In my expirience, CallingMart has called me to verify only once, only on first-use, probably because I had two "suspicious" back-to-back refill purchases within few minutes:  they supplied the first via email, without a hitch, however locked-out the second one providing an email lock notification, and called to verify within five minutes, on a Sunday!

 

Sorry, mate.

 

 

Message 6 of 15
Teacher

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

I was planning on getting the

20 unlimited txt

and the 15 dollar data.

Just to see how long it'd last me.

 

I like the data, so I don't know yet.

 

I wish if someone called you it wouldn't take away mins like it does when you call them, but oh well.

Message 7 of 15

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


Craz33me wrote:

I was planning on getting the $20 unlimited txt and the $15 dollar data.  Just to see how long it'd last me.

 

I like the data, so I don't know yet.

 

I wish if someone called you it wouldn't take away mins like it does when you call them, but oh well.


Craz33me, this is the same data deal I use on my iPhone, except for the $20 unlimited text-month you have planned for.

 

How long 100MBytes?  Not long, maybe less than one week, even two to three days, if you are not careful when using an always-on smartphone.  I use WiFi at the endpoints of all my stays, and cellular (GPRS) radio only while on the road for Google Maps, occassional Google Search, complemented by Google Voice for Voice and Texting.

 

Suggestion:  Instead of spending $20-mon for unlimited texting, check on Google Voice (for texting), instead.  And, read on if you are interested.

 

Google Voice:  http://www.google.com/voice

With Google Voice, texting is over your data plan (or WiFi, and free, if WiFi associated), not over the GSM voice band.  It will work on the road anywhere and everywhere there is cell coverage, but does not rely on the cellular voice band, only on the data band to which you are enrolled on your data feature plan.

 

With Google Voice you will not need the $20 unlimited texting plan, which you have planned for.  (To use GoogleVoice from my phone, I rely on the free web-app Google Voice for the iPhone, but there is a Google Voice over Android as well.  Google = Android right?.)

 

You could wisely divert $10-month from those budgeted $20-month to get the $25 500MB-month plan, and still save $10-month.

 

Compare:

  1. Without Google Voice:  10c-min [talk] + $20-mon [text unlimited] + $15-mon [100MB-mon]
  2. With Google Voice:  10c-min [talk] + $25-mon [500MB-mon]
  3. = 400MB-mon more data available, same talk plan, unlimited texting, and $10-mon savings.  What is there not to like?

This might, or might not, be of your liking.  It is just my suggestion.  Others with Google Voice experience may add to this.

 

Message 8 of 15
Mentor

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

Google Voice does work well and there are multiple ways to set it up. For instance instead of relying on one of the apps to get messages, you can have your messages sent to your email account as emails. Responding to an email in this fashion goes back to the sender as a text, but you are only charged for the data to send (and receive) an email. You don't even have to delete quoted text, only what you write will be sent.

In terms of dedicated apps, the 3rd party GV Mobile + is good and seems to function better than the Google branded one.

Message 9 of 15

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

Absolutely.  But let's not confuse the (already confusing to the uninitiated) technology of Google Voice.

 

  1. It works as native text only over the data band (both for receive and send).
  2. It also works as an email-to-text, and text-to-email gateway, but that is subsidiary (optional), not a requirement.
  3. As far as the user is concerned, Google Voice for texting is not different in form and function to native texting, except that it rides over the data band so that no per-message unit charges apply.

Google Voice has many different configurations.  But if you keep it simple and do some incremental testing, as I did, it did not take much to front-end three different "prepaid-plan" cell phones (two mounted on the dashboard of my family cars), one landline, and my voice-capable MacBook Pro using a single Google Voice number, which was free.

 

My Take:

Start with a basic Google Voice system, and grow it as needed.  Google Voice is amazing, and its text transcription service of voicemails (voice-to-text or voice-to-email) delivered to your desktop (if you want), although not perfect, it is better than using the prepaid voicemail, as it delivers not only the transcription but also the original .wav file of the recording.

Message 10 of 15
Highlighted
Mentor

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

Agreed. Google Voice can be great and confusing.

I'm actually going to start out giving my GV number to people instead of my regualr number. So if they want to text I don't have to give a separate number for GV texting and then one for calls. I already have the GV number forwarded my regualr number.

I know there are ways to get Google numbered text in the regular Texting app, but that gets really, really confusing!

Message 11 of 15
Contributor

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone

If you live or work near an ATT wireless corporate store (not a reseller), they have an ATM-like terminal for paying bills. You can buy refills there w/o sales tax using your credit/debit card or cash.
Message 12 of 15

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


rmb6533 wrote:
If you live or work near an ATT wireless corporate store (not a reseller), they have an ATM-like terminal for paying bills. You can buy refills there w/o sales tax using your credit/debit card or cash.

Wow, rmb6533, you unearthed my old post.  No taxes and/or fees on an ATM hosted on the AT&T premises?  OK.

 

But my old "lessons learned" does require an update.  It is even better.  Example: http://www.callingmart.com:

 

  1. $25 refill: $24.75
  2. additional 3% discount web coupon "ca3p-1207": $0.73
  3. No DC taxes (10%), no point-of-sale DC E911 fees (2%), code is email delivered:  $23.52 total

Note that I have no relationship with callingmart.com and offering them only as an example.

 

But I do enjoy the savings, which may help others in here.  As t turns out, I am saving (3%+3%=6%)[discount] + (10%+2%=12%)[DC taxes and fees] = 21%[AT&T $25 refill].  What is there not to like?

Message 13 of 15
Contributor

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


OnlytheShadowKnows wrote:

I have an iPhone 3G in the Pay-as-you-Go Plan.  This is my lesson learned on "How to Feed the iPhone as a GoPhone."

 

MY BASELINE (which may not match exactly your use pattern):

  1. Pay as little as possible.  No sales tax (6.5% DC tax), no AT&T hidden "recovery" levies,  no E911 fees.  A total savings of 12% on each refill.
  2. Heavy use of data and email.  Cellular and WiFi connected, always.
  3. No real use for talk, other than emergency outgoing calls, and little use for texting.  Definitely no need for MMS.
  4. No voicemail enabled (Notification says:  "This number has not activated its voicemail").  No airtime used on litening to playback.  Good enough for me -- I communicate via email.

LESSON LEARNED:

  1. Only use digitally-provided GoPhone refill cards, bought from a reputable website using PayPal.  Example: http://www.callingmart.com
  2. Avoid sales tax, and all hidden fees and in addition get a discount between 2% and 5% on each refill, depending on denomination.
  3. Never buy directly from the GoPhone account using a credit/debit card as you will be charged by AT&T the maximum levies allowed by law.  (In my case, these levies would amount to a 12% surcharge).

DAY 1, IGNITION:  10cent-minute + 100MB-month (smartphone data feature plan)

DAY [30-1], DATA FEATURE RENEWAL:  100MB-month (smartphone data feature plan)

  • Bought $15 refill card for $14.70 using PayPal (2% discount).
  • Applied all $15 to 100MB-month data feature package (30-day expiry window)

DAY [30-1], TALK/TEXT AIRTIME $5 BALANCE CHECK:  10cent-minute

  • If Balance < $5.00 add $15 refill card for $14.70, to provide additional talk/text "airtime".
  • If Balance > $5.00 do nothing, as $15 data refill extends the expiry by an additional 30 days or leaves it as is, whichever is later.

This says that my iPhone 3G as a GoPhone averages a tad over $15-month, allowing for the occasional talk/text.  Pretty fair deal, I would say, when compared to the alternative of monthly plans with two-year commitments.  No contract, no taxes, no fees, no overages.

 

NOTE:  If you have a "feature" GoPhone, not a smartphone, and you want the $50-month unlimited talk/text/data (because data is unlimited for feature phones) you can get a (slightly better) monthly 5% discount (you pay $47.50) with no sales tax or hidden fees if you buy the following $50 card, instead.  Example: http://www.callingmart.com/products/wireless/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=150

 

Others may add to this, but this is what I do to avoid AT&T surcharges.  And, hope that this post helps others.

 


 


You actually missed something to save even more$$!! AT&T "rolls over" your unused data IF you buy more data within 30 days.

 

That's significant... Instead of buying 100MB for $15 every month, you can buy 500MB the first month for $25 (5x the data for less than double), and then just buy the $5 data package every 29 days after that. When you buy the $5 data plan, you're essentally buying a 30-day time extension + a paltry amount of additional data.

 

When you've widdled your 500MB down to <100MB (presumably after 4-7 months),  you then should buy the $25 plan again and start cycle all over again.

 

If you can keep on top of it with automatic reminders, then you should never be buying the $15 data package (only the $25 and the $5).

 

Cost averages $11.25/mo instead of $15 (1mo@$25  /THEN/ 4mo@$5). Doesn't sound like much savings, but for me my data usage is inconsistant, so the $15 plan wouldn't really cut it, since some months I'll use more than 100mb, but as long as my usage AVERAGES 100mb/mo over 5 months, I'm fine, plus the $3.75/month savings. You have to be on top of it though.

Message 14 of 15
Contributor

Re: Lesson Learned - How to Feed my iPhone as a GoPhone


nospamboz wrote:

OnlytheShadowKnows wrote:

Others may add to this, but this is what I do to avoid AT&T surcharges.  And, hope that this post helps others.

 



I'm a US Citizen, have a US billing address, and a verified Paypal account, but Callingmart doesn't want my business because I happen to be in Australia. My order went through to Paypal, but Callingmart flagged it (probably because I'm in Australia), said they would call me (I gave them my US Skype number), but they never did. I even changed my voicemail greeting to let them know I was in Australia, but I guess it's in the "too-hard basket", as they say here. I'll be staying with myprepaidrefill.com - at least they don't discriminate. Smiley Mad


 

 

 

 

Get CloudBrowse app, and complete the purchase via that on your iPhone. It allows you to control a "virtual PC" in the USA, and CloudBrowse's US-based IP address is surprisingly highly respected (Amazon AWS in Virginia). App is mainly designed for allowing you to visit non-iPhone compatable websites. Websites that take a while to load will load much quicker, but lower resolution since you're getting a screen shot that updates a few times a second.

 

The app has surprisingly has NO monthly fee, but browsing sessions are limited to 10-minutes!! After 10-minutes, it makes you start all over. You can pay to avoid that, which you might want to do if you order from US websites whilest overseas often.

 

You need to get used to it before you can do things quickly, but over WiFi, it works quite good. Make sure you use the "Tab" and "Previous" "Next" buttons above the keyboard when filling out order forms... Clicking into each field with this app to fill out a mult-field order form is quite slow and painful.

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