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How to get free cellphone service

Tired of spending a ton of cash on your cellphone bill each month? There are several plans that let you get highly discounted service.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 20, 2014 2:18PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.

If you no longer had a cellphone bill, how much money would you save each month? 


Nowadays, many of us are attached to our smartphones and are willing to pay whatever it costs to make sure we can chat, text or check email throughout the day. But you typically require a data plan to take advantage of all of these capabilities.


Fortunately, a few providers offer plans that allow you to completely eliminate your cellphone bill or slash it in half.

FreedomPop

Through the Sprint network, FreedomPop offers 200 talk minutes, 500 text messages and 500 MB of 4G data each month at no cost to you. Sound too good to be true? Well, there are a few costs that you'll have to absorb, but it still beats paying the wireless giants hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.


First and foremost, you must have a Sprint Android device to participate. If you don't have one on hand, FreedomPop sells refurbished versions of the HTC Evo 4G for only $179 plus shipping and handling. And if you want voice mail, you’ll have to pay $2.50 per month for that as well.


Denver Broncos fans on their cell phones at Mile High stadium. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY SportsNot a bad deal so far, but what happens when the well runs dry? Additional minutes and text messages can be purchased for only 1 cent each. You can also choose from unlimited talk and data plans to give you more flexibility throughout the month.


Ready to hop aboard the FreedomPop train? Be sure to check the coverage map to see if service is available in your area.


Scratch Wireless

If you're frequently in areas with Wi-Fi connectivity, Scratch Wireless offers something much better than FreedomPop. All you need is a Motorola Photon Q, which costs $269, to get started. Since the service operates primarily on wireless networks, texting, data and voice calls are always free. Even when you lose connectivity, texts can still be sent over cellular networks free of charge.


Need to make a call or use data on your cellphone and no Wi-Fi is available? Simply purchase a 24-hour or 30-day pass to fill the void. For $1.99, you can access 25MB of cell data or 30 cell minutes. With the 30-day option, $14.99 will get you 200MB of data or 250 cell minutes.


SafeLink Wireless

SafeLink Wireless offers a free cellphone along with 250 minutes and 1,000 texts per month free of charge to qualifying customers. It is part of the federal government's Lifeline program, which helps low-income people who receive government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 or Supplemental Security Income. To learn more about the Lifeline program, visit this Federal Communications Commission website.


Talkatone

Looking to minimize the cost of your current plan without switching providers? The Talkatone mobile application allows you to make a call or send a text message over a Wi-Fi or data connection without exhausting the minutes or data included in your monthly plan. You can also retrieve a phone number from Google Voice to call and text from your iPad, iPod or Kindle Fire.


Service is available in the U.S. and Canada. Premium ad-free plans that offer a slightly enhanced call quality are also available for $1.99 per month, $10.99 for six months or $19.99 per year.


Discounted cellphone plans

A number of providers offer steeply discounted cellphone plans. Among these is Republic Wireless, which has contract-free talk, text and data plans ranging from $5 to $40. MetroPCS is very popular down here in the Sunshine State because of its unlimited talk, text and data plans that start at $40 and do not require a Wi-Fi network to function.


Check out this article from PC Magazine for a comprehensive list of providers of low-cost plans.


The bottom line is that you don't have to keep paying top dollar for your smartphone plan. You may have to do a little searching to find a provider with plans that meet your needs and cover your area, but your wallet will thank you in the end.


More on Money Talks News:

177Comments
Jan 20, 2014 7:25PM
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Excuse me if I vent a little here, but it still gets my goat to see someone in the grocery check-out isle paying for their groceries with an EBT while talking on their $800 iPhone!!!
Jan 20, 2014 8:04PM
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Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.
Give a man a welfare check, free cellphone, foodstamps and section 8 housing and he'll vote Democratic all his life!
Jan 20, 2014 4:18PM
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A bunch of people I know use Obama phones.  They have better coverage than mine, and no cost to them, just to the taxpayer.
Jan 20, 2014 6:42PM
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I pay a lot for my cell phone but it is my cable bill that eats my lunch.... wish for something better here.
Jan 20, 2014 5:59PM
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jesus, now the media is expounding on the benefits paid for by the taxpayers...take take take some more! and by the way, be sure to get your welfare check and ebt card! this system of low cost phones is intended for the elderly and poor folks out in the wilderness! not for every ghetto rat and illegal in the usa! no damn wonder usa is broke! LEECHES!
Jan 20, 2014 3:52PM
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This would be where UNIVERSAL SERVICE FEES go.It's on most if not all, the bills.
Jan 20, 2014 7:20PM
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HEY, Obamacare phone plans.  Let those who are paying for their own service, get a charge to cover those who have the free cell phone coverage.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE RIDE. . .Somebody ALWAYS PAYS!!!  We always see the term "government program/subsidy/etc.  BUT, its ALWAYS the same - taxpayer's money is what pays for  all this "FREE" stuff, NOT the "GOVERNMENT"!!!
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I have a new $19.99 Tracfone I bought last month from Amazon [49.99 at Wally world]

Gets free triple minutes for life so it cost me about ten cents a minute for air time.
The air time is listed right on the screen so you cant miss it.

It gets internet and my email checks for free if I find a hot spot. If not it cost me a minute or two of airtime.

If you talk alot on the phone or want to surf the net this aint for you but if you want an inexpensive phone for ocassional  use that has all the features when you need them but no monthly contract its the way to go.

Jan 20, 2014 2:31PM
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The writer left out government-subsidized (taxpayer paid for) cell phones. Guess the media puppets want people to forget about that...
Jan 20, 2014 6:42PM
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just go on welfare, free phone, free food, free house but you actually lose your freedom.

Jan 21, 2014 11:14AM
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I agree with gotto211,  I saw a news reel last night where school age kids were being fitted with new shoes from a charity organization from North Carolina.  It showed at least five kids between the ages of 6 and 12 getting new shoes for school and all of them were sitting there getting their feet washed and measured for new FREE shoes while talking or playing on their I phones.  I work 50 hrs a week and can't afford an I phone.  Give me a break.......
Jan 20, 2014 9:58PM
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There's no reason to stick with a contract anymore unless you're really hunger for a latest model smartphone.
Jan 20, 2014 10:00PM
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I have a dirt cheap Virgin Mobile flip phone.  Cost about 20 bucks.  All I have to do is put 20 bucks into it every three months.  At home I have a Magic Jack phone attached to my laptop.  Initial outlay was about 40 bucks.  Costs $29.99 or so per year.  This all works for me.
Jan 20, 2014 9:09PM
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Most of the comments on this article are from the brainwashed.
Jan 20, 2014 8:25PM
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Let's don't forget the Obammy phone paid for by the working people.
Jan 20, 2014 8:05PM
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GREAT DAY FOR FREE PHONE ADVICE FROM MSN ON MLK DAY! HOW MANY OF OBAMA'S

VOTERS ARE OUT PARTYING AND DRINKING AND CELEBRATING CAUSE THEY HAVE NO

JOBS TO GO TO AND DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT MLK WAS TALKING ABOUT???

AND THE DEMONCRAP PARTY WERE AGAINST MLK! THEY VOTED AGAINST HIM! THEY

STARTED THE KKK! THEY WERE AGAINST ANY LEGISLATION FOR BLACK PEOPLE UNTIL

THEY REALIZED THEY COULD BE A BIGGER PARTY BY ENSLAVING THEM WITH WELFARE

AND FOODSTAMPS AND GOVT PROMISES BY KEEPING THEM UNDER THEIR CONTROL AND

LOOK AT HOW OBAMA AND DEMONCRAPS ARE DOING IT NOW! IT'S WORSE THAN EVER!

Jan 20, 2014 6:16PM
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a friend of my grand daughter told her she could get a good deal on a cell phone if she bought it from a pawn shop (both girls are 13) so my grand daughter went to a pawn shop and bought an AT&T iphone 4 and cannot get any service from anyone other than AT&T because she said the phone is locked in and has to be unlocked. (not sure what she means)  Since she cannot afford AT&T plans, the phone is useless. 
Jan 20, 2014 5:46PM
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My Obammy bought me one for my vote.
Jan 20, 2014 3:56PM
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 Wouldn't it be cheaper all around to just sign up as an Obama supporter?
Jan 20, 2014 6:02PM
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