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Old 2018-12-16, 14:49   #12
jvang
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VictordeHolland View Post
Do you really need the unlimited data? Or can you use WIFI at home/university/work?

I don't know how providers do business in the USA, but $50 for unlimited doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

I may not be a heavy smartphone/tablet user but I use 4GB over WIFI and only 1GB over mobile network each month. I've set my phone to backup photo/video and update apps when connected to WIFI and to prefer WIFI connection over mobile network when both are connected.

I pay €13/month for a 2GB data plan + unlimited voice/text. If I used 90% of my data bundle I get a text message stating so. I can then (optionally) buy extra data for that month (1/3/5/10GB for €7,50/15/20/30). I've needed it once this year when I was on holiday in Denmark/Sweden and I wanted to backup my photo's over a mobile connection, a well spend €20 if you asks me.
I shouldn’t need the unlimited data, but the 2 gigabyte plan (plus unlimited to ice/text) through Straight Talk is $35, which is much better than Verizon, but clearly much more expensive than in other countries. I think that there are a couple factors leading to high service contract prices around here. First off, cell towers have to cover much more area per person than in other countries, and I’d assume they have to build extra for rural areas. Secondly, since internet access isn’t even available to some rural areas (our best option is DSL, and we’re lucky), people use their phone data for everything, which probably overloads the towers. Both could affect the prices, although perhaps US service providers are just getting away with really high prices

All I’ve looked at is Straight Talk and Verizon. When I told my dad about the lower price, he immediately took me to Wal-Mart so we could both get new SIM cards for the TracFone service (it seems that they’re the parent company of Straight Talk or something?). The $50 SIM card replacement kit came with a month of the $45 plan, which I guess is nice. No contract, so I can switch to different plans or providers whenever I want. It was pretty straightforward; remove old SIM card, put in the new one, go to their website, fill out their online forms, and bam, my phone was activated within 5 minutes.

Straight Talk also has a points reward system, letting you get a month of free service and whatnot. By using my dad's referral code (he did his phone before I did), we both got some points. If I find a better/cheaper plan while snooping around on the internet then I’ll switch over, otherwise I suppose this works
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Old 2018-12-16, 14:56   #13
jvang
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There are several online services offering to unlock my phone, charging around $20-30. I’ll have to look into whether it’s worth the trouble.

On a slightly different note, T-Mobile has a military service discount that is great for family plans. A 4 person plan with unlimited everything would be $25 per person, and with more people on the plan it gets even cheaper. Worth a look if you’ve got a shared plan!
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Old 2018-12-16, 15:46   #14
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvang View Post
Straight Talk also has a points reward system, letting you get a month of free service and whatnot.
Again, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

"Loyalty points" have to be paid from somewhere. Since these are publicly traded companies, they are paid by the consumer, not the shareholders.

If you can figure out how other customers pay for your "free" service, all the power to you....
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Old 2018-12-17, 02:11   #15
LaurV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masser View Post
Having your own plan might be a good way to establish a credit record. You will need that sooner than later.
+1
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Old 2018-12-17, 14:26   #16
jvang
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masser View Post
Having your own plan might be a good way to establish a credit record. You will need that sooner than later.
Is it possible to have a credit record without a credit card? My mom (and I occasionally) listens to a well-known podcast by Dave Ramsey. One of his main ideas for becoming wealthy is to avoid the use of credit cards and other forms of debt, with the exception of your house (but you’re supposed to get a 15 year mortgage to pay it off faster). And he's shown that you can get a house without a FICO score or whatever most companies use to determine your eligibility. I don’t know much about this whole thing myself (haven’t bought a house or anything), so maybe someone can clear this up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
Again, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

"Loyalty points" have to be paid from somewhere. Since these are publicly traded companies, they are paid by the consumer, not the shareholders.

If you can figure out how other customers pay for your "free" service, all the power to you....
I treat it as paying for x months of service and getting x+1 months for the same price. They could just charge less for each month, but that would reduce the money they get from irregular customers. I don’t mind getting extra stuff!
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Old 2018-12-17, 16:25   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvang View Post
Is it possible to have a credit record without a credit card?
Yes -- but to build up a credit record quickly you will need to use a credit card.

David Ramsey's methods are solid though mathematically suboptimal. If you have a phobia of credit cards you can certainly avoid their use. If you can't trust yourself to use them responsibly you certainly should not use them.

If you plan on using credit cards any way other than paying off the full balance every month you should think long and hard about what you are doing and if it is worthwhile.
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Old 2018-12-17, 19:00   #18
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The usual first steps are a co-signer credit card, a store card (e.g. Newegg store card, or some tire store card - the tire shops love to make these up), then the real one.

Another great thing is to buy a car with a co-signer parent - especially if/when dealers have the 'graduate' deals. I did that for my daughter and built her credit score up to 700s right away and saved $1,500 in the process because of the deal...
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Old 2018-12-17, 20:30   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvang View Post
When I told my dad about the lower price, he immediately took me to Wal-Mart so we could both get new SIM cards for the TracFone service (it seems that they’re the parent company of Straight Talk or something?).
Ha, now we see the reason behind it; dad gets the tech-savvy kid to do the research to find the savings strategy. A cell phone sales guy in a discount store with industry background told me about half the prepaid plans on the US market were from the Tracfone parent company.
Glad you found something you're satisfied with. Re credit history, one approach to that is establishing a reliable payment history on a monthly bill, like utilities; electric, phone,...
Re credit cards, they generally have awful interest rates, and some have fees, but some are no-fee and offer cashback or gas discounts or other in effect rebates. Absolutely pay off the balance on time in full every month without fail, and they can be better financially than paying cash or by debit card.
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Old 2018-12-19, 01:36   #20
jvang
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRGreathouse View Post
David Ramsey's methods are solid though mathematically suboptimal.
From what I can tell, his general plan is A) get out of debt as quickly as possible, B) avoid debt, and C) invest a bunch of money in all sorts of things. Seems pretty straightforward; what would you do to become wealthy in a mathematically optimal way? Given your past responses on economics/money, I assume that you know what you’re talking about
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Old 2019-02-11, 02:21   #21
jvang
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Found a new, cheaper phone plan for my dad through PureTalk USA. It's $20 per month, no contract, with unlimited talk/text and unlimited low speed data (basic web browsing and emails). Pretty neat if you aren't consuming a bunch of media on your phone
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Old 2019-02-11, 15:39   #22
henryzz
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Doesn't Whatsapp supplant the need for unlimited calls/txts? Surely you will have wifi the majority of the time for internet.
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