The Freedom of Pay-As-You-Go Virgin Mobile

I belong to a growing minority of people who have no land-line phone. That’s right, I fired Ma Bell. She was a little too demanding and way too inconvenient. Instead, I ended up choosing Virgin Mobile and loving it! See, the point is that even Time magazine recognizes that we are becoming a nation of extreme commuters. Who is home anymore to answer the phone? Certainly, not me. When I realized I was using my cell phone more than my land-line, the choice to snip the cord was a moot point. But, first I had to understand that even just going cellular was not the entire answer. If you really want to free yourself from big phone companies and all their hidden penalties, you got to go the pay-as-you-go route. For me, Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go was the perfect solution to my communication needs.

Some of the freedoms you enjoy using a pay-as-you-go phone versus a land-line or regular cell phone contract are:

No late fees: If you decide you don’t want to pay your bill by the 30th of the month, just don’t. You are in total control of when to pay your bill.

Convenience: Your cell phone goes wherever you go. Try that with a land-line.

No answering machines: The cellular phones all have voicemail that works far better than any answering machine ever did.

No contracts: This is important for those of us who are commitment-phobes. If we don’t like your service, we reserve the right to walk out on you without paying you another penny.

No cancellation hassles: Try canceling any phone service and you will have penalty fees on the cell phone contracts or huge waits in land-line company phone queues. It’s mind-numbing, aggravating, and inspired to make you quit trying to quit. To quit a pay-as-you-go phone simply quit filling up the account. You never have to talk to a representative who’s only joy in life, after you’ve spent a half-hour in a phone queue being transferred left and right, is to ask you: “Are you sure you want to quit?”

Even after I tried going fully cellular, I had a lot to learn. My first phone contract was with Altell. They sold me a 1-year contract and gave me two “free” phones. Those phones turned out to be the most expensive free phones I ever got. What they don’t tell you when they give you a supposedly “free” phone is that you can not cancel any of the “free” phones you get without triggering massive cancellation charges. Should you decide to simply stop using a phone, you are required to continue paying the contract as if all phones were in service. Terminating even one phone, whether they called it “free” or not, means you are liable for termination fees of $200 per phone – hardly free!

The reason I wanted to cancel one of the phones was because my daughter had been using it in Florida when she was on vacation from North Carolina. She rang up a whopping $400 in roaming charges that I could not tell were even being charged to my account because they simply don’t want you to know. I found out after the damage had already been done. Think about this. If your phone ever gets stolen and it’s on a regular phone contract, you are liable for roaming charges and huge termination fees. This is far from a fair contract in my mind. So, after this valuable lesson, I switched to pay-as-you-go phone service.

Virgin Mobile has a variety of phones that one can buy off their website at www.virginmobileusa.com, or at any Best Buy store. You can get as cheap or expensive a phone you want. Sure, paying $30 is not free, but neither are the “free” phones the regular ceulluar contracts give you. You will end up paying for them one way or another. If you really want a deal, go on Ebay and get a used phone!

After about a year of topping up my pay-as-you-go phone using the Internet fill-up service Virgin Mobile has, I realized that I could save even more money using a new month-to-month automatic fill-up. Although this may seem like the same thing as having a cell phone contract, it is not. The main difference is that when your account is used to fill-up your minutes, your phone tells you. This way, you can budget exactly how much time you’ve spent on the phone versus how much you are spending. You don’t have to wait until the end of the month to figure out you went over by $400. Obviously, by then, it is quite too late to reign in the spending and this is why cell phone companies love yearly contracts. Virgin Mobile cell phone pay-as-you-go service has worked so well for me that I also realized it is perfect for my daughter. Whereas a regular cell phone contract was financial suicide with a teenager, the pay-as-you-go plans could provide her with some valuable monetary training. I intend on providing her with a pay-as-you-go phone and she can use her own earnings or allowance to fill it up. This will help her understand the meaning of fiscal responsibility. So, be smart. If you are going to cut the land-line and go cellular, use a pay-as-you-go plan and force the big phone companies to stop playing shell games with hidden roaming charges and termination fees.

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