Monday, December 24, 2007

Use That Old Phone

Got a new phone this holiday? Most old phones end up in a drawer somewhere, and then forgotten. Most of us set our old phones aside, but still within reach, "just in case." But that day rarely comes. So this year, why not make a conscious decision to do something with that phone right away.

We suggest in this phone-dependent society that a retired phone be placed in service as a spare. If you're feeling flush, go ahead and add it to your family plan and you'll always have it in the glove box ready for the day you forget your nice shiny, new phone. But if you're more practical like me, you'll sign that phone up with a prepaid plan from one of the cellular resellers who generally will allow old phones to be re-activated on their network.

You need to find a reseller who offers service on the same network, and many of them, especially Sprint resellers, will say no. However, an AT&T phone will work with a SpeakOut SIM (although you may need to buy 7-Eleven's phone to get it), a Verizon phone should work on PagePlus, and T-Mobile's own T-Mobile2Go is a great alternative for a retired T-mobile phone.

We provide a list of what works with whom on our MVNO Page, a few suggestions on Our Choice Page, and there's nothing wrong with switching that old phone to your own network's prepaid service. And there are a whole bunch of new options available if you make the effort to "unlock" that old GSM phone and insert a cheaper prepaid SIM. There are prepaid providers who offer longer expiration dates, up to one year.

There's nothing like having an active standby phone. Even if you never use it, you get great comfort knowing that it's there, especially in the car, and even more so in a family member's car. Keep in mind, you cannot re-activate a non-E911 phone on a CDMA network, and if you really want to depend on that phone, buy it a new battery. They're around $50 at cellular stores, or you can get one for under $20 at online retailers like our discount accessory partners.

Other options include selling your old phone if you search for online buyers, donating to shelters who will do the selling for you, or real recycling services, especially the battery. A phone is a terrible thing to waste.

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