General Question

ibstubro's avatar

What's the cheapest cell phone service that will allow me to keep my old cell phone and number?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) January 17th, 2016

All I need is minimal calling.
Text not required, internet not desired, at this time.

I currently have US Cellular and it seems to have the best coverage in my area.

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15 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Have you looked into Consumer Cellular? They seem to have low end phones and pretty good prices. They mostly market to AARP and other affinity groups.

I believe that they resell AT&T, which is why coverage is pretty good,

Buttonstc's avatar

The tricky part is “keep my old cell phone”

Keeping the phone number is pretty straightforward (I don’t know of any that can’t arrange to port your number over to their service) but phones are another matter altogether. There is no way that a GSM cellphone will work on a CDMA system.

But most of the economical alternatives to the high priced major carrier have phones available for new customers either free or pretty cheap.

I just recently switched to METROPCS and so far happy with it.

Their least expensive tier is $30 and you get a lot for that.

johnpowell's avatar

There is Ting where you could keep using your old phone if it is supported.

If you would be willing to switch phones I am using Republic Wireless. You have to buy a phone from them (I got a MotoE for $99) and my monthly bill is around 12 bucks.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

I also have a phone from US Cellular. A Galaxy s4 in great condition. We dropped our contract with them and can’t find a provider to use with this phone. I bought a cheap Tracfone at Walmart and bought 120 minutes of call and text for $20 per month. I use my s4 at home or wherever there is Wi-Fi for play and my Tracfone for calls.

Tracfone will let you transfer your number.

LostInParadise's avatar

If you do minimal calling, like I do, T Mobile is essentially free. You only pay for the calls that you make. I don’t know if they let you keep your old number.

jca's avatar

Not sure what the plan is called, but some people I know get the service that’s from Walmart.

Buttonstc's avatar


Walmart’s service is Straight Talk.

Buttonstc's avatar


MetroPcs uses Samsung Galaxy phones and since yours is much newer than mine (Galaxy Core) there shouldn’t be a problem.

The only thing I don’t know about is whether the problem is due to it being a phone locked by US Cellular.

But if you unlock it I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work with MetroPcs or any other provider.

I know that @jerv speaks highly of Cyanagen Mod (a free software to unlock/jailbreak devices).

Maybe drop him a PM to see what he would recommend.

jaytkay's avatar

free software to unlock/jailbreak devices

That does not unlock the phone from the carrier. You can call US Cellular and ask them to unlock the phone.

Also, US Cellular uses CDMA networks like Sprint and Verizon.

The phone will never work on GSM networks like AT&T and T Mobile.

ibstubro's avatar

Sorry if I’m not responding in kind but I asked the question at the end of a long work day, and I’m starting another.
I appreciate the answers, and I’m looking into all the suggestions.

I like @elbanditoroso Consumer Cellular because I know AT&T works well here
I know @Buttonstc is more connected to the world through phone than I am, so I might not need as many features, but, again, I’m looking at it.

I didn’t open Ting, yet, @johnpowell but I’m intrigued by Republic Wireless. Very low cost for me, but I didn’t look at coverage.

I know @dammitjanetfromvegas is in the same region as me and seeking the same thing…cheap, minimal connectivity. Tracphone was something I’d started looking at.

T Mobile. Is that the phones you can buy at quick stops, @LostInParadise?

More later.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

We took our US Cellular phones to Verizon and they told us our phones will not work with them. We would have to buy a phone from Verizon. That’s not happening.

Buttonstc's avatar

Did they tell you WHY they wouldn’t work?

Since Verdon is CDMA that sounds a bit strange.

Did you fulfill your contract with US Cellular? Then they should unlock it for you.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes, @dammitjanetfromvegas and @Buttonstc . Verizon and US Cellular are both CDMA but,

“In the U.S., CDMA carriers use network-based white lists to verify their subscribers. That means you can only switch phones with your carrier’s permission, and a carrier doesn’t have to accept any particular phone onto its network. It could, but typically, U.S. carriers choose not to.” PC Mag February 6, 2015

The “white list” is a serial number by serial number match of “approved mobile phones”.

jaytkay's avatar

I use Truphone, and it uses AT&T networks.

It’s prepaid and the minutes never expire, that is a BIG advantage if you don’t talk much – I have gone two months on $15.

Truphone charges 9 cents/minute for outgoing calls and 0 cents for incoming within the US.

I use a Google voice and wifi for most of my calls, which uses zero minutes. When I travel I might spend $50 but that’s only 1 or 2 months per year.

You would have to get an unlocked AT&T or T-Mobile phone. You can get one for less than $100 on eBay, and with no monthly plan it might be cost effective.

johnpowell's avatar

@ibstubro :: Republic Wireless is a Sprint MVNO. But they also modded Android so if you are on WIFI it makes and receives your calls on WIFI and if wifi drops it hands your call over to Sprint. You don’t notice when it switches.

There is some good and bad with that. Sprint has shitty coverage here. But if it is bad and I need to make a call when it is bad I can find a open wifi hotspot and call using wifi.

And another nice thing is that you can turn on data if you are going to need for short periods of time. I babysat for my sister last week for a few days and I was able to turn on data for those days and it runs about 50 cents a day.

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