I’m no fan of cell phones; the idea of never being able to get away from people who get bored and choose to call me is just too scary. But the advantages of having a cell phone in some situations, like when your car breaks down, are undeniable.
I’ve had my cell phone for long enough now that I feel confident I know about all the gotchas that make it more expensive than I first thought. As far as I’m aware, I have the cheapest possible deal for people who rarely use their cell phones.
My phone is from Petro Canada. I pay 25 cents per minute of air time, but this isn’t significant because I rarely use the phone, and I have to put more money into my account periodically or else my old money “expires”. There are charges for text messages too, but I don’t send them, and the only messages I’ve ever received were from Petro Canada. Fortunately, they allowed me to put an end to this by sending the message STOP.
The cheapest option for buying air time (measured per month) is to add $25 every 120 days. Of course, there are sales taxes on top of this (13% for me). Another factor is that the new 120-day period begins on the day you pay, not the day that the last 120-day period ended.
So, assuming that on average I pay two days early, the real cost is $28.25 every 118 days. This works out to about $87 per year. The only other cost was the initial purchase of the phone.
The deal that I actually signed up for initially was significantly better, but they changed it. No doubt there will be more changes in the future, but for now, my cost is $87 per year. If anyone is aware of a better deal for very infrequent users of cell phones, I’d like to hear about it.