What's Your Current Cheapskate Setup?

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2 years 4 months ago - 2 years 4 months ago #21550 by Chelle

freeform wrote: Chelle

This is one of your best tips yet! (At least for me)
I spent last night researching, after your post.
I just ordered a refurb hotspot with the$5 3G unlimited plan (which includes 2 months service free)
Thanks!


I think you'll be very happy with it! Even though Verizon is decommissioning their 3g network, sometime in 2019, the 3g hotspots are still worth getting.

The "2 months free" is a little bit of a misnomer. You should probably start making payments right away. Once I explain everything, you'll understand why.

If you walk into Walgreen's, right now, you can buy a Verizon 3g flip phone for about $15. That phone has two plans available to it. The $15/month plan includes something like 300 minutes, 300 texts, and unlimited 3g internet, and the $30/month plan includes unlimited minutes, texts and unlimited 3g internet.

They're not worried about you using too many megabytes of data because it's frustratingly slow to type in the name of websites using the flip phone keypad-- so it's no skin off their nose to give you unlimited 3g internet.

Hypothetically, if you didn't pay your bill in the second month, the talk and text would stop working-- but the unlimited 3g internet would continue to work. Why? Because they want you to be able to make your $15 or $30 payment-- from the phone-- once you scare up a few bucks. Your internet has to be working in order for that to happen.

So an unpaid bill cuts off talk and text but lets unlimited 3g continue to work.

If you go 90 days without paying your bill then you lose the phone number and your account is closed.

Here's why that's important:

In 2008 (if my memory is correct) Verizon wanted to buy more spectrum. The FCC told them that they were unhappy with some of their practices and made them agree to a list of policy changes. One of those changes allowed customers to use whatever device they wanted with whatever plan they happened to have with Verizon. That meant that you could start buying phones from somewhere other than Verizon.

Some enterprising individuals leaned over that line and started cloning/flashing 3g flip phone firmware, with the associated account information, into hotspots. When those hotspots connect to the Verizon network they look like a flip phone.

If you own a hotspot you don't care about talk and text. All you care about is the unlimited 3g data. So you can just pay $15 every 89 days and keep it alive. If you let it go 90 days, the phone number is deactivated and the hotspot has to be reflashed. (Don't let that happen.)

Most people prefer to pay $5 every month so that they don't forget to do the $15 every 89 days.

When you call the automated Verizon number it will tell you that the minimum acceptable payment is $15. You ignore that and pay $5, anyway. It will tell you that your account now has a $5 balance.

The next month you'll do the same thing and it will tell you that your account has a $10 balance.

In the third month it will tell you that your account has a $0 balance-- because you met the $15 minimum and "restored" talk and text service. (Not that you can actually use it, with your hotspot.) Then the cycle starts again.

The only negative to paying monthly is that they charge you the 911 fee every time you make a payment. In my community that costs 75 cents. So my $5 payments actually cost $5.75.

I believe that you can avoid that 75 cent fee by refilling with a Verizon prepaid $5 card, rather than using your credit card.

If you think that you can just go ahead a pay for a year, in advance-- you can't. Your balance will get chipped away in $30 increments, each month, and give you unlimited talk and text-- which is, obviously, useless. You basically need to starve the account so that you maintain data but don't activate talk and text more than once every three months.

I actually have two hotspots that have been flashed AND I had an old Verizon Galaxy Note 2 flashed to a flip phone, too. I starve it, as well, but sometimes I pay the $15 and let it be a full fledged phone, for the month.

Verizon used to play whack-a-mole with these hotspots. They'd look for flip phone accounts that used lots of data and find ways to throw roadblocks in front of them. Technically, they're not supposed to-- but they lean over the line just like the flashers do.

Some flashers don't know how to do the entire process and their hotspots are left vulnerable and are easily thwarted by Verizon after a few weeks. Other flashers know how to do the entire process that makes them more resilient. Mine have worked for several years, with no problems. I know other people who've had the same experience. Be sure to buy from an eBay seller with lots of good feedback on MiFi sales.

I suspect that Verizon is not wasting their energy on these, anymore, since the 3g network is getting sunsetted in 2019.

I hope that was all understandable. Basically-- make a $5 payment, right away, and keep doing it every 30 days. If it goes dead because you let it lapse for too long, that's not the seller's fault.

Enjoy!
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2 years 4 months ago #21551 by mmfacemm
Did you buy that note off ebay? or flash it yourself? Can you tether with the note still?

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2 years 4 months ago - 2 years 4 months ago #21552 by Chelle

mmfacemm wrote: Did you buy that note off ebay? or flash it yourself? Can you tether with the note still?


It was a phone that I already had. I mailed it to a flasher and he turned it into a flip phone. If I do a factory reset it will turn back into its old self.

It tethers using PdaNet+ (which was also the case when I had it on Verizon Postpaid). I used to use it as one of our two home hotspots, but then I bought a second MiFi and the Note 2 just went into my spare phone bin. I pay for all three at the same time, every month.

If you knew me in real life you'd laugh at my obsession with redundancy. I have backups of everything. Phones, laptops, cars-- everything. If I see a blouse or skirt that I like I buy two and put one away as my backup in case I ruin the first one. I used to drive a VW Bus, for many years, and I kept a spare engine in the shed-- ready to go-- because I loved it so much.

I'm, technically, not OCD-- but I dance all around the edge of it. I love Monk. I really "get" him. He would blend into my family quite well. ;)
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2 years 4 months ago #21554 by Chelle
"Seperately, is there a chance that this program can continue into 2011 (at least for some markets)?"

2011? I must not understand the question.

Verizon 3g is supposed to sunset by the end of 2019. It could happen earlier in the year.

If you pay $79 for a hotspot and make a dozen $5 payments you'll end up with a year of unlimited internet for $139. If it goes longer than a year then so much the better.

Enjoy the ride, however long it lasts.

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2 weeks 2 days ago - 2 weeks 2 days ago #45725 by Chelle

Chelle wrote:

mmfacemm wrote: Did you buy that note off ebay? or flash it yourself? Can you tether with the note still?


It was a phone that I already had. I mailed it to a flasher and he turned it into a flip phone.


My $5/mo unlimited Verizon 3g plan, on my Galaxy Note 2, is still chugging along! And tethering still works great, using FoxFi.

I know that all the 3g MiFis were killed, a long time ago, but my phone survived the cut.

I'm guessing that it's because it's capable of making calls and I make a phone call, periodically, to ensure that they still know that it's a phone and not a MiFi.

I use it for miscellaneous projects and stuff. I only use about 12GB/mo with it-- but it's been nice to have it around. Kind of my rainy day backup internet.

I'll bet I'm one of the last $5 unlimited 3g people left!

I know that the 3g train will run out of track, sometime soon, but it's been a fun ride.
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1 week 6 days ago #45818 by scriptninja
Let's see, latest iteration on my cheapskate setup. All Freedompop sims are on free plans. I think one has a little leftover top-up from when giving them $10 let you disable something or other, one should have about the same but instead has ~$30 because one time I forgot to reactivate it and got auto-topped-up, and one has almost $190 from back when they ran that special where you would occasionally see a popup ad inviting you to buy credit at a steep discount ($160 for $40 or $40 for $10 or some such?) ...so the three FP sims represent somewhere around $100 spent, total, I think.

Home: Obi on Google Voice, with a Dollar Unlimited CallCentric account as a backup in case registering it directly instead of forwarding to a SIP account ever stops working
Smartwatch: Freedompop sim on free plan (rarely actually uses anything)
Tablet which doesn't see much use: dual-sim, FreeUp free plan and FreedomPop
Daily driver: dual-sim, Tracfone VZW with five 1200/1200/3GB/365d plans stacked for 15GB+~6k minutes+~6k texts good through May 2020 (total cost just under $200 for the five years) and FreedomPop

...Which is overkill. At my rates of usage, that one big chunk of FreedomPop top-up would probably last me a decade, and in an exceptionally heavy-usage month I might use 20 minutes and 4 texts.

The only remotely decent excuse I have for getting the Tracfone sim instead of running FreeUp+FreedomPop on my daily driver is wanting coverage on more than just AT&T after Surgephone stopped being worth the effort.
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1 week 4 days ago #45888 by LiterallyUnlimited
My cheapskate setup:

- iPhone SE (2020) with a physical Ting SIM for talk/text and an eSIM from Airalo for data. 3GB/$11.
- Pixel 3a with Visible for $25/month.
- A freedompop GSM SIM floating around in the ether
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1 week 4 days ago #45902 by KentE

LiterallyUnlimited wrote: My cheapskate setup:

- iPhone SE (2020) with a physical Ting SIM for talk/text and an eSIM from Airalo for data. 3GB/$11.
......


Nice setup there. I'd looked at Airalo, but I don't have a phone with eSIM.

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6 days 22 hours ago #46031 by LiterallyUnlimited

KentE wrote: Nice setup there. I'd looked at Airalo, but I don't have a phone with eSIM.


Neither did I until very recently. I traded in my 8 to Apple just to be able to do this setup. With the fact that I'm not using Ting data as much anymore, it'll pay for itself within a year.

I still value my phone number too much to have the number parked anywhere else.
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