Cheap Cell Phones for Emergency Use

If you're like me, you might want to avoid carrying around a cell phone at all costs. When people call you, it's generally for their benefit, and there's little sense in subsidizing the process. But you also realize that there might be rare emergency situations when you need to make a call.

Fortunately for you, the whole cell phone industry is geared toward the majority, and the majority of people feel compelled to use their phones to excess. So the cell phone providers make their money by catering to this whim. They charge people for the airtime. To lure these unsophisticated customers, they practically give the phones away for free, knowing that these people will shell out their hard earned money year after year.

Well, that's good news for you, since you have no intention of paying one dime more than you have to. You can buy a very good phone for a very small pittance. You can then use it in one of two ways.

If you never want to pay another penny, you can simply put the phone away until a life-threatening emergency presents itself. When that happens, you can call 911 with the phone. Under FCC rules in the United States, every cell phone in circulation can place calls to 911, even if the frugal owner has never paid a phone bill, or even if the phone has been shut off for non-payment. As long as you are in an area where service is available, the provider is obligated to connect you with 911.

Of course, if you are in the middle of the wilderness, there might not be a signal available. So you should never rely on a cel phone as your sole method of communication. But since signals are available almost everywhere, this is a very good backup plan. In fact, even if you already own a cell phone, it's not a bad idea to have a spare, just in case your first one is disabled. If you recently upgraded to a new and improved phone, you can just keep the old one. Otherwise, you can buy a cheap phone similar to one that is shown here.

If you need to call someone other than 911, then you can use a prepaid cell phone. For those addicted to talking on their phones, these are a poor choice. The cost per minute is very expensive. But if you need to talk only a few minutes, you're way ahead of the game.

For all of the phones shown here, you can pay in one of two ways. You can sign up for service when you buy the phone, and you will have to pre-pay for those minutes you might need in the future. Each company varies, but in general, you will need to buy a minimum of about $20 worth of airtime. Also, you will need to do this once every 90 days or so. If the math wheels are clicking in your head, you realize that this works out to about $6.67 per month, much less than what your phone addicted friends are paying.

If that's too much, you can still have the phone for some future non-911 emergency. Minutes for all of these phones are sold in many convenience stores in the form of a pre-paid card. When the time comes, you can buy one of those cards and activate the phone then. If your next emergency is more than 90 days away, you can simply let the phone lapse, and then repeat the process if it's needed again.

All of the phones shown on this page will work either way. You can use them for 911 service at any time, or you can set them up for prepaid service. The choice is yours. Either way, you own the phone, even though you've paid a ridiculously low price for it.

Since you will be using the phone only in emergencies, it would be easy to let the batteries go dead. Each of these phones comes with a charger for recharging from standard household AC current. Since you're more likely to need the phone in your car, it would be a good idea to buy the car charger, which is shown beneath the phone. In an emergency, even if the batteries are dead, you can simply plug the phone into your car and start calling.

The links below go to Amazon, and most (but not all) of the prices shown here include free shipping. Similar phones, for about the same prices, are also available at most discount stores. Many more phones are available. I have listed one model, usually the cheapest, available from each of the major providers. Coverage will vary somewhat depending on which carrier you pick, and your geographic area. In general, all of these phones will work well in major metropolitan areas. In rural areas, one provider might provide somewhat better service than others. However, all of these companies have reasonably good nationwide networks, and the differences (especially when it comes to 911 calls) will be relatively minor.

If you have any doubts as to whether your new phone works, it's generally best not to call 911 just to test the phone. However, with most providers, you can call 611 and you'll be connected to a customer service representative. If that call goes through, you can be certain that you have service, and your 911 call would also go through.


Car Charger for T330G


Motorola EM326g Car Charger

Virgin Mobile (uses same network as Sprint)

Samsung Entro Car Charger


Samsung A157 Car Charger


Samsung U360 Car Charger

Miscellaneous Links

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