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I bought an unlocked IPhone and switched from Verizon to ATT GoPhone. I pay by the minute - 10 cents for calls and 20 cents for texts. I rarely text and I tell everybody not to send me any! I was told that after 90 days of inactivity I will lose my phone number. But according to the paperwork they gave me, it says that your balance expiration date is good for 1 year if you put $100 on the phone, and you need to refill your account within 60 days of the expiration date. Otherwise, your account will be cancelled. I'm not too concerned about losing my number. I'll just get another SIM card and phone number when I return to the States.

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Hi Colin,

 

I second Dana's recommendation of the TracPhone. When we were in Seattle in July, I got one at our local drugstore chain, Bartell, on sale for $5 and bought a card for 120 minutes (think it was $30). TracPhone had a special (think they always have a special) of 2 for 1 in terms of minutes, so we got 240 minutes. They expire after 6 months, so will still be good when we return in late Nov. Phone is very simple, but is fine, and call quality has been decent.

 

Good luck!

 

regards,

Gayle

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And Gayle,

 

Another thing about buying such an inexpensive phone is that its price is does not create any great inducement for it to be stolen from you.

 

Or if you should happen to lose it accidentally you're not out a bundle of money.

 

Paul M.

==

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Hi Dana and Gayle (and Paul as always), and thanks STW for your explanation and for everyone's comments.

 

I've purchased TracPhone, AT&T, etc. service over the years. TracPhone was the first and I "tossed it in a drawer" as Dana describes.

 

Unfortunately when I tried to use/reactivate it on my next trip 6 mo. later it was expired/number lost and I had to buy another. That has been my experience with almost every phone. Attempting to do anything online (with any carrier thus far) to keep it going requires them sending a text to your phone... which doesn't work so well here. Once online with AT&T in the States I could make changes but still stuck with $25/90 day which is too much.

 

So thus far it seems that Paul and STW's $100/yr (or at least the first year) is the only option to keep the same number. I guess I'm stuck buying new service/new number each time for my 10-20 phone calls per trip. A shame, but $30 every trip is less hassle.

Colin

Edited by CMinCR

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Our last two trips to the states we used Tracfone. Both times our old number had expired, and the remaing few minutes, so we got new phone numbers, which we promptly emailed to our local contacts. No need to keep your old numbers, just email everyone with the new ones and your set.

 

If you have Skype, I think you can also forward calls to a cellphone.

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Google Voice !

 

If you have a Google Voice account and associated phone number you can have calls to your G V number forwarded to your US cellphone. Also, when you establish a G V account you get to pick your own phone number so you can pick a number with an area code the same as many of those who will be calling you so it is a local call for them!

 

Just ask your people to call your G V number. You will have to go into the Settings for G V to establish the number to forward to. If your phone number changes simply revisit your G V settings and change the number that your calls are forwarded to. Never a need to notify anyone of a change in phone number!

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Mark, GV and Skype are both good choices. We've had a Skype number for several years, (although the delay in forwarding to the C.R. cell phone is sometimes longer than people will wait)... Nice to have a permanent number.

 

The problem with forwarding your known Skype/GV number to a U.S. cell phone is that you'll need the cell phone. So "cell phone plan for visits to the U.S." is still stuck on "buy a new number every trip..."

 

I was hoping, but it probably isn't worth it for carriers to keep your number alive for $50-60 a year.

Edited by CMinCR

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The problem with forwarding your known Skype/GV number to a U.S. cell phone is that you'll need the cell phone. So "cell phone plan for visits to the U.S." is still stuck on "buy a new number every trip..."

Of course your number may change each time you visit the US but the number that folks use to call you will not. As soon as you buy your new phone and/or SIM you just need to enter that number in the settings of your Google Voice account to have calls to your GV number forwarded to.

 

Yes, this does not end the need to have to keep buying a new phone/SIM for each visit but it simplifies matters for those who want to call you. The number they call never changes.

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Google Voice is definitely worthwhile having. Even if you use Skype, Magic Jack, Vonage or whatever. It costs nothing for the basic account but you will need to buy some credit to make some, but not all, calls.

 

I use GV to make calls to the US from CR, for free! All calls to US numbers are free. I also us it to call CR from the US. Those calls are a few pennies per minute US to CR. About the same cost as Skype or any of the other super-cheap methods.

 

The only thing that GV really lacks is the ability to forward calls to your phone while outside of the US. You can (and I have) receive calls to your GV number on the PC but its kinda like Skype. You have to have the computer switched on and running so in that regard it is not the most convenient way to receive calls.

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Looking into Google Voice. I have had the same cell phone number since the early '80's (starting with a Motorola 8000 brick phone) and would like to keep the number but drop T-Mobile. Calls can be made over wifi without T-Mobile using Skype or GV. Anyone ever notice cell phone sim card kiosks at US airports like we have here at SJO (Kolbi)?

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Steve -- I have looked and looked for just that thing but found nothing, really. It's all so complicated. I've even looked in those Best Buy cabinets at airports, but nothing there, either.

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...The only thing that GV really lacks is the ability to forward calls to your phone while outside of the US. ...

Unlike Google Voice, Skype numbers do forward calls to cell phone or home numbers outside the U.S. which make them great for keeping a U.S. contact number and living here (or elsewhere). I have my U.S. (Skype) number forwarded here most of the year (when not in the U.S.)

Your contacts don't need to know when you're in the U.S. to know when to call that number. It isn't free but you don't need to be at your computer to receive the calls.

BTW, This info would be a great thread for "Keeping a U.S. number while living in Costa Rica".

As far as this topic, Cell phone plans for visits to the U.S., it seems unless you visit frequently enough to justify $10/mo or so we don't have options other than buying a new number each visit. Just remember to change Skype number forwarding from your C.R. number to the new number (or with Google Voice, alert the folk when to use your U.S. GV number that is forwarded to the new, temporary U.S. cell number).

Edited by CMinCR

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I have trained almost all of my US callers to call my GV number. If I am around the computer,okay. If not, I receive an email that I missed a call and if the caller left a message you can play the message from the email. I can always call them back if need be. If I am in the US and using a US cellphone then my calls are forwarded to that phone. No need for the callers to try to decide which number to dial. Sort of a one number fits all.

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