Cell Phones

Creative way to get nearly unlimited texting for $5 month?

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  • Dec 31st, 2019 10:15 am
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS

Creative way to get nearly unlimited texting for $5 month?

Currently, I'm with SpeakOut Wireless (7-Eleven), paying a $50 top-up per year. I'm tired of having two different phone numbers for Texting. It confuses people. What I've been doing is texting from TextNow to avoid the 15 cents per text charge. But when I go out, sometimes I need to text and I don't have Wi-Fi available, so I'll text from my SpeakOut number. Sometimes people will also text me back on my TextNow number, but I won't get it if I'm out and not connected to Wi-Fi. And people are like, "Why do you have two phone numbers? Which one should I use?"

Speakout has a $10 add-on every 30 days to get unlimited texting, but I don't want to pay more than $5 a month. So I thought... "I wonder if I can get a tiny bit of cheap data?" TextNow says that you can text hundreds of messages for a MB, and each phone call would cost 0.3 MB per minute (so, a little more than 3 minutes for 1 MB). SpeakOut has 100 MB for $10 every 30 days, so that won't work for me since I'm aiming for about $5 a month.

However, Petro Canada has a 15 cents per MB charge on their Anytime Plan (hundreds of texts for 15 cents? Heck yeah!). So I could buy a $100 top-up that lasts 365 days and just use data only for my texts and phone calls. But I don't want the $100 top-up. I want the $50 one, but that one expires after 180 days, so that won't work for me either.

I'm wondering if anyone knows of a prepaid top up of $50 or less that I can purchase that lasts a whole year? And on top of that, has a reasonable per MB charge? I'm in Nova Scotia, so there's that hurdle as well.

One other option, and I'm wondering if anyone has ever done this... are there any American or European cell providers that charge super cheap data roaming rates where I can basically permanently roam in Canada? That would work as well. All I need is data, and TextNow to have a local number and pretty much unlimited texting.

Just trying to creatively be frugal here. :)
Thread Summary
I have decided on KeepGo (permanent roaming, data only) as my provider. This will allow me to freely text and call while on Wi-Fi, and to make texts and calls *with the same phone number* while on data, for a small price. Here is a summary of important information on prices:
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  1. The initial cost of KeepGo is $41.65 USD (about $53 CAD; no tax) (using coupon code KEEPGO_15_OFF) for the SIM and 1 GB (1024 MB) of data (that can be used in their approved countries; which includes Canada & the US). That translates into approximately $4.50 CAD a month (or about 5.2 cents CAD per MB).
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  2. Since KeepGo is data only, I need a calling/texting app that uses Wi-Fi/data. I decided on Fongo because it assigns me a Canadian number, and seems to use the least amount of background data compared to other Canadian # text/calling providers (TextNow, Talkatone, etc). Hangouts Dialer (Google Voice) also uses very little background data, however, I would only be able to get a US number. Lastly, one other option is to use voip.ms, which can assign a Canadian number; as well as port your current number for $8.75 USD (about $11 CAD) (although Fongo can also port your number as well; the fee is higher, at $25). Currently, texting with voip.ms is free (though when it's no longer in beta, it will be 1 cent per sent and received). There are per minute rates for calls with voip.ms, though, as well as a $1.50 a month 911 fee. This thread has more voip.ms details. I won't be doing this, but it is an option for others.
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  3. In order to keep data low on Fongo, I decided to do the one-time purchase to get rid of ads (ads cost data, obviously), which cost me $8.04 CAD after tax ($7.99 before tax). This also purchases the ability for me to put my name in the call display which shows on other people's phones.
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  4. In order to send outgoing texts with Fongo, there is an ongoing fee. I chose the cheapest option, which is $11.49 CAD every six months after tax ($9.99 before tax). This translates into $1.92 a month.
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  5. Total for first year is approximately $84 CAD, or $7 a month. After that, if I purchase a 1 GB top-up (all top-ups expire after one year) for $35 USD (about $45 CAD), the ongoing cost (SIM top-up + Fongo texting), the total will be about $68 for the year. This translates into approximately $5.50 a month. If I purchase the 500 MB top-up for $19 USD ($24 CAD), it will be about $47 a year, or about $4 a month.
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Of course, I need to take steps to prevent data leakage. While the Android system has a data saver option and the ability to turn off background data for apps, it is not "leakproof." It still leaks out several MB here and there, especially upon a system reboot. Here are the steps I am taking, and some important information:
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  1. My device was not rooted, so I installed NetGuard. This works fairly well. NetGuard is a VPN (no, it doesn't go through VPN servers; it makes its own private server on your phone and runs all apps through it to control usage). I disable all apps from accessing data (including system apps; you can find that in the advanced options), except for Fongo. One small downside is that when I reboot while connected to Wi-Fi (with data on), it leaks several KB. Not too bad, though. *However,* one major downside is that if I am not connected to Wi-Fi at all (on data), it leaks several MB's upon a reboot because NetGuard takes several seconds to start up after the OS has loaded. The solution is to either put the phone in airplane mode before rebooting while off of Wi-Fi, or to toggle off the data itself before rebooting.
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  2. I decided to bite the bullet and root my device so I can test out AFWall+. I enabled the data leak fix feature, and it works fantastic. Again, I simply block all apps from using data, except for Fongo. It doesn't leak any KB at all upon reboot when connected to Wi-Fi, and it only uses up several KB upon reboot while connected to data only (as opposed to several MB due to data leakage). AFWall+ is useful if you want to "set it and forget it."
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  3. If anybody wants to understand the differences between using NetGuard and AfWall+, check out this article.
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I figure that $7 for the first year (initial costs), and $4-$5.50 for every year after that is pretty decent for virtually unlimited calling and texting *all with the same phone number.* It will also come in handy for when we travel through the US to get from Nova Scotia to Ontario usually once a year (no extra cost since it's permanent roaming).
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Latest update on how things are going.
201 replies
Deal Addict
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Nov 14, 2003
4264 posts
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Gotham
Managing two number is very complicated and confusing. You need to figure out a solution with one number.

If you don't talk much, TextNow and a data plan should work well.

I use Google Voice (US number) and a data plan. It's the simplest solution I can find. I have a really cheap data plan and my monthly charge is $5-$10/month. Some of my Canadian friends get a bit annoyed but I just tell them I'll pay for their data charges. They still text me.

IMHO, Google Voice is the best VOIP solution out there. Calls are crystal clear and have no delay. Plus I can use it on any device and it is all current.

My life is simpler with only one number.

threehappypenguins wrote: One other option, and I'm wondering if anyone has ever done this... are there any American or European cell providers that charge super cheap data roaming rates where I can basically permanently roam in Canada? That would work as well. All I need is data, and TextNow to have a local number and pretty much unlimited texting.
ps. I didn't read your post all the way through. Both AT&T and T-Mobile in the US have North American (MEX and CA) roaming included in their prepaid plans. T-Mobile maxes out at 5GB of roaming data and AT&T states most of the data should be used in the US but I've never had any problems with extended stays in Canada. T-Mobil also has prepaid data plans; best value is 6GB for US$35. However, for lesser amounts, it is $10/GB.

I've also heard Mexican mobile service have similar rates and included Canada data roaming.

If you use one of these plans, I would recommend not using the number on the SIM in case they cancel your account. Use Google Voice or another VOIP service.
Last edited by batcave on Feb 6th, 2018 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS
batcave wrote: I have a really cheap data plan and my monthly charge is $5-$10/month.
Yes, there are tons of data/wi-fi texting and calling solutions. My problem is trying to find a cheap data solution. So where do you get data for $5-$10 a month?
Deal Addict
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Nov 14, 2003
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Gotham
threehappypenguins wrote: Yes, there are tons of data/wi-fi texting and calling solutions. My problem is trying to find a cheap data solution. So where do you get data for $5-$10 a month?
It's a grandfathered t-mobile data plan at $2/MB. It is no longer available.

Otherwise, I think the cheapest data solution is the $15/3GB Fido data plan.
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS
batcave wrote: It's a grandfathered t-mobile data plan at $2/MB. It is no longer available.

Otherwise, I think the cheapest data solution is the $15/3GB Fido data plan.
I don't need a lot of data. Texts are in KB, and calls are about 0.3 MB per minute. I would only be using the data for texts mainly, and occasionally calls. Do you know of any plans that will cost me $5 or less per month? Even if it's only 50 MB a month or .15-.25 per MB plan or something.
Deal Addict
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Nov 14, 2003
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Gotham
threehappypenguins wrote: I don't need a lot of data. Texts are in KB, and calls are about 0.3 MB per minute. I would only be using the data for texts mainly, and occasionally calls. Do you know of any plans that will cost me $5 or less per month? Even if it's only 50 MB a month or .15-.25 per MB plan or something.
I think $10 for 1GB is the lowest price you will pay for data at the moment.

The less data you use, the more it will cost per GB. It ranges from $10/GB (1GB) to $4/GB (20GB) on T-Mobile.

You can always try to operate on wi-fi only. That's free!
Deal Expert
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Nov 28, 2013
18967 posts
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Oakville
batcave wrote: You can always try to operate on wi-fi only. That's free!
It's in the OP that occasionally they aren't in a place with wifi.

OP, my only concern with having a very small data plan would be trying to control your data usage to make sure that *only* the apps you use are actually using data.
Lucky Koodo $40/6GB (with $15/10GB add-on) recipient
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS
wearysky wrote: It's in the OP that occasionally they aren't in a place with wifi.

OP, my only concern with having a very small data plan would be trying to control your data usage to make sure that *only* the apps you use are actually using data.
I have a Galaxy S6 and everything is fully controllable with what app is allowed to use data and what is not. I would set it up accordingly. Definitely something to keep in mind, for sure.

I'm still having trouble locating a cheap data plan. I found TBayTel where it's $5 a month for roaming data all across Canada, but they said they require a Manitoba address and for me to activate it in a store. I still don't quite understand why a Manitoba address. My parents have an Ontario address and I was hoping to use that if I can't use my Nova Scotia address. TBayTel has stores in Thunder Bay, which is Ontario....
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS
batcave wrote: The less data you use, the more it will cost per GB. It ranges from $10/GB (1GB) to $4/GB (20GB) on T-Mobile.
Can you provide a link for the $4/GB deal with T-Mobile? Are you able to use it in Canada permanently? Or do they expect you to sometimes connect to US Networks? Also, do you have to use a US billing address?
Deal Fanatic
Sep 23, 2013
5047 posts
635 upvotes
NORTH YORK
threehappypenguins wrote: Currently, I'm with SpeakOut Wireless (7-Eleven), paying a $50 top-up per year. I'm tired of having two different phone numbers for Texting. It confuses people. What I've been doing is texting from TextNow to avoid the 15 cents per text charge. But when I go out, sometimes I need to text and I don't have Wi-Fi available, so I'll text from my SpeakOut number. Sometimes people will also text me back on my TextNow number, but I won't get it if I'm out and not connected to Wi-Fi. And people are like, "Why do you have two phone numbers? Which one should I use?"

Speakout has a $10 add-on every 30 days to get unlimited texting, but I don't want to pay more than $5 a month. So I thought... "I wonder if I can get a tiny bit of cheap data?" TextNow says that you can text hundreds of messages for a MB, and each phone call would cost 0.3 MB per minute (so, a little more than 3 minutes for 1 MB). SpeakOut has 100 MB for $10 every 30 days, so that won't work for me since I'm aiming for about $5 a month.

However, Petro Canada has a 15 cents per MB charge on their Anytime Plan (hundreds of texts for 15 cents? Heck yeah!). So I could buy a $100 top-up that lasts 365 days and just use data only for my texts and phone calls. But I don't want the $100 top-up. I want the $50 one, but that one expires after 180 days, so that won't work for me either.

I'm wondering if anyone knows of a prepaid top up of $50 or less that I can purchase that lasts a whole year? And on top of that, has a reasonable per MB charge? I'm in Nova Scotia, so there's that hurdle as well.

One other option, and I'm wondering if anyone has ever done this... are there any American or European cell providers that charge super cheap data roaming rates where I can basically permanently roam in Canada? That would work as well. All I need is data, and TextNow to have a local number and pretty much unlimited texting.

Just trying to creatively be frugal here. :)
I assume you are like most people having wifi at home and office. As long as you have wifi (or wifi data from Starbuck or McDonald) you can have a separate local # for free text and call ( Call is prefered to be done with strong LTE or wifi signal though)
Why not you try it at zero costs to you.
Install the app TextmeUp from Google play and get a local # (say 647) free. That will immediately allow you to text and call free on that number. But you need to have strong LTE or Wifi signal.
The advertisement while texting is disturbing indeed. But if you use you browser to text , then you won't see any adv at all.
Outgoing call is free for Can /U S
It is around 3 cents a minute which is the same of you calling countries in the Far East
Demerit or Drawback : no porting in #

Merit : you can use the textmeup# for verification of Whatsapp #. You do not need to announce that you have a new # assuming you have a lot of whatsapp contact. Once you change the #, the new # will be known to all your whatsapp contacts
Daniel

Fido $0 3Gb LTE + overage plan until Feb 2019
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS
danieltoronto wrote: I assume you are like most people having wifi at home and office. As long as you have wifi (or wifi data from Starbuck or McDonald) you can have a separate local # for free text and call
Why not you try it at zero costs to you.
That is what I do now. I use TextNow. Like I said in my OP, I don't want to do it this way anymore. I have two different numbers (one for when I'm on wi-fi; the network provider for when wi-fi is not available), and it confuses people. I would prefer to have unlimited texting on a regular network provider for $5 a month (I can't find one), or pay per use data (around the range of 15 cents a mb, or $5 a month data) to use TextNow or another app with to do all my texting.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 23, 2013
5047 posts
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NORTH YORK
threehappypenguins wrote: I have two different numbers (one for when I'm on wi-fi; the network provider for when wi-fi is not available), and it confuses people.

No clue why you need another # while without wifi.

1. I assume most people would have wifi (at home and office)
2. Even without wifi, text will come back once when you are back to the wifi zone (say after a trip between work/office/on the road)
3. Even on the road, you still occasionally have free wifi supporting the textmeup or textNow # (in Starbuck or McDonald or library or mall)
You want to save expense, it is reasonable that you go for the extra mile for the privilege of that
Daniel

Fido $0 3Gb LTE + overage plan until Feb 2019
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jul 4, 2005
750 posts
56 upvotes
Ontario
This may not be what you're looking for, but thought I'd mention it, just in case it helps.

Presidents Choice Mobile (uses Bell Network)
Prepaid
30 Day Plan
$15 per month
Unlimited texting
100 MB data add-on for $5 per month
.20¢ / minute talk
$100 top up card good for 365 days.

http://www.pcmobile.ca/prepaid_plans_features.jsp
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2014
201 posts
106 upvotes
Dartmouth, NS
danieltoronto wrote:
No clue why you need another # while without wifi.

1. I assume most people would have wifi (at home and office)
2. Even without wifi, text will come back once when you are back to the wifi zone (say after a trip between work/office/on the road)
3. Even on the road, you still occasionally have free wifi supporting the textmeup or textNow # (in Starbuck or McDonald or library or mall)
You want to save expense, it is reasonable that you go for the extra mile for the privilege of that
Goodness gracious, man. I have been going out of my way to avoid extra expense, which is why I am doing things the way I am now.

Here is an example, I leave the house to go grocery shopping. My husband might need to text or call me to get a hold of me, and since he doesn't have magical powers to know if I am on wi-fi, and he wants to let me know not to forget to get eggs because he noticed that they're all gone after I left, then he needs to get me right away. Fill in that scenario with a million other ones. There are also some occasions where I am no where near a free wi-fi, or I have 3 kids with me and the McDonald's wi-fi from the parking lot simply isn't strong enough and I don't want to have to unbuckle all 3 of my kids to get wifi to send a text that I could send for 15 cents.

As for two numbers, SpeakOutWireless assigns me a phone number. I can send and receive texts regardless of whether I'm on wifi. But it costs money. That's one phone number.

The other phone number is the one TextNow assigned to me, and I can send free, unlimited texts while I'm on wifi.
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Nov 28, 2013
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threehappypenguins wrote: I'm still having trouble locating a cheap data plan. I found TBayTel where it's $5 a month for roaming data all across Canada, but they said they require a Manitoba address and for me to activate it in a store. I still don't quite understand why a Manitoba address. My parents have an Ontario address and I was hoping to use that if I can't use my Nova Scotia address. TBayTel has stores in Thunder Bay, which is Ontario....
I'm not sure why they told you that you need a Manitoba address, that makes no sense at all. There's a giant TBayTel thread which could answer some of your questions... Nobody there is offering sims, but you could try to get one by posting a WTB thread in the buy/sell area.
Lucky Koodo $40/6GB (with $15/10GB add-on) recipient

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