The phone plan extravaganza, or the road there and back again


I moved to the “prepaid” card, and now every month, I get about $13 per month taken from my debit card. Sure, it’s still botnet, but it’s less of a botnet, since a virtual card number won’t lead attackers to everything I am.

Lately, I have made the decision to rework my finances. I have a mortgage now, study payments to take care of, and those are payments you can’t just change on a cold Monday morning. What you can, though, is your phone plan.

When I was a kid, I had a pay-as-you-go plan. Great for kids, can recommend. If I called/texted through my month’s money, I was fucked. Now, I pay for a tariff, which gives me as much as I can eat (and more), but runs at a hefty premium. I believe I am now ready to go back to the payment method I used as a wee lad: Prepaid plan. But I’ll put a twist on top.

What I have now

My plan runs me around 40$ a month (32$ base payment, 8$ for extra texts a month - public transport tickets, usually). For that price, I get 10GB of data and unlimited calls & texts.

This may not seem like a bad deal somewhere, but where I live, 40$ is way too fucking much to pay for this service. There are two reasons why I don’t like my plan:

  1. I have no use for that many texts: I send texts maybe twice a day on average for a 60 texts a month.
  2. I don’t call that much, since I prefer texts or signal messages. Last month, I called for 50 minutes in total, and half of that was when I have to call relatives who have expensive calls.
  3. I don’t use that much data. I use 5GB on average, with 6 on a bad month (not at home or in the office much, traveling around, etc.)

Now, all these problems have a simple solution, go to a different plan! However, that is not so simple:

  • Plans where I live can be hit-or-miss in the sense that calls and texts still seem to be more important than data. So for a cheaper price, you get maybe 1GB of data, but still unlimited calls.
  • Plans still require personal information (license, name, address, etc.)

Now, I have seen plans where you get limited calls and SMS, or even pay-as-you-go plans where you have to top up, but those often offer data for hefty prices compared to the price of a minute of a call.

What I want

My needs are simple. Data up the ass (since most of my communication happens over encrypted channels), cheap calls and cheap texts. And I believe I found a solution for my problem that may work for you as well, if you choose to have that.

My solution

I found a provider around my place where I have 6 or 16GB of data, 100 texts and 100 minutes of calls. All that for a low price of 12 or 15$ a month, respectively. Not great, but data is what I care about most. This plan is paid like Netflix or a HackTheBox subscription, where a set amount of cash is deducted off my (virtual) card.

The issue is: What if there is a month where I need to make more than 100 minutes of calls? That is where this “pay-per-month” bites me, since the price for 20 minutes of calls is about 2-3$. That is a shit pricing per minute. Same for texts.

How to solve this? I have about 7 numbers with a different VoIP provider, where calls are dirt cheap, I can receive text messages (that get forwarded as PDF scans of a fax), and it works over data, which I would have loads of.

What you can take away from this

Let’s bring this short rant to an end and bring the conclusion and advice. If you need more data than you need calls, you can do the following and you should be fine:

  • Get a data-only SIM card. This will cover you for VoIP calls and secure messaging. With something like Twilio, you can even get text messages quite easily. If you can get one where you set a timed recharge (like 10$ every month just to keep the card going), that’s fine. No contract is better.
  • Get a VoIP number (or seven, I can’t judge). These will allow you to make calls over data (as opposed to a carrier, which may be expensive on a data-only SIM). With something like LinPhone, you can forget the number attached to your SIM for most things.
  • Get a secure messaging solution running over data. Signal, XMPP, hell, Telegram and Whatsapp are used, if your friends use those, you may join those. That’s also where those burner numbers come in handy, since you can use one only to register and then literally burn the number.

That is what I’m planning with my phone plan. Do you have any suggestions/corrections?