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The best prepaid cell phones for kids this holiday season

Are you thinking of getting your child a cell phone for Christmas? If so, you’re not alone. The question of when to get your child a cell phone has been asked more frequently, and been debated more hotly, in recent years. And why not? Cell phones are basically universal at this point. A kid might not need a cell phone, but as we proved from creation through 2000, none of us really needs one. If you do think your child is ready for the responsibility of having a cell phone, here are a few options that will suit him or her well.

We’ll go carrier-by-carrier, skipping the ones that don’t quite fit our intent.

kajeet: LG Rumor

Since kajeet is a cell phone company for kids, it makes sense that we lead off with them. Plenty of their handsets make sense, but in terms of price and functionality, the original LG Rumor is probably best. There is the Rumor 2, but that’s a bit pricey for a kid’s cell phone. This one is a nice compromise. It has a relatively big screen, and a slide out keyboard. The full keyboard can be good for kids, since 1) it’s familiar, and 2) chances are that their future phones will have a QWERTY keyboard.

Price: $109.99

Get it: kajeet’s website

AT&T: Samsung a187

Full QWERTY phones, such as a BlackBerry, might be a little big for a child. Generally we’ll stay away from them on this list. Unless, of course, it’s not that big. This is the case with the Samsung a187. It’s a bit thinner than the BlackBerry and other similar phones, so it might be a good one to get your child started with a phone similar to what they might carry in the future. The menu is easy enough to navigate, and the keys should be easy enough to press.

Price: $79.99

Get it: AT&T’s website

Boost Mobile: Samsung Incognito

While Boost Mobile carries a number of phones that have the traditional 12-buttons plus a QWERTY keyboard. The Samsung Incognito is the best balance of them. The phone flips open to reveal a bigger screen and a QWERTY keyboard. It also has an interesting silver design.

Price: $99.99

Get it: Boost Mobile’s website

Common Cents: LG101

Sometimes we won’t be able to find a suitable handset that has a QWERTY keyboard. That’s OK. Kids don’t really need them. I just think it’s good, because it’s familiar to a computer keyboard and because they’ll have a keyboard like this on future phones. With Common Cents, though, the one QWERTY handset is quite bulky and probably won’t be good for a kid. Here we go with the LG101, which has a color display and big keys. Also, it’s cheap, which is always a plus.

Price: $19.77

Get it: Common Cents website

Cricket: Samsung Stunt

No, the Samsung Stunt does not have a QWERTY keyboard. But the models on Cricket might not be the best ones. Again, it’s not a requirement for a kid’s phone, but when there are no better options — as in the case of AT&T — it’s a good idea to get one. On Cricket, the Samsung Stunt provides a combination of durability and affordability. Some of their handsets can get expensive, so it’s nice to see one at a decent price.

Price: $29.99

Get it: Cricket’s website

MetroPCS: Samsung Messager III

The Samsung Messager series is a great one for kids. It is small on the surface, but slides out to reveal a very usable QWERTY keyboard. MetroPCS does have a few other QWERTY models, but none combine the compactness with usefulness. The only downside is the price.

Price: $119.00

Get it: MetroPCS’s website

Net10: Samsung T401G or R451C

These are essentially the same handsets, but they’re each available in different parts of the country. Either way, tit’s tough to go wrong. It’s just like the Messenger series, as it slides out to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. This might be the most hassle-free phone, since Net10 always charges 10 cents per minute.

Price: $79.99

Get it: Net10′s website

Page Plus: LG enV

There was a time not long ago where you could go into public and see dozens of people carrying the LG enV. LG has since introduced a few follow-ups, but none of them were quite as good as the original. Page Plus, though, has refurbished versions of the original. It’s definitely the highlight of its limited handset selection.

Price: $79.95

Get it: Page Plus’s website

PlatinumTel: LG Rumor

It’s the same deal as the kajeet model above, but this one is a bit cheaper.

Price: $89.99

Get it: PlatinumTel’s website

Straight Talk: Samsung R451C or T401G

These are the same phones as Net10, which is unsurprising. Straight Talk and Net10 are owned by the same company. These two might appear quite a bit more expensive, but they do come with a free month of service. That brings the effective price down a bit.

Price: $99.99 (after the free month of service)

Get it: Straight Talk’s website

T-Mobile: Tap

This is the only touchscreen device on the list, for a couple of reasons. Kids might not be ready for touch screen phones, though, again, their future phones will probably have them. But, most of all, touchscreen phones are typically very expensive on prepaid carriers. On T-Mobile, though, the tap is relatively cheap. It’s easily the best phone on T-Mobile prepaid, too.

Price: $89.99

Get it: T-Mobile’s website

Virgin Mobile: LG Rumor 2

You might have noticed the LG Rumor appear twice above. Both of those carriers also have the Rumor 2, but it’s quite a deal more expensive. With Virgin it is not. It still has the slide-out QWERTY keyboard, but in terms of overall feel, it’s an upgrade over the original Rumor. It’s also as cheap, if not cheaper, than the original Rumors sold by other carriers.

Price: $89.99

Get it: Virgin Mobile’s website

16 Responses

  1. J Palmer Says

    I like that you’ve acknowledged that we don’t Need a cell phone! :) And that there is a certain degree of responsibility for both the parents and the children involved, in getting one. There is such a choice put forward on this page, but for us, ultimately, it came down to coverage and network reliability, combined with cost of both phone and monthly payments.
    Many of these phones are great for the older teen, but for those that have only just earned the privilege of their first phone, I’d definitely say go cheap. Net10 has offered us a variety of handsets to suit each member of the family, with our youngest’s phone (which he’s getting for Christmas) only costing us $15. We can also be assured that at $15/month for 200minutes, it’s a really affordable option. And Net10 also covers our issue of coverage…we’ve never yet had a problem!

    Posted on December 6th, 2010 at 4:49 am
  2. Jason234 Says

    This review recomends pretty good phones, but really they are pretty expensive, especially if you have 2 kids that are expecting a cellphone this xmas. I did a bit of research and Tracfone has the most affordable phones and it’s pay as you go too. I believe also that prepaid teaches kids to be responsible with their budget.

    Posted on December 6th, 2010 at 8:17 pm
  3. MogranD Says

    I hear you jason, really you have 2 kids, I have three, the youngest is only 8years old but the twins are 11 and of course they want a cellphone for xmas! I discussed this with my wife, and we are getting a phone for each, even the 8yo. the thing is she is going to want one the minute she sees her sisters with the brand new phones, and Tracfone has teh best prices, plus with some of their promos the prepaid cards come very affordable as well and I agree with you might as well teach them how to control their expenses at this early age. Merry Xmas!

    Posted on December 6th, 2010 at 8:22 pm
  4. Matt Koenigsberger Says

    I have the Samsung T401G from Net10. Its honestly the best phone ever. The keyboard is fantastic for texting and for $50 a month I get unlimited text, web, and talk. And with prepaid service, hidden fees and terrible binding contracts are a thing of the past.

    Posted on December 9th, 2010 at 1:51 pm
  5. MirandaBrend Says

    Oh! Morgan!!! I went to the Tracfone Website as per your suggestion and found the perfect phone for my daughter this xmas! You are a genious! It’s a PINK Sansung! She is going to love a pink phone, and it’s only $20 including an accesory kit, wow the perfect gift and the cards are so affordable…thank you! thankyou thankyou

    Posted on December 9th, 2010 at 9:07 pm
  6. Blaketheman Says

    I see lots of you need to buy cellphones for your kids this xmas. I’m one of the unfortunate too,,, my kid wants a cellphone and we avoid it for his birthday 6 months ago, we wont be able to do the same for xmas. I see prepaid is the best way to go and this article has some great ones. Any other suggestion? What about Tracfone, I see many of you recomend it. Miranda the pink phone sounds fun, but my kid is a boy…any other good options?

    Posted on December 9th, 2010 at 9:12 pm
  7. rosie Says

    I would definately go with Tracfone as you get double minutes for life and free incoming texts which will stretch the budget a lot if he’s getting a cell phone allowance! As for the colour get black as all his buddies will have black. You can get a sturdy, reliable phone foe him as low as $10.00 from any big store like Wal-mart.

    Posted on December 15th, 2010 at 2:45 am
  8. Kayla Says

    I recommend Straight Talk for all the tweens and teens out there. My parents got it for me and I am so happy because I get unlimited data, minutes, and text. My parents are also happy because they only pay $45 a month for it. Look at this video!

    Posted on December 17th, 2010 at 6:01 pm
  9. Ashles Says

    Straight Talk is the best deal out there. $45 for unlimited texts, minutes and web! It just takes all of the stress out of recieving that surprise bill at the end of each month – pre paid make life so much simpler!

    Posted on December 22nd, 2010 at 2:59 pm
  10. Rascal Says

    I know what you mean – Straight Talk has been the best move I ever made. I just have my $45 a month on a stop order and I don’t even have to think about my phone bill at all! If I had kids I would definitely put them ona deal like this. It just makes monthly budgeting so much easier and at the end of the day you are actually saving!

    Posted on December 22nd, 2010 at 3:05 pm
  11. Stephanie Says

    I came across this website around the beginning of December, I was researching which phone company had the best deals so I can give a great gifts at an affordable price for Christmas… Well, now I’m back just to let you guys know that I decided to go with Tracfone’s LG20g. The holiday deals were amazing! I got double minutes for life, free accessory kit, and free shipping. Not sure if they’re offering the same exact deal now but they are always coming up with new great deals. You should check out their website.

    Posted on December 28th, 2010 at 4:41 pm
  12. pdonaldson789 Says

    So love my Tracfone that I got a few days ago for christmas. the phone seems pretty basic I wouldn’t lie but the service is as cheap as I’ve ever heard and it uses Verizon and ATT towers, which means that it has the best network coverage of any of the prepaid players.

    Posted on December 31st, 2010 at 3:31 pm
  13. Jade Says

    Instead of video games this year, I got my kids something a little more special for their birthdays. I got them each a prepaid cell phone…since both of their birthday’s are in January. They can talk and text as much as they’d like (and we know how much teens like to text) without worrying about overage fees. I am impressed with the plan I got from TracFone — $45 for unlimited talk text and data – and wish I had known about it earlier.

    Posted on February 1st, 2011 at 10:20 pm
  14. Cris Palitoni Says

    I recommend the Samsung T401G from Net10. The full QWERTY keypad helps me text that much faster and the mp3 player and video recorder are just bonuses. Its also on the Verizon network which is the most reliable in the nation.

    Posted on February 6th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  15. Mark Garcia Says

    I am 13 years old and I want unlimited text messaging, but my dad doesn’t want to pay monthly. Any thoughts?

    Posted on January 25th, 2012 at 7:17 pm
  16. jfee Says

    hi am 13 and i want a touch screen phone. i have had my old phone in 5th grade and now i am in 8. i think its time for a change.

    Posted on July 26th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

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