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Hy-Vee opens prepaid service

If you live in the Des Moines, Iowa area, you’re about to get a new option in prepaid services. The popular supermarket Hy-Vee has announced that they will offer prepaid phones and plans at all of their locations starting, well, yesterday. This is powered by Fusion Mobile, a carrier in the Southwest region of the country, which boasts over eight million subscribers. They’ll soon be a feature on Prepaid Reviews, as we’re starting to do brief reviews of lesser-known MVNOs.

Let’s start with Hy-Vees prepaid rates. They use airtime cards, which come in $20, $35, $55, $75, $100, and $125 denominations. And, like most airtime cards, the per-minute rate decreases as the overall cost increases. The $20 card works out to 22 cents per minute, and the $125 card works out to 12.5 cents per minute.

So why the overly expensive per-minute rates? Free nights and weekends, that’s why. As long as you maintain a positive balance, all minutes beginning at 9 p.m. every night and all weekend are free. That should help even out some of the lopsided per-minute rates.

Text messaging is pretty standard at 10 cents each, both in an out. They allow picture messaging, but the rates can get a bit confusing — 18 cents each for three, unlimited for 30 cents a day plus .235 cents per 10Kb. Wireless web works in a similar manner: 20 cents per day plus .235 cents per 10Kb transferred.

If you thought that a grocery store brand would have cheap phones, you thought wrong. The cheapest one is the Sanyo 4920, an old and outdated phone, for $65. The Sanyo Katana is $210.

“With today’s fast-pace lifestyles, cell phones quickly keep families, friends and businesses connected,’ said Tom Watson, Hy-Vee, Vice President of General Merchandising. “To keep things extremely simple, there are no credit checks, no long-term contracts and no hidden fees. Getting your phone and minutes at a Hy-Vee checkout line is about as easy as it gets.”

We dunno. It seems kinda expensive for a checkout line impulse buy.

[Quad-Cities Online] [Hy-Vee]