Inexpensive Emergency Cell Phone for Kids

Updated on January 03, 2017
J.K. asks from Inver Grove Heights, MN
14 answers

Hello- we dropped our land line a long time ago due to cost and not using it, and now are looking for a phone option for our 10 year old as we are comfortable leaving him home alone for short 20-30 min stints. Any suggestions on what type of phone would be best? Looking really for emergency only, so he could call us if needed when by himself. He will not need text, data, nor will he be taking it with him to school, ect. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks Everyone! Looked into some options and ended up purchasing a no-contract tracfone: $28 for the phone then will end up being approximately $7/ month to keep it active (required to purchase 60 minutes for $20 every 3 months, and the 60 automatically doubles to 120 minutes when you activate so should be more than enough to serve it's purpose).

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answers from Phoenix on

Years ago, I bought my dd a tracfone. It was really cheap and they used to double the minutes (I don't know if they still do that). Sometimes you can buy a "reconditioned" phone online through their website for very little money (i.e. $20). Again, it's been a few years, but that was a really great deal just for emergencies.

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answers from Los Angeles on

People really like the Gizmo Gadget and the Gizmo Pal. They are watches with phone calling only to a handful of pre-programmed numbers. I'm not sure how it works with 911, but it would certainly allow him to call you and a few other trusted adults. I'm sure you could program the local police if for some reason it can't call 911.

The Gizmo Pal also allows you to text him, though he can only reply with a few pre-programmed answers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Go phones (also marketed as prepaid phones), which you can buy many places, are a great option. It is prepaid for a certain number of minutes. There is no monthly fee, and when you use up the minutes you bought (which might take you months), you can add more. They are typically flip phones, not smart phones so they are very inexpensive.

You might also revisit a landline. We considered getting rid of ours, but it turns out that our internet/TV bundle is the same price with or without the landline, so we keep it for emergency use.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Walmart has "Go" phones. You buy it, activate it with your carrier and buy a certain amount of mins on the phone. Do that. I think that's a great option!



answers from San Antonio on

We started my son with a Gizmo from looks like a watch and is $75.00 then $5.00 to add to your plan. You can program 911 as one of the numbers. Only the parent can put numbers in so the child can only call preapproved people. You can text it all you want they have 16 programmable replies and a bunch of emojis. (My son and I came up with a code using the emojis). He started wearing it this year to middle school.

He got one of our old real phones for Christmas and passed the Gizmo down to our daughter who is still in elementary. The limited texting was getting to both he and I because of after school events and things he always had to call me. And texting was so much more discrete.

But the Gizmo was a great way to start being responsible for a phone and being home alone he or his sister could call me. He loved it as a first phone and it made Christmas really special getting a smart phone.


answers from Boston on

Just leave one of your phones home with him while the two of you go shopping together.



answers from New York on

I would check with your old landline carrier and see what they charge for a landline with no long distance calling. I think here (we are in MN but a different part of the state) it is $15/mo, which is cheaper than most cell phones and I don't have to worry about making sure the phone is charged. We decided to do that rather than the cheap extra cell phone at home - mostly because 1. someone would forget to charge the cell so when I did want to go somewhere it was dead 2. we got a number for someone who must have been popular because we got a lot of people calling and looking for "Kim" which was confusing for our son 3. even though the cell phone was easy, the landline was even easier to us.

Good luck!


answers from Indianapolis on

Firefly is a great phone for when you just want to keep in contact when your away from your child. It's $50 and has access to mom and dad along with a few games. It can receive texts it if send them. And it uses a SIM card from your cellphone provider.



answers from Portland on

We had an old phone that we paid a certain amount (very inexpensive, was something like $10/month) for emergencies only. I used to give that to the kids to keep in touch with us. I don't know what they are called - I think mynewnickname describes them in her answer too. That was a great option for us. Our kids took it to the park, etc. too so we could keep in touch if we had to.


answers from Washington DC on

any old smart phone will work as a phone without the data service connected, right? and people are giving them away.



answers from Chicago on

I would check with your cell provider for options first. We dropped our landline last year and got rid of paying for TV. We can get a refurbished flip for almost nothing and then it would be $15 a month to add to our plan--no data but texting would be included. You can also check out phones at Wal-mart (Go Phones or Trac Phones or similar) that are pay as you go. This is something we will look further into next year when my oldest are busy with college and we will want my 9 yr old to reach us.

A landline for us would be $28 a month w/o long distance and then the taxes are about $13 a month.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Go to Walmart and get him a phone. You can't buy anything that isn't a smartphone hardly anywhere anymore. Buy minutes for it using their plans.

He doesn't need data to be on the internet, he just uses your wireless internet connection and can play games, go to sites, and more. No extra cost. We give our old phones to our grand kids and when they come over to stay on school breaks they have tons of fun playing games and doing stuff online. No texting or anything data related though.

Or add him onto your plan and pay a little more each month.



answers from Anchorage on

Our kids use our old iPhones from before we upgraded, it adds only a small monthly amount to our total bill to keep the phones on the plan ($15 a month I think per extra line) so there was really no reason not to allow them to have them, including the data and texting ability, although those can easily be disabled if not wanted.



answers from Salt Lake City on

We too, have opted to get rid of our landline. We have a cell phone that we leave at home for our kids to call us or grandparents if we are gone. I would check with your current carrier and see how much it would be to add a line. I just wanted talk and text and no data on the 3rd line. Our carrier charges us $10/ month. Much cheaper than a landline in my area. Best of luck!!

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