The change obviously won't affect customers who use their phones regularly. But Tello is unusual in that it does not require periodic top ups to keep the service active. As long as the minimum usage requirement is met, Tello Pay As You Go balances rollover indefinitely. Plans like Tello's that have a very low minimum monthly cost attract users who want to "park" a phone number as well as so called "glovebox" phone users or who keep a spare phone in their car or house for emergency use. Number parkers and glovebox phone users now need to make or receive a call or text or use some data at least every 3 months. Tello charges 3¢/minute, 1¢/text and 2¢/MB so its minimum monthly cost is only a third of a cent.
It's likely that Sprint charges Tello a maintenance fee for every line regardless of use so customers who rarely use their phones are cost Tello money. The change to the usage requirement follows Tello's recent increase of the minimum Pay As You Go top up from $5 to $10. Both changes seem to be intended to get a tiny bit of additional revenue out of very light users. The usage requirement change will also cause some light users to forfeit their balances.
Even with the changes, if Sprint coverage meets you needs, Tello is probably still the best deal for very light usage. The only other pay as you go plans I'm aware of that don't require periodic top-ups are from Truphone and Lycamobile and both are more expensive to start up and to actually use for calls and texts. Here's how they compare.
- Tello (Sprint) - $10 top up to start, 3¢/minute, 1¢/text and 2¢/MB, must use every three months.
- Lycamobile (T-Mobile) $10.99 start up cost ($10 top up plus 99¢ eBay SIM), 5¢/minute, 4¢ per outgoing text, incoming texts are free, data not available, must use every 90 days.
- Truphone (AT&T) $29.99 start up cost (includes SIM and $15 credit) outgoing calls and texts are 9¢ each (incoming calls and texts are free) data is 9¢/MB, must use every 120 days
Source Tello via HowardForums