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Ask The Readers: Can I take advantage of text & mobile coupon offers without a smartphone?

Today’s question is from Kimber:

My old phone is about to bite the dust and I am thinking about replacing it with a smart phone so I can take advantage of some of the awesome deals I’m seeing (like mobile coupons and Cartwheel).

My question is, if I get a smartphone without a data plan, can I still take advantage of the text and mobile coupon offers? Can I use wifi in the stores to pull up whatever info I need? I am pretty clueless about technology and would appreciate any tips! -Kimber

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  1. hlynnf says

    I do not have a smart phone (I don’t want to pay for a data plan and I am on an old plan that is super cheap!) but I do use an IPOD Touch and I am able to use mobile coupons and the Cartwheel app at Target. As long as I have access to WiFi, I can use any of the apps my sister uses on her IPhone. I don’t know if it is the same everywhere, but the Targets in my area all have free Wifi. I do sometimes get frustrated sometimes when I don’t have WiFi and “miss out” on a deal, but not enough to spend an extra $100 a month for a new phone/data plan to get it!!

    • michelle says

      I have been using my ipod touch for cartwheel and shopkick, but cannot get targets mobil coupons How do you get them sent to your ipod? I would love to be able to get them.

      • Jacqui says

        Not sure about how hlynn does it, but I have an iPhone & recently realized that when I get a mobile coupon from Target (through text) I can also get them on the Target app (under Coupons & Deals-Mobile Coupons). I would think you could find them on the iPod app as well.

      • Meredith says

        I have a tracfone…I just text target and get the web address. Then manually type it into the browser. The bar code thingy will come up. Or you can print them out.

        • Anna says

          How do you get the mobile coupons with your iPod touch?? I tried to sign up for mobile coupons with my iPod and it wouldn’t work. The mobile coupons are texted to your phone, right? I have a free texting app, but the Target mobile coupon info said that it wouldn’t work with that. How else do you get the mobile coupons?

      • Kelly D says

        I also cannot justify the cost of a smartphone since I barely use my cell. I get the target mobile coupons on my ipod touch by using my dumb phone to text the phrase to the Target number. When the text comes back with the mobi address, it type it in an email to myself. Then I can pull up the barcode on my ipod either before I leave or using Target’s wifi. The page will still show in Safari even without an internet connection; it have even done it with multiple coupon pages pulled up. You also do not need a smartphone to use Cartwheel. Your individual barcode is always the same no matter what offers are loaded. I printed it once on paper and keep it with my coupons. I generally go to Target with a good idea of what I am buying or browsing so I check Cartwheel before I go and fill mine with what I think I might use.

        • Anna says

          How do you use texting to get the mobile coupons? I haven’t been able to sign up for mobile coupons because no texting app for the iPod allows you to send and receive short code text messages (as far as I know). What texting service do you use on your iPod?

          • Kelly D says

            I use my plain old cell phone to text, the texting app I have on my ipod will not allow me to text to a 5 digit number.

      • Laura says

        I use my regular phone to get the texts from Target and then type the web address from the body of the text into safari on my ipod touch either before I go to Target or when I get there as they have wifi.

    • Peggy S. says

      I also use an iPod touch. I take a screen shot of the coupon or code before leaving home since I never know for sure I’d I can access wifi.

  2. Heather says

    I was under the impression that you can’t have a smartphone without a data plan, because your smartphone is always pulling data (i.e. weather updates, etc).

    • Jacqui says

      It is possible to turn it off and use it on wi-fi only, but very few people use it and all of the major carriers now require you to have a data plan if you have a smartphone.

    • Allison says

      I agree with you Heather! I live in Houston, and none of the cell phone carries (Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, Verizon, AT&T) will let you have a smart phone without a data plan. BTW, my TMobil bill is half the price of what Verizon is and it is just a good of service (My Dad has Verizon for work).

    • Sarah in Alaska says

      My brother was able to get a smartphone on a pay as you go plan. When he moved, the company he was with didn’t offer data plans in his new area (in Alaska), so he downgraded his pay-as-you-go plan to no data since they didn’t even provide the service. He can use the phone as a smartphone if he has wifi (i.e. library, home, etc.).

    • Desiree says

      I don’t know about the coupons, but you absolutely CAN have a smartphone and just use it to access the ‘net. Of course, you need a WIFI connection. I have a old hand-me-down smartphone that I use as a kindle and also send emails and surf the net on it.

      • Amie says

        This is a little off topic… We too switched to pageplus after almost a decade with Verizon. I researched them on wikipedia and you’re right, they operate on Verizon. We don’t have Smart Phones and don’t use our cell phones much. We went with the 12 plan for both phones and saved about $100 per mos. I’m interested in getting a Smart Phone for some of the great coupon deals and reward programs, but I still don’t think it would out-weigh the cost.

        • Wendi says

          We also have used Page Plus for about a year. I pay $2.50 a month for my smart phone. I use it rarely—only when I’m out in town with the kids or for a quick text. It’s $10 for 100 prepaid minutes that don’t expire for 4 months. My husband uses his more frequently, and his smartphone plan is $6.25 a month. He gets a little over 400 minutes that expire in 4 months. If you renew your minutes before the expiration date, your minutes roll over. The great part about it (besides having a smartphone for $2.50 a month) is if I have an occasion where I use my phone heavily and am running low on minutes, I just go to the website and reload my minutes for another $10. We use wifi at home or at stores. Haven’t had any complaints about Page Plus!

          • Amie says

            Wow, thank you for sharing that Wendi. My flip phone is getting pretty old so maybe I will get a Smart Phone in the future. I’ll have to check out those plans because that sounds like the way I’d use my phone. :)

    • says

      I have a smartphone without a data plan … bought an unlocked smartphone and used the SIM card from my old voice/text plan phone. (this only works with a couple of carriers.)
      Texts should not be a problem …
      If your store has free wifi, you should be able to connect … I do have problems with one store, though.

  3. Ann says

    Perhaps off topic, perhaps not…if you’re looking at phone service, you might want to look at RepublicWireless. I got a “smarter” phone (not an iPhone but texts and includes data)…and costs either $29/month ($35 with taxes) if you don’t buy the phone or $19/month ($23 with taxes) if you do buy the phone. I was using that on my disposable…without the ability to get data or text easily. Check it out at http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/Jd9HH (that’s a referral link, if you sign up you and I both get a $19 credit; if you’re not comfortable with that, you can also just google Republic Wireless.)

  4. Emily says

    My wireless carrier will not let us have an activated smartphone without a data plan. Not sure about the “pay as you go” phones, but if you have a carrier (like Verizon or Sprint), I’m pretty sure you have to have a data plan in order to have a smartphone. And sorry to say, it’s NOT cheap. :-(

    • says

      Check out the phone plan they have at Walmart- my friend has an iPhone 5 and pays $45 a month for unlimited data. He also had his iphone 5 “jail-broken” so he can use the “hot-spot” unlimited and gets internet for his laptop!! Also if you ever want to upgrade your phone go to Best Buy they have a trade in deal and gave me $215 for used my iphone 4s so once I upgraded I got the 5 for $11!!(Once I signed on to my carrier At&t for another 2 years).

  5. Patrina says

    I do not have a smart phone or a contract with a dataplan. If your phone is internet capable and can recieve text messages you can use the target mobile coupons now more than likely. They are texted to me and then I click the option for extract from the message and it takes me right to the link with the barcode for the cashier to scan. I discovered this about two months ago after missing out on several deals because I didn’t think I could use them without a smart phone too. Being a single parent just doesn’t allow for a $100+ monthly phone bill for me. And carriers require that you have a data plan Good luck to you on your quest for a new phone:-)

  6. Patty says

    I know we gave my son a hand-me-down smartphone (without the data plan) thinking he could just use it as a phone. It was fine for a few months but then AT&T did some sort of “sweep” and found a smartphone without a data plan and told us we had to purchase the data plan or not use the smartphone.

    • Elizabeth H. says

      Yah that happened to my husband also when he used to have AT@T. Now we have Verizon & we have to have data plans or no smart phines

  7. Jennifer B. says

    This doesn’t address your entire question, but Target’s Cartwheel (currently, at least) has an option to print out your 12 deals and then have the cashier scan that paper to get those deals. I’ve only had one Target cashier question it (saying it wouldn’t work), but when I suggested she scan the bar code anyway, it did (to her surprise, not mine).

    • Kimber says

      Thanks, Jennifer! I am going to give that a try – I shop at Target almost every week and was sad to miss out on so many great Cartwheel deals.

  8. says

    I bought an LG Optimus Elite for $49 last black Friday and pay $35/mo for unlimited data and texting plan with Virgin Mobile. It’s no contract so I’m free to stop at any time. While my phone isn’t the fanciest, it is a smartphone that I can afford and a no-contract plan that I can afford, too. I have been doing Ibotta for grocery deals on it, but haven’t tried many other store apps.

    • Kelli says

      I also use the Virgin wireless $35/month plan and I love it. Unlimited text and data and 300 phone call minutes are included in the monthly plan. Not bad at all. Plus it’s a no contract, pay as you go, which I prefer to being locked into a 2 year contract.

    • Emily says

      Katy do you know if you can use an iPhone and get one of these no contract plans from Virgin Mobile? I’m thinking about alternative plans when my contract with Verizon runs out.

      • says

        I know you can use an iPhone on a Virgin plan. In fact, I think I saw recently that they are offering an iPhone 5 plan for only $30/mo.

        What I don’t know, though, is if you have to somehow buy the iPhone through Virgin? I had to buy my LG phone first outright and then activate it through Virgin. It was too expensive to buy an iPhone and I went with a cheaper phone. But I wonder if you can get an iPhone anywhere (i.e. shop around for the best price) and then use it on the Virgin plan?

        • Emily says

          Thanks for the info. My husband and I both have an iPhone4S, and we pay I think $137/month (that’s after his employer’s discount). It’s crazy. I think I’ll look into it when our contract ends, as long as both our phones are still fine.

      • Melanie says

        You cannot use one carrier’s devices on another carrier’s network, unless the phone has been “unlocked”. Typically you can’t get a phone unlocked unless you pay for it outright (an iPhone would be about $600 and up) or unless you fulfill a two year commitment when purchasing at a discounted price.

        In order to use Virgin Mobile, you would need to buy the iPhone from them for an outright price (I think about $500) or you could try an unlocked phone. The only issue with an unlocked device is that they don’t always work all that great on other networks as the manufacturers design for a particular carrier.

  9. Amy says

    If you get a smart phone most carries will require you to get some sort of a data plan. However, that data plan does not have to be huge. Also if the store you are in has free wifi then you can pull off of the wifi and not use your data plan. There are phone plans out there that are unlimited data without being outrageously priced. With that type of plan (Walmart’s family share and others) you will have to pay close attention to your coverage area.

  10. says

    I have a Kyocera Brio on the Kroger Iwireless prepay plan. The phone was $20 at Kroger and for $10 a month you get 100 minutes/texts and 50 mb of data. (You can spend $25 or more per month if you need more minutes.) It’s not enough data to use it like a smartphone, but I did just discover that it’s more than enough to load Target mobile coupons.

    I haven’t tried any other deals with my phone yet, but any texting or mobile coupon deals should work similarly. I have no idea about Cartwheel though.

  11. Georgia Wolf says

    Dear Kimber:
    I don’t have a cell phone either, but I do know for a fact that you can use Cartwheel without a cell phone. My guess is that you MIGHT be able to use mobile coupons too, however, I’ve never tried. I, too, am pretty clueless about the advancements made in technology. I used Target Cartwheel, for the first time, last night and had to explain to the checker how it worked!!! It is in BETA right now, so I believe it is being tested…for how long, I don’t know. Anyway, at least, check out Cartwheel, it will give you an extra 5% off your grocery bill…and if you use all the rest of their offers, you could save a number of dollars. Every dollar is worth it to be able to spend on something else!!! G

    • Georgia Wolf says

      ….also I forgot to mention. All you do is print out a listing of the items you’ve chosen on Cartwheel and print out a copy. The “mobile” code is also printed at the top of the listing.


    • says

      How are you printing the cartwheel deals without a cell phone at all? I was wondering how to do that since I thought you had to send a text message. I don’t have a cell phone at all and I would love to use the Target Cartwheel coupons.

      • Christie says

        Go to http://cartwheel.target.com/ from a computer. Set up an account, add your offers, click on the little cart icon, then click redeem in store, and finally, click print. It will print a scanable bar code, along with your offers. Show the page at the register.

  12. Nichole says

    Some companies allow you to not have a data plan other do not. Sometimes the price of the data varies depending on the type of smart phone you get within the same company (i.e my husband had an old smart phone and his data upcharge was $5/month and mine was $10 for a newer smartphone). The problem with relying on wifi is of course not having service. I have a difficult time finding wifi service in my area and I might have to go someplace else or preload the coupon before leaving. I don’t use many of the phone coupons or text offers as they never seem to be worth using to my shopping/budgeting.

  13. Jacqui says

    All of the contract carriers require to have a data plan if you have a smartphone. You can, though, turn data off, so it only works on wi-fi and it is an easy thing to change, so you can limit yourself if you want or need to.

    As for using the Target apps & wifi, I have not had a problem at all. If you are worried about it, there are options to print them out instead. Cartwheel makes it really easy, it is a little more complicated for the mobile coupons

  14. Erin says

    I doubt you’ll be able to get a smart phone without a data plan. Not through the standard carriers anyway (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, ect). Some of the older blackberries can be set up without a data plan but they are old enough they don’t do apps anyway, so you wouldn’t get any deals that way. You could use a basic phone with texting to get the text deals. But unless you are just really wanting to upgrade to a smart phone, I really doubt you will see any savings after paying for the data plan. After burning through several old blackberries and dinosaur flip phones, I finally upgraded to an iphone. I love it, despite the expense, for the internet, mail, weather, navigation, grocery list apps, ect. It certainly is fun and convenient… the bill not so much :)

  15. says

    Most retail stores don’t have wifi available, and data plans are expensive. Not to mention that MOST major carriers will not allow you to have a smartphone without a data plan.
    I love my smartphone and it’s invaluable to me, however it does add up.

  16. says

    Anyone use a Kindle Fire to access mobile coupons? Have not tried that yet, but I do use the free wifi with my Kindle Fire to use Cartwheel at Target. If I could access Target mobile coupons in store with my Kindle Fire I would be thrilled.

    I also have a phone with no data plan, so it is only a phone and watch for me.

  17. Robin says

    Even if you don’t get a smartphone, you can invest in a iPod Touch and pull up the offers using wifi on that. That’s what my daughter does.

    • Kristen says

      I have an unlocked iphone and my husband has an unlocked Droid. We bought them on ebay. We do not have data plans for them. We use PureTalk and get 190 minutes (talk and text) which we share between phones for $15 total per month. The minutes roll-over each month.

      If you are interested, the website is http://www.puretalkusa.com

      If you give them my cell number, I’ll get a referral bonus. Email me if you’re interested in helping us out!

      kayety at gmail dot com

    • Jenny says

      I bought a Samsung tablet back in April to have the “smartphone” capabilities without the smartphone bill! I have used the wireless in stores (Safeway) and also have loaded things at home (like google maps directions), and then turned off my wifi, and it stays loaded! I have not tried it with Cartwheel at all (just started looking at that tonight…) I have loved my tablet–cheaper than an Ipod Touch and very convenient–like a laptop but way smaller! :)

  18. Kimber says

    Thank you SO much, everyone, for all of the helpful feedback! You have all given me a lot of great information!

    • Kristina says

      I have an old Envy 3 phone that only allows texting. I get target coupons which comes in the form of a link with some verbiage about it being Target coupons and blah blah… I delete everything, BUT the link and then send the text to my email. The reason I have to delete everything is because otherwise the phone won’t allow me to send the text due to some sort of unrecognized text or whatever. Furthermore, I’m able to open the web without any trouble and print whatever I want on my printer through my computer. Hope this helps, but feel free to email me.
      Best of luck!

  19. Carisa says

    StraightTalk from Walmart or http://www.straighttalk.com is what my husband and I have. He has a $30.00 per 30 days plan with 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts. My phone is our “home phone”. It’s a SmartPhone. I have the $45.00 for 30 days plan with unlimited calls, unlimited minutes, and unlimited internet/data. I can also pick up the WiFi at home if I want to have a faster browsing experience.

  20. Jessica says

    My husband and I just switched to Ting – it’s awesome! He got a smartphone and we can use it anywhere there’s wireless access without paying for data. However, with Ting, up to 100 MB is only $3 per month. It’s very easy to turn on or off data or anything else with Ting and you’re charged for what you actually use in a month. For example, ours this month with two phones, 500 min, 100 texts, and 100 MB of data is $27!!! It works on the Sprint and Verizon networks – we love it!

  21. jonie says

    I try to set up target mobile using ipod touch but it needs me to enter the sms verification code. I do not want to give my real phone number as I do not want too many incoming target message as I do not have unlimited sms plan. So I input my google voice number but guess it doesn’t work as I do not receive the sms verification code.

    Anyone on ipod touch and managed to use the target coupon pls let me know how you do it.



    • jennifer says

      My husband and I are in the market for a new smartphone plan and I read many people recommending the prepaid (straight talk, ting, etc.) but I’m finding that you have to purchase the device which is a few hundred dollars, any recommendations?

  22. jennifer says

    Sorry, I replied to Jonie’s post instead of making my own…

    My husband and I are in the market for a new smartphone plan and I read many people recommending the prepaid (straight talk, ting, etc.) but I’m finding that you have to purchase the device which is a few hundred dollars, any recommendations?

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