I needed to call my daughter when I got to D.C. so that she could let me into the garage at her apartment complex, and finding a pay phone in D.C. is impossible. I've never owned a cell phone before, and I don't want a contract for something that I'm very rarely going to use.
I went to Walmart and I asked the saleswoman for the cheapest pre-paid cell phone they sold there. She showed me the Verizon Samsung U350 Prepaid Wireless Phone for $20. What impressed me most was that it came with $10 worth of prepaid minutes. And that was perfect.
On the pro side, the Verizon Samsung U350 Prepaid Wireless Phone comes with a camera, alarm clock, and speakerphone that I've actually used, and plenty of other features that I haven't used. On the con side, the prepaid minutes expire a month after they're activated, and it's a minimum of $15 for a prepaid minute refill on the account.
The Verizon Samsung U350 Prepaid Wireless Phone is a good choice for anyone who will only need or use a cell phone once or twice per year for traveling. There's four different prepaid plans you can choose from, but the basic plan is $0.25 per minute, making the $15 minimum equivalent to paying for an hour's worth of airtime.
Update On May 21, 2010: I let the minutes lapse on this phone, but when I went on vacation recently, I needed this cell phone again. I bought a $15 refill card at Walmart, but the cell phone number was no longer recognized. I had to call the Verizon service company to have them reconnect the cell phone number and add the refill minutes for me. The service representative walked me through the entire process, and I'm a bit of a dunce when it comes to cell phones, but she was very patient with me. The refill is good for 60 days, after which time, I'll probably let this number lapse again until I go on another vacation out of town.