VIRGIN MOBILE CUSTOMWe won’t forget the time Joy racked up a $264 hotel phone bill for three hours of casual conversation with a girl friend. She’d run out of minutes on her smart phone, so she decided to switch to the hotel phone. A new phone plan from Virgin Mobile would have skipped that.

With the new “Virgin Mobile Custom” plan that comes on three smart phones sold at Walmart, Joy wouldn’t have hesitated to add more minutes. She could have doubled her available voice minutes for as little as $3. When the conversation was over she could have changed back to the same basic plan she was on before.

We tried this service out on the $60 “ZTE Emblem,” a nice, though smallish Android phone using the “Jellybean” operating system. Popular apps come pre-loaded and nicely organized. The camera isn’t great, so if this feature is important to you, go with one of the other phones that come with this service, such as the $80 LG “Pulse” or $130 LG “Unify.” (Smartphones are getting cheaper fast, aren’t they?)

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