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My yearly account has a large amount of money sitting in it. Phone only used when we travel (last year it was very little)..Top up early part of 2018 and if I don't you lose the money.... Can I use that money and buy another phone or apply it to my house account. Doing a monthly top up is more expensive than the $100 a year package. Polecat
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Usually once the balance exceeds $300, Telus takes steps to reduce it. There are also often offers to convert the value you have in the prepaid account and put it towards a postpaid account. I have not heard of it being converted to purchase a device, though.
For an emergency phone, which you could use any time, and retains the same number on an ongoing basis, so folks know where to reach you, the $8.33 per month is pretty cheap. You could, instead, get a SIM and number each time you travel, with some inconvenience.
SWMBO's phone is on an ancient $10 per month data plan with pay per use minutes, and although she uses it year 'round, is never over her 100 MB of use, nor does she consume a lot of minutes, so we are in a similar position.