What is a prepaid cell phone plan? Prepaid, or pay as you go, cell phone plans are an alternative to traditional monthly plans. So, how do you decide if prepaid is right for you?
Most cell phone plans are sold on a month to month basis, or more commonly a contract with a length of one to three years with a monthly fixed cost. The cost includes a certain number of minutes, and signing up for this type of plan usually requires a credit check. Once you are signed up, you receive a monthly bill including your base charge as well as any additional charges like overage minutes or feature downloads you made that month. The contracts for monthly plans usually carry an early termination fee if you cancel before your contract term has expired.
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If you’re not sure that a traditional plan is right for you, prepaid cell phone plans can be a great option. You may have avoided buying a phone up until this point, but feel that you need one for emergencies, or just feel that it’s time to connect yourself when you’re on the go. With a prepaid cell phone plan, you buy your phone, activate it and then pay to put minutes or dollars on your account, much like a long distance calling card. As you use the phone, money is subtracted from your account and when it runs out you pay to add more.
No contract and no monthly fee are only two of the advantages to a prepaid plan. With most prepaid plans, you buy minutes as you need them by purchasing phone cards with a set number of minutes included. Some prepaid plans also allow you to add minutes by calling in with a credit card number or going online.
No Credit Check or Deposit
No credit check for prepaid phone plans also means there is never a deposit required for prepaid service. If you have no credit history, or your credit has been damaged, prepaid plans can be a great way to get a cell phone when you might not otherwise qualify. Once you have the phone, they also let you control your costs. You know exactly how much you are spending per minute, and there are no hidden fees. If you’re on a tight budget, this type of plan may be attractive because you will never face overage charges.
Using Prepaid as a Trial Period
Prepaid cell phones can also be a great way to monitor your usage and learn realistically how many minutes you’ll need per month before signing on long-term for a monthly billing contract. A prepaid plan may save you money by letting you buy only the minutes you need. For example: usage varies greatly from month to month, or you use your phone a lot more during certain months or times of year.
Child or Teen Cell Phones
Prepaid cell plans can provide your child or teenager with a phone for emergencies, or give them a limited number of minutes or text messages per month. With monthly plans, there is no way to stop the phone from being used once the minutes have been used up. It can also be a great way for a teenager to get their own phone when they are too young to sign a contract or have no credit card. They can use their own money to pay for minutes, and learn to be responsible for their own usage. Help them shop for a prepaid cell plan that offers special features like free text messaging or nights and weekends.
The Down Side of Prepaid
Downsides of the prepaid cell phone plan are that you will end up paying a higher fee per minute than you would with a traditional cell phone plan. If you don’t use the phone for extended periods, you may lose the minutes or money on your account if they expire after a certain period of time. Make sure when purchasing minutes, you check the expiration date to avoid buying minutes you won’t use.
Prepaid cell phone plans can be a great deal for many different kinds of people. As with any type of cell phone, it’s important to do your research and compare coverage areas and phone equipment. Without a doubt, if you want to go prepaid, a great plan is out there waiting for you.