While we’re all about prepaid cell phones for their convenience and ease of use, nothing is flawless. Though prepaid plans...
What is a Prepaid Plan?
While we’re all about prepaid cell phones for their convenience and ease of use, we’re well aware of the fact that nothing is flawless. Every good thing comes with its share of disadvantages, and prepaid cell phones are no different.
Though prepaid plans are typically based on usage, or an affordable monthly rate for a finite number of minutes with or without texting and data, these plans are typically more expensive to start up, because you have to buy the phone. Most contract plans will offer the hottest phones at the time for free or cheap, giving you the device discount in exchange for the contract and your loyalty to the provider. When you do not sign a contract, you have to buy the device in exchange for the cheaper monthly payment. As such, not all phones will be available for prepaid use, and though smartphones are available, they can cost $100 or more, depending on the model and features available.
Cost Per Minute
When compared to a traditional contract plan, the cost per minute to use your phone is higher with a prepaid version. If you use a pay as you go based on minute usage, rather than a flat rate prepaid plan, you could pay anywhere from 10 cents to 25 cents a minute, depending on your plan, and the carrier you choose. If you plan to use the cell phone a lot, you will be better off with an unlimited talk plan, usually available for $50 to $75 a month, depending on provider. If you don’t intend to use the phone often, and you only keep it to supplement your landline at home, or for emergency use, then a 25-cents/minute plan may be all you really need.
Much like with the cost per minute to talk on your phone, your data per megabyte is typically more costly when using a prepaid phone over a contract phone. Data is not required for your basic phone, so if all you intend to do is talk or text, then you don’t need to worry about it. However, a data plan will be required if you purchase a smartphone. Depending on the company you choose, you may be charged only for what you use, but you may also have a flat rate plan that includes a finite amount of data. Unlimited data plans are also available with smartphones, if you intend to use the Internet a lot.
Typically, customers of prepaid phone service report more negative customer service experiences than with a contract plan. This could be because companies know you can switch providers whenever you want, and you’re not obligated to stay with them.
There are some things you can do to mitigate the disadvantages of prepaid cell phones, such as:
- Look for a plan that offers free mobile-to-mobile to save you money on minutes.
- Look for a plan that offers free nights and weekends, so you can make the majority of your calls during off-peak hours.
- Purchase a basic phone to use while you save up for the phone you really want.
- Look for a flat rate unlimited plan so you can use your phone without having to keep track of usage.
As you can get a prepaid version of service from all major cell phone carriers, they compete with their prepaid offerings just as much as they do with their contract offerings.
Take a look at what each company in your area provides, and get the best deal based on your budget and usage.