In the past, the only way you could get the newest phone and the best coverage was through a two-year contract with a major carrier. Today, that isn’t true anymore. Most carriers no longer require a contract. In addition, prepaid plans offer even better value, with more data for a low flat rate. These is so for most prepaid plans, whether offered by one of the big four (eg. Verizon Prepaid), or through dedicated prepaid companies like TracFone.
In the past five years, prepaid carriers that are upping their networks and offering some pretty innovative pricing plans. If you’re new to the entire prepaid cell phone scenario, then we are here to help you by telling you what to lookout for when shopping for a prepaid cell phone plan …
Available Plans from the Phone Company
When you’re first starting out, you should take a look at the price of the prepaid cell phone plan that is available with each carrier, as well as what they offer you. How many minutes do they offer each month? Are there any data limits? Figure out your price range, look for those plans within your price range and see what they get you – this is the best place to start and will help you pluck out a couple of plans.
During this time, you should also look at the pay scheme of the phone company. There are two different plans that you may run into. These plans include:
Pay as you go – this involves paying a dollar amount up front – the money is then docked for every minute/text you utilize. If you are looking can check out our comparison chart here.
Paying a monthly prepaid plan – this will involve a normal, monthly bill, but you won’t have that two-year contract. It is sometimes thought of as a monthly pay as you go plan, because they offer unlimited talk and text. There are no overage charges for talking and messaging and no contracts.
Yes there are other types of plans, depending on the phone company, like daily, but those two are the most common. If you’re looking for a phone just to use for infrequently calling, then a pay as you go plan like Tracfone would be best.
If you are a light user, you could even get by with a free plan like FreedomPop. There are paid options if you need more minutes or data. If you’re a heavy user, however, then a monthly plan with unlimited talk and text would be a better idea for you. Some plans even offer unlimited data.
Network and Speed
Most of the no-contract carriers are referred to as Mobile Virtual Network Operators. This means the offer services through arrangements with one or more of the four top carriers. For example, Boost and Virgin Mobile uses Sprint, which is the networks of their parent company, while Page Plus uses Verizon networks for EV-DO data and voice calling.
Most of the time, by visiting the website of the MVNO carriers, you’ll be able to find what network they use.
Some brands offer a good selection of phones that are just right for your needs. If the brand does not offer the phone that you like to use, you may also be able to buy an unlocked phone and get a SIM card from the provider of your choice.
If you already have a phone you’d like to use, it is important to realize that not every carrier is going to allow you to bring your phone with you. If you really want to keep your current phone, you need to check with different carriers to figure out which ones will allow you to keep it. There are some plans that may not allow you to use smartphones, while others will.
For seniors, additional considerations like screen size and ease of navigation comes into play when deciding on the right phone to purchase. There is more
You also need to consider the data restrictions – each carrier will have different data restrictions. Some may offer “unlimited” data, but only after they push you back once you have used a certain amount of high-speed data. You may also find some carriers restricting access to online markets, including Google Play Store.
By taking the data restrictions, price, phone selection and network/speed into mind and doing your research properly, you should be able to find a good plan that fits your needs.