Just a few years ago, if you purchased a new smartphone, you were required to sign a long term contract with a mobile service provider in order to obtain service. The mobile carrier required you to select a data plan along with your phone service if you wanted to do anything that required access to the Internet from your phone. Data plans could become quite costly, especially if you were paying for service for an entire family. Customers risked the possibility of incurring costly overage charges, even into the hundreds of dollars. Now, you can get a pay as you go plan so you can get quality service at a cheaper cost. Check out these pay as you go plans below.
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Prepaid plans began to appear over a decade ago, however, these plans were many times offered by lesser known mobile service providers like Cricket Wireless and Walmart’s Straight Talk Wireless. Cellular coverage was less than stellar, and data service was often sketchy. Since then, however, many mainstream mobile carriers have begun to offer prepaid plans that provide customers with quality service and great coverage; service that is virtually no different from a standard billed plan.
Mobile and Data Service
Customers may think that signing a contract with a mobile phone company would provide them with more services than a prepaid plan. This is not the case! In the past few years, pay as you go plans have emerged onto the scene that offer services that are competitive with billed plans. These prepaid offerings may include unlimited calling and data plans, as well as additional features usually only offered with only billed plans, such as the ability to manage your account online. Just because you have a pay as you go phone does not mean that you must forfeit a great data plan or stellar cell service. Prepaid plans are available that provide most, if not all of the services that are available through billed plans.
Advantages of Pay as You Go Cell Phone Plans
Now that prepaid plans have evolved into what they are today, the advantages of having a pay as you go phone nearly outweigh the benefits of having a phone on a billed plan.
One main advantage of pay as you go plans, also known as prepaid plans, is that you can have mobile data and cell service without ever signing a long term contract with a cellular provider. Long term mobile contracts can keep you committed to one plan for two years or more. Billed mobile contract plans are often more costly than prepaid plans, not to mention you may still run the risk of incurring unexpected overages on your billed plan.
With today’s economy, many people are hesitant to sign a long term contract because they have no idea how their lives may change in two years. People are less secure in their jobs, if they are even employed. Many individuals work two or more part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Mobile phone bills may fall lower on the priority list simply because times are tough right now. When the economy was flourishing, it was not unusual for people to budge $100 or more per month for their cell phone bill. These days, people are insecure about where they may be in a year, so signing a two year contract does not appeal to many.
Prepaid plans allow customers to obtain mobile service, even with data plans, without signing a long term contract. Instead of receiving a bill each month, the prepaid customer pays a set amount for service for the month. A certain number of minutes are included in the prepaid amount. If the customer exceeds the allotted amount of minutes, she must recharge the phone with additional minutes in order to make calls. This keeps the cost of the phone manageable, making high cost overages a thing of the past.
Eliminating overages is not the only way customers with prepaid plans save money. In general, pay as you go cell phone plans are offered at a lower cost than billed plans. In fact, you may be able to lower your prepaid payment even more if you take advantage of some of the prepaid carriers’ special programs. For example, some companies, such as Virgin Mobile, will give you a discount if you sign up for automatic debit from your checking or savings account so that your prepaid costs are automatically charged each month. Some companies, such as Cricket, offer customers a $5 discount for each month that they pay their prepaid charges online instead of in person or by mail.
No Credit Check
When you apply for a billed mobile plan with a major carrier, the company runs a credit check to ensure that you are credit-worthy. With a prepaid plan, no credit check is required because you are not being billed based on the credit model. You prepay your phone charges so the phone company never runs the risk that you may not pay for provided services. Pay as you go services are a viable option for people who have less than perfect credit or may not qualify for a billed plan with a mobile carrier.
With a prepaid plan, the customer has made no long term commitment to keep the plan or the phone. If you try a prepaid plan for a couple of months, and you find that it does not meet your needs, you can simply just not renew the plan for the next month. It is that easy to opt out of a pay as you go service. If money is tight and you cannot pay your prepaid plan on time, you can wait a few days until you can cover the bill. True, you will not have phone service for those few days, but many customers would prefer this option to paying exorbitant bills and potentially incurring overages.
There is no need to call the carrier to cancel your service when you no longer need or want it. In fact, you can let your plan lapse if you simply cannot fit the charges into your budget for that month. Start your plan back up when you can afford it. Most prepaid plans will keep your phone number reserved for several months before they place it back in rotation for a new customer. When you are ready to move on to another phone or plan, simply stop paying the prepaid charges.
When prepaid plans first became available to the public, very few phones were offered with these plans. How times have changed! Now, you can get high end devices, even iPhones and iPads, that are serviced by prepaid plans. Though the phone selection may not be as extensive for pay as you go plans as they are for billed plans, you still have many great options from which to choose. Prepaid mobile providers offer phones from top manufacturers, such as Apple, Motorola, HTC and Samsung. You may not be able to get the latest and greatest iPhone on a prepaid plan, but you can get an excellent device at a reasonable price. Some mobile carriers even offer refurbished devices at deep discounts.
In the past, data services provided by prepaid carriers was sub-par, to say the least. Though the customer had data service in theory, using the service was difficult and inefficient. However, in recent years, data service offered by pay as you go providers rivals the service provided by mainstream companies.
Many pay as you go plans now even offer unlimited data service. You can find several carriers that offer low cost prepaid services that include great data plans that function like data plans from major carriers. In fact, most prepaid companies “piggyback” on major carriers to provide their cellular and data services. This means that they contract to use the technology and networks built by the major carriers, but provide the prepaid service at a discount. For example, Virgin Mobile’s prepaid service runs on the Sprint backbone and several pay as you go services piggyback on Verizon. Essentially, the customer receives the same service that customers of the major carrier receive, but at a much cheaper price.
Pay as you go cell plans are no longer just for temporary service or “burner” phones. Prepaid plans are a viable option for all customers who want to save money, control their mobile phone budget and still get great phone and data service. Companies that offer prepaid plans will often allow you to transfer your existing phone number to your prepaid phone so you can keep it when you switch plans. None of your contacts will even be aware that your service has changed. Depending on the carrier, you may even be able to keep your existing phone.
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