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Prepaid Cell Phones

You need to know the advantages and disadvantages compared to a traditional cell phone plan

You probably have a cell phone. Almost everyone has a cell phone these days. It wasnít always that way. Before the late 90ís, most cell phone providers only had post paid phones. If your credit wasnít that good, you did not get a cell phone. Soon after the late 1990ís some of the major phone companies wanted to tap this market. They introduced "prepaid phones." Now if you had enough money to buy a phone and pay for a card with minutes, you could have a cell phone regardless of your credit rating.

Now almost every major phone company has a prepaid plan. Some even offer a free phone if you sign up with them. Most do not.

With prepaid cell phones, there are some advantages for both the consumer and the phone company.

If you do purchase one of these phones, you cannot use more than the credit you have for that particular phone. The company will deny service if you do not have enough credit. They have your business and they do not have to worry about you paying for it.

For the consumer, you do not have to have good credit, a contract, or an expensive phone. You can "pay as you go." When you need more phone time, you just buy another card or some more credit.

Getting more credit is called "topping up." You can top up in a number of ways.

  1. You can use a debit card or credit card if you have one.
  2. You can purchase a refill card from just about any major store such as Wal-Mart.
  3. Some cards have a refill option. You just go to a store that offers that service and as soon as you pay, you have more time on your card.
  4. Some stores allow you to go in and pay, swipe your card, and you have more minutes.
  5. There is even a system, which uses a specially designed SIM Card. They key it to your phone. You enter a phone number, accept payment, install it in your phone, and you have more minutes.

There is one exception where you can make a call even if you do not have enough money; that is emergencies. That is the only exception.

Some of the disadvantages to prepaid cell phones are, if you run out of credit, you cannot make another call until you get more credit. In addition, you may have difficulty roaming or making international calls.

Now days if you need a cell phone, you can get a prepaid cell phone, providing you have enough money to get a phone and buy credit for it. You can even buy one for your friend and keep touch rather than going to a phone booth.

Last Update: 7/27/2011
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