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The Modern Unlimited Prepaid Cell Phone Plan

Updated on May 2, 2019
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I have been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 13 years.


The Changing World of Prepaid Cell Phones

At one time, prepaid cell phone plans were aimed primarily at those individuals who had no credit, poor credit, or used their cell phone very little. They were a way of assuring you didn't run up a monthly bill you couldn't pay. On the other hand, the per-minute-cost was high and therefore, undesirable for nearly anyone who could pass the credit checks and be willing to commit for two years to a traditional plan.

Of course, the other drawback to prepaid cell phone plans were the phones themselves. They were pretty basic, and smartphones, with their cameras, GPS, music players, touchscreens, or anything else beyond the basics, were hard to come by.

However, things have changed. Prepaid cell phone plans now have a number of offerings that provide serious competition to traditional cell phone plans. In fact, there are a number of unlimited prepaid plans now available.


The New Prepaid Cell Phone Plans

Prepaid cell phone plans still offer users the ability to buy minutes online and replenish them as needed. They require no credit check and absolutely no commitment to continue the service. For those who want this convenience and freedom, they are still a great option.

However, these new prepaid cell phone plans have other advantages.

Minutes that don't expire within 30 days.
In the early days, prepaid minutes often expired within 30 days of their purchase. Buyers would lose the minutes they purchased if they weren't used within that time frame. Now, many prepaid plans roll minutes over. Some for 2 months, some for 3 months, and so forth. Buyers still need to read the cards or other information to be sure they know the rules of the specific service they are purchasing, but in general, this policy has improved in favor of consumers.

More phone choices.
The number of phones available with prepaid cell phone plans has expanded in the past couple of years. More importantly, however, there are more smartphones, camera phones, and so forth. You'll find iPhones, top-selling Samsung models, LG phones, and more.

More Services.
Along with basic phones, prepaid cell phones once provided only basic services. Web browsing, multimedia messaging, and so forth were seldom accessible. Now, such services are often available making these plans more attractive to a wider audience.

Lower Costs for Those Who Talk and Text More
The per minute charges have declined a bit but are still high as compared to many traditional cellular plans. However, most prepaid cell phone providers now offer monthly plans, including unlimited cell phone plans, that rival, and sometimes top, traditional plans. For instance, Boost Mobile, Straight Talk, and Net10 have unlimited plans starting as low as $35/month up to $60/month depending on data usage. MetroPCS has a $40/month offering.

Prepaid cell phone plans are no longer of value only to those who seldom use their phones. With these unlimited cell phone plans, they offer something for everyone.

Big Cellular Providers Have Prepaid Offerings Too

Of course, the big cellular services also offer prepaid plans as well.
Verizon, for instance, has an unlimited talk, text, and data plan for only $75/month. It's probably the "richest" plan for those with a lot of use, but there are more economical plans. If you need data, you might consider T-Mobile's $50/month with unlimited talk, text and up to 10GB of LTE data. Sprint, on the other hand, advertises a $25/month plan but that is an average if you have 4 lines. The cost for the first line is $60, the second $40. So, perhaps for a family, it's a good deal.

What's Unchanged

Although unlimited prepaid cell phone plans are new, what's unchanged about these plans is that there are still no credit checks and no committment required.

The other thing that hasn't changed is that you can still opt to purchase minutes in small quantities and keep a tight reign on your budget or keep expenses to a minimum if you don't really use your cell phone that much. You can also choose to stick with a more basic and affordable cell phone and forget about any additional services if simplicity is what you like.

Certainly the need to assure adequate coverage and comparing your usage to the plans offered are still the most critical things to consider when selecting any cellular plan. However, prepaid plans are now much more competitive for the average consumer than they once were.

© 2009 Christine Mulberry


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