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How the Unlimited Prepaid Cell Phone Plan Has Changed

Updated on May 22, 2018
mulberry1 profile image

I have been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 12 years.

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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.

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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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    • What's News profile image

      What's News 

      7 years ago

      It's good to see that these phones now offer more to their customers. I remember having a couple of friends that had pre-paid phones back before these plans were available. I'm sure if they still have pre-paid they are glad to see these changes.

    • profile image

      Sally-Anne 

      7 years ago

      Amazing to see an article acknowledging the changes in prepaid. I still come across people with the preconception of prepaid for low-income/low-usage customers and yet I use my Net10 unlimited plan for running my small home business. What contract based person can actually run their business off an unlimited plan for $50? I picked net10 over Straight Talk because I can make overseas calls for just 15c/minute, which in my line of work, I need to be able to do from time to time.

      Prepaid makes so much more sense to me.

    • profile image

      Nutcracker 

      7 years ago

      I use NET10 and cannot believe how diverse their plans are and how flexible it is to swop between these options. They are affordable and reliable and use the Verizon and AT&T network therefore I can relax with the thought that when I need to use my cell phone I will have a signal.

    • profile image

      Sambody 

      7 years ago

      I still remember the horror of having to get your bill on a contract phone, I learnt my lesson and will now only use prepaid with TracFone.

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 

      7 years ago

      Yes, these unlimited call and text plans are blessings for cell phone users.

    • profile image

      Roger 

      7 years ago

      Good information,thanks for sharing

    • CheapMobilePhones profile image

      CheapMobilePhones 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thanks for sharing the information.

    • profile image

      Art of legend india 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for infomaion.this time it is vey easy to use prepaid cell phones.

    • myawn profile image

      myawn 

      8 years ago from Florida

      The Motorola 376g sounds like a good one. Thanks for the grat info!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I need to share this with my middle daughter! Thanks for the info.

    • irenemaria profile image

      irenemaria 

      8 years ago from Sweden

      I have used these a couple of times and so did my husband. It works just fine!

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