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What Is A Pay As You Go Cell Phone Service?

Updated on August 29, 2014

Pay As You Go Cell Phone

A pay as you go cell phone service is a way to own a cell phone without a fixed contract, you pay upfront for your calls and texts and buy more credits for your phone when you run out of call time.

With a prepaid phone you get what you pay for, if you purchase $10.00 worth of credits and use it up you will need to buy more credits before you can make a call or send a text message, although you can still receive incoming calls and texts from other phones.

With no credits PAYG cell phone users can still contact the emergency services if required.

Pay as You Go Mobile Phones

PAYG means no monthly contract making it a more affordable option for the customer.
PAYG means no monthly contract making it a more affordable option for the customer. | Source

The Benefits Of Pay as You Go

The most obvious benefit of PAYG is that you are not stuck in a contract, you pay what you can afford when you can afford it, instead of a payment every month whether you can afford it or not.

  • With no contract you also avoid Bank charges if you don't have enough in your account when your cell phone account is due to be paid.
  • With PAYG, you are free to change service provider at any time and you can in most cases take your old number with you.
  • With PAYG, you can shop around to find the best tariff that suits your needs.
  • PAYG is available to anyone no matter what their credit history.
  • PAYG users are often offered incentive bonuses if they top up their credit within a set amount of time, such as free texts or calls.

Of course with the advantages come some disadvantages.

  • PAYG customers often pay more for their calls and texts
  • Some phone features that are available on contract phones are not on prepaid phones.
  • In most cases roaming is blocked on prepaid phones.
  • International calls and premium rate calls are often blocked on prepaid phones.
  • Unlike a contract cell phone, you have to buy the phone outright.

PAYG phones are the same phones that are used in contract phones but some features may be blocked or priced at a higher rate.

Top Up Your Cell Phone

There are many ways to top up the credits on your cell phone.
There are many ways to top up the credits on your cell phone. | Source

Topping Up Your Phone Credits

When you have a PAYG cell phone there are a few different ways that you can top up your credits and keep your line active.

  • Debit or credit card
  • Through your bank account.
  • Purchase a voucher for a set amount from a retail outlet.
  • Via a swipe card in a retail outlet.
  • Through an automated banking machine

Some prepaid phones have a time limit between top ups and will often remove your credits and service if not used within that time.

If your phone has been inactive for over 6 months some service providers will delete the sim card which means that your number and services will be discontinued.

You would need to buy a new sim card if you wanted to keep using your phone.

PAYG Cell Phones

Contract phones are possibly the best option if you can afford the monthly payments and can keep within your contracted limits but dependant on the length of your contract your phone could soon be out of date.

With pay as you go you can decide when to change your phone, how much you can afford to top up and you will never go over your financial limit.

There are plenty of options available for PAYG users and if you are not happy with your service provider or if you see a better offer else where, you can change your provider at any time with no charges or breach of contract fees.


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    • tipstoretireearly profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      I've found that using PAYG plans make it much easier to control cell phone costs, and much easier to avoid many of the nuisance fees charged by the contract phone providers. Great hub!

    • penlady profile image


      6 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      I had a pay as go phone. That cute little phone could really eat up the minutes, and I didn't use it that much. However, when I did use it, those minutes would go by fast.

      Good hub. Voted up and useful. Plus tweeted.

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      I use my T-mobile to go phone exclusively. I end up paying about $25 a year for phone service. I've never seen the need for a smart phone when I can take my netbook along and use free wi-fi just about everywhere. Phones should be just phones in my opinion.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I have heard of PAYG cell phone service, but didn't really consider the ins and outs of it. My 9-year old twins have been wanting cell phones, but I still think they are too young. Perhaps this would be an option worth considering! Thanks Jimmy - rated up, Steph

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I used to PAYG but with my iphone purchase I had to sign for a three year hire purchase agreement (didn't pay for the phone outright) which seemed like a good idea - I use the camera the whole time plus all the apps. I couldn't go back to PAYG now, I'm spoiled (and broke)!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 

      6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I use a PAYG system for my cell, a Trackfone. At $10 per month average it is far cheaper than any plan I could get. Our second cell, used as a home phone as well, has unlimited service so the limits of a PAYG system don't affect us.

      Using less than 1000 minutes per year, I just don't need anything more and see no reason to triple my costs (or more) for features I don't use or want.


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