Should I Get A Prepaid Cell Phone?

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 16th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Money Saving Tips

Are you looking to save money on your cell phone? Before deciding if a prepaid phone is right for you, check out these tips.

Should I Get a Prepaid Cell Phone?

Cell phones are not so much a convenience as a way of life these days. Many people use their cell phones to surf the internet, play music, or even as a mobile office. As the cell phone culture explodes, with new uses for the devices being found everyday, cell phone bills are increasing accordingly. Services are bundled in ways that make it difficult to pick and choose, and you may end up paying for features you never use, in addition to the access fee, 911 fee, and other charges. In fact, you may find yourself wondering if you could save money by foregoing the contract and picking up a prepaid phone.
There are some questions to ask yourself before deciding on a prepaid phone, because depending on your usage patterns, you may end up spending more.
What Do You Use Your Phone For?
If you love to text, check twitter and Facebook for your friends' latest updates, download music, ringtones and graphics, or Google the answer to every obscure trivia question you come across, a prepaid phone is not for you. Not only are many prepaid phones incapable of the internet browsing speed of the latest expensive contract-bound devices, you would end up paying far more for the data minutes than you would pay in a contract. If you only use your phone for talking, however, a prepaid phone may end up saving you a lot of money.
How Often Do You Use Your Phone?
If you like to keep in touch with all of your friends everyday and you find yourself chatting all day and far into the night, a prepaid phone will probably cost you more than a contract as the per-minute cost is higher. In this case you would be better off trying to find a bare bones contract with a lot of voice minutes and very little else. If you really just keep your phone on you for the odd brief conversation, a prepaid phone could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year.
How Many People Have Your Number?
If you give your phone number out to a lot of people, there's the chance that you could end up spending a lot more on prepaid minutes than you planned. After all, you have no control over who calls you. If you're looking for a job and have put your cell number on your resumes to make sure you don't miss an employer calling, for example, you could end up topping up your phone over and over, spending more than you would have with a contract.
Do Your Family Members Have Cell Phones?
Aside from the fact that having close family members whose whereabouts you need to keep track of (like teenagers) will up the number of minutes you spend talking, a family plan contract may save you a lot of money compared to keeping everyone's prepaid phone topped up. Some family plans even allow the person paying the bill (that's you) to limit the amount of minutes a certain device on the plan can be used to talk with numbers other than those that are also on the plan. So if you have teenagers who find it impossible to stay within a set amount of talk time, but you want to be able to reach them when needed, you can still talk to them even if they've used up the limit you set. That could very well save more than prepaid.
Are You On A Contract Now?
Check the fine print. Getting out of a contract early usually results in a heavy punishment, usually based on the number of months left in the contract. If it would take you three years on a prepaid phone just to pay back the money you spent to get out of your contract, it's probably better to stick with the contract until it has completed, then revisit the idea of going prepaid.
Asking yourself these questions can help you decide if a prepaid phone is right for you. Be aware that there are two major problems with prepaid phones. Some do not allow unused minutes to roll over past a certain date (usually the beginning of the month) and so any unused minutes will be money just thrown away. You also need to consider how likely it is that you might need your phone for an emergency or professional call. Having your phone be out of minutes in an emergency, or having it cut out in the middle of an emergency call from your spouse or child due to lack of minutes could have serious consequences. You also wouldn't want to have your phone cut out in the middle of a professional call, like one from a prospective employer. If you are organized and disciplined enough to keep track of your phone's minutes and avoid these pitfalls, then it is possible that a prepaid phone will save you money. If not, you're probably better off looking for the least expensive contract you can find.


Cell Phone Plans, Cell Phones, Save Money On Cell Phones

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

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