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5 Tricks to Understanding How a Prepaid Phone Works

It used to be that prepaid phone carriers did not offer smartphones or the same coverage or plans as those carriers that provided phones free with a two or three year contract. However, as more consumers got fed up with extra fees and locked-in contracts that penalized them with exorbitant roaming fees and large data usage charges, more people have opted for prepaid phones. The biggest benefit to having a prepaid phone is that you can’t bust your budget, as the services are either not available on a plan or they get cut off after your funds are used up. Yet, there still are a few tricks to understanding how that system actually works. Here are five different steps you need to take to get started doing a prepaid phone plan.

1. Research Prepaid Phone Carriers In Your Area

The fact is that even if you can order a prepaid phone over the Internet, if your carrier doesn’t have a local store where you can go when you have problems, it’s simply a lot harder to troubleshoot problems that might arise. If you are going to get a prepaid phone, check for a local store in your area that provides prepaid phones. You need to check coverage of the phone service in your local area and other areas nationwide or internationally, for other places that you frequent to make sure you can use the phone when you travel. Compare plans that allow you to budget what you will spend versus the services that a prepaid phone carrier provides.

2. Buy a Phone That Works With a Prepaid Carrier

Don’t just go online and buy a phone second-hand or through a third party that a carrier claim on their website to be “compatible” with them. It actually may not be supported and it’s an incredible hassle to try to get it activated, if you can at all. Just changing a SIM card or trying to get it unlocked doesn’t always work. Stick with buying the phone through the carrier you’ve chosen for the fastest and easiest activation.

3. Set Up a Credit Card to Pay Online

Some will offer you a smartphone for staying on a month-to-month contract for a certain length, without a service interruption, and using their autopay feature. Just because you are prepaid doesn’t mean you can’t do a short-term contract or schedule autopay. This is the easiest way to pay online and it comes with added benefits, as stated earlier. There is no chance they will charge the card more than what you’ve agreed to, even if you leave your area or use your allotment of data for the month.

4. Buy Cards To Top-Up

If you don’t have a credit card, prepaid phone cards are sold at grocery stores and pharmacies so that you can top-up whenever you want. You don’t have to do autopay, if your budget doesn’t allow for it or you don’t have a credit card. They also make it easy for parents to provide just the right amount of money to their kids without giving out their credit card information. If they go past their allotment of data, the service slows or stops, and they can top-up with the cards they buy to get more data.

5. If You Don’t Pay, Service Slows or Stops

If you don’t pay the monthly fee, the service gets cut off. You can activate it later, once you have the funds. If you only have a certain allotment of data and you use it all up, the phone will still take texts and phone calls, but the Internet will slow down. If you try to make a call internationally, and you don’t have that service, the phone won’t allow it. If you roam out of the service area, you won’t get roaming charges, but the phone won’t work either. Thus, there are pros and cons to prepaid plans.

Benefits of Prepaid Phones

The biggest benefit to a prepaid phone is there is no way for a prepaid carrier to keep charging you for usage that you aren’t aware is accumulating hundreds of dollars in hidden charges, unlike contract phones. You do have to be careful when choosing a prepaid carrier and buying the phone, but after that it’s pretty straightforward.

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