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Cheap Cell Phone Plans: Is Prepaid Too Good to Be True?

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It’s no secret that switching to a phone service provider with prepaid plans could potentially save you money. Many consumers, however, are put off by a lack of information and some perceived drawbacks. In reality, the best approach is to compare plans to determine whether you’re paying too much for a traditional contract, and whether one of the various cheap cell phone plans could be the right choice for you.


One of the best features of a cheaper plan, such as a prepaid one, is the flexibility it affords. This type of plan requires less commitment than a traditional plan from a carrier because there are no contracts, no penalties for switching providers, and less money on the table to lose.

According to the New York Times, a prepaid plan with unlimited data for the iPhone on Virgin Mobile, while costing more upfront due to having to pay full price for the handset, ends up costing nearly $1,000 less over a two-year period when compared with a similar plan from. Instead of paying for minutes and messages you’re not going to use, prepaid cell phones act as a strong alternative, saving you money in the long run.


While there are upsides to these kinds of plans, a prepaid phone can come with several disadvantages. One of the most reported downsides to these plans is lack of coverage in certain areas. What some people don’t know is these prepaid services use major providers’ networks to function. TracFone uses AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon on its phones, and Virgin Mobile uses Sprint, just to name a few.

There is a Quality of Service limit on prepaid phones though, so post-paid phones recieve higher priority from carriers. In reality,though, you’re getting almost the same kind of coverage you would receive from one of the bigger providers.

Another common complaint is the lack of supported devices that can be used with prepaid phones. With the amount of new mobile technology being released every day, it’s hard for prepaid carriers to keep up. Fortunately, more devices are becoming compatible with prepaid SIM cards, albeit slowly at this time. If you’re one to keep up with all the latest gadgets, this might be a dissuading factor.

Cheap cell phone plans are easy to set up and come without the hassle and wasted money that a traditional cell phone plan could produce. While they are certainly not as appealing to the early-adopter type, some cheap cell phone plans might be good alternatives to major carriers, saving you hundreds of dollars every year.