Wireless Phone Service

Choosing between contract and pre-paid plans

There are three main types of cell phone plans detailed below: pay-as-you-go, pre-paid monthly service, and monthly contract plans. There are reasons to pick each one of these plans that extend beyond the financial differences.

Pay As You Go Wireless Plans

This option is inexpensive and works well for people who only use their phones for emergency back-up or who talk less than an hour and a half per month. You purchase minutes in bulk and are only charged for the minutes you use. These plans now allow users to send and receive text messages and are capable of calling internationally, though some providers do require an international calling plan. Be forewarned: pay-as-you-go minutes can expire. Be sure to read the fine print with your provider to be sure you have minutes available when needed.

Pre-Paid Plans

Pre-paid plans are a good fit for those trying to keep their budgets in check or avoid a lengthy contract term. These plans now include unlimited calling minutes, unlimited texting and up to 1.5GB of data. Another advantage is that many companies offering pre-paid plans do not charge overage fees if your data usage exceeds the plan limit; however, the download and upload speed slows dramatically once the data limit has been reached. The phones available on these plans may not have all of the same features available that phones on contract plans have, such as parental controls, so it is worth checking with a sales representative if you are looking for additional features.

Monthly Fee Plans

These plans make the most sense for heavy cell phone users. There are numerous choices for data plans, upgrade schedules for those interested in having the newest technologies, and family plans for those with multiple cell phone users under the same roof. The phones and plans have many additional features that allow for more parental control options, location tracking and even driving controls. These plans often come with 1 or 2 year contracts and termination fees if the user chooses to break their contract.