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Sarah-BBY
Posts: 1,743
Topics: 43
Kudos: 3
Solutions: 85
Registered: ‎09-29-2008

Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

There is a big decision to be made when purchasing the cell phone that is best for you.  Here are some pros and cons to both types…

 

Advantages to Prepaid:No contracts, no monthly bills, no credit checks, no deposits, no age limits, usually no activation fees, and no hidden costs – you just pay as you go.  Also, many prepaid plans have a 30-day money back guarantee if the phone doesn't work well in your area or if you are not happy with it. 

 

Disadvantages to Prepaid:

May have a higher cost per minute, sometimes plans are only available in limited areas, the phones often aren't as new in design, data downloads and picture messages will not work on most prepaid plans, can get costly if you’re planning to use a lot of minutes per month, no family plans.

 

Advantages to Contracts:

Fixed rates for minutes unless you go over your minimum; huge variety of phones and devices available; many features like data, TV feeds, email, picture phones, are only available for long term Contracts; free calls to others in the same network in many plans; lots of minutes per month on some plans; free phones when you sign a 2-year contract with most vendors.

 

Disadvantages to Contracts:

Some of us dislike long-term contracts; phones can sometimes get no reception in certain locations; you are required to pay the contract even if you can't use it; there are credit checks; if you lose or break a contract phone, the replacement phone can be costly.

I personally use a contract phone for my own use as I use it as my main phone line and also use the email capabilities with my Blackberry.  However, I have purchased contract phones for both of my two sons as they have lost them on occasion and then I can keep a better grip on how the phone is being used.

 

What phone is best for you?  Are you aware of any advantages or disadvantages that I did not state above?  Let’s talk phones!  J

Sarah|Community Connector | Best Buy® Corporate
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Valued Contributor
Miranda
Posts: 1,368
Registered: ‎12-21-2008

Re: Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

Hmmm...where to start. :smileyhappy:

 

Pre-paid - yes, it is nice to not have any contracts or credit checks, age limits or anything like that. However, there are a few carriers where you pay monthly, and get a certain number of minutes, but are still not contracted, which some people like

 

Now, I wouldn't say that with the pre-paid it gets costly (unless you've not done your homework). I know of 3 pre-paid carriers that have unlimited talk plans (and sometimes more!), for $50 a month or less, which is half of the contract carriers.

 

Boost Mobile - $50 a month for unlimited talk, text, web and walkie-talkie.

Metro PCS (a really regional carrier) - $50 a month for unlimited local, long distance, voicemail, domestic text messaging, global text messaging, picture messaging, IM, E-mail, web access, premium directory assistance, along with some other features.

Cricket (another really regional carrier)-  $50 a month for talk, long distance, text & pix, mexico text, and mobile web.

Virgin Mobile - $49.99 for just unlimited talk. Texting is an additional charge.

 

 

Personally, I'm more of a contract kind of girl. I would rather know that my service is always there, then go to make a phone call and realize I'm out of minutes.

 

Right now, myself and 4 members of my family is on a 700 minute family share plan for AT&T. We have a god awful number of roll-over minutes (something like 5000 at the moment!), and we also have unlimited text messaging. So, my portion of the bill comes up to right at $40 a month. It's like I have unlimited minutes, cheaper that what anyone else offers it!

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Don't take what I say as being absolute. There's always room for improvement.
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Community Veteran
Nokia
Posts: 13,698
Registered: ‎04-13-2009

Re: Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

A couple corrections/clarifications:

  • All national contract carriers have a 30 day trial period, just like PAYG. You may get charged for usage if you cancel within that time, but you're not locked into a contract.
  • PAYG phones also have dead spots. In fact, they usually have many, many more than contract phones due to the fact that they only use their parent carrier's native network, and don't roam on other towers.
  • If you move to an area that the carrier shows does not have coverage, you can almost always break your contract per the T's and C's of it.
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Valued Contributor
Miranda
Posts: 1,368
Registered: ‎12-21-2008

Re: Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

True about breaking contract with moving to an area without any service, however, having worked for AT&T, you have to PROVE that you've moved to an area without service. We had people call in all the time saying they moved and they didn't get any service. We would check the address where they say they moved to, however, it would say they had service. It was funny sometimes, when they realized they got caught in a lie. I think I had one legitimate case where someone had truly moved out of an AT&T coverage area, to like, Montana, or something like that.
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Don't take what I say as being absolute. There's always room for improvement.
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New Member
TheBetterDeal
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎05-14-2009

Re: Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

Best way is contract after a few years. They'll see you as valuable and give you ridiculously low priced plans in order to keep you. Prepaid sucks, cause if your in an emergency and run out... boom.
Because you can always find the BEST buy... at Best Buy ;-p
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Community Veteran
Nokia
Posts: 13,698
Registered: ‎04-13-2009

Re: Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

Retention is generally limited to something like a free month of a feature, a bill credit, or an early upgrade. Currently Tmo and Sprint are the only ones able to offer "loyalty plans". However, many carrier CS reps will call your bluff if you're threatening to leave just so you can get a better deal.
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Valued Contributor
BBBob
Posts: 1,395
Registered: ‎01-17-2009

Re: Prepaid vs. Contract Cell Phones

I am a ten year plus Sprint customer. I have always had ok coverage at my home, but never great coverage. I called Sprint and told them I was going to cancel my four lines of service because the phones would not work in my house. They told me about a product called Airwave they sell. It is 99.99 for the product and 5.00 a month for the service. It is basically an antennae booster with about 1500 Sq. Ft. coverage.  I told them I was a premier customer and thought they ought to supply it to keep me and after alittle back and forth stuff they agreed. Then she told me it would just be 5.00 a month for the service and here we go again. I won and they sent it to me and it gives me max. signal strength on all phones. It will pick up 5 phones in the house or yard and as one person is done it will pick up the next in line. Works great as I can now be anywhere in the house and on the 1/2 acre and it works. Of course the farther you get from the box the number of bars you have goes down. I like Sprint because of the cheaper price plans and the fact that I am now a Premier customer and they will jump through hoops to keep me happy. That is my thoughts on the subject.
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