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Prepaid Phones: Everything You Need To Know

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Phone companies heavily advertise their postpaid plans, but they also have very comprehensive prepaid phone plans. In addition to these prepaid plans, many prepaid phones are available for purchase for people who do not want to pay monthly for their hardware and network service.

There are many reasons to prefer prepaid phones over the postpaid options for which you will usually see ads. Here is a rundown of prepaid phones and why you may want to look into getting one.

Prepaid Phones: What Are They?

Prepaid phones are phones where everything for the month is paid for upfront instead of monthly plans where you pay based on usage. Prepaid phones allow users to purchase a certain amount of data and minutes for the month, while postpaid plans tally up how much you used throughout the period.

You can purchase prepaid phones at phone retailers or stores like Walmart, and many network providers offer prepaid phone plans to go along with them. Prepaid phones require no commitment from the user, as you pay for everything you plan to use with no chance of a hidden fee biting you down the road.

Getting a prepaid phone doesn’t mean sacrifice. You can get Apple iPhones, Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy A12, Motorola phones like the Moto G, and others. And yes, you can still use all the same apps and features on a prepaid phone.

Regarding provider options, companies like Mint Mobile, Boost Mobile, Straight Talk, Cricket Wireless, and Simple Mobile offer great prepaid plans. Traditional cell providers also offer prepaid phone services, such as AT&T prepaid, Verizon prepaid, and Metro by T-Mobile.

Who Uses Prepaid Phones?

Prepaid phones are great for people who do not want to commit to a long-term phone deal. For example, getting a prepaid phone could be a great option if you need a work phone in addition to your primary mobile phone but do not want to manage a second expensive phone.

It is also a good option for parents who want to give their kids a phone without allowing them to become reliant on it. By limiting talk, text, and data, your child can ease into the experience of having a cell phone and learn responsible habits.

In addition, anyone who does not plan on using their phone too often would not need an extensive plan from a large company, so a prepaid cell phone plan could make more sense.

The Difference Between Burner and Prepaid Phones

A burner phone is usually a prepaid phone; however, a prepaid phone does not always have to be a burner phone. A burner phone is a phone that a person only intends to use for a limited period before getting rid of or “burning.”

People use burner phones to maintain their privacy by purchasing phones and plans that do not require long-term accounts or subscriptions tied to their names.

Because of this preference, prepaid phones are the best options to act as burner phones because of the control and freedom owners of these phones have. That being said, a prepaid phone could efficiently serve as someone’s primary phone for years without any intention of burning the device.

There are plenty of unlimited prepaid plans that provide plenty of data, talk, and text for their customers. In essence, while prepaid plans are the ideal burner phones, their versatility allows their function to go beyond privacy and short-term use.

What Are the Advantages of Prepaid Phones?

The best perk of prepaid phones is your complete control over your purchase. When you buy a postpaid plan, you need to keep an eye on the cost of your subscription and the amount of data you use per month.

When you buy a prepaid phone, you can pay for what you want, and if you end up needing more, all you have to do is reload the phone.

There are fewer opportunities for hidden fees, giving customers more peace of mind. You can trust that your kids will not rack up any fees since you paid for every minute they spend on the phone upfront.

If you decide that you want to change your plan at any point, you must set it up since you’re not locked into anything long-term.

These plans are also great for people who want to get a plan with a single line. In a postpaid plan, it is significantly more expensive the fewer lines you set up. However, prepaid plans have a constant price per line, and the price doesn’t change by adding more.

What Are the Disadvantages of Prepaid Phones?

One big difference between a prepaid and a postpaid plan is that they tend to come with an array of extra bells and whistles since they are the plans that big companies want to advertise the hardest. For example, Verizon’s highest tier unlimited plan has high-speed data, talk, and text, premium mobile hotspot data, Hulu, Disney Plus, extra cloud storage, and more.

Prepaid phones will generally only have talk, text, and data. You pay less, but you also get less for your money — though less can often still include unlimited talk and 4G LTE or 5G network connectivity. If you purchase your phone for a family, you can also get significant discounts per line.

These family plan options are not available with prepaid phones, as the price is what you usually see at face value. If you are looking for the highest possible quality service with the most available features, you will want to go with a postpaid plan.

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How Can You Buy a Phone?

Prepaid smartphones are easy to buy, as you can purchase them through the most prominent service providers. This includes the big three telecommunications companies in the U.S.: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. You can also buy and activate a prepaid phone with a smaller service provider or a retailer like Target or Walmart.

The Bottom Line

Prepaid phones are not for everyone, but they do have their niche. If you want total freedom and control over your phone plan and you are not someone who goes overboard on their talk and text, a prepaid plan could be perfect for you. Prepaid plans are great for single-line purchases, and there is no commitment involved, so you can easily go a different direction if your current prepaid plan is not for you.

What if you're not interested in a prepaid phone? We can help. Our Phone Deal Finder provides you with a free, unbiased comparison of carrier deals on phone models like the new iPhone, Samsung, and Google Pixel phones based on your budget, desired perks, and phone needs in just a few clicks.

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