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Is Prepaid Your Best Choice?
Our connected society makes big demands on us all to stay in touch, whether it's with the office or home. Cellular telephones have gone from being a convenient "extra" to being a virtual necessity. But with all the different plans available, sometimes it's hard to find the best deal.
Cell phone companies offer a wide variety of monthly plans, most of which require a long-term contract. If you are reasonably certain you will be keeping your cell phone for at least a year, this poses no great burden, but what if you're planning to move to another state in six months? What if your needs change? The fact is, contract cell phone deals can be excellent, but it depends on your situation. Many of these contracts offer a significant amount of minutes, and other benefits such as free roaming, free nights and weekends calling, or free inbound calling. Still, you must be wary of overage charges; and as always, be aware that any introductory rate is just that--introductory. Pay close attention to what the "real" rate is going to be once the promotion is over.
There are situations where any contract is going to be a bad deal. Suppose, for example, you just don't use it that often. What good is a contract for a thousand minutes a month, if you only use a hundred? What if you want to have it only for emergencies? And suppose you want to provide a cell phone to a teenage child, but don't want to get hit with unexpected bills. Prepaid is the best way to give that child a cell phone, but still retain control over its usage. And for low to moderate users of cellular telephones, a prepaid cell phone deal is more than likely going to present the best deal.
Going with prepaid cell allows you to easily budget your minutes from month to month, and keep control over your cell phone bill. When selecting a prepaid plan, there are still a lot of things to consider when looking for the best deal. First, when you buy a prepaid card and load the minutes onto your phone, those minutes will usually have an expiration date. Depending on the plan, the minutes may be good for only 30 days, and then they will disappear. This means you've paid for minutes you haven't used, which defeats the entire purpose of having a prepaid phone. Other plans have expiration dates of 90 days or more, this will give you the maximum amount of flexibility. Also, beware that in most cases, the per-minute charge goes down when you purchase cards that have more minutes on them. As such, figuring out the best card to buy is a balancing act--you don't want to buy too many, or you'll waste minutes by allowing them to expire. But you don't want to buy too few, or the per-minute charge will be too high.
Regardless, once you compare offerings and decide which one is best for you, in many cases the prepaid cell phone will offer much better value than a long-term cellular contract.
About the Author: Tom Spelling is a contributing editor to the Prepaid Reviews site – a website that reviews prepaid cell phone plan providers and rates them according to service factors and customer feedback from visitors. The site offers reviews on Virgin Mobile Prepaid, TracFone Prepaid, Cingular Go Phone and many more brands of prepaid cellular service. http://www.prepaidreviews.com/