How to Understand Pay as You Go Cell Phone Plans

Pay as you go plans are a cell phone payment that allows you to purchase a large number of minutes to use over weeks or months. You can also choose billing on a daily rate, only when you use the phone. Many teenagers, elderly and occasional cell phone users can benefit from call and text plans that allow you to pay for minutes only when you need them. Find out what option is best for you by understanding pay as you go cell phone guidelines detailed below.

Understanding the Plan

Understand that there is a thin line between pay as you go and prepaid plans.

Pay as you go minutes or daily rates can last for 30 days or up to a year, depending upon the brand. Prepaid cell plans are usually monthly rates without a contract.

  • However, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, since you also “pre-pay” for minutes plans.

Use a pay as you go plan if you have unlocked cell phones at your disposal.

Taking out the necessity to buy a phone with a wireless provider will save you money.

Take advantage of pay as you go options if you have poor credit or no credit.

Since you can buy a card with a number of minutes on it, there is no need to check your credit for future billing.

  • Some pay as you go cell phone plans may ask for your billing information. This may be the case with daily rates with the major providers, such as AT&T and Verizon.

Purchase a pay as you go card at hundreds of wireless locations or discount stores.

Most places will accept cash payments and reduce your paper trail.

Advantages of Pay As You Go

Opt for pay as you go plans if you only want to use your phone for emergencies.

In this case, a daily rate is ideal, because you will have unlimited calling that day for $3 or less; however, it can stay charged and unused without costing you money most of the time.

Use a prepaid or pay as you go plan as a trial run for a service provider.

If you have few calls dropped and you are pleased with the rates, you may be able to return and get a better contract.

Use the pay as you go plan if you have someone who’s calling you want to limit.

In this case, opt for a minutes card. When it is near expiration, the user will get a warning and have time to refill them.

Choose the pay as you go option if you want a fairly low-tech phone.

Some companies, such as Virgin Mobile will sell you a phone for $14.99 and you can use it with a talk and text pay as you go plan.

Consider a pay as you go option if you are relocating for a short period of time.

If having a new cell phone number is not a problem, then you can avoid racking up roaming charges with your normal phone. It is also a good option if you travel to other countries where you only need it occasionally.

Disadvantages of Pay As You Go

Consider a contract, instead of a prepaid plan, if you use a lot of data or need an extensive family plan.

The pay as you go model is not designed for heavy phone users, and you will end up spending more than you would with a prepaid plan or contract.

Recognize that if you use your phone every day, the pay as you go option is likely to be more expensive.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Boost Mobile offer daily plans that are between $.99 and $3 per day.

  • Buying prepaid minutes can also be more expensive. In addition, some companies make you pay $20 every 3 months to keep it active.

Understand that rural areas may not provide good service.

Pay as you go plans are best in urban centers, because cell phone towers are common. You may not have the opportunity to choose an affordable pay as you go option in all states.

Accept that you will get fewer calling advantages with a prepaid or pay as you go plan.

Most contracts exclude calls at certain times or to certain numbers. Prepaid phone options rarely have unlimited features.

Setting Up a Plan

Decide if you have a phone that may work.

Newer models are most likely to work, although they do not need to be smart phones.

Visit a local Best Buy, Walmart or discount store to look at all the options.

Best Buy keeps all the prepaid and pay as you go options in 1 place so you can do your research.

Decide if you want text messaging included.

In most cases, text messaging will use up your plan quickly and ensure you are charged your daily rate. Make sure you are accounting for text messages ahead of time.

Choose either a daily rate or a pay as you go minutes card.

  • With a daily rate, scrutinize the text message rates and data rates. Ask about roaming charges if you are out of the area.
  • With a minutes card, ask about activation fees and expiration days. If the minutes expire after 30 days and cannot be used within a longer time, then you may lose them. Also ask about roaming and text message usage.

Pay ahead of time for minutes.

Set up billing for monthly rates. You will be charged for what you used at the end of the month.

Set up your cell phone number.

Unless you are starting a prepaid phone plan with a company where you have previously had a contract, your number will usually switch. You can activate it from the store or home.

Keep track of your minutes.

You may want to switch to a contract or monthly prepaid option if you want unlimited minutes.

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