How Prepaid Phones Could Pay Off For You

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Switching to prepaid could save you serious cash.

Prepaid cellphones can offer big savings and lots of options. So why aren’t they more popular? For one thing, a lot of people still don’t know much about them. That’s changing though.

Grant resident Dawn LaPlante spends a lot of time on the phone. So do her kids. “I’ve tried to look for savings as much as I can!” she explained.

To help her bottom line, LaPlante turned to prepaid cellphones for her daughter and son. For just $25 a month per phone, each gets 250 minutes for talk, plus unlimited texting.

It wasn’t hard for LaPlante to find a cheap prepaid plan. Major carriers like AT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile have really expanded prepaid options in recent years, with consumer demand reportedly driving the change.

Ryan Keller, Area Retail Sales Manager for AT&T in North Alabama, summed up the appeal of prepaid like this, "There's no contract, there's no credit check, no deposit, no age requirements."

Once associated with junkier phones and service, the quality of prepaid plan phones and service has also increased. You can now go prepaid with everything from and old device you already have, to an iPhone.

"To say I've got an iPhone now as a prepaid option is something that a couple years ago I would've found hard to even believe," Neal Ingram, Sales Trainer for Verizon Wireless in Huntsville said.

So where do the big savings come in? Prepaid plans require you to have a device, or pay full price for one upfront, but you'll generally pay less month-to-month for service. In contrast, contract plans offer top-of-the-line devices at major discounts, but you'll often pay more over the long haul. If you're always upgrading to the latest-and-greatest, prepaid may not be for you.

Plans, including the specifics of how payments are processed (once a month, automatically from a checking account, etc.) vary widely between carriers - so make sure to ask a lot of questions before deciding on one. Prepaid plans can also come with some restrictions - allowing only, for example, 3G service instead of the faster 4G option.

Ready to start exploring? Here are links to Verizon, AT&T and StraightTalk prepaid plan options. Just a few of the many options out there.