How Prepaid Cell Service Works

Prepaid cell phone service has become a popular choice these days as credit checks for traditional phones become more stern and the resulting deposit requests grow more unaffordable.
Read on to find out how prepaid cellular works, how it can benefit you, what to look out for and how to find a great prepaid wireless provider.
Benefits of Prepaid Cell Phone Service
One of the biggest advantages to prepaid cell phone are no hassles and no commitment required on the part of the customer. You can buy your phone and pick your plan without being required to sign a service contract for years at a time, that require huge fees when broken.
Another huge plus for prepaid service is that prepaid cell companies have a realistic view on credit and most Americans lack of a spotless credit record.
Late payments on a bill late four years ago could be affecting your ability to get cellular service in the present. Prepaid companies differ from regular companies because almost none of them require credit checks and some don't even require you to have a credit card.
You buy your phone and then buy minutes as you need them – up front, so if you don't pay the bill, you don't have any cellular service. Having to pay upfront has also been found by many customers to be a good way to keep their use of minutes in check.
Prepaid cell phones allow you to pay for only the minutes that you need. If you only use your cell phone when traveling, you can buy minutes before your trip and go without purchasing them when you are at home and without a need for the phone.
A prepaid cell phone is also a good solution for parents who want to arm their teenagers with cell phones but don't want to pay the bill that teenagers can rack up. You can set a spending limit each month and once they reach it, the card shuts off and won't be re-activated until you (or they) purchase more minutes.
Cons to Using Prepaid Cell Phone Service
Of course, not everything about prepaid is better than traditional service. Most companies have an expiration date for minutes. Meaning you must use the minutes you purchase within a certain amount of time or the minutes “go bad” and can no longer be used.
Prepaid minutes can also cost more than minutes on a traditional cell phone – but many consumers view it as a small price to pay when the alternative is high deposits, huge monthly bills or worse yet, no cell phone at all.
Right about now you're wondering what the “catch” is with prepaid service. Aside from the above, there aren't any. As with any phone, be sure to read over the fine print before placing your order.
But the premise with most companies is simple enough – purchase a phone, purchase minutes and buy more minutes when the first set of minutes you've purchased runs out.
How to Get Started with a Prepaid Plan
Getting started with most providers is easy. Some prepaid carriers have a minute “plan” that resembles a traditional monthly plan that range from 60 minutes to 1000 minutes per month.
Other carriers have phone cards available for purchase in different increments that you add to your phone. When you use up your minutes, your cell phone will stop working until you buy more.
Most providers allow you to buy your minutes right over the phone or on the carrier's website. A few prepaid wireless providers let you attach your credit card or debit card for auto payments (if you choose).
As you make calls, the amount per minutes is deducted from the monthly plan amount or the card amount – when you run out of minutes, you can easily “recharge” your phone minutes by buying some more.
Take the time to research providers before you choose one and to compare not only the providers, but also the available plans that your provider of choice offers.
Prepaid Reviews offers ratings of the most popular prepaid cell phone providers in an effort to help you make an informed decision that will allow you to get the phone you want, the talk time you need – all at a price you can afford with customer service you can feel secure with.