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Prepaid Palatable with Auto-Refill
of our biggest objections to Prepaid was the cumbersome payment
cycle required by prepaid refills. You didn't pay the bill once a
month like the electric bill, you paid on an exact payment date
or you lost your account value, and
your service, if you were one day late. If you paid too soon, you could
some of the time you already paid for, increasing your total cost.
These types of
payments still exist but now most Prepaid operators offer some form of
"Auto-Refill", or "Auto-Pay", where your monthly payment is
automatically deducted from a
credit card, debit card or checking account.
upside with Auto-Refill is that it becomes easier
to pay than
the electric bill because the payment is made without any hassle.
In most cases you get an Text or email that the charge to
your card or checking account is
being made, but no action is required on your part. It also makes it
easy to change features or add-ons to
your account. Some
carriers don't make it easy to make changes by
making you go through a menu of choices. Additionally, credit
cards have expiration dates
that can interrupt the Auto-Refill process and you can suddenly find
yourself with no wireless service.
carriers are better than others in
making Auto-Refill consumer-friendly. There are
carriers that offer a discount
when you sign up for Auto-Refill. In some cases you can
enter a backup
credit card number or an alternative notification method. Most carriers
offer both online and app access to your
account. Several will notify you long before there is a
problem including an upcoming credit card expiration date.
is an automated process, you may want to consider a Prepaid service
that includes a convenient way to correct any inevitable problems.
Our advice sometimes includes backing away and allowing for
the fact that something will cause your account to be charged a
slightly different amount, and it may be less trouble to grin and
bear it than pressing the issue to get back a few dollars.
Types of Prepaid "Carriers"
Provided by the Major Carriers (The Big 3)
deal with the major carrier's stores and customer service and you are
normally limited to their own network. We review the Prepaid services
of the major carriers on our Primary
Provided by Companies NOT
Affiliated with a Major Carrier
budget carriers have no network of their own and re-sell access to one
more of the networks of the major carriers. Customer Service ranges
from good telephone support to online-only support. There are few or no
stores related to these carriers but there is a large number of retail
outlets for their own phones, refills or SIM's. These
'resellers' provide access to one major wireless network, and some
offer more. We
review the Prepaid services of the non-major carriers on our Budget Prepaids Page.
Prepaid Carriers Listed Here Have
Our definition of "nationwide" coverage is
service available in every state in the US. The Prepaid carriers
service across the entire national footprint of their associated
wireless networks. There is also a number of Regional
some of which that offer 'nationwide' coverage but, more likely, limit
Prepaid users to their own network. In return, these
carriers normally permit 'Unlimited' access to that network.
- Save money by
paying only for what you need.
- Carriers are not
adding pesky "access fees" or other annoying, extra charges to Prepaid.
- Taxes and fees
are normally not added, including
"activation" fees, although some do add those charges.
- You only pay
for your phone once.
- No monthly
bill, you can set up some plans to
- No deposit, contract
required service period, and no
Early Termination Fee.
- You may be
able to use your existing wireless
purchased minutes usually renew when you refill.
- Refill dates
are critical unless you use "Auto-Refill".
- Even with
"Auto-Refill", your credit card expiration date may interrupt your
- Coverage may
be less than postpaid plans.
use may incur roaming charges, higher
data fees, reduced features or just unavailable.
- Service ends
abruptly when money runs out.
- Plans are
often priced lower by providing a more limited customer service process.
selection of phones.
- Rates and
expiration depend on refill amount.
- You may need
to pay a higher price for the phone.
Service may be more difficult to
are only made by text or email, not by US Mail.
Almost every Prepaid carrier offers 5G coverage based on the
availablity of 5G on the underlying
. If you want 5G service,
you must have a 5G-compatible phone. 5G may be available
when you Bring Your Own 5G Phone.
Compare Prepaid deals
side-by-side at these online Prepaid wireless stores: