A prepaid plan is perfect for customers who don't want to be under contract and baulk at the idea of excess usage plans.
Just as the name suggests, with a prepaid plan you pay in advance of using the call and text message credit. When you reach the end of your monthly 'phone credit', you will be blocked from being able to make any calls or send any texts. There are some great providers out there who offer prepaid plans of great value. Let's take a look at some of the factors that you should be taking into consideration before signing up for a prepaid plan.
- How much credit do I get? Some providers will offer you a "dollar to dollar" deal – however much you pay per month, that's the amount of credit you will receive. Others will give you a certain amount of included value with your prepaid plan, such as Virgin's Prepaid Your Cap Recharge, which includes free text messages and $800 worth of call credit. Keep in mind that the cost of calls might differ between providers and plans.
- When does my credit expire? The great thing about a prepaid mobile plan is that you don't necessarily need to pay at the beginning of every month. If you're a light user, your credit could last much longer than that – but you'll need to be careful about the expiry date of the credit. It doesn't roll over into the next month or the next time you top up your account – it's just gone! Some plans will give you a lot of time before your credit expires – others will only give you 28 days.
- How much am I paying per call? Make sure you check, as it will change the value of your plan! Call and text message rates will differ from provider to provider, and you will also need to keep an eye out for special rates to 13/1800 and international numbers.
- How much data do I get? Some prepaid plans will include data and some won't. Often the charges for using the internet when you don't have a data plan can be very high – for example, $25 per MB. It's important, then, if you intend to use the internet on your phone that you make sure your prepaid plan includes data.
As with cap plans and everything in life, prepaid plans come with advantages and disadvantages. Let's go through them to see if a prepaid plan is right for you.
- Never get stuck on a contract. If you find the coverage isn't good in your area – don't worry about it, just leave! If the credit allowance isn't enough – leave! You have total flexibility and control over your plan.
- No excess usage charges. If you use up all of your credit allowance, your provider will just block you from using your phone anymore, which means that you are safe from receiving an unexpected $500 bill. Keep in mind that this may be different when it comes to data usage – read the fine print carefully.
- Top up your credit whenever you run out. Rather than having to wait until the beginning of the next month or risk exorbitant excess usage charges as you would on a cap plan, a prepaid plan will allow you to top up your credit whenever you need to, meaning you can spend your call credit and money as fast or as slow (depending upon the expiry date of your credit) as you need.
- Less freebies. Cap plans include credit for lots of calls and text messages and unmetered access to websites like Facebook, Ebay, and Twitter among others. Prepaid plans tend to give you exactly what you're paying for – no more, no less. Data usage is also not very common, and doesn't generally come at the same great value as with a cap plan.
- No handset included. While some providers will offer discounts if you want to buy a phone outright at the beginning of your prepaid plan, you're not going to get a phone given to you that you can pay for at the rate of $10 a month or something similar. You'll usually have to supply your own phone.
- Expiry dates. Having to keep an eye on both how much credit you have and when it's going to expire can be annoying, and watching $20 go down the drain when you don't use it in time can be frustrating. Make sure that you pick your provider based on when you expect you'll be using your credit.
Use Compare Mobile Plan's great prepaid plan search filter to find the plan that would most suit your needs. Or give us a call on 1300 850 518 to get help finding the right plan for you.