Prepaid mobile phone Wikipedia

Whether you’re looking for flexibility, affordability, or international usage, there’s a prepaid SIM card out there for everyone. If you want to buy a new prepaid phone, go to our Prepaid phones page to see all the prepaid phones available. Picking a wireless plan and carrier is a very individualized process.

  • Prepaid cards do not usually require a credit check, and your spending habits are not reported by the card issuer to credit bureaus.
  • Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models.
  • Prepaid phones are also an excellent way to manage the time spent on a cellphone, and that’s why many parents choose them for their children.
  • Additionally, prepaid SIM cards are a great option for travelers as they allow you to easily switch to a local network without having to sign up for a long-term contract.

Anyone of Mint’s four prepaid phone plans would be an excellent choice depending on your needs, but 15GB is plenty for most people. After three months at $20, you pay for a full year to keep that low rate. The trick to finding a top prepaid plan is to broaden your search beyond the major carriers. Yes, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have prepaid plans of their own — some of them are quite good — but you can find some additional savings if you consider obile virtual network operators — or MVNOs.

Connect devices on-the-go.

But in our experience testing network speeds, prepaid subsidiaries performed as well as their parent networks. In our latest testing, for example, MetroPCS matched T-Mobile’s speed, while Boost and Virgin generally performed as well as Sprint. So you’re unlikely to take a performance hit from going prepaid. Gallup also points out that prepaid carriers also tend to offer better deals on older phones, which can be appealing if you don’t need the latest and greatest models. Take the Galaxy S8, which costs $349 and $449 at Cricket and Boost, respectively, thanks to current promotions.

  • Some cards have activation fees and monthly maintenance charges, which can eat into your spending cash.
  • You can get a prepaid plan from a carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile, or you can opt to purchase a prepaid phone at a convenience store or big box retailer.
  • Like most credit cards, be aware of any fees you may face with a secured credit card, such as annual fees or processing fees.
  • You can then spend currencies you hold on the card for free — just like a local wherever in the world you may be.
  • While prepaid cards are an alternative to bank account linked debit cards, they have limitations, especially if you want to build credit.

Ultimately, prepaid plans will have a few sacrifices, like deprioritized service, but as long as you do your research and understand those compromises, you shouldn’t have a problem. I personally have swapped back and forth between prepaid and postpaid a few times over the years and really can’t say which is better. Ultimately, it just depends millionaire on how much you want to spend and how willing you are to jump ship if a prepaid option doesn’t work out as planned. Prepaid cards can be used to make purchases and pay bills, just like debit or credit cards. They are accepted nearly everywhere since they are often backed by a major card network, such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express.

Do prepaid cards build credit?

Once you’ve spent the balance, the card becomes unusable until you add more money to it. There are lots of different prepaid debit cards out there, which all offer different features and fees. Use this guide to get started, and you’re sure to find the perfect card for your specific needs. Making international calls from your prepaid cell phone may be easy — if you’re calling from the United States and your prepaid plan offers an international option. If you plan to make calls from another country, however, you probably want to consider other options, like an international prepaid cell phone. Sometimes, pay-as-you-go customers pay more for their calls, SMS and data than contract customers.

Plans packed with all the things you love.

ZEN Mastercard users, for example, get ZEN Care Shopping Protection. This provides extra support in case something goes wrong with a purchase, like a cancelled flight or missing item. Although prepaid cards can be used in largely the same type of transactions as debit cards and credit cards, they are quite different in nature. Unlike debit cards, prepaid cards are not linked to a bank account and usually cannot be overdrawn. Unlike credit cards, prepaid cards aren’t connected to a line of credit and will not accrue debt.

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How much data do I need with my prepaid plan?

If you’re going to be spending an extended time in a country, another option is to buy a prepaid cell phone once you arrive. In almost every country, you get unlimited incoming calls for free. Maybe you’d like to use a prepaid cell phone for calls to or from other countries. Go to the next page to learn more about international prepaid cell phones. You’ll find that a prepaid cell phone works just like any other, although without a long-term commitment and some of the bells and whistles.

Must purchase eligible device & $100+ of qualifying service in same transaction. Get your choice of a free Samsung Galaxy A03, Motorola moto g 5G, REVVL 6 5G or REVVL 6X when you buy two months of unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data on our most popular plan—just $50/mo. Choosing the right prepaid SIM card can make a big difference in your mobile experience. Whether you are a frequent traveler, looking to save costs, or simply want flexibility with your mobile services, here are some tips to help you make an informed decision. Prepaid plan providers let you purchase in various increments days, 60 days, 90 days, six months or even a full year — with prices often varying depending on how long you’re willing to commit. Looking to cut through all the red tape and find the right plan?

This often happens when the information that’s provided is incorrect. Please try entering your full information again to view your approval odds. Tom’s Guide is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Once you’ve picked your plan type, the next decision is which provider to use. United States Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation requiring consumers to produce identification before buying pre-paid phones in 2010,[12][13][14] which was not passed. Get the ZEN.COM app to set up your multi-currency account in just a few steps and start using your ZEN virtual card immediately.


The MVNOs focus on the prepaid phone business, leasing space on traditional carriers’ networks rather than having their own. Among well-known MVNOs are Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile (a Sprint subsidiary), TracFone (a subsidiary of American Móvil, a Latin American wireless provider) and AllTel Wireless. Limited features — You probably won’t find the latest, most sophisticated features on the average cheap prepaid cell phone. It also won’t have Internet access or the ability to share videos.

What are Recurring Payments? Benefits & Success Strategies

Get Unlimited Talk, Text & 5G/4G data on your smartphone virtually everywhere in the U.S., with no data overages or annual contracts. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We continually strive to provide consumers with the expert advice and tools needed to succeed throughout life’s financial journey. Our mission is to provide readers with accurate and unbiased information, and we have editorial standards in place to ensure that happens.

Prepaid cards come with fewer protections than your average credit card. While this is a step in the right direction for consumers who already hold prepaid cards, these protections don’t exactly compare with those of traditional credit cards. If your prepaid card is stolen, the thief will only have access to the amount loaded onto the card and not an entire checking account, as is the case with a debit card.