Making Smart Choices Shopping for Prepaid Wireless in 2020


Prepaid wireless plans in 2020 are very competitive compared to what was offered just a few years ago. I encourage all my readers and YouTube viewers to periodically review their needs and review their choices for prepaid wireless. Most people sign up for prepaid wireless to save some money and by choosing the right provider and plans you could save $100s of dollars. I recently helped one young woman cut her prepaid wireless bill in half. She needed a new phone and didn’t want to spend a lot of money for it. I showed her she could cut her bill from $600 to $300 per year, more than enough money to replace her broken phone. Sounds good, right? Keep reading.

My advice to people looking to sign up for prepaid wireless service is to understand your needs and costs and then choose the lowest cost prepaid plan that meets those needs. If you know your current costs, you can decide whether or not the extra savings is worth the effort needed to find and switch providers.

Which Prepaid Wireless Services do I like?

One of my current favorites isMint Mobile . Mint uses the T-Mobile network. I recently completed my review of Mint Mobile. See Mint Mobile Prepaid Wireless Review June 2020.

For readers that want a prepaid wireless service that uses the Verizon network, check out Verizon Wireless Prepaid. I’m currently using this service. I’ve reviewed it twice. Most recently here, Verizon Wireless Prepaid Review March 2020 and earlier here Final Thoughts on Verizon Wireless Prepaid Review

If you prefer to use the AT&T network, check out AT&T Prepaid AT&T Prepaid $45 Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data – Feb 2019. They currently have a $15 plan! If you live in a state with charges high sales tax, consider Cricket Wirless. See Cricket Wireless Summary and Thoughts

Choose a Network with Coverage

First, choose a prepaid wireless carrier that has coverage where you use your phone most. Most prepaid wireless companies in the US use either the AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint networks. They lease service from there companies and resell it to you at much lower prices than those big four customers charger their own post paid cellular customers. The best way to know which network to choose is by personal experience. If you currently have cell service, what network does your provider use? Is the coverage good for you? if so, choose a prepaid wireless service that uses that same network. If your unsure ask the your friends, neighbors, or colleagues that use their phones the same places that you do what they currently use and if they have good coverage. In the Boston metro area, where I live all four of these networks have coverage but I often here from people across the US that live in places where only one of these networks has acceptable coverage.

Once you decide which network you want to use look at the prepaid wireless carriers that use that network. If you plan to bring your current phone check to make sure your phone is compatible with their service. For any service, that uses the Verizon or Sprint networks you’ll need to check your phone’s serial number (MEID or IMEI) with the company to make sure its compatible. By compatible, I mean that they can activate your phone on their network.

Choosing a Plan

Next you’ll need to choose a plan. Understand the amount of service you’ll need for talk, text, and data as well as other features you want or need. Do not assume that a prepaid wireless service will support a feature you want or need without checking first. Compare what you are currently paying now, to what you estimate you’ll be paying on the new plan. Decide if the savings justify changing plans. Remember to consider whether or not taxes and fees are included on your current plan and the one you expect to switch to.

Talk and Text

in 2020 most prepaid wireless plans include unlimited talk and text. If you rarely talk on the phone or don’t text often, you may be able to save some money by looking for a service that includes a fixed amount of talk (in minutes) and texts(in messages). Consider whether you are paying for a monthly allotment of minutes and texts that expire at the end of the month or roll over indefinitely or a period of time.

As I said most plans include unlimited nationwide talk and text. This means placing calls from inside the United States to US phone numbers. Some plans however include calling from the US to Mexico and Canada, and some even include calling from inside Mexico and Canada. Some plans include a credit to for international calling where a balance is deducted by the minute.

Data

Most prepaid wireless plans include either a fixed amount of high speed data or unlimited high speed data. Do not pay for more data than you need. You are giving away your money that you do.

Plans with a fixed amount of data can range from 1 GB to 25 GB of data. Plans that include more data often cost $10s of dollars more. Choose a plan that matches your needs. If you choose a fixed data plan, check to see if the plan included slower reduced speed data once you use up your high speed data. That data is important because some of the features of your phone will continue to work if you run out of high speed data.

Plans that include unlimited data are the most expensive. If you truly need unlimited data and can afford it, it is worthwhile. If you are unsure, try a fixed data plan and see if you run out of data each month. If so, you can choose a more expensive plan.

Some companies with let you pay to add data to fixed data plans if you run out of high speed data. if you are deciding between two fixed data plans, you may find it is less expensive to choose the plan with less data and buy data add ons when you need them. Keep in mind that some providers will roll over unused add-on data while others will expire it after a fixed period of time or the end of your billing cycle.

For unlimited data plans, make sure to read the fine print. Some plans have a maximum download speed on their high speed data. This means your high speed data may never exceed a download speed of say 3, 5, or 8 Mbps even though the network is capable of more speeds. Others will reduce or deprioritize your data speeds. after you ave used a certain amount of data.

Features

The three most popular features people ask me about are Mobile Hotspot, Wi-Fi calling, and Visual Voicemail. Do not assume a prepaid wireless service included these features without verifying it first.

Mobile Hotspot

Mobile hotspot lets you connect your laptop, tablet, or other Wi-Fi devices to the internet using your phone’s cellular data connection. Not all prepaid wireless providers and plans include this feature. Some only include it with certain plans. Most unlimited plans only include a fixed amount of data for hotspot. Others set restrictions on the number of devices. Providers may also set a maximum download speed or cap on hotspot data.

Wi-Fi calling

Wi-Fi calling lets your phone make and receive calls and texts over an active Wi-Fi connection rather the the cellular network so that you can use your phone in places where you have Wi-Fi but little or no cellular signal.
Many people find they ave poor cell coverage inside their home or office building but they do have Wi-Fi at these locations. With Wi-Fi calling, you can still have phone service.

Visual Voicemail

Most prepaid wireless services include voicemail, but not all services include Visual Voicemail.

Visual Voicemail lets you view voicemail messages you receive and listen to your messages in any order on your phone. You can scroll through your messages, pick the ones you want to listen to, and erase them right from your device’s screen.

Almost all prepaid wireless providers offer at least regular voicemail. You dial in to your voicemail messages, and listen them one at a time in 2020 Many prepaid wireless plans include Visual Voicemail on the iPhone and supported android phones.

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