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What is Pay As You Go Wireless?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pay as you go wireless services are cell phone services where the consumer purchases air time minutes and other cellular options in advance. Going with a prepayment service plan of this type eliminates the need for entering a long term contract with the service provider, and also ensures that the consumer only pays for the minutes and other options that are actually used. For many people, paying as they go is a great way to have reliable mobile phone service without any added expense.

A data-plan such as pay as you go wireless services usually requires the customer to purchase the mobile phone outright. However, this is not necessarily a major expense. Many service providers that offer the option to prepay also sell a line of cell phones that are relatively inexpensive. Once the telephone is secured, it is possible to purchase minutes that may be used to make calls or even connect to a network and browse the Internet, depending on the capabilities of the phone selected.

Calling plans and options will vary from one pay as you go wireless service provider to another. All of the providers will offer basic calling services such as the ability to make and receive calls and voice mail. Additional services such as Caller ID, automatic redial, and conferencing capabilities are available with specialized call plans. Keep in mind that as more service options are added to the package, the overall cost that must be paid in advance will increase.

Pay as you go wireless is a great option for consumers who never seem to exceed their monthly allotment of minutes on a standard plan. Minutes can be purchased in increments as low as 60 call minutes, or as many as 1000 call minutes. Generally, the consumer can go to the provider’s web site and buy more minutes online. As an alternative, many pay as you go wireless providers also issue prepaid cards that can be purchased at discount retails stores, convenience stores, and other retail outlets.

One of the benefits of a pay as you go wireless plan is there is no long term commitment on the part of the consumer. That means one less issue to address should you decide to switch providers at some point in the future. There are no penalties to pay for discontinuing the service should you decide to go with a different plan. When coupled with the fact that you eliminate paying for telephone services that you do not use, a pay as you go wireless plan is worth considering.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By arunil — On Jul 23, 2009

I'm currently using a pay as you go phone, and I've been really happy with the choice. I lost my job recently, and I really didn't want to be tied to a long-term plan in case I needed to cut that expense as well. I'm not thrilled with the phone itself, however, but to get the one I want I'd have to go with a contract, and I don't think I'm ready to do that yet.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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