In today's day and age, having access to the information and communication link while on the go is very important to the majority of consumers. The massive drop in prices of cell phones and their corresponding data plans experienced at the dawn of the 21st century has lead to the massive popularity of these devices. Currently, it is very difficult to find a person who does not own a cell phone, and many consumers consider these devices more important than their wallets. However, making these devices more affordable to the general public does not necessarily mean the use of a cell phone is so inexpensive that the costs can simply be ignored. The cell phone plans provided by several different network carriers often hope for this misconception and many subscribers have fallen into this trap. Unfortunately, irresponsible use of cell phones can easily result in hundreds of additional dollars added to the monthly bill. However, consumers who wish to avoid these pitfalls can choose to select prepaid cell phones, instead, which allow the customer to decide how much they wish to use these devices and structure their monthly expenses accordingly in advance.
The main difference between a regular cell phone and its prepaid counterpart obviously relates to the structuring of the monthly plan. The majority of cell phone network carriers will provide the customer with a selection of several different plans to choose from, each with a specified allowance of minutes texts and data. These plans will be offered at stable rates, which may at first seem reasonable, but often lead to two major disadvantages. First, if one chooses the more expansive plan that allows for more minutes or texts, it will be difficult or even impossible to fully use the minutes. It is typical for individual customers, who sign up for 500 monthly minutes, to only use 200 to 300, making the additional minutes completely irrelevant and a waste of money. On the other hand the same customer, who selects 250 minutes instead but happens to hit 300, will face numerous fees and charges that may, in some instances, more than double the cost of his monthly plan.
Prepaid cell phones allow the customer to avoid both of these issues, and instead use a cell phone without monthly contracts and being limited by specific rates. These devices instead implement a pay-as-you-go model of operation, and instead of requiring a contract, the customer is required to purchase minutes in advance. When the minutes run out, instead of implementing over-the-limit rates and thus forcing often ridiculous additional charges, these prepaid cell phones will simply not allow the customer to make further calls until he purchases more minutes. These devices can be excellent choices for teenagers, who may often use these devices irresponsibly, leading to huge additional expenses when regular cell phone plans are used. Since unlimited voice and data plans provided by most cell phone carriers can be very expensive, it is fairly clear why these prepaid phones can often provide a more cost-efficient alternative.