Many people know that the government gives free cell phones and 250 monthly minutes to needy Americans through its Lifeline Assistance program. But what’s the next best option if you don’t qualify for a free Lifeline cell phone?
Fact is, everyone needs a cell phone these days. They’ve rapidly moved from luxury items to necessities because they can be literal lifesavers for anyone with health or aging issues or other challenging circumstances.
If you don’t qualify for the Lifeline program, there are several reasons you might want to consider a prepaid cell phone.
Prepaid Cell Phone Advantages
1. There are no contracts and no surprises.
With a prepaid cellphone you only pay for the minutes you actually use. There are no recurring monthly fees, no federal taxes, no fees, network fees, no data fees, no deposits required, and no costly changes in terms of service that may push up your monthly cell phone bill to an unaffordable level.
If the prepaid cellphone provider you’ve chosen doesn’t give you good service you aren’t tied to it by a long-term contract. That means you won’t be charged one of those hefty early termination fees if you decide to switch to a different provider. You simply use up your minutes and then purchase service with a different provider.
With contractual phones you will pay steep overage charges if you use more than your allotted minutes. But if you use up your allotted minutes with a prepaid cell phone, it simply stops working until you buy more minutes and activate them.
2. Prepaid cell phones and minutes are easy to purchase.
Most prepaid cellphone providers offer prepaid cellphone service, phones and minutes online through their website and at merchants such as Walmart, your local supermarket or your local convenience store.
When you shop for a prepaid cell phone, look for a “bundle” that include the activation, the phone and your initial minutes purchase, since providers will sometimes offer sales and deals on these bundles. For example, some providers offer generous double or triple minutes deals that can really stretch your cell phone budget.
When you buy a prepaid cell phone you’ll pay an initial activation fee that gets you a phone number to which the minutes you purchase will be attached. Activation fees are typically around $20 in the United States.
Most prepaid cellphone companies offer a very basic, inexpensive phone with an initial service purchase. If you are able to pay a bit more, you can choose from a number of upgraded phones with more features.
If you need more minutes, you can easily purchase them online directly from your prepaid cellphone provider or by purchasing an additional minutes card at many stores right in your neighborhood. Activating a new minutes card is easy – just go to the provider’s website and follow the simple instructions.
3. Bad credit, no problem.
People who’ve had life and health challenges often end up with bad credit scores that can limit their access to cell phone service. Most contract cell phone providers will turn down people with bad credit or make them pay exorbitant deposits, but with a prepaid cellphone there is no qualification of any sort. If you have the cash or an active credit card you can get the phone, the service and the minutes, no questions asked.
4. Prepaid cell phones are available without age restrictions.
You must be 18 years of age to enter into a contract. That means you won’t be able to get a contractual cell phone if you’re underage. But the good news is that there is no age qualification of any kind for prepaid cell phones.
Prepaid Cell Phone Disadvantages
Now that we’ve told you all the advantages of a prepaid cell phone, you might wonder if there are any disadvantages. There are, but they are minor.
For example, minutes are usually good for a specific period of time, usually 60 to 90 days. To roll them over you need to purchase more minutes prior to the expiration of your current minutes.
When you first purchase your prepaid cellphone it may be tricky to gauge how many minutes you actually need. If you purchase too many minutes you might be put in the position of having to pay for more minutes just to save the ones you’ve already purchased.
The per minute charge is a bit higher on prepaid cellphones, but this is more than offset by all the advantages.
Prepaid cell phones are an outstanding alternative
Considering all the pros and cons, we come to the conclusion that prepaid cell phones are an outstanding alternative to the government’s free cell phone program.
Check it out. It may be perfect for you.