Perks and Pitfalls in the Land of Pre-Paid

Used cell phonesHowdy Blue Dots!  I know it can sometimes seem like this country is stuck with a two party system.  No, I am not talking about the Democrats or Republicans. (Although, they are also represented by red and blue oddly enough). I’m of course talking about our countries largest cell phone providers Verizon and AT&T.  The two seem locked in a constant battle for the hearts and wallets of your fellow Americans.  There must be an alternative to the two party system though right? We’ll I won’t tell you to throw your vote away and vote for the Green Party in the next election, but when it comes to phones sometimes the small guys have some huge offers.

I was a through and through Verizon preacher until I took a look at my $120 cell phone bill one month and really analyzed it.  I came to a startling conclusion, I made next to no phone calls what so ever.  Then I took a look at my texting,  I was 200 texts over my monthly limit.  Texts, which cost Verizon virtually nothing to send or receive were jacking my bill up. I could spend an extra $15 a month to have unlimited texts sure, but that would put me right were I was now. I knew there had to be a plan with Verizon that catered to my text heavy no talk lifestyle, I searched but there was nothing to be found.  This started my exodus from the Big Red to the land of PrePaid.

Lucky for me, I live in a major metropolitan area and pre paid phones have much better reception in the more populated parts of the world.  As you all know, I’m a fairly avid Android fan so the phone had to be a smart phone. I ended up choosing Virgin Mobile as they were one of the first companies to really produce a solid smart phone for a prepaid user.  I picked up the Motorola Triumph for around $200.00 which will likely cause some sticker shock to those accustomed to receiving their phones free with their contracts.  However, when you put it in comparison to the price I am paying monthly, the savings will become clear.  With Verizon, I had 450 minutes, 500 text messages and unlimited internet for $120, Virgin offered 100 less minutes, but unlimited text and web and, here is the kicker, it was only $35.  In one fell swoop I nearly sliced my bill into thirds. You can probably cut the cost of the phone even more by purchasing a prepaid used or refurbished cell phone.

Pricing is certainly the major boon of switching to prepaid service, the reception for me, while not as strong as Verizon, was still quite good. I have never dropped a call with Virgin, but I do notice that in some areas of the world the web will be a bit slower on the draw then my old phone was.  One of the most notable disappointments with a slower web connection, is that it interferes with Google Voice recognition software.  Since that software needs to quickly access the web to translate what you are saying, a slow connection often means this feature just won’t work.  Very recently, Virgin Mobile had a nationwide outage which caused a number of those unlimited text messages to arrive much later in the day. This seems to have been an isolated incident though, and was resolved quite quickly.

So while it might not be time for you to cut the umbilical from Mamma ATT/Verizon, you might want to saddle your kids up with these phones when you send them off to college, or if you want them to learn that dreaded concept of personal responsibility.  Though for those frugal city dwellers who would rather have a longer happy hour and a reason to rush off the phone when Aunt Mildred calls talking about her ailing cats, this may be the chance of a lifetime.  Well that’s all for this week Blue Dots, hope this article gives you a little walking around money, or heck maybe a few extra bucks to buy a cool used cell phone from us here at the Blue Dot.

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