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Thursday Poll: Why Haven’t You Switched to Prepaid Wireless Service?


Over the last couple of months, especially with the moves made by T-Mobile to become the UNcarrier and Google selling an unlocked phone (Nexus 4) that isn’t tied to any carrier, we are hearing prepaid wireless service brought up in conversations quite often. In fact, I joined a prepaid network back at the beginning of the year with my Nexus 4 and have enjoyed every minute of it. But as prepaid seems to have become increasingly more popular, we still get the feeling that consumers aren’t considering the switch to it. And I’m not necessarily saying that because I think you should all switch, I’m just curious to know why it either hasn’t been on your radar or why you have decided it’s not right for you?

There are arguments for and against prepaid, just as their are with postpaid (contract service with carriers like Verizon), but I’d love to get the DL community to weigh in with them. Is it a lack of LTE? Do you not want to be thought of as a drug dealer (kidding!)? Does it have to do with prepaid service network coverage (typically AT&T and T-Mobile are the networks used)? Are you not interested in paying higher prices for unlocked phones? Do you simply not understand how it works?

I personally like prepaid because, for one, it’s cheap. I also can purchase unlimited talk, text, and data on a prepaid plan, use a phone of my choosing, and switch between service providers at the drop of a hat should the current one not satisfy my wireless needs. There is probably a deeper story in there on the benefits of prepaid (or life with prepaid service), which we’ll work on in the coming weeks. For now, though, I’d love to have your opinions.

Why Haven't You Switched to Prepaid Service?

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  • MttFrog13

    I think prepaid is only worth it if you’re paying $50 or less per month. Otherwise, you might as well get a subsidized phone on contract. No point in paying the full price for a phone if you still have to pay the same price for the monthly bill. I guess you do still get freedom from the contract with prepaid though.

  • I don’t understand the big objection to contracts. If you want out of a contract, pay the ETF. It’s not actually all that much money compared to what you save on a subsidized phone. ANY carrier is effectively the same as prepaid if you just decide to cancel if you want

  • LTE, apparently? I didn’t realize you couldn’t get prepaid LTE…

    Verizon Network coverage is really good, I don’t want to switch to a lesser carrier

    “contract” doesn’t really bother me. It’s not like I’m going to decide to not have a cell phone for a month!

    I have unlimited data via Verizon, still, and employer discount makes it a better deal than prepaid.

    I like having a reputable company. Prepaid companies seem to crop up and drop off fairly often. I like knowing my company is going to be here for a few years

  • duke69111

    Can anybody recommend a smartphone prepaid service that’s unlimited everything, that uses Verizon, Sprint & US Cellular? Verizon & US Cellular are the key carriers for my area.

  • JMacGill

    No unlimited data on LTE

  • Actually, I pay $45/line after fees and taxes for each line a month on my Verizon account after discounts are applied… for unlimited text and 4G data and enough minutes we don’t come close too.

    I have yet to find a prepaid provider that cheap that offers the same, especially truly “unlimited” data.

  • Dean Milord

    For me – I still have UNLMT’d data on Verizon and there don’t seem to be any signs of me having to lose that feature anytime soon. I have contracts that end in May, Aug & July ’14, so I’m pretty OK til then. But I am waiting to see what this T-Mo/Metro merger will do. The Nexus (3) launch and lack of updates was a major let down. Plus VZW passing on some major devices this past year; it looks like Verizon is going back to their old ways of not having decent devices.
    Depending on what Nexus is revealed at G I/O this summer. I may get the Nexus 5 and jump over to T-Mo. They have already offered to pay my ETFs for me so…. yea. If anyone has any reason for me to leave NOW, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Only downsides for me right now is having to buy all new devices, and loss of some service areas (Central FL).

  • Kent Burton

    I want to go to Pre-paid but have not yet because I don’t have an internet option at my house other than Cell Phone or satellite. LTE is faster. So until I get the DSL option later this year I will stick with VZW. After that I think I am off to Straight Talk.

  • Guest

    My mother pays for my Verizon, and doesn’t want to switch… I guess some people can’t see the evil that is Verizon Wireless….So i’ll just deal with it for now… Want to switch to Net10 though…

  • maxfrix

    I think it’s like most services people pay for and I don’t think it will change anytime soon that is why ATT & Verizon thrive. Most people aren’t going to see this article and if they do it holds no interest. They want to walk in and be handed a device for a payment they can afford and be done thinking about it. I went off contract to Tmo a couple years ago and loved Tmo’s service and wifi calling. I was thinking why had I been paying the big companies contracted prices all those years. A neighbor who has att as i did at the end because he got his iPhones through them for years. I tried explaining that Tmo has wifi calling and so on. He has renewed his iPhone contract recently a second time since.

  • ScoobySnack

    I must be able to keep my old cell phone number. Please address number permanence in your article, DL. I’ve ported my personal number to Google Voice since I only own a work-provided phone, but my wife’s personal phone contract with VZW is up soon and I want to see if I can switch while keeping her number.

  • umbrellacorp

    I’ve never switched because I love LTE and I also love having unlimited data and texting. I don’t like paying 75 bucks a month for it but what’s a ninja to do?

  • Jim Davis

    Straight Talk no longer offers AT&T sims. So, I would be stuck with the craptacular 2G coverage that is T-Mo in my area. It’s a shame, because I was planning on dropping VZW when my contract is up in January, buying the newest Nexus phone at that time, and switching to Straight Talk.

  • joejoe5709

    It’s been awhile since I’ve checked it out, but I usually find that Tmo’s off contract prices aren’t significantly much cheaper than what I’m paying Verizon and the phones are more expensive. Plus I like the idea of having backup phones in a drawer that still work on Verizon’s network. At this point the only thing that would sway my wife and I from Verizon is a tremendous price hike, expensive phones, etc.Or another non-Verizon Nexus phone. I’m already a little pissed that my upgrade now lands in January, not September 13th like it was. I guess my GNex will have to hang in there a little longer!

    • joejoe5709

      LTE is nice, but it’s honestly not a huge concern of mine. Same goes for unlimited data. I very much fall into the majority and use about 3-4 GB a month, but I could probably deal with being restricted to 2GB if the price was right. My wife routinely uses far less than one GB so sharing 5GB or less would be more than adequate. We’re on WiFi 80% of our lives. Upfront cost of phones is pretty important and we really don’t want to spend any more than we already do per month so subsidized phones or Tmo’s new plans work pretty well for us.

  • There is a way to get free International rates and earn your monthly service free every month!

  • al

    Dont want to lose unlimited data. When they force me off then I will switch.

  • I just did the math on this, signing up for Sprint post-paid last week. I wanted true unlimited data and texting, but only needed 300-400 min. That narrowed it basically to T-mobile’s value options or Sprint post-paid. With discounts it was $59.50 on TM with no subsidy or $62.49 on Sprint with a subsidy. Coverage with any carrier in Austin isn’t much of a problem, I rarely travel, and my Sprint LTE is faster than the overloaded Verizon LTE was in my area.

    Even if I want to upgrade early and Sprint won’t give me options and I have to pay full price, I’ll still be better off than I would have been under T-mobile’s plan. If I want to leave the contract early then even worst case it’s only $350. $350 + $100 paid for the HTC One is still less than what I would have paid for the device on T-mobile.

    I’m basically getting a free subsidy in this case without any real strings attached compared to T-mobile’s over-hyped plans. Most of the prepaid plans don’t offer any significant savings when you factor in the cost of the phone, discounts that many employers offer on post-paid plans, lack of roaming in most cases, etc.

    Carriers know what they are doing when it comes to MVNOs/pre-paid plans/pay-as-you-go plans – their margins are going to come out nearly even in the end.

  • frank mora

    I am sticking with Verizon until I lose my unlimited data. I just upgraded one of my lines to a S3 for $50 with loyalty discount (I’m not ready to fork out $600+ for a phone). When I first called I was told I could not keep my unlimited. By the end of the conversation the rep was able to work her magic and extend the unlimited contract for another two years!!!

  • I had a family plan on Verizon at one point. I have unlimited data and texting on my line. The other lines were voice only and with text and data blocked. I wanted to move to unlimited messaging, but I didn’t want to pay the cost for family messaging. I did the calculations and I moved the other lines to AT&T Go Phone and Virgin Mobile. I am paying slightly more for the Virgin Mobile line but I cut the cost of the other line by half. I haven’t put myself on prepaid because Sprint and T-Mobile are horrible in the Florida panhandle. So I can’t consider them or any MVNO that uses them. AT&T is ok, but rural Georgia coverage is spotty. I like Verizon LTE and that’s not available on prepaid. My costs are mostly a wash now, but I refuse to have a family plan under contracts again, especially with flip phones.

  • Terrence Taylor

    I don’t want to pay the exuberant early termination fee, so I’ll switch to prepaid once my contract is up.

  • James

    Network coverage is a big issue for me. Where I live I barely manage Verizon 3G. Lets not even talk about AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile. Verizon’s prepaid options are getting better, but they are still not very attractive. So I really only have one option.

    If I did live in the city I might think about prepaid options, some which do have decent coverage and LTE capability.

    • dgarra

      I don’t believe any pre-paid offers LTE at this time. There are services like Page Plus which are pre-paid and offer access to Verizon’s entire cellular network (sans LTE) with 2gb of 3G for ~ $55/month. I often question if LTE is worth the extra $50/month I’m paying, and then I decide yes, yes it is.

  • Ted Hadley

    I’m on a family plan with unlimited data and different renewal dates for the different phones. As far as I can tell, the cost savings isn’t as significant when you have multiple phones coming from a family plan.

    • joejoe5709

      That’s exactly my situation.

  • Sqube

    I’m on Verizon Wireless and I’m grandfathered on an unlimited data plan. As much as I want to switch to somebody else, who’s got the same level of coverage and is going to give me that much data without also charging me just as much money?

    I’m giving you another soulful look, T-Mobile. Spend those deutschmarks.

  • Higher_Ground

    Lack of LTE + lack of phone selection + poor coverage = 1 (or 2) many reasons not to switch. Maybe when I’m through with my contract things will have improved.

  • jamie stevens

    since i rarely talk on my phone i went w/ tmo $30 plan. unlimited text and 5gb 4g. the only complaint is if i go out of town it doesnt work at all in the country or smaller towns.

  • paul_cus

    Too hood for me. Oh, and unreliability.

  • Bruce wilx

    i have straight talk using Verizon lines and am perfectly happy. I went this route b/c after research I disovered that certain phones straight talk sales use Verizon. Straight talk use ATT, Sprint, Tmobile, and verizon and the data limit seems to be 2gigs. I have had straight talk for 6 mths . Hope this helps.

  • Ellis90009

    I still have unlimited data with verizon lte , prepaid coverage sucks , prepaid “unlimited” data is not really unlimited most fine print says they have the right to cut you off if you use over 2gb ect..

  • Coverage maps and current contract ETF.

  • Rickywainwright

    I’m not poor and I am okay with paying for premium service from a big national carrier rather than hoping that their little piddling MVNO gets decent throughput on that day.

  • Tyler Cameron

    I’m on T-Mobile postpay because it was a better deal than prepaid. $55/month (after discount) for 500 minutes/unlimited data/unlimited text vs $70 for unlimited everything. I don’t need unlimited minutes nor would I be willing to pay so much more for it. And I need the roaming support.

  • For me it’s a couple reasons, most importantly, Verizon is the only carrier in my area that has a reliable signal. Second, nearly everyone my wife and I talk to are on Verizon and it would be ridiculously expensive for us to use any other carrier. REALLY sucks because I hate Verizon with a passion, but they really have me by the balls.

  • AxemRed

    I’m on Verizon, and I have a 5 person family plan. We pay about $70 per line which includes insurance for each phone. I wouldn’t really save money by switching to prepaid, and I like Verizon’s network.

  • Nunya Bizniz

    1. 22% corporate discount. Darn evil corps…giving me free stuff.
    2. Strong LTE coverage at home (looking to cut cable/interwebz after Note 3 or comparable phone comes out). The idea of paying only once for internet access sounds nice.
    3. Strong LTE penetration at client sites. Epic Fail/People Are Awesome vids take the edge off when people have forgotten their Prozac.
    4. Contract has ended (no longer indentured servant – now a customer).
    5. Unlimited data.

    • I agree with everything except #4. Having no contract means they can do anything they want to your service or prices without your permission (ie. cancelling your unlimited data).

  • Jérôme Besnard

    Can’t wait for my contract to be up (September) and switch to pre-paid. I would stick with T-mobile but I am moving “in the woods” so that’ll be an ATT covered pre-paid plan.

  • Note2

    Pageplus runs on Verizon towers. If it wasn’t for the lack of LTE, I would switch in a heartbeat. Uses vzw phones with no flashing necessary.