Prepaid Phone News has all the information you need to find the best prepaid option for your needs. Here's how to switch and begin saving money.
1) Watch out for Early Termination fees. Call you mobile phone provider and ask them when the contract on your line and each family member's line runs out and how much your early termination fee (ETF) would be if you canceled now. Termination fees can be very high, has much as $350 per line. In most cases you will want to wait until your contract expires before switching.
2) Check coverage. Rule out networks that don't give you the coverage you want There are many prepaid operators but most of them rely one of the big four operators (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile) for the bulk of their coverage. At the national level, AT&T and Verizon provide service in more places than T-Mobile and Sprint. But all four have areas that they don't cover. I've created a page showing the national coverage maps for all prepaid carriers, with links to their detailed block by block maps. Use the coverage maps to eliminate operators that don't have service where you need to use your phone.
3) Determine current usage. Gather up your last few mobile phone bills and add up the maximum number of minutes and texts and the number of megabytes of data you or each family member uses per month. Be sure to include "free" night and weekend and mobile to mobile minutes in the total as most prepaid plans treat all calls the same.
4) Pick a prepaid operator. Once you know many minutes, texts and megabytes of data you need its time to find the best most effective provider for your budget. There are two pages on this site that summarize all the plans and prices to help you make an informed choice. If you are a data consuming smartphone user go here: The Best US Prepaid Data Deals. If you just want to talk and text see: The Best U.S. Prepaid Voice and Text Deals. For more information of each operator visit the prepaid carrier profile pages which have detailed information on each operator's plans, prices and payment and customer support options.
5) Make the switch. You probably want to keep your current number. Thanks to the FCC's number portability rules that's now relatively easy to do. Here's how:
- Don't terminate your existing service. You will almost certainly lose your number if you do.
- Always initiate a number port with the operator you are switching to. You will need your phone number, zipcode, account holder's name and billing address and your account number which should all be on your bill. You will also the account PIN code or password if you set one up.
- Ports usually complete within 24 hours, often in an hour or less. During the porting process there may be a short period, usually less than five minutes, when neither phone works. When the port is done you may get a welcome text or voice message from the new operator. Or the new phone may just start working without any message. If the number hasn't ported within 24 hours you need to call your new operator.
6) Questions? Leave a comment below. Prepaid Phone News is a friendly, helpful place. I'll do my best to answer all questions and you may also get help from the site's large community of experienced prepaid users
Image: Save Money by 401(K) 2012 Some rights reserved