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Updated: Boost Mobile Discontinuing Pay As You Go

Boost Mobile users are posting on Facebook and Howard Forums that they received text messages saying that the Boost Mobile Pay As You Go plan is being discontinued.

Effective September 26, 2013 users will not be able to switch to Pay As You Go from another plan or activate a new account on Pay As You Go.

Anyone on Pay As You Go before Sept 26 is grandfathered and will be able to keep their plan and rates as long as they keep their account active and don't change plans. Grandfathered users will still be able to change phones to a different Pay As You Go approved feature phone without losing their grandfathered plan.

Pay As you Go was Boost's first product when the service launched in 2001 and for many years it was the only plan offered. Sprint has been moving away from pay as you go for a long time, first by making the plan hard to find on the Boost Web Site, and than doubling rates to 20¢/minute or text in October, 2011.

Although Boost Pay As You Go wasn't a very good value after the price hike I'm still sorry to see it go. With a minimum payment of only $10 every 90 days and thousands of convenient stores across the country accepting cash payments I'm sure it was a communications lifeline for many unbanked poor.

Pay as you go is the purest form of prepaid and is a good choice for anyone who uses less than about 300 minutes and texts month and doesn't like paying for more service than they need. Fortunately their are sill a number of good pay as you go options still available. Here's a table comparing my favorites.

Operator Plan or Package Network Phones Minimum Monthly Cost Voice min. SMS Data
T-Mobile Pay As You Go T-Mobile T-Mobile or Unlocked GSM 83¢-$3.33 1 10-33¢10¢ none
Lycamobile Pay As YouGo T-Mobile Unlocked GSM 0.7¢ 4 6¢/MB
Page Plus Pay As You Go Verizon Most CDMA $2.50 2 4-10¢ 99¢/MB
Airvoice Pay As You Go AT&T AT&T or unlocked GSM $3.33 3 8-10¢ 10¢ 6¢/MB
PTel Real PayGo T-Mobile T-Mobile or unlocked GSM $5.00 10¢/MB
Tracfone TracFone T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T Tracfone $6.67 4.4¢ - 33¢ 1.5-11¢ 6.6-50¢/KB
AT&T Pay As You Go AT&T AT&T or unlocked GSM $8.33 10¢ 20¢ 1¢/per 5KB (non-smart phones only
Airvoice $10 Plan AT&T AT&T or unlocked GSM $10.00 6¢/MB
EcoMobile Pay As You Go Sprint Most CDMA $10.00 10¢/MB
Verizon Pay As You Go Verizon Verizon non-smartphones $10.00 25¢ 20¢ 99¢/day
1 After purchasing $100 in T-Mobile refills users are enrolled in the "Gold Rewards" plan where all refills last one year, making the monthly cost as low as $0.83 when purchasing one $10 refill per year.
2 Page Plus deducts a 50¢ maintenance fee from your balance each month.
3 Airvoice deducts a $1 maintenance/e911 fee from your balance each month.
Lyca's minimum top-up is $10. Funds do not expire but you must make a voice call, or send a message or use data or purchase a top-up at least every 90 days to retain service. The 0.7¢ minimum monthly cost is based on a one minute, 2¢ call every 90 days.

Updated Aug 24: 2:15 PM with confirmation that pay as you go availability ends Sept. 26  and that current users are grandfathered as long as they don't change plans.

Related: Prepaid Operator Profile: Boost Mobile

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  1. Total subscriber growth has slowed in the US even as prepaid has grown. I think carriers and MVNOs will continue trying to increase their share by taking subscribers from their peers rather than tempting new subscribers with very low prepaid rates, like PayGo. Relatively new MVNOs like Ultra and Selectel do not offer prepaid. Others are not activating it on smartphones. Lyca is probably using their very low rates as a loss-leader to break into the US market faster. I expect more MVNOs to drop paygo, which may not bring in enough revenue to justify the extra costs in software and CS. They can steal more customers with low and bargain-priced monthly plans.

  2. Lyca's rates are probably not "loss leaders" . Unlike "unlimited" plans , where they either use hidden caps or calculate an average where they hope most people don't use more then that, every minute, message and meg is paid for in paygo . Nothing goes to waste. The markup on paygo is much more then an unlimited plan if min/messages/data is bought in bundles. A gig of data on Lyca would be $60, way more profit then the minimal "unlimited" talk/text/1 or two gig plan that would have to be offered at that price point to compete against other "unlimited" plans. Paygo is not a fast growing or sexy market but the direction its going is that some carriers like Sprint Prepaid Group are trying to force people only low end monthly plans where the shorter expiration times and no rollover will bring them greater profit. H20 just improved its paygo from a 30 day cycle to a more traditional 90 day cycle on all of its lower end prepaid refills (#10 and up). I see the cycle of forcing paygo users into monthly plans as having mixed results. There is no clear trend one way or the other on whether paygo is going away. It's not the core plan of some carriers like before (Spot started with one single paygo plan with average rates of 10 cents a minutte/5 cents message/no data) but other carriers are working on new paygo plans. Prepayd is rumored to be getting ready to launch paygo in the next few months.

    Paygo is far from dead . It may have taken a few detours. But dyng? Nah.

    1. If most PayGo users used the same resources as the low-priced monthly bundles include, it would indeed be more profitable and everybody would offer PayGo. But they don't.

      I agree that PayGo is far from dead, and would not describe it as dying either. I do think there are many PayGo customers who don't use many resource, like a 'glove-box phone,' backup or emergency phone. Lyca only requires one use of 2c per 90 days, and I think they lose money or make virtually no money on many low-use accounts. Lyca probably pays Tmobile something to maintain a line active. They mailed many SIMs at no cost to folks. They likely have some extra software development and maintenance costs to support PayGo. And I suspect that on average, PayGo users call CS in a greater proportion to their resource usage than a monthly bundle or unlmited plan user, meaning a disproportionate number of CS reps are needed to handle PayGo accounts.

  3. You didn't include H2O in the table, but H2O has revamped the plans at the beginning of August when many AT&T MVNOs were also adding more data or reducing prices. One of changes is its pay-as-you-go plan. The $10 topup now expires in 90 days rather than 30 days, making the plan's minimum monthly cost to be $3.33 with $0.05 per minute call cost. Because H2O SIMs are available nationwide at retail stores such as BestBuy, it's worthwile to mention, I think.

  4. Almost all the competition is in monthly or annual plans now. That is where the money is. MVNOs and captive prepaid divisions are following the money. If paygo was really profitable, you would see more competition there, not less. Today only Ptel, Lyca, H20 and the Pageplus $25 pin offer really good smartphone paygo rates for less than $10/month. Not possible on Sprint. The marginal customers are not going to pay that, so they pay much more per minute or text with other providers.

    1. Only H20 has lowered their monthly minimum, I think. Ptel raised theirs from $3.33 to $5. Lyca is relatively new, trying to break in, and Pageplus has not changed paygo rates in several years. Except for lower AT&T MVNO data rates, not much improvement overall.

      Meanwhile, Talk4Good folded with their low paygo add-on rates. Virgin paygo rates stay high. Ultra decided not to offer paygo. Selectel also changed their minds. Tmobile cancelled two good $1/day plans and the daily data pass. AT&T dropped data packs for paygo and won't let you use paygo on smartphones.

      The overall trend does not look good for paygo.

  5. I am dropping Boost as soon as my unlocked phone is released. The secondary network that Sprint puts you on for Boost/Virgin Mobile is a joke. I am looking at ATT and all of its BYOD MVNO networks. Top coverage and competitive prices finally.

    1. Lol At&t top coverage? Leave that to Verizon.

  6. I'm happy with My Galaxy S2 on Virgin Mobile,
    I will have to update someday after Sprint shuts down it's WiMax network some time in 2015, I was with boost for a long time, I hope Virgin/ Boost gets the note 2

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