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Prepaid Cell Phones
Prepaid cell phones are "pay as you go" cellular plans which allow people to budget their monthly cell phone bill beforehand. Prepaid phone plans are thought to account for roughly 40% of the sales for the major cellular companies every month. Pre-paid phone bills stand in contrast to the traditional postpaid plans, where you run up a bill on local and long distance coverage, then pay the balance at the end of the month.
Instead, you pay a month in advance of the traditional phone bill. This does a number of things for a potential cellular customer.
Advantages of Prepaid Cell Phones
One, prepaid cell phones can be paid in cash, instead of requiring a credit card. This means people with little identification or low credit scores can purchase phone service on an as-needed basis. Typical prepaid cellular customers include students, minors, those with bad credit scores or who have defaulted on loans, immigrants with little official identification, and those on a low income. The mention of low income brings me to another reason prepaid cell phones are popular.
Two, prepaid cellular bills tend to be cheaper. The cellular retailer gets their money up-front and a month early, so that's money in the bank for them. This lets them plan ahead and cut inefficiencies out of their business model, while giving them the interest or profits from being able to allocate that money a month earlier than otherwise. Prepaid plans therefore allow the cell phone company to pass those savings on to customers.
Three, there is the ability to budget your cellphone bill every month. Many people on a postpaid cell phone tend to forget that they are racking up minutes, just as a credit card customer only keeps in the back of their mind the fact they're going to have to pay the bill eventually. With the debit or pay-as-you-go option, when you've used up your allocated prepaid minutes, you simply can't use the phone anymore. Prepaid is a terrific reminder that you're spending money each time you use your phone.
Prepaid Cell Phones - How to Shop for Cellphones
When you're shopping for prepaid cell phones, you should have a checklist in your mind (or on paper) of features to check for. This lets you compare and contrast the various phone options against other phones on the market, and see which is the best bargain for the price.
If you really want to do your research, consider looking through reviews of the various phones you're considering, too. Don't take any one review as gospel, because any one person could be a disgruntled customer who never finds anything right with a product--or never finds anything wrong. But search both positive reviews and negative reviews for each.
Below is a list of things to keep in mind while shopping for prepaid cell phones. The cheaper phones are obviously not going to have all of these. For instance, the "android OS" is a major reason certain of these phones cost so much, because android phones are all the rage right now. The QWERTY keyboard is also a big feature in prepaid cellular phones right now, so these will increase the price significantly--though not as much.
Walmart Prepaid Cell Phones
Go to the Wal-Mart prepaid cell phones page and you'll find 67 different buying options, currently. The prices range from as little as ten bucks all the way up to hundreds of dollars.
Target Prepaid Cell Phones
Target's prepaid cell phone list is much smaller than Wal-Mart's, though there is enough variety to ensure you have a range of pay as you go options. Target has deals with Virgin, Samsung, LG, and Motorola, so these are your options.
Prepaid Cell Phones Comparison
The comparison between Wal-Mart and Target on the surface indicates Wal-Mart has a far better selection, but does that mean they have a better range of selections? That is, does Wal-Mart offer something that Target's prepaid cellular phones don't offer?
I'm not so sure that's the case. Both retail chains offer cheap prepaid cell phones, mid-range pay as you go cellular service, and premium telecommunications with QWERTY or android operating systems. Wal-Mart offers more brand names, such as T-Mobile, Straigth Talk, AT&T, and Sony Ericsson, so customers who are particularly tied to those brands may wish to shop for phones at Walmart.
Prepaid Cell Phone Reviews
On the other hand, Target offers phones from a variety of respected companies, and they offer the full range of phones. The LG Tracfone is their cheapest cell phone at $14.99, while Wal-Mart offers the comparable AT&T Samsung cell phone at $9.88. Target offers a smartphone at the premium price of $199.99 (for the Boost Samsung Seek phone), while Wal-Mart offers the Sony Ericsson MiniPro Android phone at $218.
There's no doubt Walmart offers greater variety, so if you're searching for cheaper phones, you're likely to find a better selection at Walmart, while Target shoehorns you into one particular phone selection. Among the mid-priced phones (the QWERTY phones around $50 to $80), Target offers a varied set of products. Even among the pricey smart phones, Target has a number of options, and not that many fewer than Walmart does.
So I'd suggest people who want cheap prepaid cell phones should shop at Walmart, unless they like the LG TracFone. Otherwise, shopping at Walmart or Target for pricier cellphones probably comes down to cellular company preferences and your preference between shopping at Target or Walmart.
Prepaid Cell Phones for Kids
It's probably no surprise that the best prepaid cell phones for kids include the cheaper varieties. The LG Tracfone is a popular and well-reviewed starter cell phone for children, so what Target loses in quantity, it more than makes-up for in quality.
When discussing a pre-paid cell phone with your kids, remember to discuss how much phone usage is appropriate, who pays the bill, rules for phone use at school, the dangers of sexting, the general rules of phone etiquette, and if (or when) a nighttime phone curfew might be in place. You might think the question of who pays the bill (you) is moot, but many parents budget an allowance and lets their child pay their own bill, to teach them budgetary responsibility.
Prepaid Cell Phones for Seniors
There are even prepaid cell phones marketed specifically for seniors. The Samsung Jitterbug cell phone is an example of a product marketed to the older crowd. Features include bigger buttons to make dialing easier, brighter backlighting to make reading the numbers easier, voice activatated prompts with "yes" or "no" questions to avoid confusing menu options, an external caller ID so you can figure out who's calling quickly, and hearing aid compatibility.
The prepaid cell phone industry is a huge moneymaker for the cellular corporations, so your buying options are practically limitless. Even with all the prepaid cell phones discussed here, I'm just barely scratching the surface of what's available. Read through this website to learn about more pre-paid cell phones.
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