I bet you often hear about three most popular wireless providers in the U.S. – AT&T Mobility, Verizon and T-Mobile. All of them offer a variety of prepaid and postpaid cell phone plans for people. If you don’t know which company provides the best services for cell phone plans, don’t freak out. A lot of students feel the same way. So, before you make any decision, inform yourself on what each provider offers their customers.
Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between prepaid plans and regular cell phone plans among three popular wireless providers in the U.S.:
AT&T prepaid phones can run on nationwide 5G access available every day. However, the limitation of data depends on the various plans that you pick for your phone. For example, a $25 prepaid plan contains 8GB regular data that lasts for 12 months. A $30 per month prepaid plan consists of 5GB of high-speed data. If you always scroll up TikToks, Instagram or YouTube on a daily basis, I recommend you choose the unlimited data plan for your phone. It costs $65 each month. However, if you turn on autopay, which means the monthly payment will automatically be deducted from a card or bank account, it will only cost you $50 per month.
“The main advantage of a prepaid cell phone is the control it offers. With that being said, you can talk as long and as often as you want until you run out of minutes,” AT&T customer service Jan Allen said. “Any unused minutes accumulated each month will automatically be rolled over into the next.”
On the contract, if you own a postpaid cell phone plan, you usually need to pay your bill at the end of each month based on your usage. Prepaid plan requires you to pay for your phone service upfront. If you would like to pay the bill at the beginning of each month, you should consider get a prepaid plan since it offers a lot more value for money than they used to. However, postpaid plans might provide more perks as well. So, if you come from outside of the United States, AT&T prepaid cell phone plans might fit you the best. By choosing this plan, you don’t need to worry about sending texts to other countries, using data to surf through social media, or talking to your friends or family members at home.
By looking at Verizon, you could gain a lot of choices among various prepaid plans. It offers three different options. First, if you only obtain limited money, you should choose the basic plan that costs $25 per month. It includes 5GB nationwide data with mobile hotspot that will help you stay connected with your friends and family. On the next level, you would get 15GB data for online streaming and posting on social media, which costs $35 per month. If you want to get the freedom of unlimited talk, text and data without any overage charges, the $50 monthly prepaid plan should match your interest. You can also talk or text to Mexico and Canada if you choose the last two options.
“Verizon’s prepaid plans tend to run a lot cheaper than its postpaid plans. The lowest price you can get for a prepaid plan is only $25 each month,” Verizon customer service Chris Holmes said. “However, despite for those high prices for the postpaid plans, they have multi-line discounts and a lot of perks included.”
Prepaid plans provide a lot of advantages to customers, which include lower prices, unlimited data, etc. On the other hand, if you want to buy a family plan and split the payment with a couple friends, then you should consider the Verizon postpaid plans. They will give you better savings if you need three or more lines in particular. Postpaid plans also provide a lot more perks that prepaid doesn’t offer such as ESPN, Apple music, iCloud storage, etc. If the entertainment perks seem extremely important to you in your life, you should definitely buy the regular cell phone plans regardless of the cost. Verizon stands out as one of the largest phone selections within the nation, so you can change any type of plans that you selected before at any time – either prepaid plans or regular ones.
T-Mobile cell phone plans, another popular wireless choice in the U.S. that you should know. The customers consist of up to three different preferences of prepaid plans. The lower-prioritized plan contains 10GB data and it costs $40 per month. The next one with unlimited data will charge you $10 more compared to the most basic one. Additionally, T-Mobile also provides an unlimited plus plan for $60 per month, which you will gain up to 10GB 4G data, then unlimited at 3G speeds. All the three prepaid options cover unlimited domestic talk and text, mobile hotspot, Wi-Fi calling, unlimited music, etc. No matter which cell phone plan you will get, you should consider the differences between prepaid and postpaid plans at first.
“The prepaid plans are usually around $40 per month along with unlimited talk minutes and texts, but the perks are often restricted,” T-Mobile customer service Ben Smith said. “With postpaid plans, the users can get free perks and discounts, but the overall price will be a lot higher.”
If you hold a limited budget, you should think about buying one of the prepaid plans rather than regular plans since they offer plenty of flexibility for your phone. However, the postpaid plans come with additional perks. For example, the users could stream subscriptions on their phone or gain a lot more entertainment choices. The customers could also enjoy a discount of the postpaid plans since the original price remains a lot higher than prepaid plans. For the bills, you need to pay at the beginning of each month for prepaid plans and at the end for postpaid. The payment may vary each month for postpaid users because the plans will renew itself automatically every month.
Reviews From College Students Who Have the Three Different Cell Phone Plans:
1. “I have been using AT&T since I first came to America in high school. I feel like AT&T has the best signal among different wireless providers, so I don’t need to worry about talking with my parents on a daily basis. Compared to their postpaid plans, the prepaid plan is much cheaper. So currently I’m using the prepaid plan with unlimited data,” Penn State freshman Kristy Lu said. “When I go back home every summer, I usually choose to suspend my cell phone plan without any additional charges, and then resume it whenever I come back to America. It’s very convenient, so I highly recommend college students to give it a try.”
2. “My friends and I are splitting a four person family plan from Verizon, which is $25 per month for each person with unlimited data and texts,” University of South Carolina graduate Olivia Sun said. “I think Verizon it’s very good, and the price is not so expensive for college students. But one thing I don’t like about the prepaid plan is that sometimes I get a lot of random spam calls.”
3. “I have the T-Mobile prepaid plan for my phone. They always email me the bill at the beginning of each month, which is very convenient for me to review and pay it,” Boston University sophomore Cecilia He said. “All of their prepaid plans include unlimited calls and texts, so I don’t need to worry about paying extra fees for talking with my family and friends.
All three of these wireless providers (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) offer various cell phone plan choices for any carrier in the market. Before you decide which type of plan you will get from the providers, you should think about three major aspects (remember the 3 P’s): price, perks and plans. Typically, prepaid plans usually offer multiple budget-friendly options, which can save you a lot of money when signing up. However, while the postpaid plans often cost more, a lot of the greatest value will come in the form of those plans like unlimited international texting, various perks for listening to music or using iCloud storage. Therefore, break down each plan based on your exact needs and how much they cost before you make a decision.