Help a dummy out... prepaid phone question
August 25, 2020 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Does a prepaid phone include service in the price?

My daughter's phone is deader than a doornail. I'm getting her an upgraded phone through our current plan, but we need something to get her through a few days until it arrives. Can you tell me if this phone includes service in the price, or is that separate? The "prepaid" suggests yes but the listing doesn't say that explicitly.
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Shopping (4 answers total)
Best answer: Nope. You pay Cricket when you activate the phone. I’m not sure whether Cricket’s only a fixed charge per month, or if they have an option for a “top up for more minutes” setup. Cheapest plan I can find is $30 for 2 GB and unlimited talk and text, or $40 for 10 GB.

Now, if she already had service with Cricket, then no problem, she’d just activate this phone and carry on as before. She should also be able to cancel once she gets the long-term phone and keep this one for if she wants to reactivate it later.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:00 AM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No, these are just phones that work with a prepaid account and do not require an annual service contract. Cricket still has "plans" for voice and data you will choose from and pay on a month-to-month basis.

Most services do let you pay intermittently. As an example, I have a Verizon prepaid hotspot that I turn on a month at a time when I need it, which might be once every 4-5 months. They don't like that, and they incentivize to go continual month-to-month, but I need it so little it's not worth it. You'll see the Cricket plans offer discounts "with Auto Pay", as in they debit the payment every month automatically.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:04 AM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Probably not. I've bought two prepaid phones for my elderly mother, and neither came with a service plan.

"Prepaid" (also called "pay as you go" or "pay and go") mean that you purchase the service ahead of usage, as opposed to "post-paid" -- signing a contract and getting billed at the end of the month based on your usage.

So you buy the handset, activate it, and then you "fill up" the phone with minutes/data usage. You can make calls or use data services until those minutes or GB are (1) used up or (2) expire.

That purchase of the minutes & data usage is separate from the purchase of the phone. You can do that by purchasing a "phone card" for a set amount of minutes/data. The card just contains a code you enter into the phone to activate the plan. And, of course, you can purchase minutes/data online through the service provider.

The good news is if you only need this for a short time, you can probably buy a cheap phone card for $10-$25 bucks that will give a couple hours talk time and couple gigs data for 30 days.
posted by gritter at 8:06 AM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I appreciate the help.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:36 AM on August 25, 2020

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