Why I Switched to Prepaid Wireless

Jul 07, 2010

photo by mattack

About 4 months ago I decided to leave Verizon Wireless and switch to pre-paid wireless carrier Page Plus Cellular. When I tell my friends I moved to a pre-paid carrier they laugh, and inevitably make a joke about it being "ghetto". But I think that pre-paid wireless is a great deal for people who don't need a full data plan and want to save money (who doesn't?).

Prior to leaving Verizon Wireless I had a base plan without data. The plan included:

  • 450 daytime minutes

  • Unlimited nights and weekend minutes, but night minutes don't start until 9PM

  • No included text messages, but an extra $10 bought me 500 text messages

  • No data plan

All of this cost me $44.95 plus an additional $10 for the text plan. With taxes I was up to almost $60 per month (I believe it was $58).

When I looked at Page Plus I examined how I used the phone and what was important to me. The network is first and foremost more important, as I live in a house which gets really poor coverage on at&t.; This attribute alone prevents me from getting an iPhone. Beyond the network I wanted a decent number of texts, as I use this more these days than voice minutes. I would like to move to a data plan, but twice I've switched to an Android phone (first with an HTC Hero on Sprint and then with a Motorola Droid on Verizon) and both times I switched back to my feature phone due to poor battery life. At this point good battery life so I can talk and text are more important to me than email and other functionality, but perhaps that will change in the future.

In any event, needing a reliable network with a good number of texts and a minimal amount of voice minutes I took a look at Page Plus Cellular after my buddy Maynard suggested I take a look at their plans. I liked what I saw, as:

  • Page Plus uses Verizon's Pre-paid Network, which is almost as good as their whole network (and certainly so in urban areas)

  • They have a 1200 anytime minute and 1200 text plan including 50MB of data for $29.95

  • They have an unlimited voice and text plan with 20MB of data for $39.95

  • You pre-pay in advance and there is no contract

Wow, so I can get more anytime minutes with a similar network and more texts for half the price of what I was paying with no contract? That sounds pretty good to me. As an added bonus I would also get 50MB of data!!

I thought when I switched I should get a new phone, as my LG Dare really sucks. I decided to go for a fairly cheap phone that had a keyboard and wifi, so I found a used HTC Ozone, an older windows mobile phone that looks a bit like a blackberry. Overall I'm not a huge fan of the Ozone, but for now I've got a phone with wifi and a keyboard, with more minutes and texts than I had before for $29.95. The coverage is just as good as I had with Verizon before (as far as I can tell - I've used it extensively in my home San Francisco, in Oahu, and in Little Rock), and as an added bonus I found that Page Plus doesn't charge tax - so all I pay is $29.95 a month!

Page Plus is not all roses, however. Their customer service leaves a lot to be desired (it's tough to get on the phone), but fortunately there are dealers who specialize in dealing with their phones. I used Kitty Wireless, an online dealer, to activate my phone. For $2 the company helped activate my phone in a few minutes, including porting my number from Verizon.

However, if you can stomach a bit of work yourself you can save a bundle by going with pre-paid wireless!