Commonwealth Journal

Readers Gallery

August 15, 2011

Prepaid vs. No Contract Cellphones: A Distinction That Can Save

Prepaid phones are popular options for many Americans. They’re simple, easy and straightforward with few fancy add-ons or plan options. All you have to do is purchase the phone, pay for some minutes and be on your way.

But what happens when the minutes run out?

Countless stories have been told of people whose prepaid minutes have run out at the worst times, because unfortunately when that happens, the phone simply won’t work.

For instance, Joe Brisbek’s prepaid phone ran out of minutes while he was stranded with a flat tire on a remote highway near his North Dakota home. His call to the towing company was cut off and he had to wait for hours for someone to drive by and lend him a hand.

Cheryl Silbert of Wyoming had an equally frustrating experience when she was waiting for an important call from the hospital where her husband was admitted.

“It’s such a hassle to recharge your minutes all the time,” says Silbert. “Before I knew it the minutes ran out and the phone shut off! I couldn’t accept a single call.”

Even if an individual never experiences the inconvenience of running out of prepaid minutes, owning a prepaid phone can often still be a hassle. The prices per minute for prepaid cellphones can be expensive and the minutes add up fast, especially if you frequently use your phone. The phones themselves have limited features and if you decide to transfer to a different carrier, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to bring your prepaid phone number with you.

However, there is an alternative. Wireless companies such as Consumer Cellular® are offering a no contract service that does not involve the hassle associated with prepayment.

“The two don’t always go hand in hand,” says John Marick, president and CEO of Consumer Cellular. “Even though we say ‘no contracts’ that doesn’t mean our phones are prepaid. We strive to provide simple, easy service like a prepaid phone, but without the hassle or the risk of running out of minutes.”

And here’s how they do it:

Consumer Cellular, the number one rated no-contract wireless service provider in the nation, offers nationwide coverage with post-paid plans starting as low as $10 a month. This means that Consumer Cellular customers receive a monthly bill, but don’t pay until the end of each month after service is used, compared to a prepaid phone plan where the money is owed upfront before service begins.

With a no contract, post-paid cellphone plan, there is no fear of “running out” of minutes. If you go over, the extra minutes will just be added to your bill rather than your phone being shut off.

In Consumer Cellular’s case, the company even goes a step further by offering customers handy Usage Alerts which are sent via text or e-mail to warn them before overages ever occur.

And best of all, Consumer Cellular customers can change their plan – increasing or decreasing their minutes – at any time throughout the month to adjust for changes in usage.

And being a no contract cellphone provider, consumers aren’t locked into service; they are free to leave at any time. And if they do, they can take their number with them.

Often the advantages of having a prepaid phone, such as no monthly payments or credit checks, are outweighed by the disadvantages, like recharging, running out of minutes or limits on minutes and texts. Taking a closer look at companies such as Consumer Cellular that offer basic, no-contract post-paid cellphone service may be worth it. In fact, it could save you a lot of time, energy and money. For more information on no-contract cell phones, visit

Consumer Cellular recently opened a display at the Weddle Technologies RadioShack in Somerset.

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