Save Money on a Cell Phone with a Prepaid Plan

Last Updated Jun 9, 2010 12:15 AM EDT

My cell phone plan costs me $100/month, which is about what my rent totalled when I was in college. That's kind of ridiculous -- there has got to be a better way. For some people, there is: A prepaid cell phone plan has numerous advantages over a subscription plan.

Obviously, a prepaid plan won't work for everyone. And indeed, it really won't even work for me. I need stuff you really readily get from a prepaid plan, like gobs of data. But as WiseBread points out this week, you can potentially save money and take control of your billing by moving to a prepaid plan.

A prepaid plan, of course, is one in which you pay up front for a certain allotment of minutes. In exchange, there's no early termination fees, you and no on-going monthly contract.

You can comparison shop for a prepaid plan by checking out wireless carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Tracfone, Net10, Verizon Wireless, and Virgin Mobile. Need texting? Carriers like Straight Talk Wireless, Cricket, and Alltel Prepaid happen to offer prepaid plans with unlimited texting.

The inherent limitations of plans like these mean they won't work for smartphones that require wireless data. But if your business requires you to maintain a voice-only or voice -and-text phone -- or if you're looking for a cost-effective way to get your kid a phone -- then prepaid might be just the way to go.