When you’re shopping for a new cell phone service, you’ll need to decide whether to sign up for a prepaid or monthly account. Prepaid and monthly plans are designed for different needs, and the pros and cons of each are found in the details. Here's an overview.
What to know about prepaid phone plans
Prepaid plans don't require a contract — the monthly cost is paid upfront with a set number of minutes, text, and data. When buying a new phone, prepaid plans typically require you to pay the full cost of the phone at the time of purchase.
The benefits of prepaid phone plans include:
- Choosing from the latest phones on reliable mobile networks.
- An app that shows you the amount of data used each month.
- The ability to change your plan if the data limit isn’t working for you or your family.
Prepaid plans are different than pay-as-you-go plans, which require you to buy an unlocked phone (unless you already have one) and pay a small daily or monthly fee for a set number of minutes and texts. Pay-as-you-go plans are meant for limited use and can be refilled by visiting a store and paying by cash or credit card.
What to know about monthly phone plans
Monthly plans require a contract through your mobile provider. You pay at the end of the month rather than ahead of the billing period. When buying a new phone, monthly plans often offer the ability to finance your new device rather than paying the full cost upfront.
The benefits of monthly phone plans include:
- Different data options. For very light data users, a plan with a set limit on data can be a cost-effective option. Xfinity Mobile offers the option to pay as little as $15/GB per month (plus taxes and other fees). For heavy data users — or those who don’t want to be concerned with limits or overages — unlimited plans can be a reasonably priced option. Several providers, including Xfinity Mobile, offer unlimited data plans for less than $50 a month.
- Features you typically won’t find with prepaid plans, like free movie streaming or deals on music streaming services.
- Savings when paying for several lines. Many providers offer discounts on family plans with multiple lines, and you may also be able to share data between lines. For example, Xfinity Mobile plans let you share 10GB between two lines for the one price. If each line has different data needs, you can mix and match between each. A heavy data user can have an unlimited plan, while a light data user might need 1GB a month, for the same monthly price.
If you don't have an unlimited plan, consider how you might limit your data use by using your WiFi connections at home and work. Xfinity Mobile includes the ability to connect to millions of WiFi hotspots around the country at no extra charge.
Prepaid and monthly phone plans have different advantages, and which is best depends on your needs. Xfinity Mobile offers several plans with varying data amounts, so you can find one that suits your lifestyle.