It used to be the domain of kids’ mobile phones, but prepaid services are now commonplace in a whole number of different areas. From prepaid cell phone data plans to pay as you go broadband and even debit cards, options which allow you to pay now (rather than later) have become the norm for many people who want to keep their spending in check with the flexibility to spend as much – or as little – as they like. So should you make the switch to a prepaid lifestyle?
Costs - First, consider the differences between prepaid and post-paid. One makes you pay before you use the service or product, the other lets you wait until after it’s been used. The most obvious benefit of prepaid mobile phones or broadband is that you can only spend as much as you pay, meaning less chance of getting into a nasty debt trap. This is why prepaid phones were originally given to kids by their parents – after the Global Financial Crisis and a spate of corporate collapses all around the world, however, debt is no longer seen as something we can put off paying till another day. Prepaid plans make you pay attention to how much you’re spending – but for power users of phones or the Internet, post-paid options still usually give the best value for money.
Flexibility - Prepaid is also a lot more flexible than post-paid, as it lets you decide how much you want to spend from month to month. While most post-paid services lock you into paying a fixed amount every month, prepaid plans allow you to use the service until your amount of credit runs out. And although most prepaid credit has an expiry date (usually a few months after purchase), it still means you can choose whether or not to pay for a given period of time without having your service cut off. It’s why prepaid SIMs and modems are especially popular for tourists and frequent travellers who want access without the exorbitant costs of roaming.
Security - Finally, prepaid services keep your money safe. Not just from your spending habit, but also from those of others: if your prepaid phone or debit card is stolen, the thief can only spend the credit already loaded (rather than racking a massive debt on your account). This also saves you from having to rush through cancelling your accounts and services, which is the last thing you’ll want to worry about when you’ve just been robbed.
Is prepaid right for you? It all depends on your own circumstances and what sort of flexibility you’re looking for with your services: many people will still prefer the convenience of automated debits post-paid plans. However, prepaid services, such as pay as you go broadband, are definitely worth considering, and definitely have their uses.
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