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Prepaid BlackBerry Options

Prepaid BlackBerry Options Whatever you thought you knew about prepaid, forget it. The nature of prepaid wireless services has changed, and then changed some more, in the past decade. Before there were just a few carriers that offered services for the credit challenged. Now there are dozens of carriers looking to offer the best possible technology. Specifically, we've seen a rise in the availability of smartphones on prepaid carriers. Once the domain of data-heavy postpaid carriers, prepaid carriers have been able to fit smartphones, and the BlackBerry in particular, into their lineups. 

The trade-off

In browsing BlackBerry options on prepaid carriers, you will notice two features that separate them from postpaid carriers.

1) The device is more expensive. Postpaid carriers offer steep discounts on handsets in exchange for a two-year commitment. Since there is no commitment for prepaid services, those carriers cannot justify discounting phones as much. Most prepaid carriers do offer some kind of discount on prepaid BlackBerry devices, but they're a bit more expensive than the same device on a postpaid carrier.

2) The plans are cheaper. With a postpaid carrier a user must choose a voice plan, a messaging plan, and a data plan. At a major carrier like Verizon this can cost upwards of $80 per month, considering a $40 voice plan, $20 unlimited messaging plan, and a $30 data plan. Other carriers, like Sprint, might offer cheaper services, but it is difficult to find a complete smartphone package for under $75. As you'll see below, the going rate for prepaid BlackBerry services is around $60 per month.

This trade-off can be a worthy one if the prepaid user plans to keep the BlackBerry active long-term. While the device might cost $150 more than a postpaid BlackBerry, the service costs $20 per month less. In eight months, then, the prepaid user will more than make up the difference.

MetroPCS

In 2009 MetroPCS offered its first BlackBerry, the Curve 8330. It was not a perfect offering, since it only worked in their old markets. Any markets they had added in the past year were not eligible, since the 8330 did not have the correct network technology. Metro has since upgraded, though, and now carry a BlackBerry that works in all of their markets.

MetroPCS now carries the BlackBerry Curve 8530. This is a direct upgrade to the 8330. It adds Wi-Fi and runs the latest BlackBerrry operating system. The device costs $279, but MetroPCS offers a $50 mail-in rebate when you buy online. While MetroPCS does offer a number of unlimited plans that run as cheap as $40, they require the $60 monthly plan for the BlackBerry.

You can get the Curve 8530 and unlimited BlackBerry plan at MetroPCS's website.

Virgin Mobile

When Sprint bought Virgin Mobile in July 2009 there figured to be plenty of changes coming. Sprint, after all, already owned Boost Mobile, so they would have to somehow differentiate their two prepaid brands. Those changes did come, and it meant good things for messaging and data users.

Virgin Mobile offers three Beyond Talk plans, all of which provide unlimited messaging and data, and all of which are BlackBerry compatible. The only difference between the plans is the number of minutes they provide. The $25 plan has 300 minutes, the $40 plan has 1,200 minutes, and the $60 plan is unlimited. BlackBerry service costs an additional $10 per month, and brings you all the amenities, including push email and BlackBerry Messenger.

Like MetroPCS, Virgin Mobile offers the BlackBerry Curve 8530. Their price is a bit more expensive, at $299.99. You can get the Curve 8530 at Virgin Mobile's website.

Boost Mobile

In January 2009 Boost Mobile started offering an plan with unlimited minutes, messages, and data for $50 per month. It moved an industry, as many other carriers started to imitate the plan, though none found the same success as Boost. They offered this service on their iDEN network, which provides nationwide coverage. In January 2010 they started to offer the unlimited service on the CDMA side, which opened more possibilities in terms of handsets.

One of the handsets they offered was the BlackBerry Curve 8330, a two-year-old handset that was still better than a number of their others. Like the other carriers Boost does charge a premium for Blackberry Internet Service, an extra $10 per month, bringing the total to $60 per month for unlimited everything.

The 8330, because it's older, costs a bit less. You can get it for $199.99 at Boost's website.