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We Help You Decide: Choosing a Prepaid Cellular Provider

We know it's not easy to pick a prepaid plan. There are so many providers, and each one offers a number of options. So we're going to make it easy for you. Just pick the caller type or types below that best match you, and check out the information inside. You're sure to find a prepaid deal that matches up best with your needs.

Emergency only

For some people, cell phones are about convenience. But with all of the prepaid plans out there, things can get confusing. We're out to find you the best value over the course of a year. Find prepaid deals that will cost you the the least amount of money over the longest period of time...considering you're not spending 30 minutes at a time talking to your cousin in Denver. (updated 9/09)

You prefer text, not talk

Talking on the phone is sooooo 2003. Now we send short text messages to each other that take the place of our 30 second conversations. Text messages are often killer fees, though. Two hundred text messages, even at 10 cents a piece, still cost 20 dollars. We look through the prepaid plans to see which offer the best text messaging rates. (updated 10/09)

You're on a budget

Looking for a prepaid deal because you only want to spend a little bit on cell phone service every month? Check out this column, where we go over the best prepaid bargains for a budget. Whether you're looking for a cheap per-minute rate or a reasonable prepaid monthly plan, we'll show you which deals can work best with your wallet. 

It's college time

If you're heading off to college or your child is, you might want to check out prepaid cell phone options. They eliminate headaches like unexpected bills, and allow parents and their kids to work together for a more harmonious cellular relationship. These plans will help keep kids connected to their friends...and parents connected to their kids.

You want a fancy phone

Sometimes you just want a nice, new phone. Problem is, they aren't easy to come by if you're looking for a prepaid plan. We've looked through all of our providers' phone selections and found the ones where you can buy the highest end phones. Once you pick up one of these, everyone will be asking if they can use your phone. Feel free to say no.

Multimedia selection

An emerging trend in wireless is mobile data. While that includes mobile web and e-mail, it also includes other extras like music, video, and games. We look through our prepaid providers and check out which have the best multimedia selections. 

You're new in town

Everyone has been the new guy. It's extra difficult when you're choosing a cell phone plan. You want to have one in case you do make a friend (don't worry, we're sure you will), but you don't want to pay for a ton of minutes you won't use. We looked around to see which prepaid deals were best for people just starting to make friends in a new place.

You're the social director

The social director is the most important part of a group. They're the glue that holds it together, and without them everyone would sit at home on a Saturday night with nothing to do. Problem is, social directors waste a lot of cell phone minutes making their rounds. We take a look at different prepaid options for the social butterflies among us.

You travel frequently

Having a cell phone is essential when you're on the go. The issue you have to deal with is having the phone work in all of your travel areas. We've looked at the coverage maps and we've digested the rates. Now we're repeating it all back to you. Find out which cell phone plans are the best for people who spend a lot of time on the road.

You're visiting the U.S.

Coming in from Canada? Need a phone? It's probably the best bet, since your foreign provider probably charges astronomical roaming rates while you're in the U.S. Here are a few plans that don't cost much per minute, don't have an activation fee, and have relatively cheap phone selections. Or, if you're lucky, maybe you can use your existing phone on a U.S. carrier. 

You're a gamer

Ever look across the aisle on the bus or train and watch someone tapping away at their cell phone keypad? They're probably playing a game, and they're all the new rage in cell phones. You can get old games to make you feel nostalgic, or you can find all the newest titles. We take a look at prepaid providers that have the best games selections.

You talk a lot

Hey, you love the phone. And you love going out. So the minute cell phones came into the mainstream, you were a match made in heaven. Oh, but those overage rates! They can be a real killer. Thankfully, there are cures. We look through our prepaid providers and find the plans that let you talk the most without expensive overages.