Cell Phones: Prepaid Or Calling Plan?

With the shenanigans that go on with automatic billing, I have been giving serious thought to switching to a prepaid model with as many services as possible. The most obvious place to start would be my cell phone, so I looked carefully at what it would cost to switch to a prepaid model with T-Mobile.

In a given month, I currently use about 400 whenever minutes, about 5.8 megabytes of bandwidth (mostly e-mail), and send and receive about 140 text messages. For that, I pay about $68/month for a Blackberry minutes and mail plan.

If I wanted to go prepaid with T-Mobile, I would have to switch to a Sidekick to get internet and e-mail. 400 minutes would cost about $50. Unlimited e-mail is another $1/day, or about $30/month. Text messages are $.10 to send, $.05 to receive, or about $21/month.

So at my current usage, I would spend $101/month for the equivalent usage (not counting the cost of purchasing a Sidekick). Without the internet and e-mail, though, the cost of switch would only be about $4/month, plus the new handset. Not bad.

If you don’t use internet and e-mail on your phone, it might be worth it to switch to a prepaid system, which gives you freedom to change providers whenever you want as well as the freedom from “surprise” charges. Plus, then you can bug your parents for minutes for your birthday instead of another useless 32MB flash drive. SAM GLOVER