There are literally hundreds of cell phone offers that you have to choose from that it can be hard to know which plan you should sign up for. For this reason, many people just end up staying with a monthly contract cell phone plan and wait for their new phone every two years. It seems like the easy thing to do, but it just takes a little bit of effort to sift through all of the available prepaid phone plans, which is actually well worth it, because your effort may save you a lot of money

So what are some of the the factors that go into choosing the right prepaid cell phone plan? There are a lot of factors to consider as you shop around and examine the available plans. As you start looking, you should ask consider the following question: how much do you use your cell phone? And what do you use it for? Do you surf the web a lot? Do you keep up with your friends via text messaging often throughout the day?

If you are a light cell phone user and use only 300 or fewer minutes per month, prepaid is probably a beneficial course to take. If you use closer to 500 minutes per, then staying in a monthly contract plan is most likely the smarter choice. Prepaid phones can save you a lot of money, but only if your cell phone habits fit the plan that you end up choosing. Text messaging tends to be pretty expensive on most prepaid plans, so if you are a big text messager, then you might incure considerable charges, and will probably spend more on a prepaid plan. You will be better off with a text and data package that you can add on a contract phone.

If you are a light cell phone user and you don't really text that much (remember you have to pay for both texts received and sent) then you may want to go with a prepaid phone option. A prepaid plan is good because you have more control over the actual minutes you end up paying for. You can change the amount of minutes you use month to month--this is the beauty of pay as you go plans.

Each prepaid wireless provider and plan has different stipulations and rules that you need to be familiar with. Your talk time minutes can expire over certain dates and there may be minimum minutes you have to purchase in any given period of time. If you find a good plan that fits in with your phone usage, then you and your family will be able to save money on your cell phone bills. Overall, prepaid offers some very competitive plans and they are becoming more popular as consumers become savvier in their cell phone dealings.

As a result of the new competition from small specialty prepaid wireless providers like Cricket and Tracfone, all of the large wireless companies now compete in the prepaid arena as well. Verizon wireless, T-Mobile prepaid, and AT&T are going head to head with Boost Mobile and SprintPCS. Boost Mobile at the beginning of the year released an unlimited monthly plan that includes unilmited text, data usage, and talk time for a $50.00 monthly charge.

This plan is very competitive with other plans that offer similar elements. This could be a harbinger of new times to come if it catches on, because the other big companies will have to undercut that price or deliver some other attractive options.

Here are some takeaway prepaid cell phone buying tips.

1) Research the plans available and learn how much text messages cost, handsets cost, and minutes cost.

2) Look at your cell phone bills for the last six months. If you are a light user (under 300 minutes talk time per month), then prepaid makes a lot of sense. Pay attention to how many text messages you send per month and what times and days you use your phone. Keep in mind that contract cell phone plans often include free nights and weekends and that may be why your minute usage seems low. With a prepaid phone, you probably will not have free nights and weekends.

3) Think about whether or not your cell phone habits match those that match well with a prepaid plan.

4) Keep an eye out for good deals offerred by cell phone companies as they sometimes offer promotions to entice new subscribers into signing up.

5) Weigh the costs in your mind and think about pros and cons of contract plans versus prepaid.

Check out plans by Verizon Wireless, Tracfone, T-Mobile, and Cricket and get a feel of where you can find the best deals.

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Chris runs a website about prepaid cell phones. Read about T-Mobile prepaid plans and read about the new Verizon Prepaid Unlimited plan, which may help change the prepaid market.

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