Sorry, but your credit is too good

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Another weird fact from the cell phone world — these days having an “okay” credit is not good enough for cell phone carriers. It used to be pretty much impossible to get a pre-paid cell phone. Rates were high, phones — extra fugly.

And then bit by bit situation started to change. Phones are still pretty ugly, but rates are quite comparable, and you didn’t need to give new carrier your social security number. Sure, most of the large carriers have their own prepaid plans — ATT’s Go Phone, Verizon’s prepaid plans, Sprint’s Boost Mobile. Other than Boost mobile where $50 buys you unlimited everything (well, almost, I think they still charge for international SMS) other “large carrier” prepaid plans kinda suck.

But even given high rates, regular customers that have minimal plans get a raw deal. Carrier can demand a deposit (which can go up to $500 bucks!) and still lock you into 2 year deal, so if you decide to switch, you have to pay even more money. Why? Greed, I guess. For many years now, practically nothing prevents carrier from stopping your service if you go beyond a certain amount of paid services. So technically, they could just ask you for $50+ one month pre-paid and you should be good, right? Well, but then the carrier won’t be able to get extra profit from those “Text Message Games” and other overages.

A simple math says that right now for just talking on the phone (data is a different matter), basic cell phone plans are more expensive than simple prepaid.

Verizon’s and ATT’s basic plans cost $40 a month for 450 minutes, plus taxes (which probably means another 8-10 bucks or so). Assuming $5 for tax, it’s essentially 10 cents per minute. And with Verizon your minutes will expire at the end of the month.

Compare that with Page Plus Cellular where $30 buys you 1200 anytime minutes a month on Verizon network. Does it sound like you, a customer with an average or even good credit, get a good deal? Not really. It sounds like you’re being punished for being not smart enough to ditch the obligation and go prepaid.

Boost’s $50 a month unlimited everything beats the pants off Sprint’s basic plans (except for exotic and no longer available “grandfathered” plans, that were significantly cheaper, around $30 for 1000 or so minutes, plus other perks)

O2 Plus is cheaper than AT&T’s plans while uses ATT’s network (except for affiliates, so your coverage would be limited to actual ATT-owned areas).

So, next time you look at your monthly cell phone bill, think for a minute — unless you use 1000 minutes or so, prepaid may be cheaper, and offer you the same coverage (heck, you can probably keep the phone too).

Prepaid does get you with data rates though. Both Verizon and ATT-based “virtual” operators charge an arm and a leg for a data package. Usually nothing more than 50 or 100Mb is available and even then 50Mb could cost you almost $30. That’s the only disadvantage.

Cell phone carriers sure are weird…

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