Switching from Contract to Pre-Paid Cell Phone Plan

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Purchase Directly from the Company

I have had an account with AT&T for 3 years, 1 year after my contract expired so I was free to do as I pleased. Switching was a bit more complicated than it needed to be.

Call the provider you want to switch to. I bought my phone at Best Buy and they said I had to have a new phone number with pre-paid. I knew they were wrong but they didn’t, so I obliged.

You Can Keep Your Number

Then at home I called AT&T and had them port my current number to the pre-paid phone. You can keep your current contract phone number when switching to pre-paid. Do not believe store employees who tell you that you can’t.

You Can Keep Your Phone

You can also keep your current phone and just use a pre-paid plan. You can use your smartphone, iphone, any gsm phone on a pre-paid plan. If you don’t buy a data plan, then you cannot use 3G/4G with your phone, but you can still use wifi.

Plans by Time or Month

You have some options of plans. You can continuously buy a card so when you run out of minutes, you need to buy another card and you can refill at any time. You can set-up auto payments so as soon as you run out of minutes, the set-amount will be automatically paid to your account. Or you can be on a monthly plan (though still pre-paid) and then monthly payments occur at the end of the month even if you run out of minutes before then. You can set up auto payment for this.

No Surprise Charges

The best part about pre-paid is you will not be charged for anything extra! I asked if I could get data disabled so I could not accidentally connect to a data app and be charged for it. The customer representative at AT&T said, “there is no “accidentally. If you don’t have a data plan, you can’t connect to data. If you don’t have minutes, you can’t make a call. It is impossible to be charged for anything extra because you just can’t use it.” And that is exactly what I wanted to hear.

Supplement with Google Voice

If you are thinking of going pre-paid but worried about limitied minutes or texts, use Google Voice as a supplement.

I pay $27 (with taxes)/mo for 250 minutes and unlimited texting, no data. I use Google Voice when I’m home so I don’t have to worry about running out of minutes. Even without minutes you can still call 911.


Have you switched from/to pre-paid & contract? What do you prefer?


If you have thoughts on this and would like to discuss please use Twitter or send me an email.