Pre-Paid or Post-Paid?

october 25, 2004

Now that Eileen and I are married, our mobile phone usage has gone down dramatically. We have the FamilyTime Plan with T-Mobile which gives us unlimited T-Mobile to T-Mobile minutes. Previously when we lived apart from each other we'd have thousands of minutes racked up between us (at our peak usage, between the two of us we used some 5000 minutes a month). Now that we are living together the usage minutes has dropped dramatically -- down to somewhere around 500 minutes total between the two of us last month. Since my contract with T-Mobile expired in September and Eileen's expired in early October, I have been looking at switching us to a pre-paid plan, much like T-Mobile's ToGo plan or something like Tracfone or Boost Mobile. These plans would preclude us from paying our monthly fees for wireless service -- potentially paying only for a three-month chunk of minutes at once, thus lowering our household expenses. But as I found, it may not be all that cheap, even with our low usage. Our currently package with T-Mobile is the $49.99 a month Family Plan (400 anytime minutes plus unlimited weekends). On top of that we both have $2.99 T-Zones added to our accounts (300 text messages and unlimited GPRS data). Each month with tax we pay around $60 total for the two of us. Seems high when compared to the ToGo plans, but in reality, it would cost more to go with the prepaid plans. $100 buys a 665 minute card which activates the phone for three months. $50 gets 250 minutes and $25 gets 100 minutes. Data on ToGo plans are free, so GPRS is free for all. Sending text messages is 10 cents a pop (receiving is free). I sent 73 text messages last month, which would cost $7.30! I used 257 minutes last month, making a three month total according to that something around 771 minutes -- which a $100 card, plus a $50 card would get me through. That's an average of $57 a month using prepaid for my current usage, and that is just for me! So the $60 a month for the two of us does not seem so bad after all.