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What Is Prepaid Airtime?

Deanna Baranyi
Updated May 16, 2024
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Prepaid airtime is becoming a popular method of payment for cellular phone users. With prepaid airtime, minutes are paid for ahead of time, as a block. Customers can purchase minutes, which then tick away as they are used. Typically, there is also an expiration period on the minutes as well. So, if they are not used within a given period, often 90 days, they expire.

Prepaid minutes are perfect for people who only use their cell phones on occasion. It is a great option for those individuals who do not wish to become locked in a long-term service contract with a cell phone service provider. It is very straightforward without any hassles or commitments for the cell phone user. In many cases, the cell phone customer only needs to purchase a phone and pick a reputable company whose plan fits his needs. Since there is no contract, it is usually easy to switch service providers and there are not any fees to end service.

In addition, prepaid airtime is a wonderful option for those customers who have poor credit or are on a budget. Most of these companies do not run a credit check. Once customers figure out how many minutes they need, it is easy to purchase those minutes, keep costs low, and follow a budget. For example, if a customer only wants to spend $25 US Dollars (USD) each month for cell phone minutes, and he uses the entire block of minutes the first two weeks of the month, he has the option of waiting until the next month to restock the cell phone minutes.

Prepaid airtime is also great for teenagers. It allows them to have a cell phone for emergency use or to simply inform their parents of their whereabouts, but it reduces long conversations and limits text messaging. With prepaid minutes, there are never surprise charges that can be racked up.

Sometimes, customers may have had a previous contract. It is easy to switch to prepaid minutes and even keep the same cell phone and same cell phone number. This is a great option for people who use their phones on a limited basis.

There are a few negative aspects to using prepaid airtime for cellular phones, as well. First, if there are still minutes in a customer’s account when he reaches the expiration date, he will lose those minutes. Second, the minutes may cost more that a service provider’s contract plans. For example, a prepaid cell phone may charge $0.25 USD per minute while a service contract may only charge a customer $0.10 USD per minute. Finally, when the minutes run out, service stops until another block of airtime is purchased; this can happen in mid-conversation, which can be aggravating for the customer.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Deanna Baranyi
By Deanna Baranyi , Former Writer
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her work. With degrees in relevant fields and a keen ability to understand and connect with target audiences, she crafts compelling copy, articles, and content that inform and engage readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon252833 — On Mar 07, 2012

I was on a contract with Nashua Mobile (NM) for eight years. When my contract expired in February 2012, I decided to go over to pre-paid.

After a couple of weeks, I decided it is not for me and would like another contract but with Vodacom Direct as my service provider and I want to retain my current Vodacom number. I was told by NM that I must wait 90 days, and then only can VD use my current number. Is this correct?

By anon184269 — On Jun 07, 2011

Beware! 30 days means 30 days, and if your phone tells you when you top-up that the expiration date is July 5, it actually means 11:59 p.m. on July 4 or you could lose what is still in your account.

Deanna Baranyi

Deanna Baranyi

Former Writer

Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her...
Learn more
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