There are two main ways to pay for your mobile, or cellular coverage: postpay and prepay. Postpay means that you are billed after you have used the account, so the carrier must trust that you’re going to settle your account at the end of every billing period. This is why most postpay deals are contracts and why there’s a credit check involved. Prepay is, as you might expect from the name, completely different: here, you as the customer part with your cash before you use the service. You top up your account and then use the credit, either on a pay-as-you-use it basis or perhaps with a bundle, whereby the carrier takes credit from your balance and in exchange you receive a collection of voice minutes, text messages and data. Prepay has the tremendous advantage that you can only use what you’ve placed on your account, so there is never a bill shock: if you use up all of your minutes, your ‘phone stops working.
Postpay has the advantage that you don’t need to take time out of your day in order to top up your account but the disadvantage that you could run up a hefty bill without realizing it. The US carriers offer both postpay and prepay deals but this afternoon I’m wanting to write about AT&T’s GoPhone prepay plays, as AT&T have polished theirs and introduced a new data-included tier. Before, there was a $40 plan with 500 MB of data, 500 minutes of talk time and unlimited text messages. For $60, customers receive unlimited talk, text and data but the first 2.5 GB a month is at maximum speed, with the remainder at a restricted speed of up to 128 kbps.
These two plans are joined by a $45 offering, giving customers unlimited talk, text and data, but here the first 1 GB of data is at maximum speed with the balance at a throttled 128 kbps speed. The change brings AT&T’s plans closer to T-Mobile USA’s plans. Do you use a postpay or prepay deal from your carrier? How much data do you use? If you’re on AT&T’s GoPhone and you take up the $40 plan, do you think it’s worth the extra $5 for double your high speed data, but conceivably a lot more if you can tolerate the data speed throttling? Let us know in the comments below.