Information on No Contract Cell Phones

By Amy McClain

Contract-free cell phones have come a long way since being introduced in the early 1990s. Today, consumers have a wide variety of available providers, phones and minute plans from which to choose. Contract free phones can be a cost effective choice for users who are new to cell phones or only need a mobile phone for emergency use. There are a few features that distinguish contract free phones from their postpaid counterparts.


No contract cell phones, often referred to as prepaid or pay as you go phones, are an alternative to traditional wireless plans that require a commitment to be signed by the end user. Instead of receiving a monthly bill for usage that occurred in the previous 30 days, users buy blocks of minutes in advance. Once these minutes are used up or expire, new minutes must be added for the phone to function. Little or no personal information is required to purchase and activate a prepaid cell phone.


Prepaid cell phones do not require any legal contract to be signed, thus eliminating the 18 and up age requirement enforced by post paid providers. This can be beneficial if you want your minor child to have a cell phone, but aren't ready to put them on a monthly post paid plan where you are responsible for any charges they incur. Prepaid phones also eliminate the risk and worry of overage charges that post paid phones have.Once you have used your purchased airtime, the phone ceases to work. It is also much less disastrous to lose a prepaid cell phone than it is a post paid device, as there is no concern of fraudulent charges being billed to your account. Additionally, prepaid phones do not require the user to pass any credit check, making them attainable by users who lack good credit history.


Contract free phones offer no commitment and no bills to worry about, however there are some drawbacks. While postpaid providers offer deep discounts on devices to customers when they sign up, prepaid phones are sold at regular retail price. Some features and services offered by postpaid providers are not available to prepaid customers. One such example is insurance for lost, stolen or damaged phones. It can also be difficult to get help in person, as most retailers who sell the prepaid phones do not service or activate them. Usually customers must use a toll free number or website for troubleshooting issues.

Potential Users

Contract free phones are a good option for a person with a low credit rating, as there are no credit checks to pass. Other good candidates include people who only need a phone temporarily as there is no commitment required. When the phone is no longer needed, simply stop adding airtime. The phone will be cancelled automatically by the provider. Other candidates for prepaid phones are people who only need a mobile phone for minimal or emergency uses. Additionally, minor children can learn to use a phone responsibly by starting them off with a contract free phone and a predetermined number of minutes.


There are many options when it comes to contract free phones. AT&T's Go Phone, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless and Metro PCS are just a handful of the available providers. Before making a purchase, it is important to determine what providers have coverage in your area. Visit carrier's websites to view coverage maps, and be sure to check your home address, work address and places you travel. Decide how you wish to add your minutes on to your account, as well. Most providers sell individual blocks of minutes as well as plans. You should also consider how often you wish to replenish your account. Some providers require minutes to be added to your phone every 30 days, while others give you 90 days or more. Lastly, decide if phone selection is important to you. Some prepaid providers only offer a few basic devices, while others have choices comparable to that of their postpaid competition.