What Happens to Text Messages When Your Phone Is Out of Minutes?

By Shauna Zamarripa

The minutes available on your cellphone do not always correlate to your ability to send and receiving text messages. In fact, sometimes two are not the same at all. However, when you run out of minutes on your cellphone, your unsent text messages run the risk of disappearing. Whether they do or not may depend entirely on your cellphone provider.

When Minutes and Data are Separate

Some cell phone carriers will charge a fee for the total number of minutes used each month, and a separate fee for texting services. For example, if you purchase a plan with 1,400 minutes and unlimited texting, your texting is not affected if you run out of voice minutes. In this case, texts are continually sent and received undisturbed. Your ability to make and receive incoming calls, however, will often meet with additional charges from your provider.

All in One Plans

When voice and data plans are linked, they are normally referred to as "all-in-one" plans. In other words, you pay a set monthly fee for all of the services within your plan. You select how many minutes you want and the total amount of text messages you believe you will send and receive. The options and price vary from carrier to carrier. In these instances, when you run out of cell phone minutes, the ability to send and receive texts is suspended or comes with an added per-minute or per-text cost. Depending on the policies for your cell phone carrier, pending text messages might be held on a computer server, and received when the billing cycle restarts or they might not be sent or received at all.

Pre-paid Phones

Pre-paid phones are their own genre altogether. Once you have run out of minutes loaded on the card, your phone service resets completely. During the time you are out of minutes, you will not be able to send or receive text messages and there is no chance for any pending messages to be sent or received once the phone is reloaded with more minutes. Essentially, reloading the phone resets the plan each time.

Stored Messages

Sent and received messages stored on your phone are unaffected by running out of minutes or text messages on a cell phone plan. These remain stored in your phone until you delete them manually.