How does prepaid plans work

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I'm trying to come out of the dark ages and get a cell phone. I thought a prepaid plan would be the best, as I only need the phone occasionally. However I can't seem to find anywhere, the explanation of how a prepaid plan works. For one company I heard you pay a certain a mount and you have a limited time to use it or lose it. Is that the same for all the companies?
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Denis Robertson

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Posted 5 years ago

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Sophia, Mobile Master

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Hi Denis,

Welcome to modern times :D I'll join you with Prepaid, in fact I already have - once you have a cell, you never want to be without any more :D

Koodo has a nice explanation on their website about prepaid here:

In summary, you pay $15 (base plan) per month for your number, all government fees (except tax) etc... and you get unlimited international texting with that.

In addition, you can buy boosters for voice or data. Both will carry over indefinitely, as long as you keep your base plan active. You're best off to add to largest booster ($25 in the case of voice), because that will give you 500 minutes - making calls only 5 cents per minute no matter where you are - or call to - within Canada!

You asked is it the same for all companies, no, Koodo prepaid is unique in the world in fact! Most other companies do not ask for a base plan (and thus you need to purchase a text add-on separately, plus a small government/911 fee), but you need top top up with a certain amount per month or year... which you can use for phone calls.

If you are a VERY light user, that might work... but calls will be much more expensive per minute, in some cases even more than 40 cent PLUS 30 more cents for long distance per minute!

Let me know if you need to know more, this is already lots of information to digest :D
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Denis - if you're just looking for the cheapest possible prepaid to make/receive a few calls here and there and can live with a simple (and mostly crappy) phone itself, your best bet would be to go with one of the MNVOs, namely SpeakOut from 711 or Petro Canada Mobility. Both of these companies have blocks of money you can add to your phone and last longer than a month, with minutes carrying forward as long as you add more before the expiry. These both use the Rogers network nationally. The only thing here is that you pay for all your outgoing text messages and the rates for actual calls are much higher - typically in the $0.25/min range and up. A long distance call in Canada and you're looking at the $0.50/min range.

As stated, Koodo has a very unique prepaid system and a different wireless network (Bell/Telus nationally). If you go Koodo prepaid you are likely in the $20/month from a cost perspective, since it is the base + boosters. The Nokia Lumia 520 on prepaid with boosters is an excellent value proposition!