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Prepaid phones could be that perfect Christmas gift

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You've seen the ads and the commercials and you probably assume prepaid wireless is hot.

You would be right.

Prepaid or no-contract phones are selling like crazy, but how is the service and how much money can you actually save?

With these prepaid phones, you pay a reduced monthly rate that is some circumstances, decreases as the plan goes on. When has this ever happened when it comes to mobile phones?

You usually have two options when signing up for a prepaid plan. The first is you buy the phone outright. The second is you are kind of renting the phone. You can pay the phone off with a "payment plan."

Now, some of the services are allowing you to bring your own phone to the plate. This is where it could become a great deal for the consumer.

With "prepaid" you pay upfront, but as long as you own the phone, you aren't locked into anything long-term.

The phones that can be used on prepaid wireless run the gamut. Do your homework, and you might be able to save some money.

The service on the prepaid phones I've tried are great. You are using the networks of the likes of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

Prepaid or no-contract phones are a great option for a kid's first smartphone. They also are great for a senior citizen looking for a smartphone or anyone that can live with the various plans that the providers offer.

Might these may a great holiday gift?

You bet. The service is what you are accustomed to if you are used to or coming off a regular wireless plan and your wallet may have a few bucks left in it at the end of the month.

Aio Wireless

I was introduced to Aio back in the summer and I was impressed. The Alpharetta-based company is an arm of AT&T. After they put out a big launch it was reported they would be absorbed by Leap Wireless (Cricket) but if you are on an Aio plan everything will remain the same. Plans are $40, $55, and $70 per month.

Aio gives great customer service and when you bring your own phone, the third month is free. iPhones are available through Aio.

AT&T GoPhone

Prepaid plans directly from AT&T. A good variety of phones available and plans that range from $25 to $60. Price is determined mainly by how much data and how many minutes you want. Service is what you would normally get from AT&T.

Boost Mobile

Can I say I love Boost Mobile. I've been testing a Boost Mobile phone which is actually a Boost Warp 4G and it's very "iPhone like." Boost is Sprint's prepaid service and I've had nothing but positive experiences with the service. Boost is always running deals and currently they have a $60 off deal, but that's just the beginning. Plans range from $45-60, but make your payments on time and you monthly cost will decrease. It's a great program and the savings will add up over time. Also, for every six months of on time payments, you can take off another $5. So totlal discounts could be $15/month. They also offer daily plans.

FreedomPop

Free, free, FreedomPop. Believe it or not, this is an entirely free wireless service. Using a voice-over-IP system, subscribers get 200 voice minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of free data on Sprint's 3G, WiMAX, and LTE networks- it all depends on where you live. You can buy additional minutes and data and it's fairly inexpensive. One of the restrictions of FreedomPop is there is no attaching pictures to text messages.

H2O Wireless

Running on AT&T's network, H2O Wireless goes a different direction than most other services and not only offers plans by the month, but also by the day or by the minute. Monthly plans start at $30 per month. You have to get one of their phones and a current model of a Motorola Bravo or similar goes for about $200. An iPhone 5 is also available and you can get it on a payment plan.

Straight Talk

Walmart's wireless service that always gets a lot of attention has had a huge holiday season. Your get unlimited everything (talk, text, and data) for $45 per month. Service is run by Tracfone and once you hit 2.5 GB of data, your speed is throttled back. So be a ware of that. The selection of phones is great and even many current phones. Service is spotty in some spots, but users say it is getting better.

Virgin

Everyone know the Virgin brand and they do a good job with their mobile phones. Their phone prices are some of the best and plans start at just $35 per month. Keep your own phones and they offer great international rates to some 200+ countries.

Ting

Ting uses Sprint's network and let's you customize. Select minutes, message and megabytes and go from there.
Make your plan up of what you need. You could do a texting only plan, and it would be inexpensive.
This is a great plan for your kids as your high schooler could get a plan consisting of 100 minutes of talk, 500MB of data to use, and 4,000 text messages for about $30 per month.
Ting has offered the Kyocera Hydro Edge for $49.99, but also check and see if they can activate your own phone.

TracFone

TracFone is America's No. 1 prepaid wireless provider. They offer no-contract plans for as low at $7 per month. TracFone offers a wide variety of phones at great prices. The coverage is good and it's easy to buy airtime as cards are sold at 80,000 retail locations around the country. Data cards start for as little as $10.

Verizon Wireless Prepaid

Verizon's prepaid wireless arm. Daily plans and per minute plans, so take your pick.

I expect there will be a lot of prepaid phones underneath the tree come Christmas. Is it a good option? For kids or those that need the basic service and features a mobile phone provides, I would have to say, "yes."

For power users and those that need unlimited talk and lots of data, they should stick with their current plan. A lot of companies offer these no-contract phones- do a little research and see what is the best fit for your needs.

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