When you plan on getting a SIM card, you usually have to pick between two options. The first – you choose a carrier, get a special deal on a smartphone or tablet, a nice payment plan, and a postpaid SIM card. Then, for example, if you choose Verizon, you activate a Verizon SIM card. The flaw is, you are often unable to unlock a SIM card and can’t use a different carrier’s SIM card in that phone.
The second option – you buy a prepaid SIM card. You aren’t bound by a contract and you can easily change SIM cards at will. Simply insert the card in any unlocked phone, and you’re good to go. As the start of our answer to, “what is a pay as you go SIM card?”, we’ll say it’s pretty close to the latter option.
An in-depth explanation of pay as you go SIM cards
Enough wondering how does pay as you go SIM card work. Let’s get into it.
This is probably one of the biggest pros of using a pay as you go SIM cards. When you decide to buy a SIM card of this type, you have a plethora of options. Your local supermarket, shopping mall, airport, and even newsstands. Some carriers are slowly implementing self-service kiosks where you can pick up one within a minute.
If you read about the difference between prepaid and postpaid SIM, you would’ve known that the latter often requires you to sign a 12-month or even a 24-month contract. You might get certain benefits, such as discounted devices or bonuses, or even unlimited credits for it. But, as we mentioned, you either cannot use that phone with another carrier or cannot put your SIM card into a phone sold by another carrier. With pay as you go SIM cards, you can start using it immediately, provided your phone is unlocked. And, at any point, you can stop using the service, remove the SIM card and throw it away, much like using a burner phone.
Credits or bundles
How to distinguish between these two? The first one is traditional. You can purchase credits to “top the phone up” every once in a while. Then, when you call, text, or access the Internet, a certain portion of those credits is consumed, based on the carrier rates. When you run out, simply top up again.
The second option also uses top-ups, but you consume credits immediately to purchase a bundle. Instead of guessing how long the top-up will last, the bundle tells you how much mobile data, number of minutes, and number of texts you can use before you run out. This is usually the better option since carriers you get much more for your money. Why would anyone go the traditional route, then? Find out below.
Do I need to top up a pay as you go SIM card every month?
This is often the main concern people have. The answer is – it depends on the carrier. In general, bundle plans have a limit, usually between 30 and 60 days. After that, the mobile data, calls, or texts expire and don’t carry over when you purchase a new bundle. On the other hand, traditional credits only expire after 180 days to 6 months. As long as you do like the carrier requests, your SIM stays enabled and your old credits available.
Can I transfer my credit?
Once again, it depends. If you are transferring to another plan on the same mobile network, carriers sometimes allow you to do it. Or, they grant you a similar bonus out of a desire to keep you as a customer. Credits can only be transferred from one carrier to another in very rare cases, such as if they’re sister companies or merging. Your best bet is to spend it so it doesn’t go to waste. Our recommendation is to send SMS and donate to charities of your choice.
Can I transfer my number?
Within the same carrier, certainly. You simply have to make a request, and they can use the PAC Code to grant a new pay-as-you-go, prepaid, or postpaid SIM card the same number. Keeping your number when changing carriers isn’t possible, because they usually have a different prefix and might not own that PAC Code.
Is pay as you go SIM card becoming obsolete?
People who have gotten used to using them got scared when Virgin Media, O2, and other companies announced they’re removing pay as you go from their offer. The existing customers can continue to use their service, though. The reason? Certain laws that prevented massive roaming charges, and simply, lack of profit to justify it. We can’t say for certain whether they will disappear completely. For now, there’s plenty of competition in the field, and they’re widely used.