Mobile phones have grown to be ubiquitous in the past few years. They have evolved from merely luxuries that a rich businessman can afford to necessities that even school-aged children need. Mobile phones provide several comforts, such as security and convenience. However, there is also a cost to owning a mobile phone.
To a cost-conscious individual, this can be easily controlled. Simply try to monitor and limit the number of calls and text messages you make in one day, so you can stay within your allocation. However, what if you run a business, and you're afraid your employees might abuse their company-issued phones? What if you get surprised at the end of each month how big your daughter's cellular phone bill is? What if you are just a light user, and monthly plans give too many free minutes and text messages than necessary?
One good solution is to convert your phone to prepaid. Prepaid systems, or pay-as-you go systems don't have regular, recurring bills. Instead, you buy credits to top-up your mobile phone's "wallet." Each call, SMS or data access is then billed against this amount. This can be particularly convenient if you are a light user. You can keep your phone in your purse for emergencies, but don't have to worry about paying every month for something you aren't using.
Check for a SIM card. The first thing to do is check if your phone uses a "subscriber identity module" or SIM card. This is a small Smart card or microchip located in a slot inside the phone, usually near the battery compartment. Using a SIM makes it easy to change phone numbers and plans. You simply need to change the SIM card to a prepaid one. GSM phones use this standard. Other systems might have the subscriber identity hard-wired to the phone, though.
However, you should also check if your mobile phone is locked to your network. You can usually have the phone unlocked by your provider or by a third-party service center for a small fee. Otherwise, you might not be able to convert it to a prepaid system, unless you use a pay-as-you-go service by the same network.
Call your mobile phone company. Ask if they can downgrade your subscription to a prepaid one. They might be able to provide you with a new SIM card, and disconnect your old subscription. If your phone is not SIM-dependent, your mobile phone company would have to reprogram your account to convert it into a prepaid one.
Buy a pre-paid SIM. Most providers sell pre-paid SIM cards at their company stores and outlets. You might even be able to find prepaid SIM cards at malls, airports, train stations, and the like. These can be convenient while traveling, especially if your network does not have roaming agreements with your destination city or country. Simply pop out the old SIM and insert the prepaid SIM to quickly convert your phone to pre-paid.
When doing this, don't forget to call your service provider to ask for the termination of your postpaid line. Otherwise, you might still end up paying for the monthly plan even when you're already using a new one.
Some tips. Remember that you might have to pay for a disconnection fee, especially if you have signed up for a lock-in period in your contract with your mobile provider. Also, you will need to constantly check your credits if you still have a balance, so you know if you have money in your account for making a call or sending text messages.