Understanding Phone Services

in the U.S.

Contract Phones (POSTPAID)

- You will sign a contract to pay money every month for 12 to 24 months. Even if you stop using your phone, it is difficult and expensive to cancel a contract.

- Your plan includes a minimum amount that you will pay, for a set amount of calls, text messages, data usage. If you use more you will have to pay extra. This can cost a lot of money.

- If you want to have full control of how much money you spend on your phone, it is better to choose a prepaid phone instead.

- identify Proof: Social Security Number (If you don't have any, each person in your line needs to deposit $500 for a year)

- If you are going school for more than 2 years, using a contract phone is more economical. However, you need to find responsible people to share with your family plan. Otherwise, it would cost you a lot to open a line just by yourself.

- Compare and contrast phone plans from different companies. Sometimes, they have special offers.

Major Phone Companies in the U.S.

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Prepaid (Go Phones)

- You need to purchase a phone. Basic phone starts from $20

- You then buy credit to pay for calls and services before you use them.

- Once you've used up your credit, you can receive call but you cannot make more calls until you buy more credit.

- Identify Proof: Passport

- It's a good choice for new coming international students who just arrive on campus for the first month.


- It is important to understand what it will cost to do different things on your phone. For example: Incoming calls, Outgoing calls, Sending SMS, Receiving SMS, or checking email.

- You need to understand TIME=MONEY when making calls.

- Most Contract Phone ranges from $30-$50 (without Data Plan) and $45-$80 (with Data Plan). It also depends on how many people share this plan. Usually, it's cheaper if you have more people involved in your family plan.

- Most PREPAID phone ranges from

Limited Talk Time $25-$35

Unlimited Talk Time $45-$65

Things to think about before buying an International Phone Card

Before buying a phone card you need to understand:

- What you are buying

- How much it will cost you to ring overseas

- Whether or not there are costs that you did not know about

General Phone Cards rate prices

The calling center number is located on the back of your calling card. You should call the calling center and they can connect you to a mobile or landline in your country.

Here are some suggestions for specific countries: India is Indiald, the price is $9/1000mins. It is about 0.9 cent/min. For Thailand, Good2call is popular. There are many kind of cards but the most famous is Goldcard for China, about $20/1500mins. It is not the cheapest one but the quality of voice is good.

What you need to understand

- International calling cards can sound like they offer cheap rates to call overseas but often

there are lot of extra fees, charges and conditions.

- Some calling card services often charge fees both for connecting and disconnecting calls.

- Some phone cards charge in "blocks of time" (This means that each call will be charged to

the nearest five mins even though you may have only talk for 3 mins)

- When you call overseas, it charges mins from your phone as well as International phone

card. It is double charge.

- Calling overseas via internet is always the cheapest way to go