Many companies offer no-contract cell phones, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Cricket. Some service plans are prepaid, while others are postpaid, but as of 2015, they are often less expensive than contract plans. However, with no-contract plans, subscribers often pay higher upfront costs for the cellular device.
Many no-contract plans offer the same unlimited texting and calling that subscribers expect from a contracted plan. They also provide a data plan. Some offer unlimited data but throttle the plan after a certain amount of use, while others require the subscriber to pay more for data once he reaches his monthly limit.
No-contract plans typically offer a limited selection of phones, but the company allows the subscriber to bring a phone that he already owns. To add the phone to the service, the new subscriber must own it and have completed any contractual obligations for the phone. It must also be unlocked before he can transfer it to a new network.
Some plans, like those from AT&T, are highly customizable. For a subscriber who only needs the cellular device for emergencies, the company offers a casual plan with a low monthly cost. For individuals who only want emergency service, federal law requires deactivated plans to continue to route these calls without a contract.