TracFone, T-Mobile, Verizon and Virgin Mobile offer pay-as-you-go plans for cellphone services. Most pay-as-you-go plans require the purchase of a specified number of service days, and then users put money on the phone's account which is then charged for calls, texts and data usage.
Typically customers can use conventional cellphones or smartphones as long as they are compatible with the provider's network. All pay-as-you-go phones require a service plan that makes the phone and phone number active for a period of time and then the purchase of minutes or data to be used.
Tracfone has service day plans from 30 days to a year. The service day purchase usually comes with a limited number of airtime minutes. Additional airtime can be purchased in a variety of increments and can be used for talk or text messaging. Text messaging and data only refill cards are also available.
T-mobile operates in much the same way but allows those who foresee heavy usage periods to purchase unlimited talk and text services for seven days or unlimited data in one-day or one-week parcels. Verizon does not require a service period but instead lets users purchase service only on the days they want to use the phone.
Virgin Mobile sells basic service day plans with a few usage minutes included designed to fit usage needs. They have additional top-off cards that allow users to add to their service in small increments to fill out usage needs for the month.