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What is prepaid?

Digital lifestyle
What is prepaid?
Digital lifestyle

Prepaid services are paid for in advance. This is usually an alternative to signing up for a contract and agreeing to pay at the end of each billing cycle. There are many different reasons why you might want (or need) to pay upfront.

These are a few of the main considerations:

  • Budget. It’s often cheaper to pay in advance. Prepaid services can also make it easier to stick to a budget. With some types of postpaid contract, you can rack up costs without thinking about it. But there’s no danger of running up big bills when you prepay.
  • Credit. You’re not taking on any credit with prepaid services, so the provider won’t need to check your credit history. That can be useful if you struggle to qualify for credit.
  • Commitment. Prepaying is good if you don’t want the commitment of a long contract. Some types of postpaid services require you to sign up for 12 or even 24 months, which might not make sense for you.
  • Flexibility. One of the main benefits of prepaying is flexibility. Because you’re not locked into a long contract, it’s easier to switch providers or cancel.
  • Privacy. In most cases, prepaid services require fewer personal details. This is good if you’re worried about privacy, but also if you don’t have a fixed address or are travelling.


What services can be prepaid?

Prepaying is sometimes the only option, but these are some of the most common examples of services where there’s a choice:

  • Mobile phones. By far the most popular prepaid service. The market for prepaid phones is almost as big as the postpaid market.
  • Payments. Payment cards such as prepaid credit cards and shopping cards are an increasingly popular choice.
  • Subscriptions. Most services that you can subscribe to also have a prepaid option. This can either be an option to pay upfront or to use a gift card.

So, what is prepaid in each of these cases? Let’s look at them in more detail.


Prepaid mobile phones

Prepaid phones work in almost exactly the same way as a postpaid contract. As long as there’s credit in the account, you can make and receive calls and messages, and access the internet. You can even make international calls and roam in other countries.

And running out of credit is a thing of the past with many of the prepaid plans available in Ireland these days. Three offers unlimited calls and data with no fair use limit, while most of the other carriers offer an unlimited deal.

Eir, for example, has a monthly fair use limit of 120gb of data, 3,000 call minutes and 3,000 texts.

Topping up is easy. You can buy phone credit online for all the major carriers, and most will also let you schedule regular top ups. With Three, you can even ask Alexa to top up by downloading the Three Top Up skill.



Prepaid online payment methods

Shopping online is easy and safe with prepaid payment cards. They’re just as convenient as regular cards, but let you spend without giving out credit card or bank account details.

Prepaid cards can even be used by people who don’t have a bank account or credit card. Parents can set up a prepaid card for their kids, for example. And people who struggle to set up a bank account (or don’t want one) can even get pay sent to a prepaid card.

Visa and Mastercard prepaid cards offer the same security and fraud protection as credit or debit cards.

If you’re worried about debt, prepaid cards are a great option. You can only spend what you have, so there’s no risk of running up bills you can’t pay.



Prepaid subscriptions

Whether you want to control your spending or your privacy, prepaid subscriptions for services like Netflix and Spotify can be a great option.

It’s easy to under-estimate how much you’re spending on subscriptions when the fees are paid automatically from your bank account.

By using prepaid subscriptions, it’s much easier to stick to a budget. Check out our tips on managing your subscriptions like a pro.

They’re also a good choice if you don’t have a bank account or traditional credit card. You can see how easy it is to top up online here.

As with all the other prepaid services we’ve already talked about, you can stay safe online by prepaying. The service provider won’t have any sensitive information about you if you pay with a gift card.


Curious to give prepaid a try? Explore all prepaid products available for Ireland on the Recharge.com platform or via the Recharge.com app (for iOS and Android).

Written by

Kristina Kalpaklieva