Verizon’s new unlimited prepaid plans are not a great deal

Verizon Wireless is offering a new prepaid phone plan for data-hungry customers who want to save a little bit of cash.

The new plan, detailed in a blog post by the website Lifehacker this week, works like this: Any new or unlimited customer can sign up for unlimited prepaid service, or switch from postpaid to prepaid, and score unlimited talk, text and data on Verizon’s reliable network for $65 a month.

And, as a thank you for sticking with Big Red, Verizon discounts your bill — by $5 after the first three months of service, then by an additional $5 after the first nine months of service — with an extra $5 knocked off the bill if a customer signs up for Verizon’s automatic billing.

It sounds like a good deal. But it isn’t.

For one, Verizon’s new unlimited prepaid plan stands in stark contrast with prepaid plans offered by other phone companies — including rival T-Mobile, but also virtual operators like Simple Mobile and Straight Talk — in that Verizon requires prepaid customers to pay taxes and fees on top of their regular monthly price.

But the biggest reason why it’s a bad deal is because Verizon’s prepaid plans winds up being more expensive compared to another prepaid service offered by Verizon.

Visible was launched in 2018 as a prepaid subsidiary of Verizon. The company offers unlimited talk, text and LTE data on Verizon’s national network for just $40 a month — a price that not only includes taxes and fees, but also decreases if a plan has more than one line on an account (up to 4 lines at a cost of $25 a month each, or $100 a month total).

Price isn’t the only difference between the two. While Verizon’s prepaid plan requires a separate $5 a month fee to access mobile hotspot service, Visible includes mobile hotspot as part of a customer’s plan. That’s important for tablet and computer users who want to use their phone’s network to access the Internet.

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There are two reasons why some people may still want to choose Verizon’s new prepaid service over Visible:

For customers who aren’t data-hungry enough to need an unlimited bucket of mobile data, Verizon offers two smaller prepaid tiers: A 15GB plan at $50 a month and a 5GB plan at $40 a month. Both plans drop to $35 a month and $25 a month respectively after nine months, and the mobile hotspot feature is included with both plans at no extra charge.

Both plans could be attractive to customers who find unlimited data to be way too much and who plan on sticking with Verizon’s service for a while (especially in areas where Verizon is the better network).

Customers should also choose Verizon’s prepaid plans if they like the convenience or confidence that comes with human being-based customer service. If there’s a billing or technical problem or any other issue, Verizon’s prepaid customers can walk into a Verizon store anywhere in the country and get help. With Visible, customers are limited to chatting with agents through the Visible app, on Twitter or on Facebook — there’s not even a customer service help number to call.

But for customers who want everything at the cheapest possible price without having to worry about data caps or overages, the one-size-fits-all plan offered by Visible is the better option. Visible offers unlimited everything, runs on Verizon’s network and costs less in the short- and long-term compared to Verizon’s prepaid plans.

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