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Cellular Back Door Secrets & Short Cuts
Great ideas you won't get from your wireless carrier


You can save buckets of money by switching to Prepaid. One of our biggest objections to Prepaid was the cumbersome payment cycle required by prepaid refills. You didn't pay the bill once a month like the electric bill, you paid at or near an exact payment date or you lost your account value, and your service, even if you were only one day late.  If you paid too soon you could lose some of the time you already paid for, increasing your total cost.  These types of payments still exist but now most Prepaid operators offer some form of "Auto-Refill", or "Auto-Pay", where your monthly payment is automatically deducted from a credit card, debit card or checking account.

The upside with Auto-Refill is that it becomes easier to pay than the electric bill because the payment is made without any hassle.  In most cases you get an Text or email that the charge to your card or checking account is being made, but no action is required on your part. Having an associated account also makes it easy to change features or add-ons to your account.
The downside includes the challenge of stopping Auto-Refill.  Some carriers don't make it easy by making you go through a menu of choices before you find a way to cancel the process.  Additionally, credit cards have expiration dates that can interrupt the Auto-Refill process and you can suddenly find yourself with no wireless service. Some carriers will encourage you to sign up for Auto-Refill by offering a discount, usually around $5 per month.

Some carriers are better than others in making the Auto-Refill function consumer-friendly.  There are carriers that offer a discount when you sign up for Auto-Refill.   In some cases you can enter a second credit card number or an alternative notification method.  Most carriers offer both online and app access to your account.  Several will notify you long before there is a problem including an upcoming credit card expiration date.  Since Auto-Refill is an automated process, you may want to consider a Prepaid service that includes a convenient way to correct any inevitable problems.  Our advice sometimes includes backing away and allowing for the fact that something will cause your account to be charged a slightly different amount, and it may cause less trouble to grin and bear it than pressing the issue to get back a few dollars.

There's one more heads-up. Auto-Refill isn't 100% fool-proof. It helps to know your refill date and to be suspicious if you don't hear from your carrier around that date.


If you change Prepaid accounts from time to time, there are almost always leftover minutes you'll lose.  Donate the dollar value of those minutes to organizations like the Red Cross and Make a Wish by texting to their "donate" Text number. Careful, those donations won't cost you anything, but only for actual minutes you already paid for such as with a pay-as-you-go plan...if you have unlimited minutes they'll just add the donation to your next monthly charge. Here is a list of text donation numbers. Or, charity begins at your mom.

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