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Verizon Prepaid vs. Postpaid

Verizon Wireless offers both prepaid and postpaid service options. With prepaid service, subscribers pay an upfront cost for one month of service at a time. With postpaid service, subscribers receive a bill after each month of service.

Prepaid service tends to be cheaper, but it has potential disadvantages in terms of performance. In general, I recommend starting with Verizon’s prepaid service unless you see a specific reason to start with postpaid service. In the rest of this article, I’ll dive deeper into differences between Verizon’s prepaid and postpaid service.


I have a financial relationship with Verizon. If you click a link to Verizon’s website and purchase service, I’ll likely receive a commission. I try to be balanced in this piece, but I recognize I’m not impartial. At the time of writing, I receive a substantially larger commission on postpaid plans than I earn from prepaid plans. More details about my financial relationship with Verizon are available here.


Pricing

Verizon’s prepaid plans tend to be cheaper (sometimes way cheaper) than postpaid plans with comparable allotments of minutes, texts, and data. However, this isn’t a strict rule. In unusual situations, Verizon may offer better prices on certain kinds of postpaid plans. I recommend opening both Verizon’s post-paid plans page and prepaid plans page and comparing prices on the types of plans you’re interested in.

Speeds

When Verizon’s network is not congested, both Verizon’s prepaid and Verizon’s postpaid subscribers should experience the same speeds. However, prepaid users are always subject to deprioritization when the network is congested. During times of congestion, deprioritized subscribers will experience slower speeds than other subscribers.

Verizon’s postpaid customers may or may not be subject to deprioritization. At the moment, customers on Verizon’s postpaid GoUnlimited plan are always subject to deprioritization. On the other hand, users on most of Verizon’s postpaid plans with fixed data allotments will never be deprioritized.

Some of Verizon’s more expensive unlimited plans have a threshold level of data. Before monthly data use reaches the threshold, subscribers will not be deprioritized. After the threshold is reached, subscribers will be deprioritized when the network is congested. I go into detail about which services Verizon does or does not prioritize in another article.

In most areas, network congestion is relatively rare. That said, your mileage may vary. Some areas experience a lot of congestion.

Coverage

Verizon easily has the best coverage in the nation. As far as I can tell, Verizon offers similar coverage to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers. Both prepaid and postpaid users will have access to nearly all towers owned by Verizon. It’s my impression that prepaid users also have access to most of Verizon’s extended network (areas where Verizon offers service using other networks’ hardware). I don’t think other major networks typically offer so much of their extended network coverage to prepaid customers.

In another article, I dive into coverage maps to spot areas where postpaid subscribers have service that prepaid subscribers cannot access. As far as I can tell, differences are minor.

Devices

Most phones that are compatible with Verizon’s postpaid service will be compatible with Verizon’s prepaid service (and vice-versa). That said, Verizon doesn’t appear to offer monthly installment plans for purchasing prepaid devices. As a general rule, I suggest buying phones outright, so I don’t see this as a particularly negative aspect of Verizon’s prepaid service. However, I know a lot of people prefer installment plans.

My advice

If you’re on the fence about the right Verizon service to choose, I suggest starting with Verizon’s prepaid service. If you find the first month of prepaid service is inadequate, it’s easy to switch to postpaid service. If you have a good experience with the first month of prepaid service, you can continue with it and enjoy the savings.