As we get more of our wireless products from Prepaid sources, more gotchas pop up. The most frustrating unforeseen circumstance is Taxes. There was a time when a $50 prepaid refill cost only $50, any taxes or fees were covered by the Prepaid provider. Now those extra charges appear on some of the Prepaid costs. When I buy a prepaid phone from a retailer like Wal-Mart or Target, I pay the usual sales taxes, but I am now also charged fees that presumably go toward local 911 services. OK, I'm good with supporting my own community.
The next charge that seems a bit of a surprise is the taxes and fees that are added to our Straight Talk (and supposedly all the TracFone-related companies) monthly unlimited plan. With an online refill (Straight Talk calls it "buying a service plan"), they add taxes and 911 fees that adds about $3.83 to the $45 Unlimited plan. I'm OK with that, too. Then comes the final checkout which appears as a nice round $50 charge. Wait. Where did the extra $1.17 go? Other fees? Extra profit? A donation to the Red Cross?
The big picture is this is still a savings over postpaid charges from the large wireless carriers, but after a number of nickles and dimes, much less so. What raises our rankles even more are the lack of such extra charges from some of the other Prepaid providers. Our favorite T-Mobile Prepaid plan, $30 for 5Gb & 100 minutes, is still only $30. Even further consideration goes to those Prepaid refills that are available for as much as 10% off, such as those on AT&T GoPhone from our own Mountain Prepaid site.
Of course all this can change at any time and there are indeed a number of strategies to avoid those extra and "mystery" charges (like switching services or where you buy your refills). We'll try to keep you on top of who is charging extra across our various web sites and how it affects your Prepaid costs. It's now about telling the good guys from the bad guys. Oh, and saving money.