Minutes Are Not Supposed To Expire

by Ben
(San Diego, CA)

I find it unheard of that minutes expire. If I buy something, then I paid for something and what I bought should be mine.


I find it unlawful that a provider takes away after a month what I paid for (if I didn't use it in time). To me this feels like theft.

It comes down to the fact that I pay for something, but the provider doesn't provide a corresponding service for it.

If I buy stamps, they don't expire after a month either, do they?

I find your product really interesting. It would be extremely handy for when I'm on the road. However, as I'm on the road only a few days a month, and since most of your minutes (or megabytes) "evaporate" before I could have used them, your product becomes pretty useless to me (and I'm not buying).

In other words, you're selling less because of this expiration.

Anyway, I hope you find this information useful. I thought you'd want to know.

Best regards, Ben.

Comments for Minutes Are Not Supposed To Expire

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Sep 12, 2012
Expiration Rules Are Standard - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Thank you for your comments and for sharing your feelings on this topic. I can tell you that your sentiments are shared by many; that’s for sure!

I do first, though, first want to clarify that I’m not directly selling any prepaid products. Some (unfortunately, very few) of the links that go to prepaid carrier websites are affiliate links, which means that if someone clicks over and completes a purchase, I get paid a commission on the sale. The point being that the products compared on this site are not mine per se, but simply a summary of what the major prepaid providers offer. In other words, it’s not within my control or power to change the expiration rules (or any other feature functionality).

That said, minutes always expire. It’s been that way since prepaid wireless first launched, and it’s the case for all prepaid wireless products, so you shouldn’t feel as though you’re being ripped off. Perhaps it’s more about awareness and setting expectations than anything else. On this site I try to make that very clear to help people understand how prepaid wireless works. If this fact doesn’t meet your needs, and you learned about it before making a purchase, that’s fantastic!

There are options that allow you to pay in a certain way that results in an effective $3.33 per month cost for the convenience of having a phone on hand in case you need it; that seems reasonable. Or you can make a larger payment (ex. $100) that will not expire for a year, and if you add money before it expires you won’t lose any money at all; it will simply carry forward. Note that so long as you add money before the expiration date, you’ll never lose your money.

In terms of monthly plans that offer a certain number of voice minutes or MB/GB of data, after the month ends, those minutes/MB/GB are effectively gone, and the new month starts with a new allocation. Over the decades carriers have offered rollover programs where unused minutes rollover to the next month; however, generally speaking, whether it’s a no contract monthly plan, or a postpaid plan, they’ve always worked this way.

Sep 12, 2012
Expiration Rules Are Standard - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Unfortunately, it’s not the same as buying stamps, but perhaps more similar to a landline phone plan that offers you a certain number of minutes per month, or a given number of long distance minutes per month (it didn’t used to be unlimited calls). Essentially, you use it or lose it.

Consider that there is a minimal carrying cost for carriers to have a phone active on their network. For prepaid, when you have money on your prepaid account balance, they don’t recognize revenue until you use the service. So if you never use your phone, they’ll essentially lose money on you, which doesn’t make for a sustainable business model. It also consumes a telephone number resource, which is shared across the country. In addition, if customer accounts never got to zero, were never used, and simply stayed on their network forever, it would appear as though their customer base is growing, when in fact customers are effectively leaving (i.e. not using their phone), and they would be reporting subscriber numbers that weren’t effectively real. Sure, they could back out dormant customers, however, that hasn’t been the rules of the industry.

Please don’t get me wrong, I understand your frustration. Notwithstanding, that’s how the wireless industry works, and it’s not an uncommon model where you pay for something that you may or may not use that ultimately loses its value. Think about the old coupon books people would buy for $100 or so. There were hundreds of dollars worth of coupons in the book, however, if you didn’t use the coupons before they expired, you could end up spending more on purchasing the coupon book than you got value out of it. I’m sure there are a lot of other examples.

Anyway, if this model doesn’t fit your needs or meet your expectations, then it’s not for you. At least you’re educated and making a decision before buying something and feeling ripped off after the fact, right?!

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