If you’re like most people, having a separate phone line for your business is essential to your productivity in today’s mobile world. You never have to give your personal number to business associates, and your business meetings can’t be interrupted by multiple phone calls from a friend who has no idea you’re busy.

Just because you need a second line doesn’t mean any line will do. The carrier you select, along with the phone, matters.

Should you turn to a prepaid plan to offset the high cost of smartphones?

Not that long ago, smartphones could be purchased for a couple hundred bucks. Today, new models can cost as much as a laptop; the iPhone X starts at $999 and goes up as you add features. Unfortunately, carriers no longer offer discounts or promotions to offset this enormous cost.

This high cost presents a good reason to switch to a simple, cheap, prepaid phone to run your business. There’s nothing wrong with going cheap and simple – however, here are 3 reasons going prepaid is a bad idea.

  1. Prepaid service may not be as great

Your business line needs to be absolutely reliable from top to bottom. You can’t afford to have dropped calls, slow data, or low-quality sound that requires you to continually repeat yourself. You also need to be able to get in touch with a customer service rep during regular business hours. Unfortunately, prepaid plans often fall short of those requirements.

Quality service is about more than a fast network

You’re probably aware of the fact that prepaid services use the networks of well-established carriers. For instance, Virgin Mobile uses Sprint’s networks. It’s assumed that means you’ll get service as good as you would if you signed up directly with Sprint, but that’s not entirely true. You will get internet speeds about equal to Sprint, but everything else related to service has the potential to be sub-par.

Prepaid plans are notorious for offering plans that appear cheap, but come with inconvenient fees and terms. Sometimes you only have a choice between paying $50+ per month for an unlimited plan or paying $10 less for a mere 5GB of data. Marketing experts know that when presenting these two price points, most people will opt for the more expensive plan in order to have sufficient data.

For that monthly fee, you may as well add a second line to your existing account with a basic flip phone, like one of the Samsung Rugby models. The Rugby models are basic, yet built to withstand daily use. Flip phones are durable, and they’re not going away anytime soon. When was the last time you saw a flip phone with a cracked screen?

  1. Prepaid comes with limitations

Even unlimited data plans are limited in other ways. For instance, prepaid carriers usually downgrade the resolution of streaming videos, and put a cap on the speed at which you can stream music and play games.

The biggest inconvenience where service is concerned is that you can’t just zip down the street to get help when you need it. You’ve got to call an 800 number that will take you in circles to reach a live representative. 

  1. You might get sucked into buying an expensive phone

Until recently, prepaid phones didn’t offer the best selection for devices. It was pretty much guaranteed that buying a prepaid phone meant getting a flip phone or an off-brand “smartphone” that looked better than it worked.

Prepaid carriers now offer popular smartphones. If you’re trying to save money, these options might persuade you to spend more than you had planned.

Virgin Mobile recently announced their prepaid service is now only supporting iPhones. If you want to use their services, you have to purchase an iPhone from either Apple or Virgin at retail price – no discounts. Though, the company did offer the first year’s worth of unlimited service for $1.

The offer ended on July 31, 2017, but it doesn’t appear to be that great of a deal. As with every prepaid carrier, there are catches hidden in the terms and conditions.

According to TechCrunch, Virgin’s terms say they have “the right to terminate your service if your off-network roaming usage exceeds either 800 voice minutes or 100 megabytes.”

Don’t buy a new line until you understand all of the terms 

Having your data speed throttled if you exceed your limit isn’t likely to hurt your business, but having your account terminated will. Be selective with the carrier you choose for your business line and always read the fine print!