Difference between prepaid and postpaid mobile plans

Are you considering a mobile connection and would like to know the options? You can choose a prepaid or a postpaid SIM. A prepaid connection is one in which you must pay beforehand and use the benefits as per the plan you select. The advantage is that you pay upfront and don’t get any surprises at the end. The use of prepaid in India is more than 95% as most people use a prepaid plan.
Last updated in: November 2022

A postpaid SIM is one in which you decide on a monthly plan and pay the usage charges at the end of the month as per your plan. The bill will arrive at the end of the month, and you need to make payment at the end. The advantage is that you can pay at the end of the month. The usage of postpaid plans in India is less than 5%.

Let’s deep dive into the details and differences between prepaid and postpaid mobile plans. For more information on mobile and broadband plans, click here.


Difference between Prepaid and Postpaid

The main point of difference between a prepaid and postpaid connection is the method of payment. Prepaid stands for payment before utilising a plan whereas postpaid means payment post usage of a plan.

Do you have any confusion about the difference between prepaid and postpaid SIMs? Did the complicated plans confuse you further? If the answer is yes, don’t worry, as this post aims at demystifying the plans to help you ease the confusion.

What is a prepaid plan?

You can recharge your SIM card with a fixed amount and use the benefits according to the plan. You need to pay upfront for the plan, and once the plan is finished, you need to recharge again or else, you won’t be able to use the service.
The prepaid plans start from daily plans and can go up to yearly plans as well. The prepaid plans have daily limits on data which start from 1GB/day to 3 GB/day. The data cannot be rolled over to the next day. The calling and SMS base packs are usually included and unless you are planning to call on international numbers, you can expect the calling to not cost anything apart from the base plan charges.


What is a postpaid plan?

You don’t need to recharge your SIM card upfront. You will be on a monthly cycle, and you can choose the plan according to your needs. At the end of the month, your bill will be generated, and you need to clear the bill by the due date.
The postpaid billing cycle is usually monthly. The data plans start from 25 GB monthly to 500 GB monthly as well. The data can be rolled over to the next billing cycle. The calling and SMS are prepaid and is usually included in the base pack. But, if you don’t subscribe to a pack, you might need to pay for calling and data.


Pricing structure and payment methods

The payment can be made online in case of prepaid, but the auto-debit option is not available. In the case of postpaid, the payment can be made online, and you can set up auto-debit as well for ease. The usual prepaid plans have free calling and SMS and 1-3 GB of data per day which is non-rollable. The usual postpaid plans have rollable data benefits along with free calling and SMS.
Talking about payment methods, currently, there are multiple ways of making payments for both prepaid and postpaid services such as:

  • Payment on the official website of the service provider
  • Payments on the app of the service provider
  • Via payment apps such as PayTM, MobiKwik, Freecharge, etc
  • Visiting the official store or a retail partner of the service provider


Non-Payment of bill/recharge

In prepaid, at the end of the plan usage, your service will stop till you recharge again. In postpaid, at the end of the billing cycle, you need to pay by the due date. If you delay on the due date, usually, your service will not be disconnected, and you will get some credit as per the company policy and your profile with the company. If you default further, the connection may be disconnected, and the company might hire recovery agents to get their dues.

Formalities at the time of purchase

You can purchase a prepaid connection with just your identification proof. For postpaid, you might need to submit address proof apart from identity proof. You might need to fill in additional forms to complete your KYC as well in case of a postpaid connection.

Customer care experience

Customer service is usually better in the case of a postpaid connection. For postpaid, there are some plans which have much better customer service for people who have higher than usual spending. Whereas, on the other hand, as a prepaid customer, you are likely to spend more time dealing with customer service representatives or wait in long queues at the store. Overall, higher spending is mainly the reason for postpaid customer care services to be better than prepaid services.

How prepaid can be better than postpaid

The general clientele of prepaid plans is those who want the certainty of the amount they have to spend and flexibility in shifting from one plan to another. There are many reasons you might prefer prepaid over postpaid plans.


Benefits of getting a prepaid SIM

  1. No billing surprises – In prepaid connection, you can spend only the amount you have paid for. You can’t spend more than the amount you have already committed. This will ensure that you do not get any shocks related to the bill.
  2. Flexibility – When your recharge is finished, you can easily choose the prepaid pack as per the requirement. This means that you are not tied to the plan, and you have the flexibility to choose the best package as per the requirements.
  3. Variety – Usually, mobile operators in India offer more plans for prepaid connections. This helps the user to get several options.
  4. Daily data packs – The mobile operators offer daily data packs starting from 1GB/day to 3GB/day. These packs allow the availability of data daily. You can also recharge with data packs if you run out of data for the day. The next day, you will again have the data availability, and your higher usage one day won’t affect the data availability for the next day.
  5. Ease of temporary disconnection – Take, for example, that you need to stop your connection for ten days; you can simply stop the recharge, and you will not be billed for that time. Thus, temporary disconnection is very easy.


Limitations of getting a prepaid plan

Despite the several benefits, there are some cons as well. The cons are summarized below:

  • Your plan runs out – Now suppose, you are outside your house, and you forgot to recharge your connection. Now, you cannot use data to recharge your phone, and you will be left without the data. This kind of scenario that is, living for a few hours without your phone it’s hard to imagine in the connected world we live in. But this is a severe drawback of prepaid plans, and you should always recharge your phone before the balance runs out.
  • Basic customer service – The customer service offered to prepaid customers is quite basic, and sometimes one might struggle to get any issue/complaint resolved.


Popular prepaid plans in India

In India, most consumers prefer prepaid plans because of the ease and flexibility that comes with it. As per Statista, more than 95% of Indian mobile subscribers use a prepaid connection. This ratio is one of the highest in the world. Some popular plans are summarized below:

Popular prepaid plans in India
Plan Data Calling SMS Validity Other Benefits
Airtel ₹299 1.5 GB per day Unlimited 100/day 28 days Amazon Prime Video 30 day free trial
Airtel ₹265 1 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 28 days Amazon Prime Video 30 day free trial
Jio ₹239 1.5 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 28 days Complimentary Jio Apps(Jio TV, Jio Cinema, and others)
Jio ₹209 1 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 28 days Complimentary Jio Apps(Jio TV, Jio Cinema, and others)
Jio ₹419 3 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 28 days Complimentary Jio Apps(Jio TV, Jio Cinema, and others)
Vi ₹299 1.5 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 28 days No limit from 12 midnight – 6 AM and weekend data rollover from Monday-Friday unused data.
Vi ₹475 3 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 28 days No limit from 12 midnight – 6 AM and weekend data rollover from Monday-Friday unused data.

Best Prepaid plans under Rs 200

Best prepaid plans under ₹200
Plan Data Calls SMS Validity
Jio ₹199 1.5 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 23 Days
Jio ₹179 1 GB per day Unlimited 100 per day 24 Days
Airtel ₹179 2 GB Unlimited 300 28 Days

Getting a prepaid connection

Getting a prepaid connection is very easy. Just follow the below steps:

  1. Go to any retail or mobile store which sells SIM cards.
  2. Submit an identity proof such as Aadhar card, passport, or a voter ID.
  3. Choose a number from the options available. Buy the prepaid SIM
  4. Put the SIM card on your mobile. It should be activated in a few hours.

Postpaid column ticked off


How postpaid can be better than prepaid

The usual clientele of postpaid plans is willing to spend more for better customer service and ease of billing, along with better benefits that come along with postpaid plans. We’ll look into further details as to how postpaid can be better than prepaid.


Benefits of getting a postpaid plan

  • Ease of billing and no chance of disconnection – The advantage of a postpaid plan is that you have to pay the bill on a monthly cycle. You can also put your bill on auto-debit, and you don’t have to worry about any disconnection. This will help you to be certain that you will never be left without a mobile connection at any point in time, which can occur in a prepaid connection if you forget to recharge.
  • Better customer service – The postpaid connections usually have better customer service, and you can subscribe for better plans that have even better customer service.
  • Detailed monthly bill – With postpaid, you will receive a detailed bill with a summary of all transactions.
  • Data rollover – With postpaid connections, you can buy plans which have data rollover benefits so that if you have high usage on a particular day, you can make use of the pending data.


Limitations of getting a postpaid plan

There are some limitations to the postpaid plans as summarized below:

  • Lack of flexibility – With postpaid plans, you commit to a monthly plan which you plan to carry forward for a very long time. To change from one plan to another is difficult.
  • Bill surprises/shocks – With a postpaid plan, you may have some surprises. For example, if you are on international roaming, the bill might not be as per your expectation. In this scenario, you might have to shell out much more than you had budgeted for.
  • Mobile number portability – With a postpaid connection, as you are an important customer, it is possible that mobile number portability might be an issue. There are many online stories of how telecom companies can use even unethical practices to stop you from porting your number.
  • Slightly more expensive – Most postpaid plans are slightly expensive than prepaid plans, and if you are on a tight budget, prepaid plans might be better for you.
  • Unavailability of daily data packs – The daily data packs are available only exclusively to prepaid consumers. If you are more comfortable with daily data limits, prepaid might be a better alternative than postpaid.

Popular postpaid plans in India

We have listed down some of the most popular postpaid plans for you. Have a look.

Popular postpaid plans in India
Plan Data Validity Calling SMS Other Benefits
Airtel ₹399 40 GB with rollover Monthly Unlimited 100/day
  • Airtel Xstream App
Airtel ₹499 75 GB with rollover Monthly Unlimited 100/day
  • Airtel Xstream App
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Disney + Hotstar Mobile
Jio ₹399 75 GB with rollover up to 200 GB Monthly Unlimited Unlimited
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Disney + Hotstar
Jio ₹599 100 GB with rollover up to 200 GB Monthly Unlimited Unlimited
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Disney + Hotstar
  • 1 additional SIM card
Jio ₹199 25 GB Monthly Unlimited Unlimited
Vi ₹399 40 GB with rollover up to 200 GB Monthly Unlimited 100/day
  • Vi Movies and TV
Vi ₹699 Unlimited Monthly Unlimited 100/day
  • Amazon Prime
  • Disney + Hotstar
  • Vi Movies & TV
Vi ₹1,099 Unlimited Monthly Unlimited 100/day
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Disney + Hotstar
  • Vi Movies & TV
  • 4 airport lounge visits per year (Including 1 international)
  • 7 days international roaming pack worth ₹2,999


Best postpaid plans under Rs 500

There are two postpaid plans that are very popular in the country as they’re quite affordable and yet offer a high-data limit, unlimited calling and entertainment benefits.

Best postpaid plans under ₹500
Plan Data Calls SMS Validity Benefits
Airtel ₹499 75 GB Unlimited 100 per day 30 Days Subscriptions to apps like Amazon Prime and Disney+ Hotstar
Jio ₹399 75 GB (with rollover upto 200 GB) Unlimited 100 per day 30 Days Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar and some Jio apps


Getting a postpaid connection

Getting a postpaid connection involves the following steps:

  1. Go to any store which sells SIM cards. (Alternate option: you could also apply online)
  2. Buy the postpaid SIM.
  3. Submit identity proof and address proof like Aadhar card, passport or voter ID card.
  4. The executive will come to your address to verify your address.
  5. Once the executive approves, your postpaid SIM will be activated within 48 hours.


Add on benefits with postpaid plans

Do you have multiple family members who are dependent on you? In that case, with postpaid, you should consider the add-on plans. You can add multiple family members to your base plan and your family members can enjoy the benefits and the payment will be billed directly to your account. This can help in streamlining multiple family members and is especially beneficial if you have kids.


What is a billing cycle in postpaid?

The billing cycle in a postpaid connection is monthly. At the end of the month, your bill is generated and you need to deposit the money or put the billing on auto-debit to continue to enjoy the benefits.


Switching from a prepaid to a postpaid plan and vice versa

The process of switching is commonly known as ‘porting’. The decision of porting your mobile number should be based on your understanding of your wants and requirements. If you feel that you want to switch, a good idea would be to evaluate your requirements of data consumption, calling, or any other that suits you better, and then decide whether you should switch or not. The difference between prepaid and postpaid needs to be considered in detail before deciding.

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Switcheroo’s Opinion: Should you choose postpaid or prepaid?

The various factors given below should be used to evaluate whether you should switch or not according to the difference between prepaid and postpaid.

  • Budget – For postpaid connection, your budget should be slightly higher.
  • Convenience – If recharging regularly feels like a hassle to you and you can’t imagine yourself stranded without adequate balance, you should consider postpaid.
  • Customer Service – If better customer service is a priority for you, you should choose a postpaid connection.
  • Data requirement (Daily or monthly) – If you want daily data at a budget, you should choose a prepaid connection. If you require monthly data, with a peak of using only a few times a month, you can consider a postpaid connection.
  • Unlimited data – For truly unlimited data, Vodafone-Idea (Vi) is offering unlimited data to its postpaid customers for plans starting at Rs 699.
  • No bill shocks – If no surprise/shock about the bill is a priority, you should consider a prepaid plan.

If you consider these factors above, and you still want to switch, read below to find out how to do it. The below process is the difference between prepaid and postpaid when porting.

Posting from a prepaid to postpaid connection

  1. Apply online with your mobile number.
  2. Receive an OTP to validate your request.
  3. An executive will visit your address to collect your documents and address proof.
  4. The bill will be sent to the same address.
  5. Once you submit the documents, your number should be ported to postpaid within 48 hours.
  6. Any balance you have will be added to your postpaid account.


Porting from a postpaid to prepaid connection

  1. Visit a nearby mobile store.
  2. Submit a form to convert your postpaid connection to prepaid.
  3. You will need to pay all outstanding dues.
  4. You will be given a new prepaid SIM.
  5. You will receive an OTP, which you need to share with the store.
  6. After the activation, recharge your SIM card, and you are good to go.



Can I transfer my number from prepaid to postpaid?

Yes, you can transfer your mobile number from prepaid to postpaid. The steps to do that are mentioned above in the article.

How can I find out if my plan is prepaid or postpaid?

Just check the balance of your number. Different operators have different codes to check balance. For example, in Airtel, you can check your balance by dialling *123#. If you are given a balance and validity, you are on a prepaid connection.

How to get a new prepaid or postpaid connection?

Getting a new prepaid or postpaid connection is very easy nowadays. You can simply apply online, and you will get your SIM delivered in a couple of days. Alternatively, you can visit a store with a government-approved ID, and you can buy a SIM card. For a postpaid SIM, a house visit by the company might be required to verify the address.

Is there any speed difference between prepaid and postpaid?

No, the speed for prepaid and postpaid SIM is the same. The speed might vary from network to network and locality to locality depending on the tower availability and the load on the tower.

Updated on 24 Feb, 2022

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