Choosing the Right Mobile Plan: Pay Monthly vs Top-up

28 April 2023


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Mobile phones have become a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives. With the rapid growth in technology, we are increasingly relying on our smartphones to stay connected, entertained and productive, so much so that according to the latest figures, in 2023 alone, the number of global smartphone users is estimated at 6.8 billion, marking a 4.2% annual increase.

With so much reliance on our phones, it’s essential to have a mobile plan that fits your lifestyle and budget and has the right features you need. So how do you choose? Read on to discover the main differences between pay monthly and top-up plans and explore our tips on how to choose the right plan for your unique needs.

Understanding pay monthly and top-up plans

Let’s begin by defining each plan. Pay monthly plans require a fixed monthly payment for a specific set of services, which may consist of calling minutes, SMS and data allowance, while you are tied down with a contract, which could range from 12 to 24 months. In addition, the plan is renewed automatically every month, so you don’t have to do anything from your end, but enjoy uninterrupted service month in, month

On the other hand, top-up plans are prepaid, which means that you must top up your account with credit and then use that credit to pay for your usage. With this type of plan, you’re not required to sign a contract, while you only pay for what you use, which may make it ideal for those who want to control their spending.

The pros and cons of pay monthly mobile plans

One of the primary advantages of pay monthly plans is their flexibility – you can simply choose a plan based on your specific needs, which brings us to the second benefit, the fact that your monthly payment is predictable so you can budget around this cost. It may also be a more cost-effective solution, especially if you use your phone very frequently, since you may get more data, calls and SMS allowance for a lower price. What’s more, with this plan, there are no disruptions or interruptions to your service and often, it comes with extra perks and further discounts.

Some drawbacks to consider include the long-term contractual obligations, which may lock you in for an extended period, any cancellation fees which may apply if you decide to terminate the agreement early and overall charges you may have to face if you exceed your monthly data allowance.

Man holding a mobile smiling

The pros and cons of top-up mobile plans

Top-up plans are ideal for those who are looking for cost savings and are hesitant to sign a contract. At the same time, there are no early termination fees or automatic renewal, while you have greater control over your usage and can purchase airtime whenever you need to at a budget you can afford. As a result, it may be a more flexible option since you only pay for what you use.

Having said that, there may be some limitations in terms of data and calling features and in certain instances, you may have to pay a higher rate per unit of usage when compared to pay monthly mobile plans. And one last thing to keep in mind is that quite naturally, you need to keep track of when you need to top up if you want to avoid any interruptions to your service.

How to choose between a pay monthly or a top-up mobile plan

It may seem overwhelming at first, but choosing between the two is a decision worth taking time to consider. For instance, you should identify your usage habits and monthly budget to find a plan that provides the best value and remember to read and understand the terms and conditions. Also, review carefully the advantages of each plan.

Here are some further things to consider:

Costs and budgeting

When deciding on the plan that best fits your lifestyle, budgeting is critical. Pay monthly plans are usually more expensive than top-up plans because they come with additional features, such as international call allowances and extra data. For those on limited budgets, it may make more sense to opt for a top-up plan. Yet, still, the disadvantage as mentioned earlier is that overusing features could become costly rather quickly.

Features and flexibility

Pay monthly plans offer more features than top-up plans. These may include perks like international call allowances, increased data allowances and even rollover of any unused data. Pay monthly plans also come with the added benefit of free upgrades or the choice to add a new phone to your plan and pay for it in monthly instalments, like our Easy Buy option.

Top-up plans do not offer as many features, but they provide more flexibility. There are also no commitments or contracts, so you can upgrade your top-up plan whenever you please without having to pay additional fees.

Data Usage

Data usage is a significant factor in any mobile plan, especially if you’re often on the go with no access to Wi-Fi. Typically, pay monthly
plans tend to offer more or unlimited data, when compared to top-up plans, however, you may boost your data allowance with additional bundles if you opt for the latter plan.

Hand holding a mobile showing mobile plans

What mobile plan options are available?

Freedom Plan – The Pay Monthly One

Our Freedom Plan is a modular, pay monthly plan that is available on a 24-month subscription, which you can tailor with either unlimited data or 5GB every month. Both options offer full 5G speed with no data caps, thanks to our fibre-connected mobile network, enabling you to stream, browse and download as much as you want, whenever you want, with no restrictions. You can also boost your plan with optional local and worldwide calls and SMS add-ons to stay connected with your nearest and dearest, whether they’re here or abroad. Plus, you can benefit from additional features and perks like up to a €5 monthly discount if you form part of a Home Pack Community.

Smart Plans – The Top-Up One

Living on a shoestring but want the most out of your mobile? Who doesn’t? With our Smart top-up mobile plans, you can choose one of the bundles containing data, minutes and SMS, available at various price points. You’ll never waste data again thanks to our data rollover feature and with 5G-powered data, you’ll enjoy superfast connectivity and seamless streaming. You can start and stop the bundle, upgrade or downgrade as you please, while you can also cancel anytime. And best of all, you can do so hassle-free, fully online, without the need to visit our stores. With no commitment and no strings attached, our Smart top-up plans offer the flexibility and control you need to stay within your budget.

Smart Plus Plan – The Hybrid One

Torn between the two? You don’t have to be. The Smart Plus is a hybrid mobile plan that combines the convenience of pay-monthly plans and the flexibility of top-up plans. It is ideal for those who want to stay on top of their spending thanks to a monthly subscription you cannot exceed, yet enjoy the freedom of no commitments after the first 3 months. And if you’re wondering how it works, know that with the Smart Plus you get a monthly bundle at a fixed price that offers 10GB of full-speed data, unlimited minutes to GO fixed and mobile numbers, 200 minutes and unlimited SMS to all local, EU and UK numbers. If you need more data, you can top up whenever you need to. And as is the case with our other mobile plans, with the Smart Plus you can enjoy additional benefits like free SIM delivery or 12GB instead of 10GB if you’re part of a Home Pack Community.

27 and under? We’ve got you covered with our Freedom Play pay monthly and Play top-up mobile plans, specifically designed for youths.