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Byline: Mike Langberg
Parents have enough trouble controlling their teens and preteens without the added pressure of worrying about endless cell phone use.
This is the time of the year when the issue comes to a head because parents want to stay connected with children for school and after-school activities. Prepaid cell phones, a suddenly hot category, can increase domestic tranquility, as well as appeal to the credit-challenged and light users who can't justify a regular cell phone bill.
Conventional cell plans, starting at $30 to $40 a month, usually come with a one-year or two-year contract. Subscribers must have a credit card or checking account, and must pass a credit check.
Prepaid plans are strictly cash up front. You buy a phone, typically for $50 to $150, although prices can be as low as $20. Then you buy increments of talk time _ such …