Cell phone companies offer two payment models for service—postpaid and prepaid. You will need to decide which option is best for you.
Postpaid cell phone service
Postpaid wireless service is the traditional arrangement for a cell phone plan.
When signing up, you sign a contract agreeing to pay a certain amount each month for the agreed-upon service. The provider delivers the service to you continuously and bills you each month.
Large deposits are usually required, especially for those without Social Security numbers. This deposit is normally refunded at some point (this varies by phone service provider).
Can I use a phone I have purchased in another country?
Often, yes. Make sure the phone is GSM-enabled (Global System for Mobile Communications), and “unlocked” (the SIM card can be removed and replaced and is not tied to a specific carrier).
Prepaid cell phone service
All major cell phone providers in the United States offer prepaid wireless plans. When buying prepaid wireless service, a provider makes an agreed-upon number of minutes available to your cell phone, and you pay for those minutes at the time of agreement.
Once you have used the minutes you purchased, you need to buy more to be able to keep using your phone continuously. This option does not typically require a credit check or a deposit.