This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) providers offer businesses the option to choose from metered vs unmetered calling plans based on their budget and call volume. In comparing pay-as-you-go vs prepaid VoIP, pay-as-you-go VoIP providers charge per minute or text (metered), while prepaid VoIP generally offers unlimited calling and texting (unmetered).
Based on our comparison, the best use cases for pay as you go vs prepaid VoIP business calling solutions are as follows:
- Pay-as-you-go VoIP: Best for solopreneurs or small teams with low or fluctuating call volumes needing an affordable solution
- Prepaid VoIP: Better for any size business with moderate-to-high call volumes looking for unlimited calling and texting plans
Pay-as-you-go vs Prepaid VoIP at a Glance
Many consumers ask, “Is prepaid the same as pay-as-you-go?” If you’re looking to answer this question, our guide offers an in-depth comparison between these two VoIP call plans.
Estimated Monthly Cost (per User)
$4 to $15
$10 to $65
Business Phone Number
Domestic Calling Fees
1.5 to 3.18 cents
Business Texting Fees
0.75 to 1 cent
Per-minute rates apply
Per-minute rates, or unlimited packages are available
If offered, per-minute rates apply for each user
If offered, plan tier determines the meeting duration and attendee limits
What Is Pay-as-you-go VoIP?
Pay-as-you-go VoIP charges per minute of usage, requiring you to track your outgoing calls to avoid unexpected fees. Most providers offer metered plans with a specific number of free minutes per month, along with various calling features. Overage fees apply if you exceed your allotted minutes for the month.
In some cases, inbound calls and extension-to-extension (internal calling) dialing are free. You may be charged a small monthly subscription fee, which is typically cheaper than prepaid packages.
Pay-as-you-go solutions like Phone.com offer pooled minutes and text message segments, which can be shared among multiple users in the same account. Zoom Phone uses a different approach by allowing you to mix and match metered and unmetered calling plans across your team to save on costs. Other VoIP providers let you replace your current business cell phone plan so you can quickly forward calls to any connected device.
Pay-as-you-go VoIP is ideal for small businesses experiencing low or seasonal call volumes. It provides the flexibility to downgrade or upgrade your phone service as needed and prevents the risk of paying upfront for services you won’t need. This option is also ideal for teams that conduct most of their transactions on other digital channels, resulting in low outbound call volumes.
Before signing up for a metered VoIP account, here are the benefits and drawbacks you should know:
|Lower-priced option||Difficult to predict costs|
|Flexibility to change plans depending on call volume||Require frequent monitoring to avoid overage charges|
|No unused minutes and text segments||Less functional as a virtual workspace|
|Pay only for what you use||Fairly fewer features|
VoIP Providers With Pay-as-you-go Plans
There are a number of VoIP providers in the market offering pay-as-you-go plans for businesses with low or seasonal call volumes. They charge cheaper monthly fees with additional charges for every minute used. Below are some of our top picks:
Small businesses wanting to share minutes and texts among multiple users
Companies wanting to combine local, regional, and metered call plans
Teams looking for a customizable VoIP service
Monthly Starting Price (per User)
Prepaid VoIP services let you make unlimited domestic calls and texts without worrying about overage charges. Subscribing to an unmetered package includes more advanced features like unlimited video meetings, call analytics, and various call routing capabilities.
Feature inclusions differ across providers and selected monthly plans. For example, leading business phone systems like RingCentral and Nextiva have prepaid packages with toll-free minutes but charge on a per-user basis. Grasshopper, on the other hand, has no toll-free minutes, but its flat-rate pricing model lets you add multiple users without extra fees. If you make frequent calls overseas, 8×8 offers unlimited international calling to up to 48 countries
Prepaid VoIP is best for companies with higher call volumes and those whose call expenses keep soaring over time as their business expands. It also works well for large teams wanting to utilize their phone system as an online workspace where employees and clients can collaborate without limits.
|Phone bills stay the same each month||Unlimited services are more expensive|
|Higher capacity limits for conferencing||Many features may end up unused|
|Unlocks more advanced capabilities||Less flexibility to scale down|
|Flat rate per user||Typically involves a contract|
VoIP Providers With Prepaid Plans
There are several options available if you go with a prepaid VoIP service. Providers vary in price, calling features, and meeting capacity. To narrow your options, here are the best small business VoIP services with prepaid plans:
Companies needing extensive call management tools
Home offices looking for affordable VoIP plans
Small teams wanting a fixed-rate VoIP plan for multiple users
Monthly Starting Price
$30 per user
Free or $9.99 per user
$31 (not per user)
If you’re still unsure if prepaid is the same as the pay-as-you-go option, continue reading to discover their main differences in this head-to-head comparison.
Best for Affordability: Pay-as-you-go
Typically cheaper than prepaid as you only pay when you use the service or subscribe to a plan with a phone number and call features included.
More expensive than metered packages since you’re paying for unmetered calls and SMS, and unlimited access to advanced features. It may also require a contract.
Between prepaid vs pay-as-you-go VoIP, the latter tends to be cheaper since you only pay for the calls and texts you make. The per-user cost of prepaid VoIP packages increases over time, making them less affordable for small businesses on a budget. If you simply need a straightforward phone service without the high costs of a full-fledged business phone system, pay-as-you-go VoIP is a more practical choice.
Businesses experiencing seasonal call volumes also benefit from metered VoIP plans. For instance, they can keep their phone number even during off-seasons without paying expensive prepaid VoIP packages every month. Plus, pay-as-you-go VoIP lets you buy a separate business phone number and basic calling features for a budget-friendly price.
Best for Remote Teams: Prepaid
Prepaid plans allow unlimited calls and texts between teams and customers. It also includes unlimited messaging and video calls to support remote collaboration.
Frequent usage of calls and texts generates higher fees for metered plans. Virtual workspace features may not be available as most providers require a monthly subscription.
Remote working requires regular use of communication channels to facilitate team collaboration and customer interactions. In this case, a prepaid plan would be a better option so employees can send calls and messages as much as they want without paying higher rates.
Most VoIP providers offer team collaboration tools if you subscribe to their prepaid monthly plans. This means users can use the phone system as a central workspace for group chat, file sharing, and video conferencing. You can also invite hundreds of video attendees without paying per-minute fees for each participant.
With pay-as-you-go VoIP, your employees are more likely to rack up hefty fees the more they use the phone system for calling and texting. In this case, teams that require a higher level of communication and collaboration will benefit from unlimited features offered by unmetered plans.
Best for Call Centers: Prepaid
Most contact center plans use prepaid pricing for their subscription methods. It uses a per-user billing model where the number of agents with access to the software determines the payment every billing cycle.
Longer calls and higher call volumes lead to higher-than-expected usage charges. It also has fewer features than contact center software.
Prepaid VoIP comes with unlimited domestic calls, which is often required in call centers that regularly experience a higher volume of phone calls. Calling without limits allows companies to make as many local calls as they wish without extra charges. There’s no need to track talk time, allowing them to focus on serving customers and closing deals.
Another benefit of prepaid VoIP is that it offers more features to manage inbound and outbound calls efficiently. These include real-time analytics, interactive voice response (IVR), third-party integrations, and auto-dialer options.
Businesses with fluctuating call volumes throughout the year should consider VoIP solutions that allow a mix-and-match of metered and unmetered plans so you can scale up or down as needed. A provider like Zoom Phone lets you add metered, domestic, and regional calling plans across more than 40 countries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There’s no commitment involved with most pay-as-you-go packages, but VoIP providers may require users to pay a minimal monthly fee to keep their phone service active. Meanwhile, prepaid packages are essentially monthly subscriptions you can cancel at any time, but some providers offer discounts for annual prepayment while others charge a penalty for early cancellation.
Yes. In most cases, VoIP providers allow users to port both pay-as-you-go and prepaid phone numbers, provided that you keep your existing phone service active during the number porting process. Canceling the service before the number is ported could cause you to lose the option to transfer it.
The answer depends on your chosen VoIP provider. Typically, VoIP providers allow unlimited domestic calls within the U.S. and Canada but would charge more for calls outside these areas. A provider like Phone.com enables users to pay local rates to landline numbers in Canada, France, Israel, Germany, and the U.K. Cloud-based phone systems like 8×8 and GoTo Connect allow unlimited overseas calling to specific countries if you upgrade to their advanced plans.
Call volume is an important factor to consider when choosing the right calling plan for your business. Metered billing is relatively cheaper, making them a suitable choice for seasonal businesses and those who can easily predict the number of minutes and texts they make each month. Prepaid plans, on the other hand, may be priced higher but include unlimited minutes and texts, so you don’t need to worry about exceeding your monthly limit.