Prepaid SIM card and mobile Top-Ups

We all remember the prepaid cards available at supermarket checkouts: this type of offer was one of the first offered by mobile phone operators. While they are becoming rarer today, prepaid SIM cards in France still exist and can offer an alternative to mobile plans, especially for occasional mobile phone users, Visit for more.

The prepaid card: consumption on demand

With a prepaid card, the principle is to pay only for what you use. In other words, the prepaid SIM card offers certain flexibility in terms of consumption. It allows, in fact, a better control of its telephone budget. Until a few years ago, unlimited mobile plans were beyond price. Prepaid cards were therefore an alternative of choice. Always present, they are increasingly used for special cases, such as calls to foreign countries. Some operators also offer packages that operate on the same principle: pay only according to consumption, such as Prixtel packages. There is a wide variety of prepaid offers and it is therefore quite possible to find a refill precisely adapted to your type of consumption.

Prepaid SIM cards "pay as you go"

They enable customers to obtain a consumer credit, which is counted in euros. Each call, SMS or MMS made then consumes part of the credit. Once it is exhausted, it is no longer possible to use the line, except to receive a call within its validity limit.

Prepaid offers with a limited duration.

In addition to "pay as you go" offers, some top-ups offer unlimited communication services (calls, SMS and MMS). The only limit is the duration of validity.

Prepaid SIMs with automatic recharging

The last case corresponds to prepaid cards with automatic recharging by crossing a threshold or monthly. In the first case, the account is automatically recharged below a credit threshold, by an amount defined upstream. Alternatively, the card is credited monthly with a defined amount.

When to choose a prepaid card?

With the proliferation of non-binding subscriptions at more than competitive prices, the prepaid card has lost its appeal. This is all the more the case as it implies paying attention to your credit and recharging it regularly if necessary. It discomforts that the packages do not present. Moreover, most operators are beginning to abandon this possibility, and some no longer offer prepaid cards at all. This was the case for Virgin Mobile from January 2016, or the abandonment of Bouygues Telecom's Simyo card in 2015. However, there are still a few situations where a prepaid card offers a good alternative to packages.

In the context of occasional use of the mobile phone

If the calls are for punctual and short duration, then a prepaid card may be a good solution. This alternative is only cost-effective if very few people call. Consumers who are concerned about their telephone budget can thus save a monthly flat rate while controlling their consumption.

For the acquisition of a first mobile phone

Prepaid SIM cards can also be interesting for a teenager's first mobile phone, teaching them how to manage their credit without exceeding their plan. However, blocked lump sums can also be used in this case. It is therefore necessary to weigh the advantages of these two alternatives in order to make a choice.

In case of a stay abroad or to communicate internationally

Choosing a prepaid card is particularly attractive for expatriates or simply during a stay abroad. There are a myriad of "international" prepaid cards that allow you to call to a specific country or region. Some cards are specifically designed for expatriates, as they allow them to keep their French number and not lose their contacts for a reasonable amount of money.

Prepaid card

Telephone operators' offers

On the market, many operators still market prepaid SIM cards. This is particularly the case for the three main operators, Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR. However, they are not the only ones to offer this type of offer. Some MVNOs, such as Syma Mobile, also sell them.

All you need to know about prepaid cards and mobile top-ups

When talking about prepaid cards and top-ups, it is important to distinguish the validity of the top-up from the validity of the line. The validity period of the top-up thus concerns the period of time within which you must use your credit. For its part, the validity of the line corresponds to the time during which it is possible to receive calls. When the line's validity expires, it simply no longer exists. This element must therefore be taken into account and a line should be chosen whose validity may cover the period during which the prepaid card is required.

Validity limit of the mobile recharge

Credits not used before the expiry of the validity period of the recharge are definitively lost. On the other hand, if you reload your SIM card with credit remaining, it is carried forward and its validity period corresponds to that of the last reload. It is therefore possible to receive calls free of charge to your SIM card number. This applies even after the credit has been exhausted or the validity period has expired. However, it should be noted that a minimum of communication is necessary to keep the line active: sending SMS, minimum number of calls, etc. However, there are some cards whose refills have an unlimited lifetime. In many cases, it is an account linked to a prepaid card, and a minimum billing amount is charged on the first day of the month to credit it - hence the line is maintained. It is then up to the user to add the necessary refills.

Where can I find a prepaid SIM card and its reloads?

Most operators offer prepaid SIM cards. This is the case for Bouygues Telecom, La Poste Mobile, Orange, SFR, and Syma Mobile. Major retail brands also offer this type of mobile solutions, such as Auchan in particular. It is thus possible to acquire a prepaid SIM card in different ways:
  • in kit form, consisting of a telephone, a prepaid card and a top-up;
  • via a prepaid card only, with a top-up if the user already has a phone;
  • Thanks to a simple refill to replenish his credit.
These refills are sold in telephone operators' shops, tobacco shops and supermarkets. Some ATMs even offer the possibility of recharging the card. It is also possible to go directly through the operator's website, either to buy a card or to reload it. Finally, rather than buying a new refill each time, it is possible to set up an automatic refill, the conditions of which vary according to the chosen operator.
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