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Cell Phones

Cell phones have become almost a necessity for students across the globe as the main way to communicate with one another. While you may be familiar with cell phone service in your home country, please be aware that mobile phones in the United States may work differently.

Some possible differences include:

• Most providers allow users to call anywhere in the United States for the same flat rate
• Minutes are consumed for both incoming and outgoing calls
• International calls can be very expensive
• You can typically keep the same phone number even if you move to another part of the United States

There are two main types of cell phone service: monthly plans with a contract or prepaid plans. Due to the large number of providers and plans, it is recommended that you research several options before making a final decision. Each major provider has a store located near the University of Denver.

For an overview of available plans and pricing, there are many useful websites including


  • Prepaid plans are easier for new international students to obtain because they do not require a Social Security number and/or a credit history check. These "pay-as-you-go" plans use the same cell phone networks and offer the same services as contract plans do though at higher rates. Advantages of these plans include no long-term contracts, security deposits, or penalties for cancellation.
  • Each company offers a variety of phones for purchase though the prices are much higher than phones purchased with a monthly contract. It may be possible to use a cell phone from your home country if it uses a SIM card and has been unlocked. However, ask a technician to confirm if the phone is compatible with that company's network.


  • Contract plans offer lower monthly rates and very low prices on new phones compared to prepaid plans. Typically, the best prices are offered to customers who sign two-year contracts for cell phone service. While the rates are lower, terminating a contract early requires the customer to pay a large penalty.
  • To qualify for a contract plan, a cell phone provider will generally review the applicant's credit history. Since new international students do not have Social Security numbers or credit history in the United States, they must typically give a security deposit which could be $400-$500.
  • As with any contract, please ensure that you understand all requirements and charges before signing it.

The purpose of this web page is to provide a broad overview of the subject. It should not be considered an authoritative resource. No company listed above is affiliated with or endorsed by the University of Denver.