The Straight Talk cellphone service is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator on the Verizon (CDMA compatible) network. It is a trademark of TracPhone Wireless – a subsidiary of América Móvil – and currently available exclusively through Wal-mart due to a business arrangement between the two companies. Consequently, Straight Talk cellphones and refills can only be purchased at Wal-mart participating stores, online at either the Straight Talk or Wal-mart web sites, or via Straight Talk Customer Support.
The pros of Straight Talk
· No hidden fees or activation charges.
· Exceptional value for unlimited domestic use.
· Nationwide coverage through the Verizon network.
The cons of Straight Talk
· No pay-as-you-go option.
· No facility for overseas calls.
· Only economy cellphones are available.
Straight Talk Prepaid Plans
Straight Talk does not offer subscribers a pay-as-you-go option, but instead offers an economic series of plans from one month in duration up to a full year. With the exception of the minimum plan, each Straight Talk prepaid cellphone plan offers unlimited calls, unlimited text and picture messaging, unlimited web access and unlimited 411 Directory Assistance with no activation fee or roaming charges.
The minimum plan does however offer 1000 minutes of nationwide calls per month (equivalent to $0.033/minute), 1000 text or picture messages, 30mb of web access (sufficient to surf the net 3-4 times per day) and unlimited use of 411 Directory Assistance. Thereafter, plans are comprehensively unlimited, with the differential in price relating to the period of time the subscriber wishes to pay in advance. The 30 Day Straight Talk Unlimited prepaid cellphone plan cost $45.00, and subscribers have the option of paying in advance for 90 days ($135.00), 180 days ($270.00) or 365 ($540.00) for convenience, or use the Straight Talk “auto-refill” option to ensure that their subscriptions are kept up to date.
All Straight Talk prepaid cellphone plans include voicemail, call waiting, 3-way calling and caller ID, and subscribers wishing to switch providers to Straight Talk have the option of keeping their existing number or being assigned a new cellphone number. Straight Talk does not charge new subscribers an activation fee and has a number of basic cellphones from which to choose however, despite the good coverage provided by Verizon, the cellphones will not work off-network – a point worth remembering if you ever need to make an emergency call.
For subscribers who select the minimum Straight Talk monthly plan, should they exhaust their minutes or text messages, they need to purchase a refill card to carry on using the service. There is no opportunity for overage minutes, and if a subscriber has used their 1000 text allocation, but still has minutes remaining, the unused time is forfeited when the account is refilled and the balance starts again at 1000 minutes. Refill cards must be purchased either online or via a Wal-mart store within 30 days of the end of a service plan – irrespective of whether on the minimum plan or any of the unlimited plans – to keep their account active.
Customer Support is available at any Wal-mart store during business hours or via toll-free number and email to Straight Talk at other times, and the facility exists to check remaining balances and upgrade cellphones online. The online support section of the Straight Talk web site is fairly comprehensive and there are a series of videos hosted on YouTube to assist subscribers.
Prepaid Cell Phones.net Rating: Although the cellphone service provided by Straight Talk is extraordinarily inexpensive, it has its limitations. Not being able to dial or text overseas, and with no roaming service available, the cellphones supplied will not be able to provide their full function at all times. Furthermore, the mobile browsing service is notoriously slow and delivery of text messages and image may be delayed. Subscribers who want an economical and generally functional phone will be satisfied with the Straight Talk prepaid cellphone option, however cellphone users who depend on reliability may be prepared to pay a little more for a better service.