Straight Talk Wireless Review

Straighttalk iPhone 7 plus

Straight Talk Summary Review

Straight Talk Wireless is a top rated provider of no contract unlimited cell phone plans. It has a legion of loyal customers who rave about how they have saved big switching from their expensive big carrier cell phone plans to Straight Talk. The service was launched in 2009 as a partnership between Walmart, the retail giant and TracFone, the largest prepaid phone company in the US. Since it’s inception, Straight Talk has grown rapidly.

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Pros

Straight Talk offers customers an excellent value proposition in the following ways:

  • Unlimited voice, text and data plan (8 GB high speed) at $45/month.
  • Unlimited voice, text and data plan (12 GB high speed) at $55/month for users who need lots of video streaming.
  • High volume option for feature phones/non-smartphones at $30/month (1500 minutes, 1000 texts, 100 MB Data).
  • Reliable and clear phone connections using AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile networks..
  • Good selection/pricing of smartphones (iPhone, Android phones) and feature phones (non-smartphones).
  • Plan discounts for prepayments of 3 months or more.
  • Good international calling options.
  • Users can bring their own phones.

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Cons

  • Does not offer international text messaging (except on selected phones).
  • Geared towards heavy cell phone voice/data users. If you use your phone minimally or mostly rely on wifi, take a look at Tracfone. You could save some money each month.
  • Customer support can be weak at times.

Interested readers can compare Straight Talk with other no contract companies in this comparison chart.


Straight Talk Wireless Detailed Review

Background

Straight Talk wireless logoStraight Talk Wireless is operated by TracFone Wireless Inc, the largest no-contract cell phone company in the US. The brand was launched in partnership with Walmart in 2009. Walmart continues to offer strong marketing support for this brand. Besides Straight Talk, TracFone also manages the Net 10 brand. Straight Talk focuses exclusively on prepaid no contract phone plans that are meant for heavy cell phone users who need plans with high limits or that are unlimited.

They offer a $30/month cell phone plan (1000 minutes) and $45/month unlimited use plan. Users can purchase Straight Talk phones to use with the plan, or they may be able to bring cell phones they already own on board to the service.

Straight Talk is sold at Walmart stores, or through Walmart and Straight Talk’s website online.

To compare how Straight Talk rates amongst the best no contract phone companies, check out the Cell Phone Providers Reviews main page.

Cellular Network Reliability

Cellular networkOne of the reasons Straight Talk has become so well-accepted since is due to the high quality cellular call connections that it provides. Straight Talk service uses the cell towers of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. As a result, their coverage map is extremely wide.

Straight Talk cellular phone service is available in the US (including Alaska and Hawaii), Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Straight Talk Phone Plans

StraightTalk no contract phone plans are best suited for consumers who use their phone rather frequently, whether it is for talking, texting or browsing the web. They have 2 basic plan options: All You Need and Unlimited.

All You Need

straight talk all you need $30Includes 1,500 Nationwide minutes, 1,000 Nationwide text/picture messages and 100 MB of data usage.

The cost of the plan is $30/30 days.

Unlimited

straight talk unlimited plan $45Includes Unlimited Nationwide talk, Unlimited Nationwide text and Unlimited (up to 5 GB high speed) data. Smartphones and unlocked phones require the subscription of an unlimited plan.

The cost of the plan is $45/30 days. However, Straight Talk offers various discounts for advanced payments, such as:

  • $130 for 90 days ($43.33/month)
  • $255 for 180 days ($42.50/month)
  • $495 for 365 days ($41.25/month)

If you can afford it, paying several months at a time no only eliminates having the chore of having to refill monthly, you will also enjoy a plan discount.

Airtime Refill Users can purchase airtime refill cards for various denominations/activity periods (Eg. $30/ 30 days, $45/ 30 days, $130/ 90 days etc) to recharge their phones. They can also sign up for automatic rebilling every month.

What “Unlimited” Means

The company has been careful with it’s wording of what “unlimited” means due to a class action lawsuit brought forth in 2013 for throttling their data speeds. Although other top no contract companies have similar clauses, they appear less touchy about the subject than Straight Talk. This is probably a result of the lawsuit.

Straight Talk has included a footnotes on their website to explain that the 30 day Unlimited Plans include 5 GB of high speed data per 30 day cycle. After 5 GB, your data speed will be reduced 2G for the remainder of the 30 day cycle. This can affect the quality of audio or video streaming. Straight Talk also offers a $55 plan (30 day cycle) for 10 GB of high speed data. “Straight Talk reserves the right to terminate your service for unauthorized or abnormal usage.”

Should you worry about it? Reading through lots of user reviews, high speed data limits seem to affect a really small minority who may have way above average data needs. This could be due to tethering the phones to laptops or tablets to provide ongoing internet connections, or long periods of video and music streaming.

Currently, you will see similar types of high speed data limits advertised by other phone carriers across the board, but some carriers allow the mobile hotspot tethering usage with an additional fee. Straight Talk’s terms of use does not allow using their services and a cell phone to establish an internet connection for mobile devices. Straight Talk has a separate hotspot service for $25 for 2 GB of data.

Straight Talk Cell Phones

Straight Talk offers a good range of smartphones and feature phones for its customers.

Smartphones

iphone 5

iPhone on Straight Talk

Although Straight Talk is not traditionally known to offer great phone selections, they have made tremendous improvements in the past year. Right now, they do offer a surprisingly good range of phones to pick from. You will find a good mix of entry level, mid-tier and high end smartphones. The latest models of iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S series are available. There are also mid-tier Android smartphones by Samsung, LG, ZTE and Huawei. These include the Samsung Galaxy Centura, Samsung Galaxy Discover, ZTE Savvy and Huawei Inspira. They range from $80 to $150 in price.

Some older versions of Android phones are listed at good discounts from their original prices. These older Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Precedent and Samsung Galaxy Proclaim cost somewhere in the $40 to $100 price range. They make good starter phones. Phone prices drop fast once they get older. One can save a lot of money by going with slightly older phone versions. This is an important consideration for no contract phone users, as we need to pay for our phones upfront.

Non-Smartphones/ Feature Phones

Samsung T528G

Samsung T528G

Straight Talk offers some of the best non-smartphones or feature phones in the market today. Not everyone needs a smartphone. Consumers can find non-smartphones with Qwerty keyboards, touchscreen, wifi connectivity, cameras, MP3 players, speakerphones, bluetooth and lots of other features.

These feature packed non-smartphones are inexpensive as well. They are priced anywhere from $10 to $50. There are even great Free phone offers that run periodically.

Besides the lower cost of these feature phones, another money-saving aspect to them is that they do not require $45/month unlimited cell phone plans to run. They work with both the All You Need $30 plan and the unlimited $45 plan.

Warranty & Extended Warranty Program

Straight Talk offers a 1 year limited warranty for the phones that they sell. Users have a choice to purchase an Easy Exchange extended warranty, within 40 days of activating their phone handset. According to their website, the Easy Exchange program covers for electrical and mechanical failure.

The extended warranty program is available in 48 states including Hawaii and Alaska, but not California and Florida.

International Calling/ Text Messaging

straight talk unlimited international calling plan $60International Calling – StraightTalk offers a $60/30 days unlimited international calling plan that allows customers to call over 1000 destinations. Destinations include Mexico, Canada, India and China. Users who do not need unlimited international calling or alternative international calling needs can also purchase a $10 Global Calling card that they can add to their phones to make international phone calls at low rates.

No International Text Messaging – Straight Talk phones do not allow for international texting except for limited models when specified in their listing descriptions. Although users can send international text messages, they will still be able to receive messages sent to them from out of the country in many, but not all, cases.

Users who really want to send international text messages will have to consider workarounds such as installing text messaging apps like WhatsApp or TextFree that run over the internet. They can also compare the Straight Talk plan with what Boost Mobile offers. Boost Mobile has a $5/month add-on that will accommodate international texting. However, Boost Mobile’s unlimited plans are more expensive.

Customer Satisfaction

Customers give Straight Talk high ratings for the value and great service it provides. However, it rates weaker in terms of the level of customer support it provides. According to JD Power & Associate’s 2013 survey for non-contract wireless providers, Straight Talk rated less well than Virgin Mobile or Boost Mobile.

For most customers, their support processes are fine-tuned enough to provide customers with the support they need. Some customers found their calls or online chat with customer support helpful and they were provided with all the help they needed. When situations out of the ordinary arises that can’t be solved with their existing processes, it can be perplexing.

Fortunately, bad problems are not the usual. To put things in perspective, many current Straight Talk users consider the customer support they received from Straight Talk better than their experiences they have dealing the big name carriers.

Overall, it would be fair to say that Straight Talk’s customer support is functional and adequate, although there is room for improvement. Straight Talk’s BBB record is grouped with Tracfone, and the rating is A.

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Online Shopping/Deals

straight talk free shippingStraight Talk makes it convenient for online shoppers with a free ground shipping offer for purchases of phone or phone plus airtime bundles over $29.99. In addition, they offer free overnight shipping for any phone/phone+airtime purchases over $149.99.

The Straight Talk website is a great destination to check out for special online deals. Straight Talk usually lists one or two phones free with the purchase of service. Though these free phone are usually older models, they are not shabby either. To check current deals, visit the Straight Talk website here and key in your zipcode to see offers in your area.

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