Net10 Review Summary
Net10 Wireless is a top-rated no contract cell phone provider. Their quality phones and plans appeal to a wide range of customers. They offer basic Pay As You Go plans and low cost monthly plans for moderate users, as well as unlimited monthly plans for heavy phone users or smartphone users. Net10 has a full range of prepaid no contract phone plans for users varying needs.
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Compared to other top no contract or prepaid phone companies, Net10 stands out in the following ways:
- Competitive plan pricing. Pay As You Go plans start at $15/month. Unlimited plans start at $35/month.
- Clear and fast connections via AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint. 4G LTE available.
- Great selection of smartphones, including the latest iPhones.
- Great selection and cheap pricing on their non-smartphones, starting at $5.
- Users can bring their own cell phones.
- Good international calling rates.
- Mexican local numbers service – get a free Mexican phone number for your phone.
- Low cost 30-day monthly and Pay As You Go plans do not work with smartphones. Smartphones will only work with unlimited plans ($35 and up). For low cost smartphone plans, check out TracFone.
- Lack of international text messaging for most phones.
Net10 Wireless Detailed Review
Net10 Wireless is a major prepaid no contract cell phone company in the US. It is owned by TracFone Wireless, which is the largest operator of prepaid phone services in the US.
Net10 started off as the prepaid phone brand that offered consumers 10 cents a minute cell phone calls, hence the name Net 10. With changes in the market, prices have fallen well below 10c a minute for users who purchase larger airtime bundles. In recent years, Net10 has started offering unlimited plans as well.
Net10 is a no contract phone company that offers a full gamut of plans, from Pay As You Go plans, Regular Monthly Plan to Unlimited Plans. Their pricing is competitive in each of these categories. Most no contract phone companies tend to specialize in one of these areas. Due to this, consumers may find Net10 as good choice as a no contract phone provider that offers flexibility. As their cell phone usage change over time, they can switch to different plans that deliver the best value.
Net10 phones work nationwide in the USA, including Alaska and Hawaii; plus Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Net10 phones will not work outside of the US and the above-mentioned territories.
Cellular Network Reliability
Net10’s cell phone services are connected through AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint networks. For phones that are able to connect at 4G LTE data speeds, it is available in selected areas. Net10’s reach and reliability is top tier.
Net10 can be classified as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). This means that the cell phone company does not own it’s own cellular network. Instead, they purchase bulk back-end access to wireless services from cellular network owners like AT&T, package them into plans with customer support, and then offer these plans to their customers on the front end.
One advantage of Net10’s approach to working with multiple network providers is that their service area is wider than companies that are tied to just their own native cellular network. Many customers have expressed satisfaction with the high quality of calls connections. Some were surprised to pay less for a better connection compared to their previous contract plan.
The exact network that a user’s phone will be tied to will vary depending on the phone model, local calling area and Net10’s operational policies.
Net10 No Contract Phone Plans
Net 10 offers several competitively priced plan options for its customers. Smartphone customers can pick from multiple unlimited plans based on their data need. Feature phone/non-smartphone customers have a wider range of choices. They are:
Unlimited Monthly Plans (for heavy phone users & smartphone users)
Standard 30-day Monthly Plans (for feature phone/non-smartphone users)
Pay As You Go (for feature phone/non-smartphone users)
Unlimited Monthly Plans (Required for Smartphones)
Net10 offers consumers 7 different unlimited phone plans.All Net10 smartphones require one of the unlimited monthly plans with data. There are limits on high speed data usage. Once the limit is hit, the data speed will slow considerably until a new 30-day starts.
All unlimited plans include unlimited talk, text, data, email and 411 calls. The main difference is the high speed data limits.
- $35/30 days – Unlimited talk and text 500 MB high speed data
- $40/30 days – Unlimited talk and text 3 GB high speed data
- $50/30 days – Unlimited talk and text 5 GB high speed data
To pick an appropriate plan, determine how much high speed data you require, and if you need to call internationally to other countries a lot. If you don’t need to stream a lot of videos and music, and mostly surf the web through wifi rather than data, 500 MB of high speed data should be fine.
Auto Refill Discount – Customers can sign up for Net10’s auto-refill service to receive an extra 10% (subject to change) off their monthly plan costs. This auto refill allow plans to be auto-renewed easily, while providing a monetary incentive to users. Currently, the discount is available for the $50 and $65 unlimited plans.
Customers on the $40 plan and using the auto-refill option are eligible for the $5 discount when they add a second (3rd, 4th, 5th as so on) $40 phone line to their accounts. This means it’s $40/30 days for the first user, and $35/30 days for all subsequent users.
No Mobile Hotspot Tethering – Net10 explicitly prohibits their users from using their cell phones and Net10’s data service to connect computers, laptops and other devices to the internet.
Net10 has a wide variety of flexible prepaid phone plans. The next paragraphs will cover these in more details. Readers can also compare Net10’s various plans side-by-side with other provider offerings in the main Comparison Chart.
Unlimited Family Plans
Family plans allow for greater discounts over the normal cost of unlimited plans, even with the auto-refill discounts factored in. These cheaper plans start for families with 2 or more people. The pricing reflects an additional discount over what it costs to subscribe as separate individuals. Examples include:
- 2 People, $75/30 days for Unlimited Talk, Text, Data, Up to 500 MB high speed data (normal cost $80)
- 2 People, $90 or $85 with auto-refill/30 days for Unlimited Talk, Text, Data, Up to 2.5 GB high speed data (normal cost $100, $90 with auto-refill)
- 4 People, $170 or $165 with auto-refill/30 days for Unlimited Talk, Text, Data, Up to 2.5 GB high speed data (normal cost $200, $180 with auto-refill)
Net10 family plans work best when everyone in the households where everyone in the family needs either a smartphone or unlimited phone plans. For phone users who do not care for either, it may be cheaper just to get $25 standard monthly plans for 2 people in the family.
Standard 30-day Monthly Plans
For non-smartphone and moderate cell phone usage customers, Net10 offers a $25/month plan that includes 1000 minutes. That works out to just 2.5¢ per minute, which is very low. In addition, the company may offer a $5/month off discount when a user signs up for their auto-refill service.
The one thing to be careful about is that these minutes do not carryover or rollover. That means they expire at the end of each 30-day period. This trend of is in line with prepaid no contract monthly plans offered by other companies. Cell phone carriers are trending towards offering unlimited plans and discontinuing with rollover minutes. However, the good news is that rollover minutes is still available through Net10’s Pay As You Go service option!
What Monthly Airtime Minutes Can Be Used For
Net10’s airtime minutes credit can be used for talk, text, email, mobile web, picture messaging and 411 calls.
For 30-day monthly plans, the rate to receive/send a text message is usually equivalent to 1 text message per minute. It costs 2.5 minutes to send or receive an MMS picture message, on top of the time taken to complete the transaction.
Net10’s website currently lists $15/month for 200 min and $30/month for 500 min plans. However, these may be in the process of being phased out. We do not see them mentioned in Net10’s terms of service as active plans (as of 2/27/2014). Alternatively, based on our experience, these plans may continue to be available but without any carryover minutes.
Pay As You Go
Net10’s Pay As You Go options offer customers the convenience of paying for their phone usage needs as time unfolds. Pay As You Go (PAYG) plans are less expensive and work with Net10 features phones/non-smartphones. Users pay for a fixed amount of airtime minutes that provide for a period of active service and talk, text, email, mobile web and picture messaging. Airtime minutes can be purchased through Net10 phone cards at retail stores or online, or refilled directly through a Net10 phone.
Users refill airtime minutes over time to keep the phone service. Unused airtime minutes carryover or rollover to the next period of service, as long as the phone service remains active. Some airtime minutes options include:
- 200 minutes for 30 days of service ($20)
- 300 minutes for 60 days of service ($30)
- 900 minutes for 90 days of service ($60)
- 1500 minutes for 180 days of service ($100)
Text messaging rate: Text messages for Net10’s Pay As You Go phone plans are typically deducted at 0.5 minutes for sending/receiving.
Pay As You Go vs. Monthly Plan (For Feature Phones/Non-smartphones)
Compared to Net10’s 30 day monthly plans, Pay As You Go plans have lower minimum spends. A user can pay $30 that is good for 60 days of service, which is comparatively less per day than the $25 for 30 days of service with the 30-day monthly plans. Another advantage of Pay As You Go plans is that they always include the carryover benefit for unused airtime. Unused minutes can accumulate for future usage.
Pay As You Go plans also allow users to budget for what they need ahead of time. For example, a customer can pay $60 for 3 months of cell phone use and not have to worry about recurring monthly deductions. If more airtime is needed to use the phone, he or she can add more airtime minutes to the phone.
Net10 No Contract Phones
SmartphonesNet10 has a great range of smartphones that users can pick from. This includes the latest iPhones like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Consumers may also be interested in the iPhone 4s, which is less costly. Cost is definitely a consideration with no contract phones as users need to pay for them upfront.
Besides iPhones, Net10 has a good selection of Android and Windows phones as well. Samsung Galaxy S4 is the premier Android phone currently available. With Android phones, most no contract phone companies tend to be slower in offering the premium models. Net10 is one of the few offering the Samsung Galaxy S4. Other phones include the Samsung Galaxy S3, LG Optimus Showtime, Huawei W1 (Windows), Motorola Defy XT and LG Optimus Q.
Prices of Net10 smartphones range anywhere from $70 to over $600. The one drawback with Net10 smartphones is that the latest iPhones tend to be a little pricier than what you might pay at Virgin Mobile or Boost Mobile. iPhones also require unlimited plans to run, so moderate cell phone users can’t take advantage of cheaper Net10 monthly plans either.
For consumers with their own unlocked phones, Net10 offers a Bring Your Own Phone program. Unlocked phones are not tied to any particular cell phone carrier. What a person needs to do to get Net10’s service is to purchase a SIM card and phone plan combo to get started.
Feature Phones/ Non-SmartphonesFor cell phone users who don’t want to bother with smartphones, Net10 offers a great selection of feature phones or regular cell phones (ie. non-smartphones). These include phones with touch Qwerty keyboards, slider keyboards, bluetooth, MP3 players, cameras and more.
The best part about Net10 non-smartphones is that they are priced very inexpensively. Consumers can often find Net10 special offers for full-featured cell phones for as little as $5.
No Long Distance Charges
Subscribers can make nationwide long distance calls at the same price as local calls. International call charges are discussed further below.
No Roaming Charges
Net 10 mobile does not add roaming charges for their phone services. What roaming is: When the signals from the cellular network that the cell phone is linked with becomes too weak, the network connection can roam to another network. This normally happens when a cell phone user has traveled far from his or her local area of service. Roaming allows clear phone connections to continue to be made anywhere in the US. There are no extra charges for this service through Net10.
International Calling Rates
Net10’s international calling plan features makes it inexpensive to stay in communications with family, friends or business associates overseas. There are several options to choose from.
Unlimited International Plan
Users who are already on or thinking about the unlimited calling plan can opt for Net10’s unlimited international calling plan. This is $65 per month, which is an extra $15 per month over how much the standard unlimited plan costs. With this option, callers can call over 1000 destinations worldwide including Mexico, Canada, India and China. The international calling plan also includes 400 minutes of calls to Mexican cell phones.
Global Calling Card
For Net10 users who only need to make a light or moderate amount of international calls each month, purchasing a Global Calling Card is the most cost-effective way to go. This works just like an international phone card that you may have seen or used before to make international calls from any phone line. The Net10 Global Calling Card allows for calls to be made at low rates to anywhere in the world. It costs $10 and will not expire unless it is inactive for 180 days or 30 days after the phone deactivates.
International Long Distance
For users on the 30 day monthly or Pay As You Go plans, another option is to use your regular airtime minutes for international calls. Calls to over 100 international destinations cost 15¢ or less per minute. This option makes the most sense for users with extra airtime minutes, especially for 30 day monthly plan minutes that will expire at the end of the 30-day period.
Net10 International Neighbors Service – Free Mexican Local Numbers
Net10’s International Neighbors service provides another way for users to connect with family, friends or business associates in Mexico. Through this free service, Net10 will provide users with up to 3 local Mexican phone numbers to give out to friends in Mexico. Calls received on a user’s Net10 phone is deducted at the same airtime minutes rate as a normal phone call.
International texting is not available with most Net10 mobile phones and plans. They are only included with the Net10’s Android LG Optimus Net (L45C) and LG Optimus Q (L55C) phone models. To see if these phones are available, check here. These smartphones require one of Net10’s unlimited 30-day monthly plans to work. However, there are no extra charges for text messaging internationally with these phones.
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