Straight Talk Summary Review
Straight Talk Wireless is a top rated provider of no contract unlimited cell phone plans. As one of the earliest no contract plans with unlimited talk and text, it has accumulated a legion of loyal customers. Over the past years, many have raved about how they have saved big switching from their expensive big carrier cell phone plans to Straight Talk. Today, StraightTalk’s most popular plans are a $45 plan (unlimited talk, text, 10 GB high-speed data) and a $55 plan (unlimited talk, text, 15 GB high-speed data).
Compared to other no contract phone companies, they offer more high speed data for the same price. In 2017, they also introduced a $35 plan for customers who need less (unlimited talk, text, 2 GB high-speed data).
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Straight Talk offers customers an excellent value proposition in the following ways. Each month is the equivalent of 30 days of service.
- Unlimited voice, text and data plan (2 GB high speed) at $35/month (ie 30 days service, and this terminology is used for ALL StraightTalk plans).
- Unlimited voice, text and data plan (10 GB high speed) at $45/month (ie 30 days service, and this terminology is used for ALL StraightTalk plans).
- Unlimited voice, text and data plan (60 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, unlimited 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.
- 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. If you need a smaller amount of data, Total Wireless and Simple Mobile has more choices. 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
Straight 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 for non-smartphone users (1000 minutes) and $45/month smartphone 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
One 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
Includes 1,500 Nationwide minutes, 1,000 Nationwide text/picture messages and 100 MB of data usage for data capable phones. This plan is available for non-smartphones. If you want a plan for a smartphone, check out their $35/ 30 days plan.
The cost of the plan is $30/30 days.
Unlimited $35/ 30 days
This is Straight Talk’s entry level smartphone plan. It offers unlimited calling and texting, plus up to 2 GB of high speed data.
Unlimited $45/ 30 days
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.
Unlimited $55/ 30 days
If you need even more high-speed data, Straight Talk’s $55/ 30 days plan offers their highest level of data at a limit of up to 60 GB high-speed data.
If you need have a definite need of high-speed LTE data, you can compare this with Verizon Wireless’ Go Unlimited or Beyond Unlimited plans.
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 $45 30 day Unlimited Plans include 10 GB of high speed data per 30 day cycle. After 10 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 60 GB of high speed data.
On their website, it is stated that “Straight Talk reserves the right to terminate your service for unauthorized or abnormal usage.” They do not allow for use of phone data as a mobile hotspot for other devices to tether on their service through your phone. Other creative uses of their service that are outside of the mainstream scope of consumer activities are also frowned upon. Their limit of up to 60 GB of high-speed data is really high. So to get close to that limit would probably bring up suspicions. Most plans cap off at 22 GB of high-speed data.
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 (disallowed by StraightTalk), or long periods of video and music streaming.
Straight Talk Cell Phones
Straight Talk offers a good range of smartphones and feature phones for its customers.
SmartphonesAlthough a value carrier, Straight Talk offers 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 smartphones by Apple, Samsung, LG, ZTE and Huawei. These include the Samsung Galaxy Sky S320VL, iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime, ZTE Savvy and Huawei Inspira. They range from $80 to $200 in price.
Some versions of Android and iOS phones are listed at steep discounts from their original prices. 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.
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Non-Smartphones/ Feature PhonesStraight 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
International 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.
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 2017 survey for non-contract value carriers, Straight Talk rated just about average.
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, some Straight Talk have indicated that the customer support they received from Straight Talk were better than their experiences they had 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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Straight 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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