Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday Review: Straight Talk

   Do you like the convenience of a no contract cell phone, but you are unsure which carrier to go through? A few weeks ago, I made my opinion known about Metro PCS. (Click here and here to see why I look negatively on Metro PCS.) After sharing our experiences with them, I thought I would share a service that we ARE happy with- Straight Talk.

    Straight Talk is sold at Walmart stores. Here's what I like about it:

  • Good coverage. Straight Talk uses the Verizon network, so coverage is really good!
  • There is no contract. You are free to stop service any time you wish.
  • There are no hidden costs. A basic plan is $30 a month. With this plan, you get 1,000 nationwide minutes and 1,000 nationwide texts and/or picture messages. You also get 30MB mobile web access. Plus 411 and voicemail at no extra charge. The unlimited plan is only $45 a month and you get just what it says- unlimited calling, texting and mobile web.
  • Activation is easy. You can activate your phone online, or by calling the number on the back of the service card or by going online. It is simple and quick. You can even transfer your number.
  • International calling available. Straight Talk offers international calling cards, starting at $5.
  • Refilling is EASY. When it's time to refill your account, you can simply buy a card from Walmart, or purchase one online or over the phone with a credit/debit card. Or, you can sign up for their automatic refill service. When using a refill card, you can enter the pin right from your mobile phone, go online to enter the pin, or call the phone number on the back of the card to refill your account. Very convenient! And I have to say something about their automated voice thingy- normally I HATE those things. But with Straight Talk, it actually WORKS! It understands what I say and is easy to use. I have never had a problem with it.
  • Reminders. Straight Talk sends you a text message to remind you when you need to refill your account. 
    OK, so there are a LOT of things I like about Straight Talk. To be fair, I have to tell you a couple of things that I'm not as excited about:
  • Variety. ... or lack thereof. They don't offer a big variety of phones and many times it is hard to find the phone that you want in-store. You can order one online, and right now, they are offering free shipping, so that does help. I just like being able to get my phones in-store.
  • Cost of Phones. You don't get great deals on phones like you do with contract providers. You can still get a good deal on a basic, no frills phone, but the nicer phones are expensive.
  • Smart Phone Coverage. Looking at the service coverage area map here, you can see the great coverage area... unless you have an Android phone. I was going to break down and pay $150-$180 to get an Android phone until I saw the map. With that little service area, it's just not worth it to me.
  • 411. If you are in a hurry to get a phone number, iy might be quicker to just google it with the mobile web feature, than to call 411. If you call 411, you have to listen to a commercial and it is voice automated.The 411 voice automation is typical (unlike the Straight Talk service voice automation), so you are taking your chances in getting it to "understand" you.
    There you have it. In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the negatives and I am happy with the service.
Do you have Straight Talk? What are your likes and dislikes?

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