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H2O Wireless Review
Bottom Line

If you use data, look elsewhere, but for basic talk and text, H20 Wireless is pretty tough to beat in terms of value and performance. It rides on the nationwide AT&T network, so coverage will reach places where other carriers sometimes fail. Minutes and texts are billed at a flat rate of 5 cents each on most plans, and you can buy as little as $10 at a time, with funds rolling over as long as you top off your plan before it expires (typically after 90 days). The phone line up includes lots of smartphones, but at 10 cents per MB, data costs can add up in a hurry.

ProsCheap per minute and per text rates, Nationwide coverage, International calling available, Long expiration date with roll overConsData rates are expensive, Customer service doesn't get great feedback

Breaking it down

Plans and flexibility

Cheap rates for calls and texts. While H2O Wireless offers unlimited monthly plans, the best value looks to lie with its pay-as-you-go offerings. Calls and texts are billed at a flat 5 cents each under most plans. You can buy time in $10, $20, or $30 blocks that are good for 90 days, or a $100 block that's good for a year. Prices are reduced by 10 percent if you elect to auto-recharge your account, and funds roll over as long as you top up before time expires. For those that call other countries frequently, calls to more than 50 destinations are billed at the same rate as domestic calls. A special $25 plan bills calls at just 2.5 cents each, and includes a $5 International Talk credit, but those funds expire in 30 days; it can be rolled over if renewed, but the International Talk credit does not roll over. Things aren't as rosy for data users, however. MMS messages are billed at 10 cents each, and data at a relatively high rate of 10 cents per megabyte, making it a terrible option for anything beyond the lightest of data use.

Performance

Uses AT&T. H2O Wireless is an MVNO that resells capacity on the AT&T network. That network is widely regarded as providing terrific nationwide coverage, so calls and texts should go through regardless of whether you are in the heart of the city, on the highway, or on the family farm. If you choose to use data, AT&T network performance is much improved in recent years, finishing a close second to Verizon's in independent testing.

Customer service

Iffy feedback. H2O Wireless doesn't surface in any large surveys that measure user satisfaction. Feedback at some user forums, such as HowardForums.com, isn't the best we've seen, but is anecdotal, and not much worse (or better) than comments we see regarding other prepaid carriers. Sascha Segan at PCMag.com says that H2O Wireless is "a subsidiary of giant Japanese carrier KDDI," and goes on to characterize it as a "solid firm."

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

The Best Cheap Prepaid Phone Plans You've Never Heard Of, Sascha Segan, May 19, 2015

PCMag.com doesn't name a top choice but does list a dozen less-well-known carriers that provide good service and value. Sascha Segan doesn't go into a ton of details, but notes that H2O Wireless is backed by a solid firm and that it provides service on AT&T's national network.

2. PrepaidPhoneNews.com

Prepaid Plans Compared, Dennis Bournique, As of September 2015

Dennis Bournique lists H2O Wireless among the best pay-as-you-go deals talk and text only users. On the best plans for data users page, he notes that the pay-as-you-go plan is a "good value" for light users.

3. HowardForums.com

Locus Telecomm (H2O/O2 Wireless), Contributors to HowardForums.com, As of September 2015

H2O Wireless doesn't get as much feedback as some other prepaid carriers, but still earns its own subforum at HowardForums.com. As is typical in user forums such as this, lots of complaints surface, though other users chime in to say most issues are not unusual when it comes to prepaid providers.