Net10 gets high marks for call quality and its nation-spanning network. The carrier offers simple pricing plans and a wide range of phones. Its pay-as-you-go plans are some of the cheapest around, but texting can eat up minutes in a hurry. If you want Internet access, you'll need to step up to Net10's unlimited plans.
Lots to choose from. Net10 offers lots of different monthly unlimited and pay-as-you-go plans. Pay-as-you-go options are particularly attractive, as they offer some of the lowest per-minute rates. Unused minutes and service days roll over if you top off your account (add minutes) before your plan hits its expiration date. However, texting counts against your minute allotment (at a rate of around 30 seconds each) and there is no data allotment. A $20 Net10 card has 200 minutes or up to 400 texts, and is good for 30 days. More expensive pay-as-you-go options add minutes and extend the expiration date, up to a $100 card with 1,500 minutes or up to 3,000 texts, good for 180 days. Things are even cheaper if you select an auto-renewing 30-day plan, with the cost for 200 minutes dropping to $15 per month, and 500 minutes costing $30 per month. Net10 also offers unlimited monthly plans, including a 30-day unlimited talk, text and data (high-speed data is capped at 500 MB) plan for $50; a $75-per-month unlimited plan is similar, but ups the high-speed data cap to 5 GB. A family plan for two people for 30 days is $90, while for four people it's $170 for 30 days; auto-refill drops $5 off the cost. You can also bring your own phone and opt for a SIM-card plan that costs $50 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data (with 2.5 GB of high-speed data). International calls are allowed on the pay-as-you-go plans as well as on Net10's Unlimited International plan (Est. $65 per month), but not on most other plans.
Service is just OK. Net10 is owned by TracFone, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that provides service by buying minutes in bulk from nationwide cellular providers like Verizon and AT&T and reselling them. Because your calls are on the networks of the major national providers, quality and reliability are generally excellent, though that can vary widely depending on your locale. User reviewers at Viewpoints.com give TracFone good marks for call quality. Subscriber comments at PrepaidReviews.com give Net10 mixed reviews and a low average 2-star rating, with subscribers either being very impressed or terribly unimpressed with Net10's call quality and coverage.
Below-average customer service. The main drawback to Net10 is its customer service, according to reviews written by frustrated users. On the Viewpoints.com website, Net10 is ranked about average in most categories, including call quality and coverage, but falls short for customer service. Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com agree that Net10's customer service is of low quality. Net10 earns low scores in the two large customer surveys by J.D.Power and Associates.
Wide choice of handsets. TopTenReviews.com states that Net10 has an average selection of phones, but it's actually quite extensive, with a choice of over 45 handsets. The choices include the latest 4G LTE, Android and iPhone smartphones, as well as basic phones. The iPhone 5s 64 GB costs $650 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 $600; basic phones start at around $20. Family phone bundles allow you to buy two phones at a discount. You can also bring your own phone and buy a T-Mobile- or AT&T-compatible SIM card for $7.
Net10 is one of eight prepaid cell phone services rated by over 58,000 respondents in ConsumerReports.org's survey. Prepaid providers are rated separately, so it is easy to see how Net10 stacks up compared to its nearest competitors.
Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
2. J.D. Power and Associates
J.D. Power and Associates surveys over 5,000 wireless subscribers of pay-as-you-go plans, who rate their wireless purchase experiences. Net10 is one of three service providers to earn 2 stars, well behind the leading companies.
Review: 2013 Wireless Purchase Experience Non-Contract Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Aug. 15, 2013
3. J.D. Power and Associates
In the 2013 J.D. Power and Associates Customer Care survey of non-contract cell phone users, Net10 is right at the bottom of the pack, with a score significantly below that of all its competitors.
Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 6, 2013
Net10 places sixth in TopTenReviews.com's list of prepaid phone services. Editors rank its selection of plans higher than that of its parent company, TracFone. Its features, plans and customer service receive average scores.
Review: 2014 Prepaid Cell Phones Reviews and Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated
The write-ups of 28 prepaid cell phone service providers are based on an evaluation of features and prices rather than on testing, but the information seems accurate. Net10 is one of the highest-rated carriers. Each write-up includes details about roaming charges, 411 calls, data plans and other features, making this a great place to begin researching plans.
Review: Best Rated Providers, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, Not Dated
Around 160 user reviewers on Viewpoints.com award Net10 a score of 64 out of 100, just below the industry average. While Net10 is rated about average in most categories, including call quality and coverage, it falls short in features and especially in customer service.
Review: Net10 Wireless Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2013