Straight Talk uses all four of the national carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint) to provide nationwide service. The cheapest plan is very limited, but the step up plan (Est. $45 per month) isn't a bad deal with its unlimited data, though only the first 5 GB are at LTE speeds, and a further step up adds versatile international service. Network performance can vary widely, however, depending on which network is providing your service, and customer service draws mixed feedback.
Step up for the best deal. Straight Talk's cheapest plan offers unlimited texts, but at only 1,500 minutes of talk and 100 MB of data per billing cycle, you can find better deals than this $30 plan. However, the carrier's "Unlimited" plan (Est. $45 for 30 days) looks to be a decent deal. It includes unlimited talk, messaging and up to 5 GB of data (with data usage after that throttled back to 2G speeds). If you frequently call abroad, a $60 Unlimited International Plan adds unlimited nationwide, unlimited mobile to mobile to Mexico, China, India & Canada, and unlimited calls to select International landline destinations to the basic Unlimited plan; it costs $60 per month. The selection of phones is limited, but Straight Talk supports unlocked phones for any of the four national carriers -- AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint -- as well as compatible unlocked phones bought elsewhere.
It depends. Straight Talk is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that buys capacity from the four large nationwide carriers and resells it to its customers. Performance will largely depend on which of the carriers is providing your service, and that's determined by which phone you buy or bring to Straight Talk. Keep in mind, however, that while talk and text performance will be just as good, reviews say that LTE data speeds will likely be a little bit lower than what the carrier being used delivers to its own customers.
Not the best. Some large national surveys give Straight Talk middling to good ratings, but a look behind the numbers reveals that those grades are based more on network performance and value rather than how good a job the carrier does in supporting its customers. J.D. Power and Associates surveys that look at customer care and the buying experience aren't very complimentary. Among prepaid providers, Straight Talk finishes second to last in customer care and dead last in the buying experience.
Straight Talk Reviews
1. J.D. Power and Associates
Straight Talk doesn't fare well in this J.D. Power and Associates' survey of prepaid cell phone plan customer care. It finishes second to last among the carriers that are rated.
Review: Overall Satisfaction with Wireless Customer Care Service Is Lower among Customers with Device Payment Plans, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, July 30, 2015
2. J.D. Power and Associates
The J.D. Power and Associates survey for how satisfied customers are with their purchasing experience also doesn't paint a pretty picture when it comes to Straight Talk. It rates dead last among the companies included.
Review: Wireless Carrier Sales Reps Play Key Role Delivering a Satisfying Purchase Experience to Tablet and Smartphone Shoppers, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 19, 2015
Things look better at PCMag.com. Though value and performance play a large role in the outcome, Straight Talk just misses a Readers' Choice award, and is the second highest prepaid provider, and the third highest rated cell phone plan overall.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2015: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers, Ben Gottesman, March 19, 2015
Each year, ConsumerReports.org surveys its membership regarding their happiness with their cell phone provider. Straight Talk is among the prepaid cell phone providers that are rated and ranked.
Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2014
Though there are better deals available for those that will be using the Sprint or T-Mobile networks, Straight Talk's $45 plan makes the cut to be one of the better choices among carriers that use AT&T or Verizon. Keep in mind that with Straight Talk, the network you will use is determined by the phone you buy or bring from elsewhere.
Review: Updated: The Best US Prepaid Phone Plans For Data Users, Dennis Bournique, July 29, 2015
Tom's Guide looks at data speeds of prepaid providers relative to the networks that they use to provide service. Though testing is limited in scope, it reveals that, on average, Straight Talk delivers slower -- though still quite usable performance -- than the large national carriers, even though it uses the same networks.
Review: Tested: Cricket, MetroPCS Much Slower Than Parent Networks, Philip Michaels, July 17, 2015
HowardForums.com hosts a subforum dedicated exclusively to Straight Talk. It's a good destination for prospective users to ask questions and learn about others' experiences with the service.
Review: Straight Talk, Contributors to HowardForums.com, As of September 2015