Straight Talk provides just two prepaid plans -- one plan is unlimited monthly minutes and the other has limitations on minutes you can use. The downside is that you can't call outside the U.S., though you can receive calls from overseas. While it may be one of the cheapest ways to get unlimited wireless service, critics say you can get better phones and customer service elsewhere.
Limited plans but good value. Editors at PrepaidReviews.com say Straight Talk prepaid wireless service offers a lot of minutes for the money. Straight Talk is also a highly rated prepaid phone plan at Viewpoints.com, where users praise its good value.
Straight Talk's Unlimited plan (*Est. $45 for 30 days) includes unlimited talk, messaging, mobile web and 411 calls for 30 days. That's a few dollars cheaper than unlimited plans from Boost Mobile and T-Mobile, but it's important to note that Straight Talk's mobile web is more limited than these -- you can't access all web pages or stream audio. Straight Talk also adds additional taxes and fees, so it may wind up costing just as much as the others.
If you don't need unlimited service, Straight Talk offers the All You Need plan (*Est. $30 for 30 days), with 1,000 minutes of talk time, 1,000 text or picture messages, 30 MB of mobile web and unlimited 411 calls. Those minutes and services expire every 30 days, and unused portions don't roll over to the next month.
Works only within U.S. Straight Talk benefits from the extensive network and high call quality of its parent company, TracFone. It's highly rated at Viewpoints.com, where users praise its strong signal and good value. One drawback to this carrier is that its phones can't call outside the United States, although they can receive calls from other countries.
Poor customer service all round. Customers gripe about Straight Talk's customer service. Although Straight Talk's strong signal and low price make it a favorite among users posting at Viewpoints.com, about a third of them complain of inadequate customer service and trouble porting over their old phone numbers -- the same complaints Straight Talk earns from customers at PrepaidReviews.com.
Limited handset choices. Roy Furchgott at The New York Times calls Straight Talk a good deal but notes some drawbacks, including the bare-bones TracFone handsets, though Straight Talk does offer a few slider-style phones. Customer reviewers at Viewpoints.com also lament the poor selection, especially in contrast to the touch-screen phones and BlackBerry smartphones available with other prepaid plans such as Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk (*Est. $35 per month and up). However, you can bring your own T-Mobile-compatible or unlocked GSM phone and purchase a SIM card for *Est. $15.
Review Credibility: Excellent Straight Talk prepaid wireless service earns a high score from over 66,000 respondents in ConsumerReports.org's review. However, its customer service and satisfaction with its data service aren't rated.
Review: Recommended Cell Phone Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Date Jan. 2011
2. The New York Times
Review Credibility: Good Though this report is from 2009, the rates mentioned are still applicable. Straight Talk's generous minutes and low price make it "a bargain," says reviewer Roy Furchgott. Still, the prepaid wireless service does have some drawbacks, including not-so-fancy phones.
Review: Talk Is Cheap. Really Cheap, Roy Furchgott, July 6, 2009
Review Credibility: Fair Editors at PrepaidReviews.com say Straight Talk prepaid wireless service offers a lot of minutes for the money, but it has a poor reputation for customer service, a complaint echoed in the over 6,000 customer reviews posted here. Straight Talk gets good ratings from editors (3.5 stars out of 5) and mediocre ratings from user reviews (2.5 stars out of 5).
Review: Straight Talk Prepaid Cell Phones, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Fair Straight Talk is a highly rated prepaid phone plan at Viewpoints.com, where users praise its strong signal and good value. But about a third of the over 130 reviewers complain about poor customer service and limited handset choices.
Review: Straight Talk Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2012