Verizon Wireless provides excellent call quality, 4G data speed and nationwide coverage. Its network performance rates highly in national surveys. However, its plans are pricey compared to those of some competitors, and its choice of phones is limited.
Versatile offerings. Verizon offers three Pay As You Go Daily Plans. Pay a $1.99-a-day access charge on days you use your phone, and calls are unlimited, texts cost 2 cents each and picture texts cost 25 cents each. Mobile web access is an additional 99 cents. A second option imposes a 99-cent access fee, but calls to anyone but other Verizon Wireless subscribers cost 10 cents per minute (calls to Verizon cell phones stay free, however) and texts go up to 10 cents each; all other charges stay the same. Finally, pay no access charge and all calls cost 25 cents per minute; texts cost 20 cents each. Basic phone users can choose a monthly plan with 500 minutes of talk time (Est. $35) or one with unlimited talk time (Est. $50). Texts and picture messaging are free, as is unlimited mobile web, though there's no access to the full Internet. Smartphone users can choose among plans with unlimited talk and text, plus 2 GB of data (Est. $60 per month) or 4 GB of data (Est. $70 per month).
Nationwide, with great call quality. Verizon Wireless Prepaid features a network that blankets most of the U.S., and reviewers say that Verizon has the best prepaid wireless call quality. Both experts and customers report the best coverage and the fewest dropped calls with this carrier. One negative is that Verizon has been slow to allow prepaid users access to its LTE network.
Above-average customer support. Reviewers at TopTenReviews.com say that Verizon Wireless's customer support is consistently among the best in the wireless industry, though some users have called it iffy. Numerous options are available to contact the support staff, including very responsive online chat support. Telephone and email support are also provided, and the website features an extensive FAQ. PrepaidReviews.com's editors like the variety of payment methods available.
Last-generation smartphones, pricey basic phones. Verizon Wireless's traditional plans have a terrific selection of the latest phones. Things are far more limited on the prepaid side. The lack of LTE service means that most of the latest phones are not to be found, though some pretty good older-generation devices, such as the Apple iPhone 4 (Est. $100), are available. Basic phones -- free if you have a contract plan with Verizon -- can cost as much as $165, though some lower-priced phones, including one under $20, are available.
ConsumerReports.org ranks Verizon Wireless's prepaid service alongside prepaid offerings from AT&T, Consumer Cellular, T-Mobile, TracFone and Virgin Mobile. Rankings are based on feedback from more than 58,000 cell phone users nationwide. The carrier's prepaid and traditional offerings are ranked separately.
Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
Verizon Wireless rates eighth in TopTenReviews.com's current evaluation of prepaid cell phone services. Its relatively low ranking, compared to its first-place finish in the site's Cell Phone providers review, is due to Verizon Wireless's limited selection of plans and poor choice of phones. The editors speculate that Verizon's intent is to drive subscribers toward its traditional plans.
Review: 2014 Best Prepaid Cell Phone Reviews and Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated
Verizon Wireless Prepaid is one of the top-rated carriers here, earning 4.5 stars from the editors. Users aren't as enamored, however, granting it a 3-star rating based on feedback from more than 600 reviews.
Review: Verizon Prepaid Wireless Cellular Service, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, Not Dated
Users rate most major wireless carriers, both prepaid and contract, at Viewpoints.com. Verizon Wireless scores higher than TracFone in the features and customer service categories and has more reviews, though that includes those who comment on Verizon's traditional as well as its prepaid plans.
Review: The Best Cell Phone Providers: Cell Phone Provider Reviews & Ratings, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2013