I've been on straight talk for I dunno, 7-8 years or so now. Love the service. Easy to call and refill, or you can get auto refill. I use the $55/month unlimited plan. I could almost get by with the $45 plan but spend a little to much time on these forums through my phone for that to work for me.
I've been from Daytona FL to Buffalo NY and everywhere inbetween on the east coast with no service problems.
My only complaint is that IF you ever do need to speak to customer service good luck. I don't mean to sound rude but not once have I had a native english speaking rep. I can never understand them at all.
So my advise is suffer through the setup with a rep, it will be brutal, but all easy street from there.
I don't have any experience with any other pre pay companies however so maybe my ignorance is bliss?
Oh one last thing...my $45ish phone will do anything i ask it to. GPS, internet browsing, all the good stuff. They last me usually about 2 years before I break it and need a new one. So if you don't need flashy, your all set.
I use Republic Wireless. It is great if you don't need your phone as a hot spot. I pay $15.00 for unlimited talk and text. I buy 1 gig of data for $5.00. It automatically connects through my home wifi. It uses T-Mobil network so I get great coverage. It's not for every one, but in my situation it rocks.
I have a plan through Sprint, Simply Unlimited they call it...$60 a month unlimited talk text data...not sure if they are still offering that deal but it's a major network and the price is right in line with some of the more affordable carriers. Of note as a trucker I get about and with the exception of a lot of places that are really austere, I have no real service complaints to speak of.
I have Cricket and it uses the AT&T network so it has coverage nearly everywhere. $35 month (auto billed) & 5GB month data full speed and then throttled. Between home wifi & hotspots, I never exceeded 2.7GB. YMMV. Service is excellent most of the time. No outages but sometimes, rarely, you can move 3 feet from where you're standing in an open field and service will drop to 4g. Bring your own unlocked phone and it'll be better.
My wife is on Virgin (Sprint) and except for coverage and data (10GB) it's the same. There are places her phone is dead, mine works and vice versa. So between us we always have a phone working when traveling. Consider that if you sign up for a family plan.
For me, it's all about the coverage. Each provider should have a map of the areas they have service. I'm pretty far out of the beaten path. There's two providers that work where I live, Straight Talk, who uses Verizon towers, and Verizon, who has precedence of said towers. I know folks who use Straight Talk and it works for them unless there's a high volume of traffic on the system, in which case Verizon customers get priority. Next, where do I go? I travel a lot, and though many major cities and corridors have good coverage from a plethora of providers, step off the path or wander off the grid and, well, you're boned.
Data. Most providers have access the 4-G network. Check your contracts people. There is no true "unlimited" data plans without some sort of throttling after a certain amount. Different carriers have different thresholds. Straight Talk will offer unlimited data, (2 gig 4-G, after that you get 1x. Forget the last part of the video you were watching, etc). Verizon offers 20 gig at 4-G, then throttles back to 3-G. You can still stream at 3-G... Like I said, the contracts vary, and you must be sure to read everything. I have used Verizon since it took over Airtouch, and before Airtouch bought Pacific Mobile. My number hasn't changed in 30 years or so.
Yes, Verizon is not the cheapest. I have offset the cost for myself by having others on my plan and splitting it up five ways, so the base numbers for connectivity are eased. My personal part of the bill is 55 bucks, with my phone and a tablet connected to the network. With 20gig of 4-G each device before I'm throttled. I never get close to being throttled.
It's really important to analyze your needs. I work from home, where I have internet with wi-fi. For the past few years I've had Consumer Cellular. It works off the AT&T system and offers kind of a la carte options. I pay about 23-something a month for unlimited text and more talk and data than I use, although those are limited.
I find for me personally the places I go now from the grocery store to restaurants, even at church, all seem to offer wi-fi. If I stream music or a movie I'm likely not doing it on my cell, but if I do it's with wi-fi and not using cellular data.
As an experiment for the last few months -- and for fun -- I've been using another cell phone that no SD card and no service. It's a new phone with AndroidOne, and I thought I'd try the experiment before I switched the card from my other phone. I installed a free app for texting, which also allows calls. They give you a number when signing up. (It's free and ad-supported. I did pay an annual fee of 29-ish dollars to get the ads removed.) Anyway, I've found that it is possible to have a phone with no service that meets most all of my needs. As long as I have wi-fi I find I can do anything that a phone with paid cellular service can do.
Granted, I can't use GPS when I'm out driving or make a call from the road. But those needs for me are limited. I'm just saying there are a lot of options out there from free to expensive. One has to analyze their own individual use and needs.
I've been using Verizon for many years now. I have two lines, mine and my wife's, unlimited talk and text plus around 3 gigs of data per month. The customer service I feel is excellent. My monthly bill rounds out to $120.00. I'm happy with this.
I have cricket 4 lines unlimited everything $100 a month including the taxes. AT&T owns cricket so you get their network with out their prices. The only place I canot get a signal is in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. Never had a problem anywhere in Texas.
Straight-Talk (Verizon), Verizon and AT&T are the only two option here in the sticks.
I was with AT&T for a couple of years before they had even 3G down this way because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about the then new iPhone. Service was spotty and the internet was like dial-up, but it worked. They now have 4G down here now, but I've been with Verizon for eight years now and have never had a service problem nor have ever had to call for so much as a billing question. Everything is done on-line from paying the bill, to activating a new phone, to buying a new phone.
Straight-Talk is a popular option here and I know a lot of people who use it, but they're screwed when they run out of time in the middle of a call or using the internet.
I have been using Metro PCS for the last 7 years, and would recommend it to anyone. Right now I'm paying $50.00 a month for 2 lines, although I think I'm grandfathered into a lower cost plan than what they offer now. They use the T-Mobile network, so if T-Mobile works where you are located, Metro will be just fine.
A quick look at their website shows that current rates are $40.00/month for 1 line and $70.00/month for 2 lines. Meh. Used to be cheaper. I guess I'd better hang on to my grandfathered plan.