Straight Talk is a wireless service exclusive to Walmart. It operates under the same company as other budget, prepaid options such as Tracfone and Net10. Straight Talk is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) which means that it doesn’t have its own network but rather borrows from a number of other networks including AT&T and Verizon.
Straight Talk is one of the most well known prepaid providers likely because it is sold through Walmart. It stacks up well to Walmart Family Mobile (another Tracfone offshoot) though at slightly higher rates. All in all, Straight Talk and the Tracfone family has over 288 million subscribers.
Like a lot of other prepaid phone plans, Straight Talk is very straightforward. You buy a phone, select a plan and follow a few steps to activate the device.
Unlike Tracfone and Net10 that is usually behind the curve in terms of offering the hottest new smartphones and instead offer generic, or outdated phones — Straight Talk actually has a great selection. Some of the latest smartphones are available through Straight Talk.
The only problem? You got to pay for these phones outright before you can get connected to Straight Talk. So, for example, you are looking at $250 to $300 you need upfront for a Samsung Galaxy or iPhone to even get started.
Unfortunately this means you need a lot more money upfront to get started, however if you can avoid not having a monthly payment or lease plan for your phone than Straight Talk is the way to to as you’ll save hundreds every year on the service plan.
Straight Talk has a number of service plans that all offer unlimited talk and text with varying gigs of data. Because Straight Talk is not obligated to operate under one network (like Boost Mobile), the service is actually really good. Straight Talk is capable of connecting to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon — the leaders in the wireless industry.
It is also very easy to bring an existing phone over to Straight Talk. However, it is advised that you know what you are doing because Straight Talk notoriously has the worst customer service of any wireless service out there.
Most customers rave about the no obligation, no contract business model of Straight Talk and other prepaid providers. There is no commitment, and you can leave Straight Talk whenever you want for absolutely no extra fees.
For a budget provider, Straight Talk actually has a number of fantastic plans. The cheapest unlimited plan delivers 2GB of data at $35 p/ month with a few dollars in savings if you enroll in auto-fill. You may receive additional data with at $45 and $60. Straight Talk also provides an unlimited data option priced at $55 with certain restrictions.
If you really don’t care about having data, Straight Talk’s cheapest plan ($30 p/ month) has 1,500 minutes and a limited 100MB of data. Global calling cards and extra data cards are also available at an extra cost.
The notable difference between Straight Talk and Tracfone is you don’t need to track minutes and when your service date expires. Like a traditional network, Straight Talk opts to charge a monthly fee with unlimited talk and text (excluding the $30 p/ month plan). It’s a nice feature if you would rather not stay on top of your minutes and prefer an auto-fill.
Straight Talk is arguably the most fashionable of all prepaid providers. They have cheaper rates than the Big Four networks, yet feature unlimited talk and text with reasonable data amounts so long as you’re not a data hoard.
Unlike Tracfone, which teens might feel self-conscious being around with their outdated flip phones, Straight Talk actually has a number of stylish phone options so long as you can afford paying the high retail price for the phone outright.
Because Straight Talk is an MVNO that can work off any of the four best networks in the world, the call clarity and reliability is actually very sound. However, one issue with Straight Talk is the service struggles with slow uplink and downlink speeds at 4G, according to Tom’s Guide. It’s slower than Cricket, which intentionally caps their wireless speeds.
Straight Talk is also not well regarded for its customer service. They are notorious slow and unfit to help resolve customer issues and questions.
Overall, Straight Talk is a well rounded service. It’s cheaper than the major networks from a monthly payment standpoint, yet more fitting for moderate cell phone users compared to bare bone packages offered through Cricket, Net10 and Tracfone. You could do a lot worse.