Straight Talk Cell Phone Service Review
If you’re the type who’s not sure what you’ll be up to next month, let alone next year, then you might be interested in a no-contract, prepaid cell phone plan—and Straight Talk is one of the cheapest prepaid carriers out there.
Straight Talk keeps its prices down by using existing cell towers from other companies. While this definitely helps Straight Talk stay more affordable (yay!), it also means you’ll have to do without a few bells and whistles. That means reduced data speeds and no family plan deals.
If you can live without these luxuries, then you can save some money—and find some flexibility too—with Straight Talk.
|Straight Talk||$55/mo.**||View plans|
* AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all offer additional monthly discounts for enrolling in autopay and paperless billing.
** After 60 GB of data use, Straight Talk may initiate a data cap on users.
Straight Talk Wireless plans
Today’s special: prime minutes and fresh texts served with a heaping side of data.
Straight Talk is like an all-you-can-eat buffet: you pay up front, it’s cheap, and there are options for everyone. It may not be the fanciest cuisine around, but it’ll do well in a pinch.
|$30/mo.||1,500 minutes + unlimited texts||100 MB*||View plan|
|$35/mo.||Unlimited nationwide calls and text||3 GB*||View plan|
|$45/mo.||Unlimited nationwide calls and text||25 GB*||View plan|
|$55/mo.||Unlimited nationwide calls and text||Unlimited**||View plan|
|$60/mo.||Unlimited international calls and text***||25 GB***||View plan|
* Of high-speed data, reduced to 2G after cap is reached.
** After 60 GB of data use, Straight Talk may initiate a data cap on users.
*** International calling is not available for all countries.
On the kids’ menu, there’s Straight Talk’s unlimited talk and text plan with 3 GB of data. That’s ideal for your teenager who’s on their phone all the time—even when they should be doing their homework.
For the main course, there’s unlimited nationwide text and calling plans. You get a higher data cap, which is great—and a 25 GB tier will work for anyone who isn’t completely glued to their phone. And for those who are, there’s also an unlimited data option.
These plans can be quite appetizing, especially if you compare those low prices to unlimited plans from major carriers, like Verizon and T-Mobile—which, for all their quality, will always be pricier.
Like any good buffet, Straight Talk has a deal for grandma and grandpa, too. The cheapest plan from Straight Talk will give you 1,500 minutes, unlimited texts, and 100 MB of data. Perfect for those who use the internet mainly for email and who aren’t streaming Spotify or Snapchatting.
Straight Talk add-ons and deals
- Auto-refill savings: You can save $1 on your monthly bill if you sign up for “auto-refill”—basically autopay.
- Extended plans: If you’ve got a few hundred dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you can pay up front for discounted three-, six-, or 12-month “extended plans”
- Family Plans: Straight Talk has no deals—zero, zilch, nada—for adding extra lines. You’ll have to look elsewhere for a family plan.
- Extra data add-ons: Used up all your high-speed data mid-month, but now you just need to stream the new Kanye album? You can buy 1 GB add-ons for $5.
- Global calling add on: Got a relative in Guatemala? Or a friend in Malaysia? Add a global calling card onto any plan for $10.
How good is Straight Talk performance?
A service map patched together—like Frankenstein. But in a good way! . . . mostly.
There was a time when “I lost service” was a convenient excuse for missing your boss’s call. These days, that doesn’t cut it.
Most of us expect to have reliable cell service all the time—if not for our bosses, then for ourselves. (Gotta post that killer shot from your sunrise hike or it’s like it didn’t happen!)
Straight Talk’s network uses a patchwork of other companies’ towers (including some with the best coverage), making the service a bit confusing. Your coverage will differ depending on the device you have (CDMA or GSM) and how you set it up with Straight Talk.
Source: Straight Talk Wireless
But for most people, coverage won’t be a huge problem, especially if you live in a metropolitan area, since those will be covered by all major networks. But your data speed may be a different story.
Tom’s Guide has measured Straight Talk’s average LTE speed at 31.1 Mbps.1 That makes it slower than all the major leaguers out there, but still ahead of other discount mobile companies like Boost and Cricket.
Straight Talk speed and data details
- Data speeds: The LTE averages at 31.1 Mbps downloading and 15.6 Mbps uploading.
- Streaming quality: Straight Talk phones contain “data optimizers” that limit you to 480p resolution. So you can still stream, but the quality won’t be amazing.
- Mobile hotspots: No luck here. Straight Talk’s acceptable use policy excludes “all hotspot applications”. Denied!
Straight Talk cell phones and devices
New iPhone X 64GB in Space Gray for $699.99, who dis?
Sick of seeing your cute selfies through a cracked screen? Running out of storage on your two-generations-old iPhone? Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.
Straight Talk has all of the newest Apple and Samsung phones, and some budget options from other manufacturers (including a retro flip phone for all you hipsters and old souls). Most phones can be paid for in monthly installments.
Straight Talk customer service
Straight Talk’s customer service is, well, not so straight talkin’.
Expecting a telecommunications company to have fantastic customer service is like expecting a tortoise to set a speed record: it’s just not in their nature. But still, some will always be better than others.
So, how does Straight Talk measure up?
According to J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Wireless Customer Care study, which surveyed over 14,000 customers, Straight Talk is among the lowest ranking cell phone companies.2 (*Sad trombone noise*)
The company scored lower than T-Mobile, Verizon, Boost, Cricket and others. But it did beat out other budget operators, like Tracfone. So there’s still some good news there: if you just need the budget service, it might still be worth it.
If you need to try your luck with Straight Talk customer service, you can call 1-877-430-2355.
Recap: is Straight Talk good?
Straight Talk’s spartan cell phone plans keep things simple, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you don’t care about having the fastest speeds or the extra features, it’s a great choice.
However, if you want crystal-clear streaming quality, high-speed hotspots, and perfect nationwide coverage, you might want to look at some more traditional plans.
- Plans: Stripped-down prepaid plans for everyone, from the phone-addicts to the technology-resistant (you know who you are).
- Performance: Decent but confusing coverage. But it’s the data throttling and lack of hotspots that you’ll really want to worry about.
- Customer service: We’ll grade on a curve for this category and give Straight Talk a C+.
- Overall: It’s a decent prepaid service for people on a budget, but Straight Talk can’t compete with the big hitters when it comes to performance.
Q: Does Straight Talk have overage charges or hidden fees?
Wireless contracts can be like haunted houses: hidden fees waiting around every corner. The advantage with prepaid plans is that you’ll be cut off if you go over your minutes and/or data. No surprise fees, and you can always buy extra is you’d like.
Q: Does Straight Talk charge an activation fee?
Nope! Once you buy a phone (and transfer your contacts, if you want), consider yourself activated.
Q: Should I get a warranty or insurance for my Straight Talk phone?
All new Straight Talk phones are covered by a one-year limited warranty. The company does not offer additional warranties or insurance, though they may be available through third parties.
Q: Does Straight Talk let you bring your own phone?
Yep! Straight Talk is well known for its BYOP policy. You can check your device’s compatibility on Straight Talk’s website.
Q: Can I keep my phone number?
Yes, you can. Just make sure not to cancel your current plan before you activate with Straight Talk or you could lose the number.
Q: What’s Straight Talk’s return policy?
As far as we can tell, Straight Talk doesn’t offer any refunds. So don’t count on one, but it never hurts to ask! And you may be able to exchange one phone for credit towards another phone.
Q: Does Straight Talk have a military or student discount?
Unfortunately, no. But there are plenty of companies out there that do, so if that’s a dealbreaker, you’ve got other options.
- Tom’s Guide, “Fastest Wireless Network 2019”
- J.D. Power, “Cross-Training Call Center Employees Has Customer Satisfaction Benefits