View Full Version : Cell Phone Carriers

07-07-2006, 09:16 PM
Does anyone have suggestions for the best cell phone carriers, based on price, coverage areas, and service?

07-07-2006, 10:00 PM
I don't have much advice but we switched from a provider for Sprint to Verizon recently. The coverage is much better than we had before, I can take calls in stores which I couldn't always do before. (no, I don't talk long or loud or about anything inappropriate! ;)

We had an issue where the old carrier didn't port my hubby's number over & Verizon handled it very quickly & with 1 phone call!

I got advice from this board to buy through Costco & was very happy w/them. Good phone prices & lots of extras came w/the deal.

Good luck w/your shopping!

07-07-2006, 10:07 PM
I just got a new plan from T-Mobile. We've been using prepaid cells from Virgin Mobile because we just didn't need a cell phone except for emergencies. Well, since I just got a new job where I'll be doing some travelling, I had to get a regular cell phone.

I chose T-Mobile because:
1. They rank high in customer service, customer satisfaction, coverage, value
2. They're having a great deal right now - 1500 anywhere minutes for 39.99
3. They're the only one where I can do a 1 year contract. Every other one I checked into wanted 2 year contract, and I just don't want to be locked down that long.
4. After 11 months, you're allowed to change your plan by just locking down another 1 year to the contract, not 2 like others.

I went through their website and phone to order - asked lots of questions which were answered very curteously (even my dumb ones), and they checked credit in 10 minutes and shipped the phone (free) thru 2nd day UPS for free.

From my research, I would stick with either Verizon or T-Mobile. They are ranked 1 and 2 in customer satisfaction, customer service and coverage.

07-07-2006, 10:33 PM
For rural coverage, I've been very happy with Alltel.

07-07-2006, 11:34 PM
We use Verizon in a rural area, so far its been pretty good.

07-08-2006, 12:17 AM
We do a pay-as-you-go with Virgin Mobile and have been very happy with them.

07-08-2006, 12:21 AM
For rural coverage, I've been very happy with Alltel.We are also rural and have Alltel as they bought up our previous provider (CellularOne). However, last month when I went to WDW, I could not pick up a signal the entire time I was down there. Granted I have an older phone, but, even my DSs tracfone could as least get a little bit of a signal once in awhile! I think we may switch to Verison thru Costco when we renew this month. Seems that everyone around here uses Verison and they don't get as many dropped calls as we do. And we are so rural, we are very limited in companies that offer national service. :confused3

07-08-2006, 12:38 AM
I was able to pick up a T mobile pay as you go phone at Target today on clearance for $39.98. They still carried the phone in black on the regular shelf for $79.99, but the blue ones were on clearance. I had been looking for one for emergencies for me and my girls, so I thought these would be perfect. I live in a rural area, but I am able to get service so I am thrilled so far. We will see how it does when I drive around. :confused3

07-08-2006, 12:41 AM
We HAD Nextel and that was horrible where we are located in South Central Ma...way to many areas that had NO SERVICE.

We switched over to Verizon in January and AWESOME! The whole family is so amazed at the service we are getting in areas w/Nextel we NEVER got before. Very good move for us to switch to Verizon.

OH...also better over all price for the phones and the service plan than Nextel!!!

07-08-2006, 01:33 AM
I'd be really curious as to peoples' experiences w/ the prepaid plans - Virgin, T-Mobile, TracPhone, etc. Tracphone is actually the one we're looking at but we're open to suggestions!

We have our phones through Cingular and are not the least bit dissatisfied w/ them. Great coverage, features, etc. However, we just don't use our phone much and I think we would be just fine w/ a prepaid system and might save us up to 40 bucks a month!

07-08-2006, 09:23 AM
I'd be really curious as to peoples' experiences w/ the prepaid plans - Virgin, T-Mobile, TracPhone, etc. Tracphone is actually the one we're looking at but we're open to suggestions!

I can only give my experiences with Virgin Mobile. We love it because we only pay for the time we need. I think for them you have to spend about $20 every three months to keep the phone active. But hey, it's better than $40 or more every month for a regular service. No contracts or anything like that...we love it. No such thing as a roaming charge...it's a flat fee per minute (10 cents I believe). I also do text messaging...I probably do more of that than calling because it's cheaper (5 cents for each message). Coverage is awesome...we can call from anywhere. We really like them.

07-08-2006, 09:58 AM
We changed from Nextel to Verizon about 5 years ago and have been very happy. With Nextel, we had a lot of dropped calls and more areas that we did not have service than we had service. I understand from some friends that Nextel has improved their service in western PA, but I am not going to take that chance. With Verizon I have had no problems calling home from Disney, Myrtle Beach, Charlotte NC, and many other places. We use our cell phone to make almost all of our long distance calls. As far as price, we have the family share plan, that lets you add an additional phone for 10.00 per month and you share the minutes of your plan. We have only gone over the minutes one time and will never do that again.

07-08-2006, 10:59 AM
It totally depends on your area.

When we were in CA T-mobile stunk and Sprint and Verizon were about the same.

Here in NC they don't even offer T-mobile. I still have Sprint and it seems to work well. Others tell me their carrier works better in the mountains, etc....

Ask your friends who live near you, I think that will be a better indication.

We are not using our cells as much now that we have moved. I think when our contract is up we may switch to a pay as you go plan.

How much are you with the pay as you go plan paying per minute?


07-08-2006, 12:56 PM
Verizon is a wee bit more expensive than it used to be (I've been on their plans since 2000, I believe) but I think it's still a good value. I hardly ever get dropped calls, I've never been on hold for longer than a mintute or so when I call customer service, and they offer the "new every two" plan where you get a credit for a new phone if you renew their contract. (I'm super paranoid about my phone getting too old or breaking and having to buy one at full retail) Verizon also offers one-year contracts; they just print it in a tiny font. They really push the two-year plans, so you get the "free" phones that way, but if you sign up for a one-year plan, you still get some sort of discount for retail phones. Hope that helps...

07-08-2006, 02:09 PM
Oh, and one more thing.....

What plan are your friends on?

Many of my friends also have Sprint so we can talk mobile to mobile without charging minutes.


07-08-2006, 03:20 PM
Where I live, Verizon isn't an option because there is NO reception within a 5 mile radius (or so). We have Cingular and are basically happy with them. We like the rollover minutes, although we have so many that we will never use as they are only good for a year. We can change plans anytime during our 2 yr contract although when I tried to change to a lesser plan to use up some of those rollover minutes, I was told that most of the minutes would have disappeared, as if I had the lesser plan all along. :confused3 I'm not sure how that's good customer service, but oh well...I really never have to worry about going over my alotted minutes. We had coverage just about everywhere last summer when we travelled to Disney, including the parks.

07-08-2006, 03:32 PM
I love Virgin Mobile. Since I am a stay at home mom I really don't use it much. If I am running errands than the school can still get me. I also drove from Calif. to Utah and never had a dead spot. :thumbsup2

07-08-2006, 04:35 PM
Whether to get a prepaid phone or a regular plan, it actually depends on how much you think you will use them. Tracfones (and prepaids) are great if you think you will be using them little to a moderate amount.

If you think you may be getting rid of your landline in favor of a cellphone, getting a regular plan with time periods of unlimited minutes or one with a "family plan" where members on the same carrier talk free, would be more cost effective.

I've had various Tracfones for about 5 years, from when they first started. I love my Tracfone. :love:

Tracfone has a package deal for 60 minutes with a reconditioned phone included for $19.99. (They give you 20 minutes free during activation online.)

The best way to utilize this deal is getting a referral to activate the phone for a bonus free 120 minutes. Depending on how much you are going to use the phone, the trick is how & when to ADD the airtime minutes on in a way to get 4-6 full months of airtime before needing to buy another minutes card! Plus there are often promo bonus codes for another free 40 minutes or more, so you will be getting a total of 240 minutes + 4-6 months activation, all for the $19.99. :flower:

I can send anyone a referral and detailed directions to get you set up and when to add on the minutes to maximize usage. :cool1: Just send me a Private Message. :wave2:

There are ALWAYS bonus minutes codes for free minutes to add on along with each Minutes Card - some are DOUBLE minute codes, so that cuts the price of a card down by half.

Each card adds on 2 months of service. It is those extra months as well as the minutes where you want to be saving. Say, you want to add on about 300 minutes. It is actually better to buy two 120 minute cards, add each on SEPARATELY with a bonus minutes code (for each card.) You'd end up getting 240 minutes + the free bonus minutes amount, say an extra 200 minutes + FOUR months of service.

Plus, when you are adding on the minutes online, there is a Tracfone advertisement box to the right of the screen, offering another 60 minutes for $10 and 30 minutes for $5. You can add the 90 minutes on for half price of a regular minutes card.

Plus, if you get to send any referrals, you get 120 minutes + 2 months service FREE.

On the Tracfone website, there is a place to enter your zip code to see if they have coverage in your area. Tracfone.com (http://www.tracfone.com/store_manager.jsp?task=buyphone) :sunny:

Tracfone doesn't have their own cell service, per se. What they do is RENT cell service from existing carriers in your area. Instead of getting a Verizon cellphone, & only having serviced dedicated to Verizon, when I've traveled, the Tracfone SWITCHED to whatever carrier was available to me, in that area: Sprint, PacBell, BellSouth.

Tracfone does give you 30 days to RETURN your phone if you find out, it doesn't have enough service/coverage for you or not the plan you want. I think this is what the "reconditioned" phones are. When you return a used phone, Tracfone has to wipe the old telephone number from it's memory before selling it again. :)

Also, there are packages for 1 year service, but be aware that if you use all your minutes up in the first couple of months, you will still need to add on more minutes to talk & use the phone. The 1 year service basically reserves the phone number for the whole year. But you will need both minutes AND airtime to talk on the phone. It may be better to add new minutes on every 2 months (with a bonus free minutes code) if you are going to be using the phone a moderate amount. :thumbsup2

07-08-2006, 04:54 PM
I'd be really curious as to peoples' experiences w/ the prepaid plans - Virgin, T-Mobile, TracPhone, etc. Tracphone is actually the one we're looking at but we're open to suggestions!

We have our phones through Cingular and are not the least bit dissatisfied w/ them. Great coverage, features, etc. However, we just don't use our phone much and I think we would be just fine w/ a prepaid system and might save us up to 40 bucks a month!

Since you already know you get fabulous service with Cingular & they are in your area, it is very likely that you will have Cingular as your "home area" carrier through Tracfone.

As I stated in my previous post, Tracfone doesn't have their own cell service, per se. What they do is RENT cell service from existing carriers in your area.

You may be able to get a model of Tracfone that specifically uses Cingular. :thumbsup2

I actually have the opposite situation from you. I live in NYC & have Tracfone service utilizing Verizon. Verizon bought out NYNEX which had all the best equipment already installed. So this is now known as "Verizon Country."

Recently, I bought the V170 phone thinking to upgrade phones as I wanted a lightweight flip phone with Tracfone's "Single Rate Plan", but the that model Tracfone is a completely different brand from the one I have currently & runs on a different network carrier. My old phone is a Nokia and works on the CDMA networks/carriers only - Verizon, Sprint, etc. The V170 phone is a Motorola & only works on GSM networks - Cingular in the Metro Tri-State NYC area and possibly T-Mobile.

I was warned ahead of time by Tracfone when I called Customer Service that I couldn't port my old number over, because they currently lack the technology to switch networks. (Remember Tracfone is a budget company.)

I decided to get the new phone anyway and inform everyone of my phone number change.

But, it turns out, I have such sucky reception with Cingular :furious: in my apartment, (with their lack of cell towers) that I ended up keeping my old Nokia phone and now have BOTH phones running temporarily. My old phone, although it is the shape & weight of a garden brick, :sad2: has crystal clear reception. :listen: So I'm definitely not giving it up. (I'm hoping Cingular will eventually improve their service in my apartment.)

Call up Tracfone Customer Service to see which model they have that will give you Cingular in your home area. It most likely is the newer GSM phones. They are the ones on Tracfone's website with SIM cards and the "Single Rate Plans."

07-08-2006, 04:57 PM
For rural coverage, I've been very happy with Alltel.
That would be true here (AR) as well. I have Sprint which I've been quite happy with (I get IM, internet and email access included with a great price), but I have no coverage in the SE corner of the state or in parts of MS (along the MS river either side AR or MS) which I travel quite a bit.

07-08-2006, 05:21 PM
I've had Verizon since 2000. Previously it was through my parents and then on a family plan, and just two days ago I signed up for my own plan as a new customer. The whole process was very smooth and they even looked up for me to see if I got an employee discount through my employer (which, wow I do! 5% off each bill and no activation fee!).

I got a razr phone with a $50 rebate and LOVE love love the phone. It gets great service so far- even through the tunnels around Norfolk.

They even switched my contacts over to my new phone for free!

About a year ago I dropped my phone and broke it in half (the flip part broke off) and even without having bought the insurance they gave me a brand new $280 phone for $50. The service has been great with them. Also, all of my friends have Verizon so they are included in IN minutes and texts! :thumbsup2

07-08-2006, 06:07 PM
Imzadi - THANKS so much for all of the great Tracfone information! I will pass both of your messages to DH, who is a research-o-holic. :)

It really does sound like a great deal, especially since we are not heavy cell phone users. We are on the most economical Cingular plan and it's still 65 bucks a month for our two phones! I think we barely tap our minutes every month. It's just overkill.

Thanks again for the inpu!!!

07-08-2006, 07:40 PM
How much is the service per minute? I can't figure it out on the website.



07-08-2006, 09:38 PM
I have used Sprint, Nextel, Verizon.

I am currently with CIngular and I think it is the best that I have ever used.