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Straight Talk from TracFone Wireless, Inc.
Image © TracFone Wireless, Inc.
After recently announcing to you from prepaid wireless carrier PlatinumTel its new $50 unlimited voice and texting plan with 100 megabytes of data, I also wanted to highlight to you one I haven't mentioned yet from Straight Talk.

Straight Talk offers a nationwide plan for $45 with unlimited minutes and text messages, but with only 30 megabytes of data for data-enabled phones. That price doesn't include taxes and is only for up to 30 days of service. You can then refill the plan after 30 days.

If you don't want to go unlimited, Straight Talk also offers a $30 no-contract plan with 1,000 anytime minutes, 1,000 text messages and 30 megabytes of data. The carrier's service coverage map can be found here.

Straight Talk only sells three cell phones at most Walmart locations (with more online): the MOTORAZR V3a for $99.99, the Motorola W385 for $79.99 and the LG 200 for $29.99. You can keep your existing cell phone number from another mobile carrier or pick a new one.

Straight Talk is a registered trademark of TracFone Wireless, Inc., which the company says is America's largest no-contract cell phone provider in the U.S. with more than 11 million subscribers. TracFone, which was founded in 1996, is a subsidiary of América Móvi. Straight Talk phones are sold at Walmart stores.

What plans compete with Straight Talk? Prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless offers unlimited talk, texting and data for $45 a month, but it doesn't include nationwide roaming.

Boost Mobile offers an all-unlimited plan for $50 per month. Virgin Mobile also has an unlimited plan for $50 a month with no contract or roaming fees, but that plan doesn't include data or texting.

For a prepaid monthly price comparison, see this visual matrix from PlatinumTel.
Comments
September 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm
(1) StraightTalkMe says:

Nice article, Adam.

It’s also worth mentioning that Straight Talk uses Verizon’s network, which is considered the most reliable network in the U.S.

Also, other “unlimited” plans often have hidden fees, per-day charges or require contracts or other committments.

Straight Talk’s prepaid service doesn’t require any committments, credit checks or contracts. There are no per-day fees or other added charges.

In addition to some Walmart stores, Straight Talk phones and airtime can be purchased online at http://www.StraightTalk.com

September 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm
(2) Adam Fendelman, About.com Guide to Cell Phones says:

Thank you for the comment. It should be mentioned that the statement of Verizon having the “most reliable network” in the U.S. by About.com user StraightTalkMe is subjective. Please also keep in mind that this user may be employed either directly or indirectly by Straight Talk.

September 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm
(3) Mandy says:

Thanks, Adam! I am confused by the ‘data storage’ limits. I admit I’m not a techie, so bear with me…
If I do not need a Web plan, do I need to be concerned with data storage amounts?

September 22, 2009 at 3:06 am
(4) cellphones says:

No problem, Mandy! If you don’t need a Web plan (i.e. you don’t need to be surfing the Web from your cell phone), then you needn’t be concerned with data limits. Cheers!

September 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm
(5) Rachael says:

I’ve been using straighttalk since it came out and I’ve never been disappointed. I started with the LG phone, then purchased the Motorola W385. I’ve never had a dropped call or a call that wouldn’t go through. Now both my sister’s have converted as well. :)

September 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm
(6) Edward says:

Can someone tell me what the fees and taxes are each month on a Straighttalk $30 a month plan? (Those fees on verizon can sometimes be nearly $10 a month) Thanks.

October 19, 2009 at 9:22 pm
(7) Ash says:

“Can someone tell me what the fees and taxes are each month on a Straighttalk $30 a month plan?”

Good question Edward. I was wondering the same.

October 19, 2009 at 11:39 pm
(8) DAvid says:

What happened in the last five days to the Samsung 451 qith Querty keyboard? It was supposed to be the top end phone for Straight Talk – not the Motorola Razr.

October 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm
(9) Joe JR says:

The tax for the $30.00 plan is $2.62, that is it.

October 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm
(10) tikiteko says:

I am using Straight Talk. I got the LG 220c. I am not employed by Verizon or Straight Talk and I can tell you the signal is intact and clear. My former T-Mobile prepaid had problems connecting on the first-floor and I also got 0 bars with MetroPCS. Now, with this phone, I get full bars anywhere on my home or the city.

Verizon does have a solid coverage. One has to note that the handset uses also can affect call quality. The LG220c is great so far – no complains from me or my callers.

October 28, 2009 at 3:23 pm
(11) InquiringMind says:

Does anyone know, can you keep your existing cell phone number if you switch to a Straight Talk plan? I’m very interested in doing this, especially if I can keep my existing number, but I’d have to wait until my contract runs with Verizon now or face penalties. Also, if you already have a cell phone, can you use it with Straight Talk or do the cell carriers disable the phones when you cancel service somehow?

October 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm
(12) cellphones says:

Dear InquiringMind,

To your first question, yes. It’s called phone number portability. The carriers have to allow this by law. I’ll write an article explaining this in more detail soon.

As for your second question, it depends. Straight Talk does use the Verizon network, but you’ll have to check with Straight Talk to verify compatibility with your particular handset.

Adam M. Fendelman
About.com Cell Phones Guide

October 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm
(13) snowbird says:

Is there any way to zoom in on the service coverage map? I’ve tried checking by zip code, but I never get to see the map in greater detail. We may be going into a non-service area, but can’t be sure. Would like to purchase unlimited Straight Talk before going there this winter, but need to know how well it will work. Thanks so much!

October 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm
(14) axman says:

“Is there any way to zoom in on the service coverage map?”
Since this company uses the Verizon network, I went to http://www.verizonwireless.com and looked at their coverage map. From there, you can search by city, address, or zip code. Hope this helps!

October 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm
(15) axman says:

Also, in response to Joe JR, I don’t think that the $2.62 for tax is all there is. What about the E911 Cost Recovery Fee, the Federal USF, and the Regulatory and Admin Fee? I assume that just because it is a Prepaid phone, that doesn’t make it exempt from these fees, but I could be wrong.

October 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm
(16) veritas1776 says:

The review of the Straight Talk plans was good, but it had one serious error. With the Unlimited $45/mo Plan, there is unlimited data transmission, as well as voice and text. The 30 MB data limit is only for the $30/mo All You Need plan. I have included a link to the Straight Talk web page showing the two plans and what is included.

October 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm
(17) veritas1776 says:

Here is the link to the details of the two plans:
http://straighttalk.com/ServicePlans

October 30, 2009 at 11:55 pm
(18) snowbird says:

Axman, thanks! It worked like a charm. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! DUH!

October 31, 2009 at 9:29 am
(19) Zack says:

when you are transferring an existing phone number from a previous carrier. .does your contract have to be terminated prior to transferring the number or do you terminate the contract after the number has been transferred over?

November 10, 2009 at 6:53 pm
(20) paula says:

Only 3 phones at most Walmarts but quite a few more online from website. And, the models vary by store (like I got a great 39.00 phone at Walmart that you didn’t mention).

The taxes on my 1000 plan for 30.00 came to only 67 cents, unlike previously plans where fees and taxes took on a life of their own.

I got my phone the first day straight talk went national and it is so much more than I had expected. I get best coverage in my rural area than any other service I’ve used.

All the adds trying to compete with this don’t come close once you go to their websites and read the limitations.

November 10, 2009 at 6:57 pm
(21) paula says:

My 30.00 plan, with taxes and fees, came to exactly 30.67.
No more, no less.

And, most people DO consider Verizon the best coverage, especially for rural, non-flat areas.

November 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm
(22) dave says:

Will a higher end verizon compatable phone Work?

November 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm
(23) Lori says:

i’ve been researching lower cost alternatives to my verizon plan. i have the most basic verizon plan ($35 for 300 minutes… they don’t advertise it on their website; you must ask for it) and a texting bundle for $5, and with the taxes, I’m always running over $50. i actually did a list in excel to compare what my cost would be for staying with verizon, switching to t-mobile no contract (plus verizon penalty for early termination), or for switching to tracfone (plus early termination penalty). even with the $175 penalty, i’d still be saving money by switching over, in the long run.

@dave – i think i read that you have to buy a new straight talk phone in order to use straight talk.

November 16, 2009 at 12:27 am
(24) eli says:

hey do i got to use one of there phones? can i just buy the card and use one of mine?

November 16, 2009 at 4:04 pm
(25) dameron says:

the service area is great,but the customer service is the worst.they been working on swapping phone #’s for 2 wks on one of our phones.they keep saying they’ll send us a new phone, that was 10 days ago. I call them and they’re service says they don’t have any customer service people available and hang up.very frustrated down in texas

November 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm
(26) sheila says:

Their internet connection(Data part) is pretty much useless
I guess if you are buying the phone to use it for phone and text is a good choice but not for accessing the internet! it will test your patience and fails after that and it will cost you $45 just to find that our because the phone card can not be returned!!

November 22, 2009 at 7:43 pm
(27) Darlene A. says:

Verizon has the best coverage and Straight Talk is everywhere on this network. I have had my new phone from Straight Talk since the beginning of this past summer and it has saved me wonders. $45 for unlimited texts and calls couldn’t be more perfect! Being a current college student, any way to save money is very important. Straight Talk is the BEST :)

December 3, 2009 at 12:05 am
(28) cindy says:

I have been a user of tracfone for quite a few years now. Am very happy with it. I would like to change to straight talk as I am using my cell phone as the primary phone in the house and it gets a bit expensive doing it this way. Straight talk would work better for me. Can I keep my tracfone I have now and just switch over to straight talk?

December 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm
(29) D says:

I just called Straight Talk and asked them that same question. You have to buy a new phone.

December 5, 2009 at 2:06 pm
(30) TheSarge says:

We switched from Sprint. We were with them for 8 years, paying 200.00 a month for a family plan. After buying the phones and the first month of service, Straight Talk is gonna save us hundred’s over the year, and thousands over a decade. Its the best damn deal out there(Period). The only downside, low tech phones. But at the cost were still saving a crapload of money. And I can switch to my Ipod Touch to email on free Wi-Fi when I find it. I highly recommend this program to everyone thats tired of paying the mainstream cell companies a fistfull of cash. TheSarge

December 10, 2009 at 2:10 pm
(31) John John says:

If I have a Trac phone may I put a sim card from straight talk in it?

December 16, 2009 at 8:10 am
(32) sarah fantozzi says:

i was wondering how i can fix my mobile web on my straight talk LG 220C? it says it has an error!

December 26, 2009 at 9:13 pm
(33) Jennifer says:

If I already have a W385 phone thru TracFone, do I have to buy a new W385 for the Straight Talk plan? Cant I just use that phone?

December 31, 2009 at 1:28 am
(34) Jonathan says:

Do the StraightTalk phones have Sim Cards? If so, can you use an unlocked phone for their company?

January 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm
(35) steve powers says:

Just to set the record straight (get it) straight talk’s unlimited plan includes unlimited data, not just 30mb of web downloads. (just left the site) thanks

January 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm
(36) steve powers says:

Also straight talk’s portability for a landline can take awhile to set up (the landline number cannot be in use for it to transfer so sometimes it can take awhile) but another cell phone number is very quick. They also offer an automated monthly charge to keep your phone active and to keep your number, it works on the $30 paln and the $45 plan, and no I don’t have any affiliation with straight talk or walmart or tracfone, I’m justa retired nerd wannabe.

January 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm
(37) steve powers says:

It seems I keep finding out more info about straight talk, if yo spring for the unlilited plan there is NO CHARGE FOR 411 CALLS. I have seen other carriers charge as much as $2.50 and more for a 411 call. My automated refill with taxes and fcc charges and recovery 911 charges comes to $34.12 a month. With the prepaid cards it’s just $30 or $45 unlimited…..other carriers require you to be in there (limited) home or local area to sign up for their services, but so far straight talk is the only one that is nationwide for these prices. Don’t even get me started on the pre paid verizon.. so much for each day, then so much for each minute, then so much for 411 then so much for 911 then so much! Have fun!

January 5, 2010 at 10:36 am
(38) Godzwatchman says:

I moved from Philly to SW Virginia (Roanoke). It’s surrounded with mountains and my T-Mobile sucked. I switched to Verizon and find I had a signal in mountainous locations while hiking that would have been IMPOSSIBLE with T-Mobile. Then I heard about Straight Talk. I was like, “Why should I pay all that money for Verizon when I can get unlimited minutes, texts and data for only $45?” I am saving a lot of money. However, web browsing on my Straight Talk is limited because of it doesn’t hold much data memory. I do miss my Verizon phone however I don’t miss those bills. I am paying $45 flat if u exclude the sales tax at purchase. No Hidden Fees. No drop calls unless u r driving on I-81 as it leaves PA, crosses Maryland and WV. Once I got in to VA, I was straight. I do hope they come out with newer phones that hold more memory.

January 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm
(39) Non StraightTalk Member says:

So since StraightTalk is thru Tracfone, if I purchase a Tracfone will it work with a StraightTalk Service?

January 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm
(40) julie says:

I have the smart talk $45 plan, was initally with verizon and found the cost to be insane (with them over 10yrs) too much for a cell phone. Had boost and dropped calls everywhere. So far no real problems with smart talk, had to get slightly rude with customer service to get a number after they told me to wait another 24 hrs for the third day in a row. That did get results though. Reception is great, no issues with the internet. I only use it for email and facebook anyways. Texts always come through. The only thing is it isn’t based all on verizons coverage area. I live in PA and work in Morgantown WV. I loose coverage shortly after crossing the state line, just as the map depicts. With verizon I had coverage here. But what do you want for $45/mth? At some point they will get some cdma towers here. I have the samsung slider, basic but does the job. I would never waste money on anything pricey…I’ve dropped so many other cell phones that it isn’t worth it.

January 12, 2010 at 10:00 pm
(41) Kimberly says:

Worrying about paying my college loans and all my other bills, I was getting tired of ATT’s extra fees and taxes in my bill every month. A friend of mine told me about Straight Talk and how awesome her Samsung Finesse phone was and how close to was to the I-Phone I wanted. I had to check it out for myself and I couldn’t believe the plans.

For $45 a month, I could have unlimited minutes, texts, and internet usage without worrying about a contract and paying ahead of time. When she told me that she got her phone at Wal-Mart, I knew she had to be kidding, but I was wrong again. A wonderful selection of phones and the plans can’t be beat – no contracts and unlimited usage make it a must. Being on the Verizon network is just a great bonus and switching from ATT is my best new year’s resolution so far.

January 20, 2010 at 10:26 pm
(42) Angie says:

I was looking into getting a straight talk cellphone but was wondering if it would work when I traveled. I live in wv but visit all the way to Maine. I have a gophone right now and there is no service up in Maine for the go phone. Also does any know if you can take pics with the straight talk phone and post it straight on facebook from it?

January 24, 2010 at 1:57 am
(43) Rick Unlimited says:

Here is a link to a Frequently asked Straight talk questions. You can only use a Straight talk phone with the Straight talk plan.

Straight Talk FAQs

January 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm
(44) Buz SNJ says:

Straight Talk Sublet of Tracfone and Owned with Walmart holdings. Only can purchase from Walmart or Online. 30 and 45 dollar plans. 30 is 1000v/1000MesPicsSms/30Megs of Web Data. 45 is unlimited V/MesPicsSMS/Unlimited Web Data. Taxes Var in different States. Here in NJ about 2.50 Bucks. Total with Unlimited 47.50. Is it worth it? Well? Its a bit high now a days with other wireless Corps lowering prices to match StraTalk. Like MetroPCS offers a 50 Dollar plan, No contract For a SMART PHONE NOW. WOW, Unlimited Smartphone service with Streaming Video etc. TAX included in the 50 price. Another WOW. You pay 250.00 for a nice Smart phone, but who don’t charge something for a SmartPhone At least 50 to 100 bucks for the lastest and great ist Hot Released Phones. MetroPCS is very clear in call Q and what system do metro use? Sprint. OK, now back to Straight Talk.
The Call Q is not great, but this is not Straight talk, this is prone to Verizons network. It sometimes sounds Gargley on a voice call. Compairing Voice Q to GSM Service like ATT or Tmobile, The GSM phones/service sounds so crisp and CLEAR. Metro PCS is also hands down Clearer then Verizon-StraTalk. This question does pop up too. Hmm, maybe its the phones they offer from Stratalk? Well No, I have tested so many systems and phones, And Owned a Verizon phone on True Verizon system. It sounded the same for a lot more money monthly 98.90 a month. Ouch. That was the one reason my verizon phone just colected dust after replacing it with another phone, and then replacing the phone for another phone. Same Deal, gargly weird sounding voice calls. Almost sounding like a poorly Ripped Music CD with a very low Bit rate.
Other things that is prone with STraTalk is the WEB or DAta browser. If you ported your number to Stratalk, your Web browser will never work. One phone I had ported and another phone had a new Stratalk number. The Ported Number phone WEB Never Every Worked. They replaced the Phone itself Twice with a new unit, still no WEB/DATA. After 3months calling and waiting and still no web/data? That phone is no longer with Stratalk. On the other Hand, the Stratalk owned new number worked As Soon as it was Active. Data is only 1x which is slow, but you can’t stream video or music anyway with it. They do offer a new Touch Screen phone tho, but still no Youtube or anything with that phone either. Whats the point for 300+plus Bucks? No streaming YET, Maybe next year?
Other problems, If you forget to pay your renewal, 30 or 45 dollar plan before it expires, so will also get a Broken web / data browser. It may take a 2 to 4 weeks to get it working again. Or it may never work again. It all depends if Verizons network lets you access it. The error will be, “You do Not have Access to the Site” You call them and reset, pull batteries, reset, enter a code, reset, clear cache turn off, turn on 100 times then get a few Ticket numbers over a period of weeks. And still wait for your browser to do something other then ERROR “You do Not have Access to the Site” Yep, Mine is still broken with a Stratalk Given Phone Number, as I hold on to the three ticket numbers they told me to write down. They may even say, We will send you a new Phone too in the mail I guess to give them even more time..
TEXTing SMS Photo Messages DO and Always WORK over Verizons Network. One plus with Stratalk. SMS will send within a second, and about 30seconds to receive. Photo Mess or Sound Multi Media MS – Sending is a bit SLOW. A 300kb Photo will take about 60 seconds. Downloading A photo about 12seconds. Def Not QUICK, but Usable.
Is it worth the 47 48 bucks a month? Unlimited Plan, NO its not worth it. Is 30 bucks worth 1000mins? The 30 dollar deal I think is worth 30 bucks but For CALLS and Text only. If you want to do more with less headaches, move on PLEASE! Find another Prepaid company like Metro PCS who have real TECHIES with real main stream Service.
The bottom line, You do get what you pay for sometimes with Straight talk. Sometimes you Don’t get what you paid for.
I just typed this out, so give me a break on my typing or typos! Just wanna help Please Decide Na or Yea

January 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm
(45) Pat Yoe says:

I have Straight Talk on the Verizon network. Bought it at Walmart and it’s an amazing deal. The Samsung Finesse is a very cool smartphone and paying only $45 a month for unlimited everything is the best deal going!

Who needs an iPhone? LOL!!

February 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm
(46) knower says:

I bought the 45 dollar unlimited straighttalk with a lg 220c,the unlimited calls and text and data are great for the price ,yet its not without limitations although unexpected and disappointing. No international texting allowed sending or receiving,customer service advised me no ringtones or wallpaper allowed to download to the unit,and yahoo mail doesnt work,although they blame yahoo for the problem. would be nice if they told the limitations before you purchase the phone. people in the uk get phones that function on prepay without limitation,cant we in america stop milking the technological cow.

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