The 140 million U.S. consumers who are on cell phone contracts spend an average of $81 per month while using less than 550 monthly minutes, according to the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC). The NMRC is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Prepaid carriers like Boost Mobile, Cricket, Virgin Mobile, Jitterbug and PlatinumTel are increasing in popularity due to their promise of lower-priced cell phone plans and no contracts.
Straight Talk, which is a brand of TracFone Wireless, is the newest prepaid wireless carrier on the scene. Straight Talk is now being sold by Walmart, which is the country's largest retailer.
This affiliation could be the "tipping point for millions of consumers who are already considering moving away from expensive, contract-based cell phone service," according to NMRC executive director Allen Hepner in a Thursday statement.
A survey published by the NMRC in March 2009 said two out of five Americans with contract-based cell phone service were likely to cut back to save money if the economy continued to get worse.
The same survey said 40 million Americans (or 26 percent of consumers with contract-based cell phone service) are "more inclined [now] than ... six months ago to look at a way to save money on [a] cell phone bill such as by switching to a prepaid cell phone service."
A Dec. 2008 survey from the NMRC said only 44 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds know when their contract-based wireless service ends.
While Straight Talk is just one choice for prepaid wireless service, the carrier has among the simplest offering around. It just has two plans.
One costs $45 for unlimited minutes and another is priced at $30 for 1,000 anytime minutes. Web usage is limited on both plans.
Is prepaid wireless right for you? Learn more about Straight Talk along with all of the other prepaid wireless carriers!