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Analyst: With the Power of Walmart, Straight Talk Prepaid Wireless Can Be ‘Tipping Point’ for Millions

By October 15, 2009

Straight Talk logo
Image © TracFone Wireless, Inc.
The trend of recession-weary consumers turning to prepaid wireless is continuing.

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!
October 16, 2009 at 10:50 am
(1) friz gunther says:

And it’s about time!!! The big phone carriers have been gouging their customers for years, locking them into unnecessary two year contracts and forcing them to select packages of minutes they will either never use or run out of and have to pay outside the “plan” at exorbitantly high rates. Thank you Walmart! You deserve my business and that of the American consumer. Best part of this deal is that StraighTalk is carried on the Verizon network, rated best coverage coast to coast by Consumer Report Magazine. Now let’s home they do the same to the big oil conglomerates.

October 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm
(2) Whitedove says:

I was one of those consumers that was overpaying everymonth. At $85 for 750 minutes that was ridiculous! I switched to prepaid back in May when Straigh Talk came out with the $30 plan for 1000 calls/1000 text + data and have never looked back. The fact that they’re now offering the $45 unimited calls and text plan (+data) means that TracFone is really paying attention to nneds of consumers. With all the unemployment someone’s got to care. I think the fact that WalMart’s offering the plan is also awesome! That’s where I shop anyways, so this is super convenient.

October 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm
(3) Amanda says:

This is great! I’m glad Straight Talk is now carried by Wal-Mart. I got one on the web a while ago and I am very impressed. It has probably been the most satisfying cell phone experience I’ve had. No dropped calls so far, which is incredible. I’ve tried a number of the prepaid carriers before but this is in a class of it’s own.

October 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm
(4) dave says:

poor service ported my phone an then told me they can take up to 7 days. mean while no phone service the web says that if carrier delays.my carrier responded right away . after over an hour of on hold 3 min. at a time and multiple lies about it being my carrier .they admit to a problem and tell me no problem by signing up i agreed to be without service up to seven days, I thought wallmart would do it right.

October 31, 2009 at 2:00 pm
(5) Corey Anders says:

I’m very happy with the service. I ported my old number thru the website and it went through smoothly.

I like it a lot so far. It’s got great coverage thru the Verizon network, too.

But the best thing about Straight Talk is its simplicity. I am so tired of wading through funky phone bills with mysterious charges and fees.

I really appreciate the savings, of course, but not having those awful and undecipherable bills has been a great stress-reducer.

October 31, 2009 at 4:01 pm
(6) Frank says:

I have had the Samsung R-451C for a week now I live in the boonies and get 5 bars here much better and cheaper than my old AT&T I am very happy with it the web is a little weak but for 45 a month ill live with it

November 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm
(7) amber says:

before i get with this company i need to know if the web is any good.

November 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm
(8) Gerry Polo says:

Straight Talk Prepaid is nowhere as good as Boost Mobile. I am returning my phone to Walmart and going back to Boost Mobile.

I receive spam text. For being a Walmart product, customer service is in some foreign country and they are no help whatsoever (Sam Walton is probably turning over in his grave!).

Trying to setup your voicemail is a joke also!

November 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm
(9) Charles Brown says:

I am one of the original cell phone subscribers in Richmond, VA. When I bought my first cell phone I was told that withing 5 years it would be cheaper than owning a home phone. Well I haven’t seen that come about yet. When my contract is up with Verizon I am going to change cell phone to a no contract and I can choose the phone that I want. Lots of countries have unlimited talk time, text messaging and web time much cheaper than we do. It is time for people to have a cheaper choice. I was just reading the other day about a company that may introduce unlimited talk time, text time and web use for only $39.95. Can’t wait for that to happen. I have been waiting for 30 years.

November 17, 2009 at 3:01 pm
(10) nizmo says:

just got straight talk 3 days ago and i love it. gerry your getting spam mail cause you forgot to uncheck the recieve text messeg about special offers during sign up if you did it online. The only problem i had with it was wen i tried to activate my phone. Some how walmart misscanned it and my phone serial number didnt go into straight talk system. so i had to go back to walmart and tell them to rescan it. So far thats about the only problem i had . ohh another thing is there customer service for some reason i can barely hear what there saying to much back ground noise . other than that they were really helpful on getting my phone activated .

November 21, 2009 at 11:15 am
(11) Chase Winters says:

The Boost guy is an obvious phoney. (Get it?)

The Straight Talk service is so awesome and the price is so right that no honest person would want to go back to Boost, which I know is a part of Sprint. Meh!

Having Straight Talk on Verizon is awesome. Best deal around.

November 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm
(12) Kiladi says:

I just switched over from Boost. The process was smooth, but the customer service is a bit weak. They mean well, but the CSR’s are not trained that well. But for $45 Unlimited, I can live with having a great network. I actually got better service from my Boost in my area, but I know I will start to travel for business, so I know I will win with Verizon in the long run. Wish they had a better selection of phones. So far so good!!!!

November 28, 2009 at 9:05 pm
(13) Alex says:

Here are some real people and their opinions on Straight Talk:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGBxMNzPdqA

December 8, 2009 at 7:12 pm
(14) Patty Leigh says:

Oh this is so great… I am so glad Walmart carries Straight Talk! I am so impressed with this prepaid plan. Being on the Verizon network, it gets great service and I seriously haven’t had one dropped call. I’ve saved so much money! Best deal EVER :)

December 20, 2009 at 7:29 pm
(15) Preston Lewis says:

StraightTalk is a great money value. It’s fantastic. But until they fix their “you have to wait 7 days for your phone number to port” they are going to make lots of people angry. I’m at day 3 on my port. Verizon has my ported number. My phone is programmed. I can RECEIVE text messages but can’t make calls or texts. Verizon says I have no money in my account. StraightTalk’s web site says my number isn’t activated. Customer service says “WAIT 7 DAYS!”. They really need to work on this porting problem since it appears to be their problem: port completed, Verizon has the number, phone works with Verizon but ST hasn’t activated my number in Verizon or in their computer.

December 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm
(16) Chuck says:

Ditto in the porting problems.

My son opted to get a new # instead of porting his old one and his phone was active in 15 minutes.

My wife opted to port her # I from AT&T. It’s been over a week now and her ST phone still doesn’t work. The AT&T phone was deactivated a week ago. She has had no phone for a week. The ST porting problems are totally unacceptable.

I would warn anyone thinking of porting a # to Sraight Talk – DON’T DO IT. Either get a new # or use a different carrier.

December 31, 2009 at 6:26 am
(17) c2a0n0e8s says:

How can I pass up 45 bucks for unlimited talk/text/web?!?!? I was also impressed with their selection of phones on the website. I like that they have flip phones, phones with slider keyboards, and even a touch screen phone. Nobody can beat that price, especially with something like the Verizon network.

January 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm
(18) IlluminousUthra says:


January 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm
(19) Leah says:

Hello, My boyfriend is in Iraq and I was wondering if i can receive calls from him if I switch to straight talk. Right now I have a go phone and he calls from his computer and it charges me if he calls before 9pm on weekdays. I want to switch to Straight Talk because they say its cheaper, but I don’t want to switch if he can’t call me.

January 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm
(20) Jon says:

It has been 7 days since I potted my number over from virgin mobile and I still can’t receive text messages from anyone using a net work other than Verizon. Customer service seems stumped I would not have potted my number over if I knew I was going to have to spend over an hour on the phone and eventually be told by customer service to wait 4 more days. Web browsing is completly useless but that was expected. The best phone I have ever owned was an iPhone but the monthly fees were terrible for what you got. Straight talk has lots of potential but lots of issues to iorn out before I would recommend.

January 28, 2010 at 9:54 am
(21) katheren says:

Straight talk is great. Fantastic value for money and they run on Verizons network so the coverage is super. The Samsung Finesse is fantastic and great with the $45 unlimited everything package.

January 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm
(22) Pat Yoe says:

It’s the best!

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!

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