US Cellular is a big name cell phone carrier serving 26 states that also entered the prepaid cell phone market with the launch of Talk Tracker.
US Cellular was founded in 1983 and is based in Chicago Illinois.
Pros: Since Talk Tracker is provided by US Cellular, calls occur on their national network. The service supports modern features and you can activate any compatible cell phone; you do not need to purchase their phones.
Cons: US Cellular is a regional provider, so they don't have service in all areas. Charging 10 dollars per month to get a 10 cents per minute rate is above the industry average, as is the 50 dollar activation fee.
Plans: US Cellular offers three tiers of prepaid plans. The voice, messaging, and data tier has two plans. The first provides unlimited minutes and messaging plus 2GB of data for 65 per month. The other provides the same, but 1GB of data, for 50 dollars per month. The voice and messaging plan provides 400 minutes, 400 text messages, and 400 picture messages for 35 dollars per month. Overage minutes are 25 cents each. THe pay-as-you-go plan requires a monthly payment of 10 dollars, and all minutes are 10 cents each.
Read more about US Cellular plans
Customer Service: Customer care is available airtime free from your cell phone, via email or by calling their toll free customer service number.
Free Nights: Unlimited available
Credit Check: None
Free Weekends: Unlimited available
Daily Access Fee: No
Payment Options: You can refill your account at US Cellular retail stores (there is a 5 dollar minimum on refills). You can also automatically refill your account from credit card, debit card or checking account by calling customer service. Refills can also be done via Western Union stores.
Text and Picture Messaging: The voice only plan offers text and picture messaging at 25 cents each. That is also the overage rate for the voice and messaging plan.
Data Plans: US Cellular offers 2GB of data with its 65 dollar plan an 1GB with its 50 dollar plan. Data is not available on the other plans.
Downloads: Downloadable ringtones available only on the Kyocera KX-9b phone.
International Calling: U.S. Cellular does offer international calling capabilities. Calls to Mexico and Canada are charged at 50 cents per minute. Calls to other international destinations start at $1.25 per minute. You'll want to call customer service to find out the rates to the destination country you plan to call before placing calls.
Text Messaging Available: Yes
Roaming Charges: Calls made from outside your service plan area are charged at 69 cents per minute.
Calling Features: Voicemail, caller ID, 3 way calling and call waiting are offered with all of US Cellular's prepaid plans.
Unlimited Text Messaging Plan Available: Yes
Activation Fee: The 65 and 50 dollar voice, messaging, and data plans require no activation fee. The voice and messaging plan requires a 20 dollar activation fee, while the voice only plan requires a 50 dollar activation fee.
Nationwide Long Distance: All US Cellular prepaid plans include nationwide long distance. Calls made to destinations within the United States are treated as regular calls.
Unlimited Plan Available: No
411 Calls: Directory assistance is available for a cost of $1.50 per call.
Earliest Minute Expiration: There are no pay by the minute plans with US Cellular. All minutes expire at the end of the monthly billing cycle for your chosen plan. Unused minutes do not rollover.
911 Calls: Yes.
Phones: It appears that U.S. Cellular has many phone models listed under their prepaid section. Most are very basic models which are best used for just talking and texting. They do have a number of higher end phones for their postpaid service, which can be purchased at full price and activated on a prepaid plan. However, full retail price can get very expensive, which may deter some cost-conscious shoppers.
Standard Calling Features: voicemail, 3 way, caller ID
Some Available Cell Models: Motorola Grasp (shown)
My husband has US Cellular prepaid and it works GREAT! In our area Verizon has no tower, but US Celluar does. The phone has NEVER shut off before the 30th ( when the minutes expire). It is easy to add minutes. We purchase the card at Walmart and then call customer service to add the minutes. Easy, excellent reception, great price on the phones, and his unlimited card costs $40/mo.
I got my Granddaughter a Pre-paid US Cellular Phone. The have what they call this Billing Cycle Date. Our's started out on the 27th. On the 25th of the next Month the Phone shut-off, advising my Granddaughter her time was up.
We went by the local US Cellular Store and paid the Monthly Fee. On the 27th it was shut-off again. When I inquired they advised the time ran out on the 25th. If I pay anything before the 27th it is not applied to the Monthly, we are just buying minutes. You still have to renew again on the 27th. That is unless we allow them to change the Billing Cycle Date to the 25th, the day we paid it. So we did.
Next Month rolls around the Phone again got shut-off a couple days ahead of the Billing Cycle Date. This went on for 3 months. When I called in to renew the for the 4th month I asked for a Supervisor. As I put it, If my rent is due on the 27th, I don't locked out on the 25th. I have full use until the 27th. Therefore the Phone should remain on until the 27th or whatever the Current Billing Cycle Date is. US Cellular refused to to turn the Phone on until the Billing Cycle Due Date.
I had a Contract Service with US Cellular since 2003. When US Cellular refused to turn the Pre-Paid Phone back on until the Billing Cycle Date arrived, I took my Business down the Road to Verizon...
I just switched from Straightalk after having them for over a year. They were horriable and not worth the money--even though they were a little cheaper.
I went with U.S. Celluar becuase my sister has had them for over a year and loves them. Despite the fact that she has their most expensive prepaid plan ($70/mon) I get unlimited talk and text including pic and video messaging on a cool phone (smartphones are available on prepaid now) for $50! And I actually get more then two bars of service in my area. Mobile internet is available, but as a student I couldn't see paying $20 more a month for it. Plus it has easyedge, even though it's kind of expensive.
Lastly, this is a good plan. But you do pay to have service that actually works.
We've had US Cellular (USCC) svc for about 6 years now, mainly because we live in IL and most of the other svcs are worse.
The plans are fairly decent, esp the family plans. If you plan to get phones for your kids or more than 2 people, get a family plan with unlimited whatevers. I like that all incoming calls are free (EXCLUDING PREPAID ACCTS). We currently have an unlimited text/messaging acct due to having two kids in college. The service has been pretty reliable, although the messaging is sometimes very slow, and they do not guarantee that any will actually be delivered! I've had it take up to 12 hrs to be delivered, and other times, almost instant. Sort like their texting has mood swings, but I guess it depends on how many people are tapping the svc at the same time.
The call quality has been pretty clear, unless you are in a large building. The kids often lose connection and the call drops when they call from inside their college. Weird - it is maybe 15 minutes away from us.
USCC charges $30 activation fee whether you have your own phone or buy one of theirs - very expensive. The customer service, while they speak English, often gives you the runaround. The local service office is not fun to deal with - they do whatever is the least amount of work for them. We were in there recently for tech support (per the advice of the tech operator from call-in USCC support). We had to wait for over an hour for the tech, because no one knew where he was or when he'd be back. What fun... not. Then they had to keep the phone overnight, because they couldn't finish checking it before they were closing. *eye roll*
The other HUGE beef I have with them is billing. I don't know what their prepay billing is like, because we have a contract. We moved to another city and was told we had to have a new account with new prefixes. Fair enough. Here's my problem - we got a bill from our old account, telling us we still owed for the last bill. A call to billing didn't work, so I had to send in a copy of our cancelled check. I never heard back, so I really forgot about it. Then 3 months ago, we went in to add another phone to our family plan. We were told we could not do it, because our old account was in collection status!! THREE YEARS later, they put us into collections without notifying us of anything. Now we can't add the phone we want (and there is still another activation fee, even if we add it to an existing plan and buy the phone from them). I've been writing to customer service, trying to find out what the mystery amount from the old account is - I suspect they never bothered to correct the "missing" payment for which I sent them the cancelled check. But you know what? They don't know. That's right - USCC doesn't know what the amount is from either. Will they clear it? Nope. Will they pull the account from the collections? Nope. Will they send me an account statement with billing details so I can verify against my payment records? Nope. They won't do a blooming thing for us. They said to try to talk to the collection agency. They HAD that information - just not any info on what the amount was for! Yeah, that'll work well - if I want that agency hounding us endlessly!
Another HUGE beef is that you cannot download ring tones or wallpaper from any other place. You know how you can get ringtones all over the internet for maybe 99 cents each? Not here. You HAVE to use their EasyEdge data plan. $10/month, and there was an activation fee the first time we used it. If you don't want the subscription, you can do an individual thing, but you are charged for your data time by the kilobyte. Last time we downloaded a ringtone, it cost us $12.50!! And if you upgrade to a new phone, they "can't" transfer that expensive ring tone to your new USCC phone. I really consider that part a HUGE ripoff.
In conclusion - we use them because there is no other real choice that works in our area. USCC has things locked up for themselves. We've tried Tracfone (wouldn't work), Cricket (wouldn't dial out unless it felt like it, you were roaming even if only ten minutes away, and the call quality was iffy). I'm looking for a decent inexpensive prepay for me to use now that my husband works in a different city. I can't add it to our family plan. Since we've been customers for over six years now, I am actually more than a little offended by this. There are no loyalty rewards, and they don't give a rip how long you've been with them. The customer service speaks English and is normally polite, but not overly helpful. Like I said, still trying to get an account matter we were not even notified about cleared up, three years later. They won't even run an account history for me. (You can see your last 2 yrs online now, but this problem is out of their online date range.)
So, live and learn, and if you live in IL, better get used to USCC if you want to actually hear the person who called you.
This really is a good service! I have had it for a while so I still have the benefits of being grandfathered into the old plan rates. I pay $45 for 500 minutes with free nights and weekends, and pay $10 for 750 outgoing text messages. I always keep a positive balance of $25 in case I have to make a roaming call. Phone selection is a bit limited for TT, but if you really want that Razor, or Blackberry... You can still have one with TT, but you will pay full price for those phones as they are not part of the TT Plan phone selection. Coverage area is great, Minimal dropped calls, Better than most other non-contract/pre-paid plans.
US Cellular does need to allow for use of the easy edge feature on TT, even if it means paying from the phones balance as you do for roaming. People like to change their wallpapers and ringtones every now and then. C'mon US cellular. You fix that one fault, and this will be a perfect plan!