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.
Lowest Price Per Anytime Minute: $0.10 to $0.15
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.
Text Messaging Charge For Incoming: No
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)
Cheapest Phone Model: $79.95