Why Net10's unlimited calling plan rocks

U.S. Cellular taking a stab at it. Virgin announced one in late June, and just yesterday we Net10’s unlimited voice and text deal. Today, we explore why this one stands above the rest.

View Net10 Unlimited Plans here.

It starts with the price

AT&T offers unlimited voice for $99 per month. Considering some of the rate plans it had been carrying prior to February 2008, this seems like a good deal. Yeah, you have to pay to upgrade to unlimited text messaging, and a bit more if you want mobile Web on top of that. But all things considered — AT&T’s handset lineup and especially their coverage area — you could do a lot worse if you use the phone for business purposes. Or else are a chatty teenager, whom we will not begrudge on this site. T-Mobile one-ups the deal, adding unlimited text messaging for the same price. So you’re saving $10, $20 per month because you don’t have to pay for a text messaging plan on top of the voice. Sprint takes that even further, offering all its basic services (SMS, MMS, mobile Web, plus navigator and TV). Virgin Mobile undercuts that a bit, offering unlimited voice for $79.99, plus unlimited messaging for $10 on top of that. Not bad, especially considering this is a prepaid deal. So that really gives Virgin a leg up in this, even over Sprint. You don’t have to commit to anything, leaving you free and clear to leave if you so choose. Considering they’re on the same network, it would appear that the wise choice would be Virgin. Enter Net10. They’ve got AT&T’s coverage map, which is larger than Sprint’s. They have reputedly great service, as long as you’re not putting the word “customer” in front of it. They offer the two basics, text and voice, for $20 less than just voice with AT&T. Plus, you don’t have to sign a two-year contract. Clearly, if you’re on a budget but still like to talk a lot, Net10 is the way to go. Not only do you get unlimited cellular, but you can essentially drop the landline. That is, if you still have one.

Huge savings for big talkers

Yes, this is another section where we’ll discuss the excellent cost of Net10 unlimited service. The carrier has always prided itself on a no-nonesense pricing scale. Ten cents a minute, five cents a text, all day, every day. No exceptions. That works real well for some people, especially those who use like 50 minutes a month. It also helps for those who are confused with the bevy of options offered by other prepaid carriers — we don’t blame you. We sit here during the day trying to figure out which deals are the best. This is not easy. Using pure minutes, you’d get 800 minutes per month for your $80. Ah, but there’s always text messaging, which will gradually chip away at your minutes. Use 100 text messages a month? You’d get 750 minutes. Use 200 text messages a month? 700 minutes. And so on and so forth. Someone like, say, an entrepreneur could benefit greatly by this. The volatility faced every day by an entrepreneur means he or she probably isn’t too keen to making commitments two years into the future. Yet, that’s really the only way to get cellular services, or at least with sufficient minutes for all that communication. A businessperson who uses, say, 1,000 minutes a month, plus sends and receives 500 text messages, would see charges of $125 per month with Net10. You might find another decent prepaid service, though most of them offer quality deals because of unlimited nights and weekends. As a businessperson, you can’t relegate your communications until after the sun goes down, and otherwise when other people aren’t at work.

Have we mentioned the network?

That Net10 coverage map looks pretty impressive. Once again, we’re only working with the GSM section of it, which draws from the AT&T, and in some places the T-Mobile, network. Still, that’s a large chunk of the country, larger than Sprint and Virgin. The only catch I can think of right now is roaming. How will it work if you venture into a CDMA coverage area? My best guess is that they won’t mind, so long as you don’t activate in a GSM area and then permanently park it in a CDMA area. We’re still awaiting a return email from a Net10 rep, who hopefully can supply us with an answer. Think about this, though. If you roam onto the CDMA network for 100 minutes a month, the price is still the same as Virgin Mobile’s unlimited voice and text messaging bundle. If you roam off-network for 200 minutes a month, it’s the same deal as T-Mobile. So even if you do revert to 10 cents a minute when within a CDMA coverage area, it isn’t all that bad.

As always, there’s no contract

Back in June, we touted Virgin’s unlimited calling plan, not because it was $20 cheaper than the major carriers, but because of the prepaid nature. Not everyone can commit to $99 per month for two years. Yet, many of those who can’t still would like unlimited calling. Virgin brought it to them. Now Net10 does, only better. Yes, we understand that Net10 doesn’t have the best handset selection. And we understand their customer service shortcomings. But you know what? There aren’t many cell phone companies that provide quality customer service. They might say that they do, but our user reviews mostly say otherwise.And when it comes to phones, well, I suppose phone selection really only matters if having a cool phone is important to you. If it is, Net10 does have the Motorola W376. Still, having no contract should trump all. I’m not sure about everyone else out there, but I’d surely sacrifice handset quality — or, should I say, handset flashiness — in order to rid myself of a burdensome contract. While plenty of people disagree with me, I’m fairly certain there are plenty who are on board with that. It is you for whom this unlimited plan was designed.

Caveat emptor

Every day, we check in on the user comments. At least twice a week, someone says something negative about Tracfone’s and Net10’s customer service. Clearly, they have strides to make here, and it doesn’t appear that they’re willing to make them. It’s not like you can predict whether you’ll need customer service or not. Everyone hopes they won’t, but many will. If you do, you might not be in for the most pleasant experience. Specifically, we’ve heard of plenty of problems regarding SIM cards, which you’ll need with this plan, since it works in the GSM coverage area. We hope that if you decide to sign up for this plan, you don’t befall the fate of so many of our commenters. ]]>

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  1. Jim on July 29, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Last I checked, GSM phones don’t work on CDMA networks, so there’s no point to the question of “how will it work if you venture into a CDMA coverage area.” It won’t work, period.
    The $79.99 unlimited Net10 plan is restricted to GSM4 areas, which is AT&T only. The roaming costs of $.10 per minute advertised on Net10’s site are for GSM4 phones that roam onto GSM5 (T-Mobile).

  2. Jen on August 16, 2008 at 9:27 am

    I don’t get why it is so expensive still. I thought that Net10 should have just an unlimited texting plan for those who use only text messaging mostly, but not enough to spend $80.

  3. vanessa on October 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I know this is late but is there any way to find a map of the gsm4 areas and then buy your phone according to that ?

  4. Josh on February 15, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Actually, I love Net10. It’s the best cell phone I’ve had thus far, and it’s prepaid. I’ve had AT&T, Sprint, NTelos(TERRIBLE), Alltel – and for the prepaid I’ve had Tracfone, Virgin, Verizon Wirless Prepaid, AT&T’s Go Phone, Boost Mobile. So, far, Net10 has trumped all of these as far as cost goes. I know that you can get much better phones, services from bigger carriers (contract carriers), but for a prepaid carrier Net10 is great. I am excited about their Unlimited Plan, it’s actually a great deal. I was looking into Verizon Wireless and it was going to cost me upwards of 100/mo. for anything close to unlimited and 2 lines.

  5. Antoine on March 23, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    I love Net 10 I just wish there were a better selection of phones..I’m looking into getting an unlocked phone so I can have a better looking one but,with so I can matain the same cost and quality which plays a major important part when picking a pre-paid carrier. I 100% suggest net 10 when it come to prepaid.

  6. Marianne on June 17, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I have used Net 10 prepaid service since March 2006. I think the coverage is great!! For my cheap, prepaid phone, I often have better coverage than to bigger carriers. While my friends’ phones show no service, I have service. Customer service is not too bad. They try and are always courteous. Sometimes you get a new employee and they are clueless, but still they are courteous. In this day and age, that’s very welcomed. I’m thinking about an unlimited plan. I’m on the fence yet.

  7. Jeanette on July 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I have had Net10 since August 2007, and I must say, it is an amazing service. I buy the $30 cards for 300 minutes, and I can honestly say that I have yet to be disappointed. I am from NY, and I have used my Net10 in NJ, PA, FL, CT MA, and states in between, and I have never had a problem with it. Yes, mine is not a fancy phone, but I can call, text, receive calls, and receive messages, all for a very affordable price. I recommended the Net10 phone to a friend from Israel when I stayed in FL. We went to purchase it at a Walgreens nearby, and she absolutely LOVED it! Net10 is highly recommended as an affordable prepaid phone. Jeanette, a very satisfied Net10 user.

  8. Dave on October 1, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I’ve had Net10 for about two years. Had ATT before that. I travel a lot east of the Mississippi and was happy with ATT’s coverage but fed up with their .35/minute for over plan time charges. I Refused to sign up for two years after my phone died and ATT refused to sell me another phone. I immediately bought the Net10 phone and now have better coverage at a fraciton of the costs. $80/month is still too much for unlimited. I am waiting for the $50 range.

  9. Peter Kent on October 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    The only things that Net10 unlimited has going for it are 1) Uses full Att network, unlike any other prepaid INCLUDING Atts overpriced hybrid prepaid Pick Your Plans.
    2)Allows any Net10 gsm phone to be used on unlimited.
    Other then that, its sister , Straight Talk, makes it look about $35 too much.

  10. buddah on October 31, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    net 10 is a great company with a straight forward simple plan however just a few thing to be weary of ..
    1) although net 10 is GSM you can NOT use an unlocked phone from another carrier or unbranded phone say u picked up one on ebay unlimited plan or regular min plan. so dont think your going to sport your unlocked blackberry and jailbreaked Iphones on net 10 the sim net 10 uses is locked they wont work on anything but net 10 phones.
    2) no out of US roaming what-so-ever so if your looking to head north or south of the border (canada/mexico) for a weekend trip or to Europe and the UK for holiday. you better bring another phone along for the ride. net 10 will not work period sim or phone ( Ive tried).
    3) like said previously its GSM so if theres a spot where its cdma only or old school analog( rural areas) your dead.
    4) no data of any type. I keep 2 phones att and net 10 net to for low minutes rates and att for data and txt even though net 10 is 0.05 cents per txt with att prepaid i have a data plan per month $5= 200 txt or IMs so thats only 0.025 cents per txt and I keep my messengers on . I originally thought of tmobile for the minutes but you must by $100 airtime in advance to get the 10c per min rate. Net 10 just made more seance.
    5) having 2 phones.. ya its a bit weird but because net 10 does not work on unlocked phones I carry two phones around. If it was att and tmobile id just buy a dual sim unlocked phone or get a dual sim adapter and use on my blackberry. meaning two lines but only 1 phone! remember can NOT use the net 10 sim in anything but net 10 phones.
    6) international calling on net 10 needs a dial around number that eats into your mins before you even get a call placed not so on att and tmobile. (but att/tmoble per min INT rates are higher!) and no international txting on net 10.
    so just a word to the wise net 10 has its pros and cons just always be mindful of your cons. however on start up with net 10 you can get a cheap phone and 300 mins for $30 cant get that from ATT OR TMOBILE !

  11. Anthony on January 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    wow i really thought when net10 came out with a unlimited plan it would be alot cheaper. for what you get and the phones you half to deal with,thats no deal for me. NO WAY. thanks

  12. Alayna on January 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I love my net10 phone..it was a good price and works everywhere i go i love the unlimited talk,web,text,411…its awsome and came with 300 min for downloads and wallpapers or whatever its great.. i love it!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks net10

  13. Genevieve on January 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Net10 has been so great to me. I love my Net10 phone and everything about it! I use the Net10 Unlimited where I have unlimited minutes, texting, and web browsing.I’ve got the SamsungR401G where I have a camera and mp3 player and I cannot even imagine having any other phone. There is no contract and I am saving so much money!

  14. Jane on January 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I am extremely interested in Net10 unlimited, but am concerned that once I get the bills I will find hidden charges or fees.
    $50.00 a month seems too good to be true…
    Has anyone run into this problem that has the Net10 unlimited?

  15. connie on February 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Someone suggested that a Net10 phone could be added to an existing ATT account just because I don’t want a phone that does anything but voice…???

  16. Andrew on February 8, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I just purchased the Net10 Unlimited Samsung r451c, I paid 50 dollars a month for unlimited talk, text, and web. It says I have 300 minutes, but really that’s just a number and none are deducted. At first, the browser wouldn’t work and I was getting ready to return the phone, but I charged it during the night, and the next morning everything works perfectly. Nice phone and so far nice service.

  17. GaryP on March 9, 2010 at 7:49 am

    @Jane, I use the NET10 unlimited plan now and even though it sounds too good to be true, it’s real! No hidden charges, no catches. In fact, because it’s prepaid you don’t even get a bill! So they can’t add anything after the fact.
    You won’t be sorry if you decide to use this service, they’re great!

  18. Craig on March 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    i just stared my company and needed a way to communicate with clients that was not going to cost me an arm and both my legs, Net10 sorted all my problems out, I can really capitalize my business without having to worry about a huge phone bill. Whoever is stuck on contract, i really feel sorry for you, you should try this out.

  19. John on March 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I am interested in buying the net10 unlimited 50 dollar plan sold at target here in texas. Usually, on there prepaid phones i would activate them on their website, but on their website there is nothing about this 50 dollar plan. I am wondering if I buy it and buy a pre-paid visa card at valero gas station can I activate the phone in a website or how? and how many days does the phone work each month, for example in “straight talk” its only 30 exact days from the moment you buy the activation card at the store regardless of when you enter the refill card into the phone.

  20. Asia on April 8, 2010 at 12:26 am

    I am a previous Net10 customer and 3 weeks ago I purchased a Samsung T401G to enroll in their unlimited plan. After transferring my old number to this new phone, they told me there is an error in their system and they cannot enroll my phone in the plan. I was told to give them 24-48 hours to resolve the issue (something to do with the towers not recognizing these sim cards) However, it’s still not resolved, every day I’m told to give them another 24-48 hours and I have a useless phone. I should have stayed with my old phone and continued to buy airtime cards! Anyone else having trouble enrolling these new phones?

  21. John on April 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Got a Samsung T401G after reviewing coverage map. It works in Virginia Beach, but not Orange, VA. Yet, my Net10 10-cent LG phone has coverage in Orange.
    Customer Service is a joke, lots of apologies, but no help.

  22. Mr Jones on April 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Have had net10 unlimited now and as a really heavy user of cellular phones its a real money saver. I normally paid about $90 to $120 dollars a month. With this plan its only costing me $50 a month. What more do you need, Ill put up with Cs for that amount, and i never do have any serious problems with them.

  23. Les on May 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Just went into Target yesterday (5/19) could not find any of the Unlimited phones was told they had to pull them off the shelf!!?? Anybody know what is going on? Loved my service with them, got great coverage, and was really excited about this plan!

  24. Nadine on May 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I like that Net10 international rate is the same as their local rate. Makes it very convenient for me to call family and friends aboard without costing an arm and a leg!

  25. Nikki on May 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    @Lee: The issue could be with Tracfone’s “Straight Talk” service. They offer unlimited plans for $45/month on Verizon’s network (CDMA). I read Net10 no longer offers the service. I’m going with Straight Talk in July, but honestly I would rather have a GSM carrier.

  26. Garrett on June 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    yea i was wondering if on the net 10 phones is their a price at $30 per month for things such as just txt and tlk or just txt because $50 per month is way too much to spend on a phone

  27. Todd on June 25, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I was at my local Target store in Iowa today and according to the brochure I picked up the only three phones that can currently be used for the Net10 “unlimited” plan are the Samsung T401G, MOTO EM326g and the LG600G. It appears that Wal-Mart.com offers these phones, but do not advertise the unlimted plan. I am not sure the reasoning behind NET10 not wanting Wal-mart to make everyone aware of the unlimited plan, but speculate they are under an agreement to push the Staight Talk service. If you have one of the aforementioned phones, it might be worth the time to call NET10 to inquire about the unlimited plan in which is $50 per month.

  28. Todd on June 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    CORRECTION . . . I just learned that all NET10 phones are not the same. The model numbers of the phones may be the same, but the phone usage is different. Only the NET10 phones that are marked as “NET10 UNLIMITED” on the packaging can receive the unlimited service. All of the same model phones that come with free minutes on them and state nothing on the package about being unlimited, can only be used on NET10’s standard plan where you pay by the minute.

  29. selene wittman on July 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    where the heck can i buy a net 10 unlimited phone cant find one anywhere not even there website.

  30. sherry on August 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Terrible service. Browser doesn’t work. Have had nothing but problems with Net 10. Awful phone. Don’t buy it.

  31. punky on September 6, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    service is really lousy. we have had to make multiple calls for several issues. at least a third of the time we wait 30 minutes and then get disconnected – even if we are working with a rep. the rest of the time the rep promises the issue is dealt with and we have to wait either 1 hour or 24 hours, but in fact 24 hours later nothing has changed. I’ve only had success when I spend several minutes explaining to the rep that I don’t want the same kind of service and making him/her promise we’ll get it done right. even then it’s not guaranteed.

  32. NTL on October 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I’ve been using Net10 for a couple years now, probably about two, and it’s the best cell phone service I’ve ever had. There is no internet (NONE, don’t even bother opening your browser, it’s not worth the one minute fee), which kinda sucks, but I have literally traveled all over the country with this phone, from the east coast to the west coast, all through the midwest, and in parts of the south, and I almost always have at least a weak signal, no matter where I am. Service is better in cities than in the country usually, but that’s true of most carriers. If you use a ton of minutes it can get a little expensive (relativly), but if you don’t use more than 300 a month you really won’t find a better deal. Plus, they never mention it or advertise it, but your minutes roll over. Always. As for customer service, I’ve called a few times about some thing or another (very few things ever went wrong, usually I was adding minutes), or to upgrade phones, and the reps were always very polite, and got everything done fast and easy. Plus, I used to go over my service end date ALL THE TIME, and every time I added minutes and just got to keep the old ones. The one time I went like two and a half weeks over, I lost my minutes (Almost 300 because of roll over!), but when I called and reactivated, I asked if I could get them back, AND I DID! They gave me all 300 PLUS the new air card! No problem, no hassle, no complaining to managers, just “Sure, I can do that for you, sir.”
    In summary, not many phones to choose from, no internet to speak of, and sometimes the minute adding is a little buggy, in exchange for cheap rates, PHENOMENAL phone service, good customer service (at least I never had problems), and a real “Mom and Pop” feel of being a customer they value and want to keep. Net10 may not have all the super flashy gadgets and the cool apps, but if you want a solid, dependable phone service that won’t bullsh*t you, I would say go with Net10, and stand behind my word.

  33. KB on October 11, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I have had Net10 for 11 years. I switched back and forth from paying for minutes to the $85 unlimited with select Target phones to buying a new phone last week for the $50 plan. OMG customer service is hell. I have been trying to get my new phone to work for 5 days now. They transfered my number but did not activate the new phone so I have no phone. They charged my bank 5 times for the unlimited plan coming to over $250 and my phone still doesn’t work. Refunds take 15-30 cycle days! You’re lucky if you find a person who speaks clear enough English. Supervisors are impossible to talk to. I have never had such a bad time with them. Makes me want to switch to Metro PCS.

  34. Jane on October 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I spend a lot time on my cell phone so dependability and reception are high on the priority list. Net10 offers those qualities plus more. $50 for unlimited talk/text and e-mail is an unbelievable deal and not being tied down by a contract is a big plus. I once had to fork out nearly $200 for an early termination fee and will never ever subject myself to that again!

  35. edross on October 15, 2010 at 2:23 am

    They make a good point here, going with any prepaid service you run the risk of coming up against bad customer service. At least with Net10 Unlimited the perks are worth it, unlimited everything for a good price from a provider I like and trust, pretty hard to beat.

  36. Lyssa on October 20, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Umm the net 10 unlimited plan doesn’t sound like that great of a deal when w/ boost mobile you get unlimited TALK TEXT MMS SMS DATA WEB & WALKIE TALKIE all completely unlimited for a flat $50 no hidden fees, I’ve had boost for about 8 yrs. Now

  37. Joy on October 31, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Between the service of net10 and boost mobile, i would have to give the check to net10. Besides they are both unlimited talk/text/web/email for $50 but only net10 lets you switch between there plans of unlimited and $25 for 750 minutes depending on how many minutes you need that month. And i think that is a great idea that only net10 is doing right now.

  38. Rob on November 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I got my Net10 cell phone last month and I LOVE IT It’s my 1st cell phone ever, and I have to say it’s a good cell phone and I have the Unlimited plan it ROCKS I say if your going to get a cell phone for your kids or just for you I would go with a NET10 Cell phone no contracts no hidden fees no down payments you just activate your cell phone and call text what ever you want to do.

  39. Roy on November 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    i have it and i love it

  40. Fred on January 26, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Had Net10 unlimited for $54 a month, total. “You can’t beat the price.” Phone support is so rigid, plan on 1-2 hours per call. Don’t count on them for anything complicated. Transferring a number? Hope it’s not your primary number. They lost mine. No refunds for a partial month. TMobile network. Samsung T401G keyboard is the worst.
    Get what you pay for.

  41. barbatoooo on January 29, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Reading this makes me a little more glad that i decided to buy a net10 phone. The reasons that i first wanted to get one was because of there unlimited $50/month plan that requires no contract. And reading this article just convinced me even more especially the section on the network coverage, that is awesomeeeehaha

  42. Drew Angleson on January 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    OMG I love Net10 soooo much. My Samsung T401G is the bomb and my service is great. Never have I had a dropped call and I’m loving it.

  43. Yosh on March 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Net10 Unlimited is a great plan for people not looking to spend alot but still want great service. Net10 unlimited has helped me to see wireless prepaid use as a good option.

  44. orlando on July 29, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Any one still deal with net10 , now I have been having all kind of problems with my unlimited plan, recently ,Ive had for 3 yrs.

  45. orlando on July 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    they shut me down for 3 weeks no refund all kinds of problems. is any one else having this kind of head aches with net 10?

  46. Brent on December 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    does net10 run at 3g speeds
    what is the speed is it more like 2g?

  47. Josh on January 6, 2013 at 3:29 am

    I have had a great experience with Net10 Wireless and get full 4G speeds on the T-Mobile network. Service is nationwide and unlimited service for $50 a month. You can view current plans and phones at http://www.net10wirelessphones.com