Low-cost options for cell service


Some of the fastest growing cell phone services are also the cheapest non-contract players.

Metro PCS is booming in terms of profits and subscribers. They have ultra-cheap unlimited plans that feature unlimited data and texting.

Subscribers really get it and Metro’s customer base has now grown to roughly 9 million. This is despite that fact that Metro has had issues from time to time with customer service and will occasionally bring a product to market before the system is ready.

But people love those prices! The typical Metro plan is $40 each month for unlimited everything. If you want a fancy Android phone, you can run that price up to $60 each month for unlimited everything on a 4G network.

Metro is geared to heavy volume users. But their other competitor, TracFone, has several options for the price sensitive among their various brands.

Business is booming for TracFone too; they’ve had a 20% increase in subscribers in just 90 days. TracFone is the name behind Straight Talk, a joint venture with Wal-Mart that offers 1,000 minutes a month for $30 or a $45 plan for unlimited everything. The real downside to Straight Talk is that it features mostly Nokia phones that run on the inferior Symbian platform.

TracFone also has the Net10 brand where all calls and texts are 10 cents minute; and also has their own simple branded TracFone service that is generally for very light use like emergencies.

Finally, you might want to check out Sprint’s sub-brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. The latter offers an Android phone for $25 that gives unlimited text and web, plus 300 voice minutes.

Editor’s note: This segment originally aired in May 2011.

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