U.S. Cellular offers a no contract prepaid cell phone plan. Before investigating the plan, you should find out if they provide service in your area. Enter your zip code or city and state in their service area page. Unfortunately, US cellular is not offered in New York, Georgia or California. In an attempt to find out which areas US cellular services, I inserted a Chicago zip code and found that they do offer services there.
Not wanting to spend the entire day inserting various zip codes, I strongly suggest that you check out whether or not U.S. Cellular services your area before reading the rest of this review.
US Cellular Pay Per Use Service
The US Cellular pay per use plan charges $.10 per minute and $.25 per text message. This plan does not include data packages and will cost you $10 per month. This plan works well for individuals who only use their cell phone for emergencies. However, if you are a heavy cell phone user, you should check out the packaged plans listed below.
No Contract Cell Phone Packages through US Cellular
US Cellular offers several prepaid talk packages ranging from $29 per month up to $69 a month. The combination varies depending on how much talk time, and whether or not you include the Web and e-mail data package. Here are the plans offered by U.S. Cellular as of February, 2011:
|Talk Minutes||Texting||Web & Email||Monthly Cost|
Prepaid Cell Phone Selection
U.S. cellular has a wide variety of cell phones to choose from. Not all of the available phones are prepaid compatible, but even with the non compatible phones removed from the mix, you have 11 cell phones to choose from.
For those on a tight budget, US cellular offers the LG UX220 cell phone. This is a flip phone with a 1.8 inch LCD display. It does not have all the bells and whistles such as a full query keyboard or touch screen but if you only use a cell phone in emergencies, this one is a money saver.
If you prefer a touch screen, you can choose from the Samsung MessengerTM which comes in blue and black or the LG BanterTM which will cost anywhere between $49.99 and $59.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate.
When ordering a phone through the US Cellular website, make sure to stop by the Rebate Center prior to completing your order: (no sense in paying more than you have to for a cell phone).
Activation Charge for U.S. Cellular Prepaid Phones
You may save a bundle by not locking into a one-year or two-year long-term contract, but you must pay a whopping $50 activation fee in order to use your prepaid phone. I’ve seen other activation fees for prepaid cell phones but $50 is the highest I’ve come across so far (U.S. Cellular, c’mon, you can do better than that).
Once you have your US Cellular phone, you can pay your monthly bill in a number of ways. You can pay:
- Online after you set up an account on their website
- Via phone by calling 1-888-944-9400 from a land line or by dialing #PAY from your U.S. Cellular phone.
- By stopping at a U.S. Cellular Store
- By electronic bill payment (through your own bank or financial institution).
- Or, by snail mail by mailing our payment to one of the U.S. Cellular locations
While the monthly payment options for the US Cellular prepaid plans are comparable to some of the other service providers, that $50 activation fee is a little over the top.