This site generally reviews American prepaid cell phone plans, but I came across 7-Eleven’s SpeakOut plan and thought it was worth a look see.
The SpeakOut plan is 7-Eleven’s prepaid cell phone service. It’s really pretty simple. All you have to do is walk into any 7-Eleven store, buy a SpeakOut phone and start talking. Each phone comes with 20 minutes of airtime. It really doesn’t get any easier than that.
Here are a few of the particulars
SpeakOut Coverage Area
Currently, the phones are only available for purchase in BC, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. Before even purchasing the phone, spend a little time reviewing the coverage area. According to the coverage map on their website “Actual coverage area may differ substantially from map graphics…” so you might want to contact them to find out if there is coverage in your calling area.
Available Prepaid Cell Phones
The Phone selections are limited. You get to choose one of three Nokia phones. The prices are $59 for the Nokia 1661, $99 for the Eclipse Nokia 2720 flip phone and $119 for the Jamma Nokia 5130.
All three phones have the speakerphone and FM radio feature. The Eclipse and Jamma have cameras and are blue tooth and data capable, but only the Nokia Jamma 5130 has an MP3 player. If you’re looking for basic phone service, the $59 option is a good deal.
7-Eleven SpeakOut Calling Rates
One unique quality with the SpeakOut phone is once you purchase airtime, it doesn’t expire for a full 365 days. I wish more prepaid cell phone service providers would offer such a feature. SpeakOut truly allows its users to buy time and use it only when they need it instead of having to buy more time every 30 or 60 days just to maintain service.
Airtime is purchased in $25 increments maxing out at $100. Each $25 gets 100 airtime minutes. So $25 gets 100 minutes, $50, 200 and so on up to 400 minutes for $100.
The rate per minute is 25 cents.
Text Messaging Costs
Here’s another nice perk. Incoming text messages are free. Its good to know you’re not penalized because of telemarketers (or should I say text-a-marketers). Outgoing text messages are 10 cents per message unless you purchase the $10/month bundle which gives you 2,500 outgoing text messages. Unlike airtime, the text messaging bundle expires 30 days after activation.
Web Browsing on Nokia Phones
Another great feature is the unlimited browsing or $10 a month. Keep in mind you can only browse the web if you selected the Nokia Eclipse or Jamma. Nokia 1661 is not web-enabled.
SpeakOut Free Features
The phones all come equipped with voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling and as mentioned above, free incoming text messages. You should be aware, however, that regular airtime rates apply when accessing voice mail or three-way calling.
The Downside to 7-Eleven’s SpeakOut Plan
All in all, I think the SpeakOut plan has a lot to offer. I’m just surprised that in the current technological internet age the plan does not allow you to purchase additional airtime online. You must go into a 7-Eleven to buy additional airtime.
My other concern is the rate of 25 cents per minute seems a bit high. I recently did a review on PlatinumTel and they charge 5 cents per minute while Net10’s prepaid plan charges 10 cents. Maybe it is the US/Canada differential, but 25 cents per minute seems a little steep.
Aside from those two concerns, the SpeakOut plan seems like a keeper (if you don’t mind spending 25 cents a minute).