My Experience with NET10 Prepaid Cellular
I don't use my cell phone much. I can always be reached in the office or at home on my regular landlines. And I'm not one to talk on the phone when I'm out with friends. So I use my cell phone only for quick calls to touch base or to make meeting arrangements.
A few years ago I decided to reduce my cellular costs. But I also wanted to keep the same number and I didn't want to accept a lower quality of service.
So I did my research and narrowed it down to two. TracFone and NET10. As it turns out, TracFone owns Net10.
Both TracFone and NET10 offer prepaid airtime that can be added to the phone when needed. They both let you keep your unused minutes as long as you keep the service by adding more minutes before the expiration date.
Comparing NET10 to My Old Plan
I did some calculations and realized that I was paying 50¢ a minute with my old subscription service due to the fact that I used it so little and still had to pay the high monthly fees. There is no monthly fee with NET10, and my per-minute charges are only 10¢.
You can have NET10 service for only $15 per month and get 150 minutes added to your service each month. What you don't use will carry forward to cover you in those months when you might have a lot of usage. I suddenly needed to use almost 1000 minutes one month but I still paid just $15 since I had enough accumulated from prior months that had rolled forward.
If your usage is higher, you can save even more. For example, NET10 has a prepaid plan with 600 minutes for 30 days and it costs just $45. Do the math! That's less than 8¢ per minute!
NET10 Prepaid Service Plans
Days of Service
Unused NET10 Prepaid Minutes Never Expire
I like the fact that with NET10 I only pay for the minutes I buy. In that sense there really is no monthly fee.
Any unused minutes roll forward. So if I have a high-usage month, I still don't pay extra since I'm just using the unused minutes that accumulated from prior months.
After a few years of using NET10, I already have over 5000 minutes in my account that added up from prior unused minutes.
There is one thing to keep in mind. You have to add more minutes and time before you use it up, otherwise you lose your service. As long as you add minutes and time before time expiration, any unused minutes will carry forward. And if you add it sooner than the present term expires, the remaining time is kept also. Nothing is ever lost! No games are played! My old AT&T service had rollover. But they played games. The rolled over minutes expired after one year. Not with NET10. I have proof! I had my service for several years now.
If you are worried about forgetting, the best thing to do is register for the $15 a month automatic renewal. This is not a contract so it can be canceled at any time, but it gives you the security of keeping your service since it automatically adds 30 days and 150 minutes every month so you don’t lose your number.
There Are Many Phones Available For Your NET10 Service
You can buy your NET10 phone in the store or from their web site. They also have phones at no charge when you buy it with minutes from their site.
The phone needs to be activated by adding minutes. The first time you do that, you can have a random local number assigned to the phone, or you can request to transfer your existing number from your present carrier.
Some phones include extra minutes when purchased. I selected one that included a camera, speakerphone, and 300 minutes. That alone saved me money already in the first month.
The phone was shipped free (that offer of free shipping may end soon) in two days and then the fun part started. They allow one to check out the phone and return it if not happy. But I was delighted with the condition and features of my new phone. So my next step was to activate it.
Transferring Your Number to NET10
When I make a decision I go all the way, so I decided to transfer my number rather than starting with a temp number. I could have transferred it later if I wanted to, but they say it can take up to two weeks to transfer, so I wanted to get it started right away.
You can initiate the transfer over the phone with customer service, or you can do it on their web site. I am comfortable doing things on my own, so I logged in on the site and entered all the info about my present AT&T service that they needed in order to initiate the transfer. Transfers can be done from any other carrier as well.
Lo and behold, exactly 17 minutes later they called me to tell me they had my number and all I need to do is activate the phone with the free 300 minutes that were included.
Seventeen minutes!!! I found out later that it was transferred so fast because the service is really still handled by AT&T. For that matter, NET10 buys airtime in bulk from major carriers so they get a really great deal. That is how they can offer such a low per-minute price to their customers.
If your prior service is not with AT&T it may take longer to transfer. That's because the RespOrg needs to be changed. RespOrg stands for Responsible Organization, which is the carrier who handles your number. In the worst case it should be done within 24 to 48 hours.
Activating Your Phone With NET10 Customer Service
Okay, so I went through the steps of activation. The agent who called me gave me some codes to enter into the phone. It didn't work. She told me it will take time now for the codes to register and I should see the 300 minutes appear on the phone's display in 15 minutes. Never happened.
I called customer service and waited the standard 10-minute hold-time. The service reps are always very courteous, but I found out that they don't quite do everything right. The next service rep had me enter the same codes again. And again I was told to wait 15 minutes after that. Still no good.
I must say, with all due respect, that my experience with customer service was several years ago. It may be better now.
Activating Your NET10 Phone Online
Anyway, I decided to try activating it on my own. I logged into my NET10 account online and followed the steps to enter the activation codes.
It was a little different from what customer service reps had told me. This time when I completed it by following along online, the phone came to life immediately. No 15-minute wait at all!
Poor Customer Service
My experience several years ago may not be true anymore today. I know NET10 has improved customer service tremendously since I began using it.
I haven’t needed any help since then so I can’t say for sure, but at that time the agents didn't speak English very well and they always sounded like they are looking up scripts or other information in their notes. They didn't seem educated about the product.
I must say, the product itself is exceptional! You can't find a better deal anywhere! I really know that from my own experience. I've stuck with it because it saves me money and it always works when I need it.
Testing the Phone with a Nice Surprise
I started out making some phone calls to and from the phone to test it out. No problems whatsoever.
Then came the big surprise. I tested calling my phone without answering. I heard my voice mail greeting and it let me leave myself a message. But I never set up my voicemail yet! It was already setup and had my greeting that I had recorded back when I was with AT&T. That's how I know the service for NET10 is really AT&T.
If you transfer from Verizon, Alltel or T-Mobile it may be the same thing. I can’t say. But these are all the carriers that NET10 buys airtime from. And when you use NET10 you actually share all the towers so you get the best signal of whatever carrier is the strongest where you are. How cool is that!
Bring Your Own Phone
Now you can even use your own phone. You can get a NET10 SIM card that works with most any unlocked AT&T or T-Mobile phone.
It works with Net10's $50 unlimited 30-Day Monthly plan. And, as with all their plans, there is no contract.
Unlimited Prepaid Data Plans for Smartphones
NET10 deducts half a minute of airtime per text message that you send or receive.
That's not bad for texting. But web browsing or sending pictures by e-mail from your phone uses airtime based on the size of the file. The data stream may use up your minutes real fast.
The fees for unlimited plans vary from $35 a month to $75 a month depending on how many minutes of data you need at high speed.
To get 4G LTE speed you need a 4G LTE capable device. Data over the limit is still unlimited at no extra charge, but at a reduced speed at 2G, which is 64 KBPS.
Unlimited Data Plans
Cost per 30 days
500 MB at High Speeds, then at 2G
1.5 GB at High Speeds, then at 2G
5 GB at High Speeds, then at 2G
5 GB at High Speeds, then at 2G
5 GB at High Speeds, then at 2G for 3 lines
How to Disable the Web Browser On Older Phones
The older flip phones include web browsing just like smart phones. But instead of a data plan, they deduct minutes. This can use up your minutes really quick. If you accidentally start the web browser, the best thing to do is shut the lid if you have a flip phone. I have done that a few times and fumbled or the end key in panic. I found that flipping the phone shut stops it before any minutes are deducted if you do it fast enough.
There is a way to disable the web browser on some phones. Select SETTINGS then SECURITY then LOCK APPLICATION. Select the Browser and lock it. Then if you hit the browser key after that it will ask for a phone lock code.
Pay-As-You-Go Prepaid Airtime Cards or Monthly Plans
Since I use my phone basically for emergencies, I like to add 300-minutes every other month for $30. If I need more at any time I can simply buy more time.
If you like subscriptions, NET10 will give you the same deal by adding 150 minutes per month automatically and charge your credit card just $15 each month. That comes out to about the same thing.
And you never have to worry. That's still not a contract. You can cancel anytime and take your number with you. But as long as you stay with it you continue to keep unused minutes with rollover. And believe me – they add up. I use my phone more now and I still pay only $15 a month. That’s the advantage of believing in the service and taking advantage of honest non-expiring rollover.
NET10® is a registered trademark of TracFone Wireless, Inc.
© 2015 Glenn Stok
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