Clark Howard: Don’t overpay for Android service

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardIn one of my recent columns, I told you about a cellular service called Republic Wireless offering unlimited talk, text and web for $19 a month. But that’s for people who want a fancy Android smartphone.

Most people just want a simple phone that calls and texts. Now there’s a $12/month plan from Page Plus called “The 12,” where you get 250 voice minutes, 250 text messages and a small amount of data for very light web surfing every month — a great deal for moderate users. Visit PagePlusCellular.com for more details.

Page Plus has a number of other low-cost plans available. They tend to price a little lower than mega-competitor Straight Talk, which starts at $30/month for 1,000 texts and 1,000 voice minutes. By comparison, Page Plus’ $30/month plan bests them by offering 1,200 minutes and 3,000 text messages.

Meanwhile, another competitor called Net 10 is running a limited-time promotion of $30 per month for unlimited everything when you buy a participating phone for $40-$70 and enroll in auto refill for 12 months. After 12 months, the rate jumps up to $50. Visit Offers.Net10.com for more details.

Finally, Consumer Reports has done a new rating of cell phone service providers in its January issue. Non-contract giant Straight Talk scored higher than any of the big four contract players. Straight Talk gives you an Android for $45 with unlimited calling and texting and a generous data cap.

The worst marks go to AT&T, which got one of the lowest scores from Consumer Reports I’ve ever seen for any company in any industry. They came in dead last in 22 of the nation’s largest markets. By contrast, the best of the big four contract players was Verizon, with Sprint on its heels.

-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs

Find more answers to your consumer questions, plus Clark’s new book “Living Large in Lean Times,” at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.

Want to learn how to coupon? Or have questions about the process? Join us on the blog for our live chat with Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson on Jan. 31 at 11 a.m.

4 comments Add your comment

Dane

January 26th, 2012
7:36 am

Clark – What about coverage? Most people do not live inside the perimeter of Atlanta. Isn’t service available for only the big four (ATT, Verizon, Sprint, ???)?

Tucker resident

January 26th, 2012
12:25 pm

I just signed up for Page Plus’s 1200 minutes/3000 texts plan for $30. They use Verizon’s network as I understand it so the coverage should be good. I love not having a contract.

Carl Spackle

January 26th, 2012
1:38 pm

I couldn’t agree more with the horrible rating CR gave AT&T. Calling customer service can be a nightmare–arrogant and apathetic reps are the norm. Network coverage is spotty especially inside the perimeter. Going to one of their corporate stores for customer service has also been an exercise in futility.

Mark

January 26th, 2012
3:34 pm

I have the Straight Talk plan with my android phone. I drive a truck all over the U.S. and coverage is great. However Straight Talk has started calling me saying I use too much data and if I don’t cut back they will terminate my service. Guess their unlimited data plan is not unlimited.