Sti Mobile is the plan that doesn't die! Despite the fact that the parent company of filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy (thanks Bob) a while back, the site is still around and presumable still providing cell phone service.
You could get an STi Mobile prepaid cell phone, if you hate needlessly complicated plans, as I do.
As another mobile virtual network operator, it does have a few things going for it. For one, it uses Sprint’s PCS network which is pretty good. They have good rates however their selection of phones is very limited.
The best (or worst) thing about it is that it’s focused on talking (and texting) as opposed to downloading ringtones, music or games. This is not a plan for entertaining yourself. The plan itself doesn't seem to have changed much over the years I've been covering them. Everytime I check back in, I find just a few minor changes. The phones themselves don't seem to have changed for a couple of years.
Sti Mobile phones are not exactly available everywhere like some of the bigger brands, but you still have quite a few choices.
You can purchase phones and airtime online. When you buy one of their current phones online, you also get $20 of airtime.
I used to see STiMobile phone in retail locations, but haven't seen them recently, so I don't know if they are still available, as in the past, from big box stores like Staples or pharmacies like RiteAid, and even some convenience stores like Cumberland Farms.
Just to say thank you for your review of the STI prepaid service. I need a transition phone and bought one for pennies at a close out. Never activated the phone d\t lack of need and wariness. Having just activated my phone, I found your site while looking for B&M refill location (I need a hard copy receipt), the positive review was a true bonus. Nice site keep up the good work.
Robert, Thanks for your kind words. Take care.
Sti Mobile's coverage is based on the Sprint PCS network. Therefore, coverage should be okay, but you have to check out your own area for yourself.
You can choose between two STi Mobile handsets from their website: the LG 225 or Sanyo 200. Yes, they still sell just these two models.
The LG 225 is the only camera phone available. It costs $59.99 and you receive $20 of airtime with an online purchase.
I will use that offer to compare how much you would spend with
the rate plans. Other phones are also reduced for there official price
as they are sold as phone/airtime packages. You can see a review of the Tracfone version of the phone here.
This basic flip phone with voice dialing costs $36.99 and also includes $20 of airtime. I haven't reviewed many Sanyo phones - the only one being the more modern flip phone SCP-3810 which used to be offered by Platinumtel before they switched networks.
There are two pay as you go and two monthly STi Mobile plans. There is also a $4.95 activation fee (see complaint below).
Also known as "Plan 1" this StiMobile Easy plan cost 8.9 cents per minute. However there is also a daily charge of 9 cents which works out to about $2.70 per month.
Also known as "Plan 2" this Easy plan cost 7.9 cents per minute, however the daily charge is a much higher 25 cents. If charged every day that would work out to $7.50 per month. The minimum yearly cost is 91.25 plus 4.95 (activation).
So brushing off my high school algebra, I found you would need to talk for a little over 2600 minutes a year to justify Plan #2 over Plan #1. That’s about 217 minutes a month or about 7 minutes a day. A pretty reasonable scenario.
Also known as "Plan 3", the Xtra Talk plan costs $29.99 a month for unlimited nights and weekends with nights defined as starting at 7 pm. Daytime weekday minutes cost 15 cents a minute. It's kind of weird that no daytime minutes are included in the plan.
Also known as "Plan 4", this Xtra Talk plan costs 24.99 for unlimited nights and weekends, with nights defined as starting at 9 pm. Daytime minutes cost 20 cents.
All the STi Mobile plans have the same rates for "data". Text messages cost 5 cents each. Web browsing costs 19 cents per day extra. Picture messages and/or web browsing costs an extra 29 cents a day (though each picture message also counts as one text message). And finally, using the Walkie Talkie feature costs an extra 49 cents per day.
You can buy STi Mobile airtime cards for $10, $25, $50 or $100.
You can buy your airtime directly online or refill your phone by dialing *555 and entering the PIN code of the airtime card. If your airtime balance goes to zero, you have 14 days to add airtime or else you may lose your number.
You can activate your STi Mobile phone online or by calling their 800 number. I recommend activating online because you have to enter all these activation codes, and this is usually easier when you’re staring at them on a screen rather than listening to an “activation specialist” reading them out to you on the phone. One exception is when you’re porting your number from another provider. Then you do have to go the 800 number route.
While nobody likes activation fees, the $4.95 activation fee is not too bad compared to the $35 and $20 fees charged by some other companies. Still, it's not as good as other prepaid cell phone providers who actually offer varying amounts of free airtime when you activate. You get a brief feeling when you see your complimentary airtime that the company values your business. With an activation fee, it’s the opposite. Upon activation, it’s like having a chunk of your minutes whisked away from in front of you.
The good thing is that the activation fee is only charged one, but is non-refundable.
You make international calls using your STi Mobile phone to many countries for no additional charges. For the countries where there is an additional charges, the rates are not the lowest, but not bad either.
All in all, STi Mobile is an attractive option for prepaid cell phone service.
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You can look at the Sprint article to check out other providers that rely on that network. Here are a few other smaller providers that use one of the other major networks - AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon.
If you want a provider on the AT&T network, Red Pocket fits the bill.
PlatinumTel used to be on Sprint, but now they've switched over to the T-Mobile network and changed their name to PTel. This means you can use an unlocked GSM phone with their plans.