1 - Plan Description
The US Cellular Prepaid plans start at $35 per month for unlimited talk, text and varying amounts of data. There is also a $25 plan for basic phones (not smartphones). These used to be called "Simple Connect" plans but are now just referred to as their prepaid plans.
But first lets look at their coverage. This Illinois-based company has its own network with pretty good coverage in the United States. However, they only actually offer service in a limited number of areas. Their coverage maps look fine. However, to find out where you can actually get their service you have to look at a map of their licensed markets as shown above.
They offer 4G LTE coverage via their partner King Street Wireless, a company based in Northern Virginia. Their website names about two dozen local markets where they provide coverage for these plans.
US Cellular launched their monthly prepaid plans, then called Simple Connect, in 2014. These plans replaced their earlier no-contract plans, and they really were simple (unlike their contract plans). They have remained essentially the same though now offer more data as is the general trend.
For $45 per month you get unlimited talk, text and data including 1GB of high-speed data. The $55 and $65 plans offer 5GB and unlimited (actually 22GB) high speed data respectively.
There is a handy widget on their site to estimate how much data you might need. I plugged in a few typical number of what this might be, however, this assumes you will not be doing this over WiFi. If you have WiFi access for significant parts of the day, then your usage will likely be quite a bit less than what the widget predicts.
When you twiddle the dials, you'll notice that streaming (HD) video has the greatest impact on usage.
These estimates should apply whether you finally go with this carrier or another carrier.
One drawback of US Cellular prepaid plans is that it is possible that you could pay roaming charges. Their coverage map states that it's possible you may have to pay roaming charges even at the borders of the covered areas.
Their full line-up of phones is available under both their prepaid and contract plans. Separate pricing is displayed for each type. For example, the iPhone 7 Plus is available prepaid for $718.99 or under an installment plan for $25.60 per month for 30 months with their contract plan. When you actually multiply that out, it comes to $768.00, and you can basically consider the $49 difference as a finance charge.
Phones available range from recent iPhones to phones like the the refurbished LG G4 for $99.99 and even the LG Classic or LG K3 for just $19.99
There are a few promo codes available for certain phones. For example, you could save $50 on all Prepaid Contract Smartphones $199.99 and over by entering the promo code KEATON, MALLORY, or HAPPYHAPPY at checkout. Online only.
A few basic flip phones are still available such as the LG Envoy III, LG Wine III and Kyocera Dura XA. The Kyocera model is a rugged model designed for use in the field and is priced accordingly. The others are a little less expensive, but not by that much considering they're basic phones, although the Wine III is quite sleek.
Cellular Country used to carry a good selection of refurbished phones ranging from about $34.99 for basic phones to around $200 for some pretty good Android phones. According to Cellular Country they verified all these phones to work with US Cellular. However, when I last checked their website (02/23/2015), they did not have any devices available.
The updated US Cellular prepaid plans are pretty competitive for smartphones, a good way of trying out their service and getting a good deal on a smartphone.
Prepaid Plans › U.S. Cellular
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