Net10 Prepaid Phone Info
I started this blog mainly to cover TracFone topics, but recently I’ve been getting a lot of interest from people considering Net10 as well, for the following reasons:
- The release of the Net10 mp3 player/1.3 MP camera/full Bluetooth phone, the Motorola EM326g
- Fewer phone + airtime bundles being offered on TracFone.com
- Fewer good TracFone Promotional Codes
- All new Net10 activations will start you out with 300 free minutes and 60 days of service
- Current Net10 Promotional Codes give an $8 discount on Net10 orders – see links later in this article
Since more people are reconsidering Net10, I thought now would be a good time to revisit an article I initially published over a year ago, comparing TracFone and Net10. For those that don’t know, TracFone and Net10, as well as the recent upstart Straight Talk Wireless, are owned by the same parent company. Below, I’ve cut-and-pasted some of the text from that old article, making a few updates where necessary:
Advantages of both Net10 and Tracfone compared to other prepaid providers:
- EXCELLENT coverage with either CDMA or GSM (but not both on the same phone), due to network usage contracts with major carriers. A Trac or Net10 phone using either of these technologies will get good coverage around the US
- Roaming is free on all phones currently available for sale from these companies
- Minutes never expire as long as you keep service active
- Minutes can be transferred to another phone with the same service.
- Number of minutes left on the phone and expiration date are clearly displayed
- Low cost to get started
- Phones are inexpensive
- You can port your number in from your current carrier (including from TracFone to Net10, or vice versa). In many cases, this will take less than 24 hours.
Disadvantages of both Net10 and Tracfone compared to other providers:
- Limited selection of phones, and many lack the latest features of other phones
- No free nights and weekends
- No free in-network calling
Okay, that pretty much covers how the two services are similar, and how Tracfone and Net10 compare to other prepaid services. Now for the differences between these two related companies:
- Net10 generally charges more for the phones initially. This is to compensate for the 300 minutes offered on activation, and to cover the cost to Net10 of a lower retail rate being offered on the minutes compared to Tracfone.
- With Net10, you MUST add at least 150 minutes per month. Note that you can add several months at a time, or enroll in a program that automatically adds 150 minutes or other denominations every month. Using Net10’s full retail pricing structure, this means you will be paying a minimum of $15 per month to keep your phone number and the minutes you’ve already paid for but haven’t yet used up.
- With Net10 there are no “Promotional codes” or “Double Minutes for Life” as with Tracfone. So what you see is pretty much what you get in terms of refill cards, with the exception of the package deals I discussed here.
- TracFone offers a wider variety of airtime card denominations.
- Net10’s refill cards offer more variety in terms of the number of days they extend your expiration date.
Net10 vs. Tracfone Conclusion
Since Net10 started, they had a smaller selection of phones than Tracfone. In the last year, Net10 has really caught up to TracFone in terms of the variety and quality of phones offered. In fact, Net10 actually has moved ahead, at least temporarily, with the Motorola EM326g.
If you are someone that uses your cell phone somewhere in the range of 150 to 300 minutes per month, I think that Net10 is the best option among prepaid providers. Other prepaid providers definitely have nicer phones, and some are comparable on the cost per minute.
But no other prepaid services compare to Net10 (or Tracfone) in terms of coverage. If you have a Net10 (or Tracfone) phone and there’s a compatible network available, you’ll be able to make and receive calls. Even better, you’ll pay a flat rate regardless of whether it’s “home” or “roaming” coverage. In my experience, other prepaids can’t make this claim, either in terms of roaming on other available networks, or charging a flat rate for calls made while “roaming.”
To sum it up, if you are using less than about 150 minutes per month, I still recommend Tracfone. There you have more options available in terms of the minimum monthly cost to keep your phone active. And if you’ll regularly use more than 300 minutes per month, the new Straight Talk Wireless service seems like a great way to go, though that service is relatively new so I don’t have a lot of information on it yet.
But if your usage falls in the 150-300 minutes per month range, I’d say Net10 is a good choice. I strongly recommend one of the phone plus airtime package deals for either $22 or $52 – it’s a great way to start off your Net10 service. Click here for more details. If you then decide that you’re happy with the Net10 service, it’s easy to upgrade to a nicer phone – perhaps the Motorola EM326g mp3/camera phone for $52 – a month or two down the road.