If you are looking for a new cellular service provider, then you might have seen some commercials lately for Boost Mobile or Straight Talk. But which one of these is going to be the better choice for you? Let’s take some time to break down their coverage area, the cost of their plans, and some other crucial details that might make the decision easier.
We’ll start by listing some of the more vital elements to consider when it comes to both of these options.
- With Boost Mobile you get Tidal, their music streaming service; you also can get unlimited streaming HD movies and shows for an extra $20 per month
- They have many phone options from which to choose, including several Androids, iPhones, and a few LGs as well
- Their cheapest plans start at $30 per month with all the taxes and fees included, though that’s a stripped-down version where you only get 2GB of 4G LTE data
- Their service only covers 27% of the United States, which is not nearly as good as Verizon, AT&T, and some others
- They have plans with limited high-speed data as well as unlimited; you get a reduced rate on those plans if you’re willing to sign up for autopay each month
- Their products and services are sold at Walmart exclusively if you prefer a brick-and-mortar location, though you can also sign up over the phone or via their website
- They use the wireless networks for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile; which one your phone will run on depends on which model you have
- Some of their plans are extremely cheap, but Straight Talk’s users are prioritized behind other customers of the networks they are on during peak traffic times
The History of Boost Mobile
Two independent companies in Australia and the United States operate Boost Mobile. They are part of the same wireless telecommunications conglomerate. Peter Adderton founded Boost Mobile in Australia in 2000. There, it runs on the Telstra network. In America, the network used is referred to as Boost Worldwide Inc. It is a subsidiary of the Sprint Corporation, the parent company that bought them in 2005. Boost Mobile uses Sprint’s network to provide wireless service for its customers.
Boost Mobile’s headquarters is in Sydney, where they are a well-known brand among Australians. The company reached unprecedented heights a decade ago, but their subscription numbers have fallen off somewhat since then. They underwent a rebranding effort during the buyout in ‘05. They came up with a monthly unlimited plan in 2009 to compete with some of the other major US companies.
In the US, the brand has worked to remain relevant by marketing their plans and products to the youth market, such as those in high school and college. Their ad campaigns have featured stars from the rap, hip-hop, and R &B communities, as well as sports figures. Travis Barker, Fat Joe, Nick Cannon, Kanye West, and Ludacris have all shown up in their commercials. The company came up with the signature catchphrase, “where you at,” which each of these notables uttered at the end of each TV or radio spot.
The History of Straight Talk
When we’re talking about Straight Talk, what we are talking about is the history of parent company TracFone Wireless, of which Straight Talk is a division. TracFone Wireless is a no-contract mobile phone provider that offers prepaid products in America and elsewhere. Sometimes abbreviated as TFWI, TracFone is a subsidiary of America Movil. They are Mexico’s largest telecommunications company.
With products and services offered by several brands, TFWI is a powerhouse. They hold agreements to use the networks of some of the largest operators in the US, most notably the Sprint Corporation, AT&T Mobility, Verizon, and US Cellular. In 2015, they had over 25 million subscribers in the US and abroad.
Straight Talk has an agreement in place with Walmart. This joint venture makes the store chain the only brick-and-mortar locations that carry their products. However, you can also sign up with Straight Talk through their website or over the phone. They have several different plans and rates, some of them limited, other with unlimited high-speed data. You can get reduced rates for their plans if you sign up for autopay, as is the case with some other American service providers.
Does Boost Mobile or Straight Talk Have the Better Coverage Area?
The coverage area is always vital when you’re looking at cell phone service providers. In the case of Boost Mobile, you’re getting Sprint’s network. They have the fourth-best coverage in the nation. They rank behind Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Sprint’s coverage for 4G LTE data streaming isn’t that great. They cover 27% of the country, while with Verizon it’s 70%. It’s 59% for T-Mobile and 58% for AT&T.
With Straight Talk, you have a company that is piggybacking on all four of these networks. This makes them somewhat of an anomaly. You might get a situation where your phone plan through them has 4G LTE streaming data that’s coming from Verizon’s network, or it might be Sprint’s. Obviously, that would make a huge difference, since you’d be looking at 27% coverage vs. 70%.
The way that Straight Talk determines which of the networks it’s going to use for you is the phone model that you choose. If you’re thinking about signing up with them, then our advice would be to talk about this with them, either in-person at Walmart, over the phone, or on their website. Emphasize that you’re concerned about the coverage area, and ask them what network they will be using based on the phone model that you have.
This might end up being the determining factor as to whether you decide to go with them or another carrier.
Boost Mobile vs. StraightTalk: Service Plans
The service plans for Boost Mobile start at just $30 per month. With that particular plan, you get 2GB of 4G LTE data. You will have unlimited nationwide texting and talk capabilities. The term “unlimited” suggests that you get all of the data that you want. If you stream movies and shows all the time, though, then you’ll probably run out of that 2GB sometime during your allotted pay period. That doesn’t mean you will have no more data. Your streaming and web browsing will slow down, though, which might be enough for you to want to get the unlimited plan if you’re willing to pay more for it.
The unlimited GB plan from Boost Mobile will cost you $50 per month. You must another $30 if you want a secondary line.
Straight Talk has several tiers and plans available. Essentially, there are five different options, their costs being $10, $30, $35, $45, and $55. The $55 plan is the one where you get unlimited streaming 4G LTE data. After the allotted amount for the limited plans, your speed will drop to 2G.
It should also be noted that Straight Talk’s service plans do not include any hotspot tethering. You get a streaming video with them that is 480p resolution, which is true of most of the major US service providers. During times of congestion, Straight Talk’s customers are prioritized behind those of the network they are using, like Verizon, AT&T, etc. This might seem unfair at first glance, but that is part of why Straight Talk is able to offer rock-bottom service plan prices.
Perks Offered by these Companies
If you’re looking for perks, these aren’t exactly two of the best around. Let’s start with Boost Mobile.
Boost Mobile offers Tidal, its free music streaming service. It is similar to Spotify if you look at the various features and navigation. If you’re someone who likes music and prioritizes it, then you might be sold based on this addition, as it comes with virtually all of their plans. If you’re willing to pay an additional $20 per month, you can also get unlimited streaming HD shows and movies.
With Straight Talk, the perks come more in the way of incentives. If you refer a friend, for instance, then you can both get a free month of service. You also earn points by doing things like auto-renewing each month. You can cash in these points to get things like a free service plan or high-speed data add-on cards.
It’s hardly the perks that you’d get with a larger provider, like Verizon or T-Mobile. These sorts of add-ons are of secondary importance for Straight Talk’s customers, though, so it’s hardly surprising.
Are there Any Limitations About Which You Should Know?
The main limitation to consider when you are talking about Boost Mobile would be the network coverage. At fourth-best in the nation, it’s probably not something that’s going to thrill you as you’re doing a comparison with some of the other companies out there. There is also the issue of the company not accepting some phone models for use on their network. If you already have a phone and you want to see if they accept it, you’ll need to go on their website and see.
With Straight Talk, you might get an excellent coverage network, like Verizon’s, or a not so great one, like Sprint’s. You’ll need to determine that based on which phone model you use.
Which Carrier Has Better Phones?
If you go with Boost Mobile, there’s a wide selection of phone models that they do accept. You can get several of the latest Samsung Galaxy models, iPhones, and some LGs. If you are willing to accept an older model, then they might give it to you free to entice you to sign up. If you want the latest and most top-of-the-line, those are going to cost you more. You can either pay more upfront and less each month, or you can pay nothing down and get a heftier monthly bill.
With Straight Talk, many of the same models are available. Most Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and LGs can be yours. If you’re bringing your own phone, you’ll need to check with them to make sure that it’s supported.
Which Carrier Has Better Customer Service?
The customer service for Boost Mobile seems fine, if unremarkable. You can call and speak to someone over the phone if you have a question or a billing issue, or you can Live Chat on their website. They have 8,000 locations around the country, so you can also probably find one without much trouble in a heavily-populated area.
With Straight Talk, you can get in touch with someone via phone or the website as well. If you need to speak to someone in person, then you’ll be headed to the nearest Walmart. There are nearly 4,800 Walmart locations around the country. As for what kind of service you will get there, the prospect seems a little uncertain. You’d hope that everything will be fine, but there are certainly some horror stories out there from individuals who have encountered belligerent or disgruntled Walmart employees.
Boost vs. Straight Talk – Which One Should You Choose?
In choosing between these two options, it probably makes the most sense to ask yourself what you prioritize. It could be that based on their extremely low prices, you’ll opt for Straight Talk. It’s likely that what you’ll pay every month is going to be a little cheaper than would be the case with Boost Mobile. If there’s a Walmart close to you, that will certainly sweeten the deal.
However, one thing that we again want to stress is that you don’t know which network you’re going to be utilizing with Straight Talk unless you make a point of asking them about it. If they say that you’re getting network coverage through Verizon, for example, that’s going to make you feel more confident.
With Boost Mobile, you’re getting somewhat of a better-known commodity. Their plans might cost you a little more, on average, but you’re almost certainly going to be getting superior perks.