Straight Talk Vs. Simple Mobile: Budget Carrier Showdown

The average single line cell phone bill in the US is over $80 a month (up from $63 in 2010). While other countries have seen their monthly phone service costs declined, cell service prices in the US are only trending upward. For example, prices in the UK have dropped over this same period from $36 to $30 per month. And most other countries tell the same story. 

Enter budget carriers. These carriers promise to save you money, eliminate contracts, and make the whole process much more manageable. This article looks at two Tracfone-owned brands, Straight Talk and Simple Mobile, to help you determine if either is a good option for you. 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile

How Straight Talk and Simple Mobile are Similar

Tracfone Logo

Tracfone is the largest prepaid carrier in the US. Aside from their own brand, they also operate PageCell, Total Wireless, Telcel, Straight Talk, and Simple Mobile, among others. 

All of these brands are mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). This means they do not own nor operate cell towers. Instead, they lease space from either or multiple of the big four national carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile). 

Among all the Tracfone brands, Straight Talk and Simple Mobile have the most in common. Both target moderate to heavy data users on tighter budgets. Their prices and data allotments are quite similar as well. Depending on when you sign up, one more may have a better deal than the other. But most plans are with $5 of each other. 

Skip the Details: Who’s better? 

In looking at Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile for a single line, you just need to check who’s offering a better promotion that month. Their prIces are usually quite similar, but you can find some good discounts depending on when you’re looking. 

Straight Talk doesn’t have a family plan. You can do 2-lines and unlimited for $90 per month. With Simple Mobile, you can get up to 5 lines starting at $130 per month. Their family plan prices are some of the best you can find anywhere. 

Finally, Simple Mobile uses T-Mobile. Straight Talk can use the AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile network. Depending on where you live, it may be a better option to use Straight Talk if Verizon or AT&T has better service in your area. 

About Straight Talk 

Straight Talk Carrier Logo

Tracfone operates Straight Talk as a simple, affordable option for data-hungry users on a budget. 

Walmart has an agreement with Straight Talk to retail its products in-store exclusively. So you won’t find it anywhere else, in-store. But you can purchase Straight Talk phones and service plans both online and by phone. 

Straight Talk Pros

  • Great coverage on all major cell networks 
  • Large number of compatible BYOD phones
  • Competitive speeds even with big four carriers
  • No credit check 
  • Cheap activation $.99
  • Large selection of Android and iPhones with promo discounts 
  • Good international options (with an added fee) 

Straight Talk Cons 

  • Only three primary plans
  • Hotspot only available on $55 plan
  • No family plans 
  • Below average customer service

About Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile logo

Simple Mobile offers no-contract, 30-day plans including unlimited talk and text and varying amounts of high-speed data. The mobile virtual network operator was founded in 2009. Tracfone acquired in 2012 and decided to get the brand as separate unique operating alongside other subsidiaries. 

You can find Simple Mobile in a large selection of stores include Tracfone Wireless retailers, Best Buy, 711, Walgreens, and other local dealers. 

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Simple Mobile Pros

  • Great coverage on all major cell networks 
  • Plans ranging for all budgets 
  • Large number of compatible BYOD phones
  • Hotspot on all plans
  • Competitive speeds even with big four carriers
  • No credit check 
  • Live chat
  • Good-priced family plans
  • Cheap activation $.99
  • Large selection of Android and iPhones with promo discounts

Simple Mobile Cons 

  • Plans options can be confusing 
  • Some users reported SMS messaging errors
  • Limited features

Straight Talk Plans

Straight Talk Plans

Straight Talk makes things easy. They provide three main plans from $35-55 per month. Don’t be misled by the words “unlimited.” Their unlimited plans are for an allotment of data at 4G LTE speeds that are then slowed down to 2G speeds after it’s used up. Technically, they’re still unlimited, but you won’t be able to do much at those speeds. 

These are the three plans: 

  • 3 GB: $35 per month ($34 with Auto-refill)
  • 25 GB: $45 per month ($44 with Auto-refill) 
  • Unlimited+ 10 GB Hotspot: $55 per month ($50/month for three months with Auto-refill) 

Along with this, they offer a 2-line, unlimited plan for $90 per month. You can add-on other features like international calling, additional data, and other features on most plans. 

Simple Mobile Plans

Simple Mobile’s tagline is “there’s a plan for everyone.” Currently, they offer these five plans: 

  • 3 GB: $25 per month ($20 with Auto-refill for first three months) 
  • 5 GB: $30 per month ($28.50 with Auto-refill)
  • 15 GB: $40 per month ($37.50 with Auto-refill) 
  • Truly unlimited-5 GB Hotspot: $50 per month ($45.00 with Auto-refill) 
  • Truly unlimited- 15 GB Hotspot: $60 per month ($57.00 with Auto-refill) 

Winner: It’s complicated. On the lower end of data, Simple Mobile is the winner. But once you get into more data per month, you can see the specific price point. Both offer good prices so calculate your needs and see. If you don’t need much hotspot data, however, it’s hard to beat the $50 unlimited plan. 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile: Family Plans

Compared to major carriers, Straight Talk’s 2-line, unlimited plan for $90 is quite competitive. Simple Mobile really blows Straight Talk out of the water. Simple Mobile customers can get the same 2-line plan for $75. 

And the prices get better with each line you add. Overall, Simple Mobile’s family plans aren’t just better than Straight Talk’s but among the most competitively priced out of all carriers. 

Winner: Simple Mobile. 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile: Coverage and Performance 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile

Both Straight Talk and Simple Mobile are MVNOs. This means they use the more extensive, nationwide networks. The downside here is all MVNOs (even those owned by the parent network) may occasionally face deprioritization. 

This means during times of network congestion, or if a user has consumed large quantities of data (usually in excess of 40 GB per month), they’re data speed may be slowed. In reality, these issues rarely affect the average user. 

Even during network congestion, you’ll still be able to browse at decent speeds. Likewise, streaming video is capped at “DVD quality” of 480P. This looks fine on a mobile device, but you may have issues if your casting to a larger screen. 

The major difference between Simple Mobile and Straight Talk is the carriers the use. Simple Mobile is exclusively tied to T-Mobile. If T-Mobile coverage is good in your area, then you’ll have no issue. Your download and upload speeds will be comparable to T-Mobile customers. 

The benefit to Straight Talk is you can choose from any of the four major networks. But you do have to select one. You don’t have the advantage of bouncing off one and then another. If you bring a Verizon phone, you’ll use Verizon’s Network. The same goes for AT&T and so on. 

If you bring an unlocked phone or purchase one from Straight Talk, you’ll use a GSM network, either T-Mobile or AT&T. You can easily search your area to see which provider has the best coverage to make your decision. 

Winner: Straight Talk (barely). With Straight Talk, you can choose any network. The added flexibility is good. But if T-Mobile works well in your area, either carrier is a good option. 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile: BYOD and Phones

Straight Talk iPhone 11 lease

This is another area where you can tell Straight Talk and Simple have the same parent company. Both companies have to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) options and sim kits for $0.99. 

Both companies have a very similar online store offering a variety of budget smartphones for under $300. Specific deals may be different, so be sure to check each site before buying.  

Both also offer the opportunity to lease a phone through Affirm Financing. However, the long term interest rate is 10%, which can be expensive on higher-end phones. Leasing from an MVNO isn’t the best deal because of this. 

You’re better off purchasing a phone outright or leasing through one of the big four providers. The major carriers don’t charge any interest and have a wide variety of incentives. 

Winner: Tie 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile: Rewards

Both companies offer the same rewards program. Even the websites are identical. Same points and the same rewards. 

Winner: Tie 

Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile: Customer Service

The one area where you’ll really feel the difference between a major carrier and a budget option is customer service. If you thought AT&T or Sprint’s customer service was bad, wait until you encounter Straight Talk’s or Simple Mobile’s. 

With both of these companies, expect to solve most issues for yourself. Customers routinely have trouble porting their old names or other technical problems. But if you just need monthly service and can keep things simple, you shouldn’t have any issues. 

Simple Mobile does have a slight advantage in they do offer live chat on their website while Straight Talk doesn’t. 

Here are the toll-free numbers for both services

  • Straight Talk: 1-877-430-2355
  • Simple Mobile: 1-877-878-7908

Winner: Simple Mobile (barely). 

Bottom Line: Straight Talk vs. Simple Mobile

Smart Phone User

Both Straight Talk and Simple Mobile are two pretty solid alternatives for big carriers. Their coverage and performance are good, and as far as cell service goes, you’ll likely not notice a difference. 

It all comes down to the quality of T-Mobile in your area. If T-Mobile works well, then either is the right choice. But if AT&T or Verizon has better coverage, you may want to opt for Straight Talk. 

Overall, these carriers are quite similar. You can’t really go wrong with either, so check the current promotions to find the best deal for your needs. Since they both are no-contract, you can always try out the other if you’re curious. 

Visit the Buyback Boss blog for more carrier comparisons. Here’s a breakdown of two other budget options: MetroPCS vs. Mint Mobile. Or see how a budget carrier stacks up against a national carrier in this battle between MetroPCS and Verizon. Unlock everything you need to know about smartphones, apps, accessories, and more on our blog!