If you haven’t heard of Straight Talk Wireless, you likely aren’t a Walmart shopper, which exclusively sells the brand. Straight Talk promises deals on prepaid cellular plans. You might be wondering if it’s good enough to quit Verizon or another major carrier to save big on your monthly phone bill.
We’ve taken a look at the coverage, pricing, and other essential details to help you understand the differences between Straight Talk vs. Verizon. By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll be able to decide which is the best option for you.
Don’t Give Me the Details: Who’s the Winner?
Verizon. Verizon is not only the winner here, but is also the top phone carrier in the country. Not only that, they’ve recently unveiled affordable prepaid plans that start at $30, making them a serious competitor for anything Straight Talk offers as far as the price goes.
Here are some of the major reasons Verizon hands down beats Straights, but first, we’ll give a little background on what Straight Talk is.
What is Straight Talk Wireless?
Alt. Text: Straight Talk Display
Most of us are familiar with the big four carriers: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. These carriers offer nationwide service through a massive network of cellular towers, fiber optics cables, and other technologies.
Aside from the big four, there is a collection of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). These companies hold agreements to use one of the primary carrier networks. Straight Talk is another brand under TracFone Wireless. You may have seen other brands like PageCell, Telcel, and Simple Mobile. All of these are TracFoneBrands.
Straight Talk is an MVNO which runs on all four of the major carrier wireless network depending on the device. Although this might sound like a good thing because it implies that Straight Talk would have the most extensive coverage area, this doesn’t always happen in reality. We’ll go into more detail about that later.
Straight Talk has an agreement that makes Walmart its exclusive retailer. But you can buy both phones and cellular service directly from Straight Talk on its website or by phone.
Straight Talk Basics
Straight Talk has several different cellular plans. They generally include unlimited service for 30 days unless a customer has Auto-Refill. Auto-refill automatically renews any plans and may qualify customers for a discount.
StraightTalk has a truly unlimited plan at $55 per month, followed by $45 and $35 plans that lower speeds to 2G after you use the allotted data.
Service Plans do not include personal hotspot and video streams at 480p (Straight Talk calls this DVD-quality).
- 3 GB: $35 per month ($34 with Auto-refill)
- 25 GB: $45 per month ($44 with Auto-refill)
- Unlimited: $55 per month ($50/month for 3 months with Auto-refill)
Finally, Straight Talk customers’ speed is deprioritized behind direct customers on the network they are using during congestion. For example, if you are using Verizon’s network, these customers will get priority during busy times.
Verizon is the second-largest carrier in the US (after AT&T). It consistently ranks as the top cellular provider in the US both in terms of coverage and performance, along with customer service.
In the past, Verizon may have been rather pricey compared to low-cost carriers like Straight Talk. However, in 2018 they unveiled competitive prepaid plans:
- 1GB: $30 per month
- 6GB: $40 per month; $35 with autopay discount
- 16GB: $50 per month; $45 with autopay discount
- Unlimited: $70 per month; $65 with autopay discount
In addition, they routinely offer promotions like new customers receiving double the data and other options to incentivize further customers switching to them. Some also come with carryover data for one month if you pay your bill on time along with mobile hotspot support.
Finally, Verizon offers postpaid plans and traditional 12 and 24-month contracts.
Straight Talk vs. Verizon: Family Plans
Family plans are generally where budget carriers have the edge over the big four. Unfortunately, Straight Talk doesn’t offer a family plan. MetroPCS does have some good family plans that are worth looking into. Otherwise, Verizon’s family plans range from $140-220 per month.
Straight Talk does now offer a 2 line, unlimited ultimate plan for $90 a month. Though not exactly a family plan, it is an affordable option for two people.
Straight Talk and Verizon: Bring Your Own Phone and Installments
Both Straight Talk and Verizon offer have to Bring Your Own Phone options. They also both offer phone installment plans that start with $0 down and a variety of payment lengths and fees.
But there is a major difference between Straight Talk and Verizon when it comes to leasing phones. If you take a look at it, Verizon may give you a discounted phone, a free phone, or you’ll pay the price of the phone over your service contract. This is one of the ways they make contracts attractive to customers.
For example, the iPhone costs $699. If you opt for Straight Talk’s 24-month lease, you pay $775.24 over the duration, or 10% APR. This can seriously cut into the savings on Straight Talk, so keep this in mind.
Verizon vs. Straight Talk: Coverage
Straight Talk is an MVNO that uses all four major carrier towers. Basically, you can expect that if you’re bringing an old AT&T or T-Mobile phone, you’ll use those towers (CDMA), and if you’re bringing an old Sprint or Verizon phone, you’ll use those (GSM). You can expect coverage to be as good as these carriers provide in your area.
You can now choose what network Straight Talk uses when you purchase your SIM Card, so choose the best one for your area.
Straight Talk vs. Verizon: Speeds
Both Straight Talk and Verizon offer 4G LTE speeds. Verizon is currently unrollings its 5G network, but you’ll need a 5G-enabled device to take advantage of this.
If you opt for Verizon-network Straight Talk, you’ll benefit from Verizon speeds. The same goes for the comparatively speedy T-Mobile and AT&T CDMA Networks.
On average, Straight Talk speeds clock in at 31.1 Mbps downloading and 15.6 Mbps uploading.
Verizon is much speedier at a 53.3 Mbps download and 17.5 Mbps. With that said, both offer good speeds overall.
Straight Talk vs. Verizon: Customer Service
Customer service is where you are going to see the most significant difference between carriers. No matter where you look, Straight Talk’s customer service consistently scores at or near the bottom out of all carriers.
With Verizon, you can easily reach out for support online, by phone, social media, and connect with a customer service technician who can solve complex issues quickly. If not, you can walk into a local store and ask for help. You don’t have to pay for assistance and everything is very streamlined.
Straight Talk does have a call center, but any issues outside of basic setup queries can be tricky to solve. You see frequent questions online of people not receiving the right help and deciding to change carriers. And call wait times can be extremely long. In short, if you’re not pretty handy with a DIY solution, you should think twice about Straight Talk.
If you are going to Straight Talk, you’re likely looking for deals. Although the carrier does offer the latest Samsung and Apple flagship phones, they do emphasize older models. They excel at providing a variety of older handsets that cost $300 or less. As mentioned, they also have bring-your-own-device options.
Verizon does offer some budget phones, but their incentives are usually aimed at discounts on new flagships, but you will eventually pay for these over time. You can, however, find a decent selection of budget smartphones from Verizon too.
Straight Talk doesn’t offer any perks but does have rewards programs. You can sign up for membership rewards to get occasional discounts and take advantage of promotions. Verizon’s prepaid plans don’t really have any perks, but if you bump up to $70 plans, you can get free Apple Music, unlimited video streaming, and other features.
Straight Talk vs. Verizon: Which is Best for You?
Comparing Straight Talk and Verizon is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Verizon is a top-tier carrier, and you pay a premium on services. With that, however, you get the best features, speeds, coverage, along with great add-ons like iPad data for just $10 a month. And Verizon offers affordable prepaid plans that can give you a lot of value.
So should anybody choose Straight Talk over Verizon? If you’re a data-hungry user on a limited budget, you should consider Straight Talk. But if you’re going with a budget carrier, you’re better off with options from MetroPCS, Cricket, or Virgin. All of these have better data options that can fit your budget.
Overall, Verizon is the clear Winner and has phone plans to match every budget while still offering excellent customer service and support.
Visit the Buyback Boss blog for more comparisons on phone companies. Are you looking to save big? Here’s our comparison on Boost Mobile vs. MetroPCS. There’s more too on our blog. Head on over to check out include phone tips, app guides, and more!