PROS / Net10’s lack of gotchya fees is a welcome change from the unexpected expenses of much of the competition.
CONS / Its customer support is the worst we've experienced, with live chat representatives and phone staff that either can't or won't answer basic questions.
VERDICT / Between its lack of hidden fees and solid plan diversity, there's a lot to recommend Net10, but its customer support team all but negates that recommendation. The moment you have to call its hotline, you'll wish you'd picked a different carrier.
Net10 Wireless is an oddly contrary prepaid phone company. It has an excellent selection of prepaid phone plans and doesn’t charge for things like activating a new phone or returning one within its return window. Through its partnerships with all four major carriers, it has connectivity on virtually every tower in the nation. That being said, the company's monthly and pay-as-you-go plans are more expensive than many other services, and its customer service team is among the worst we've ever interacted with: They literally hung up on us. Twice.
We were trying to find out how much it costs to send a text or download data on Net10's pay-as-you-go plans. The plans have you pay up front for a set number of minutes you can then use over 30, 60, 90 or 180 days – the more minutes you buy, the longer they last. Unfortunately, Net10's website is painfully obtuse about how texts and data are handled. When we asked one of the company's live web chat representatives, the person on the other end struggled with the language and talked in conflicting circles; when we called its service hotline, we were put on hold and then hung up on, twice over.
Putting aside its disappointing customer service, Net10 Wireless actually offers some solid no-contract cell phone plans. $40 buys you unlimited talk, text and 3GB of 4G LTE data, and that prices goes down to $36 if you set up automatic payments. $50 buys you 5GB of data, with the price reducing to just $45 with auto pay. There are unlimited international calling plans that start at $65 a month and upgrade plans that let you work towards discounted flagship phones.
Upgrade plans are nothing without phones that are worth buying, and Net10 has a decent selection. At the top of the list sit the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, but there are also several superb mid-tier phones like the LG G4. You can lease to own the more expensive prepaid smartphones, while others are free if you sign up for a plan.
Just because a provider's customer service department is poor doesn't mean the entire company isn't worth your time. Net10 Wireless features one of the best, most diverse lineups of prepaid cell phone plans we’ve seen, which is why it features in our top 10. But poor customer service will color your entire outlook on any cellular provider, and we've never experienced support calls as poorly handled as the ones we had with Net10.