Committing to a phone plan can be one of the most nerve-wracking decisions of adulthood.

Will you be able to swing $60/month for the next two years? Are you sure you only want 10GB of data each month?

What if you can’t pay your bill? Will this company really provide coverage in the area you live and travel for the next couple of years?

Committing to a cell phone contract is frustrating because over the course of two years your life and needs can drastically change. In two years, you could lose your job – or you could get promoted. In two years, you might be living on the other side of the country. Or you might be living abroad. Who knows?

Straight Talk provides cell phones for individuals who want flexibility

With Straight Talk, you can have a popular, in-demand phone model with no service contract attached. Have $45/month for your phone bill? No problem. Need to drop to $35/month – or take a break – during a tight month? That’s fine. Get a promotion and want a new phone (and pricier plan)? Go for it! Straight Talk doesn’t lock you into a contract, so you’re free to alter your phone bill with your lifestyle.

Getting to Know Straight Talk Wireless

What is Straight Talk?

Straight Talk is a mobile phone provider offering contract-free plans.

Straight Talk customers select whichever plan is most appropriate for their needs and budget in the current month and can change plans or leave the service at any time with no penalty. Straight Talk sells high-demand phones like the iPhone and offers up to unlimited domestic talk, text, and data so that customers can live their lives to the fullest without feeling trapped in a contract.

About the Straight Talk company

Straight Talk started four years ago. The founders of Straight Talk noticed that very few providers offered no-contract cell phone plans and opened a company to provide these plans to customers in an effort to fill this void in the market.

Today, Straight Talk still provides some of the top no-contract phones and plans, starting at $35/month for data, talk, and text. Straight Talk is the provider for users who want options. Pay for a $35/month plan this month, increase your data the following month, drop down to a cheaper plan the following month, take a month off, come back the next month: as a Straight Talk user, your payments are up to you.

A few guiding principles continue to shape Straight Talk as it moves forward, including:

Simple plans, strong relationships

Who keeps track of their minutes or text messages? Nobody. And who wants to tell their best friend, “I’m sorry, I know this is an important conversation, but I’m about to run out of text messages, so I’m going to cut you off there.” Nobody!

With Straight Talk, every plan has unlimited domestic talk and text. The company believes that connectivity shouldn’t suffer just because you need flexibility in your phone plan. The only factor that varies between plans is data. These straightforward plans keep payments simple – and allow greater freedom for keeping in touch with friends, family, and business contacts.

In-demand phones

In the past, no-contract phones were unattractive flip phones with poor cameras and very little storage space. Straight Talk transformed the market by permitting users to purchase in-demand phones or bring their own phones, including iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and more.

Continuity: Keep living your life

One feature Straight Talk prioritizes: “Keep your phone, keep your number.” This means that you won’t have to contact all your friends, family, contacts, clients, babysitters, pet sitters, credit cards, and other parties with a new phone number.

If you want a new number, but not a new phone You can keep your, Straight Talk phone, and simply install an app (like Hushed) that allows for a second phone number. You can notify all your contacts of your phone number change, but if you forget somebody, their messages and calls will still connect to your phone (because you’ll have your old phone number, too).

Features of StraightTalk Wireless

Straight Talk’s founders built their company to cater to independent individuals, who need flexible options to fit their ever-changing lives. Here are a few standout features you’ll find with Straight Talk that you can’t find anywhere else:

Broad Coverage

Do you travel frequently?

Do you like to explore new places, camp in the wilderness, or take road trips through states you’ve never seen before?

Or do you travel for work – flying from city to city, driving from client to client for meetings and sales calls?

Do you know if your current provider will support service in every location you travel?

While some might worry about finding a provider that offers coverage in their area, Straight Talk shares networks with four of the major United States providers. This means Straight Talk users can call from any area that Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint users can.

There’s nothing worse than losing touch with a client or a friend while you’re traveling, simply because your cell phone doesn’t have coverage. Straight Talk eliminates worries of lost connectivity, and its customers enjoy the freedom to live their life to the fullest.

Security in keeping your old number

Keeping your old number is more than a convenience issue: it’s a security feature.

What happens if your doctor accidentally calls your old number to share your blood test results? How about your bank – what if they don’t change your phone number,  and call you with important banking information?

There are significant security threats to giving up your old number. When you forfeit a phone number, it’s transferred to someone else. That person will likely receive texts and phone calls from individuals associated with you for a few months; these calls generally contain some personally-identifying information. When individuals give up their phone number, they become vulnerable to identity theft.

If you need a new phone number (you’re ditching an ex or you want something with a local area code, for example) you can download Hushed onto any smartphone on the Straight Talk network. Hushed will allow you to pick your own phone number, take calls and texts, and provide a dedicated custom voicemail for all your calls. You won’t need to give up your old phone number or phone, but you’ll have a fresh line for a fresh start.

Flexible plans

If you’re in business for yourself, your income may vary from month to month. Even if you’re not self-employed, you may feel hesitant to commit to a 2-year plan.

What if you don’t need as much data next month as you needed this month?

What if something happens at your job?

What if you want more data over Christmas, to skype with family?

Straight Talk’s monthly plans are contract-free. That means you can sign up with a 2GB/month plan this month, change to unlimited data next month, then go down to 10GB/month after that for a few months – and so on. Your plan changes with your usage needs, and you’re never locked into one option.

Auto-refill

Just because it’s contract-free doesn’t mean it’s a hassle to refill. Straight Talk offers auto-refill: every month, your card will be charged for the amount of your plan (unless you specify otherwise). You won’t need to log into a website each month, go to a store for a refill card, or enter your credit card number into an online payment portal on a regular basis. Set up automatic refill once, and your phone will be full until you turn it off.

Getting started with Straight Talk Wireless

Ready to start with Straight Talk? There are a few ways to sign up.

Keep reading to find out the best method for you:

1. Decide: New Phone or Old Phone?

If you’re ready to start with Straight Talk, you’ll have to consider whether you want to keep your current phone or start with a new phone.

Keeping your old phone is best if:

  • You’d rather not reinstall all your apps
  • You don’t want to learn to use a new phone
  • You plan on keeping your old phone number
  • You’d like to keep your old phone number active, even if you aren’t using it as your primary contact number
  • Your phone is in good working condition

Getting a new phone might be better if:

  • Your old phone is starting to slow down
  • Your old phone’s battery life is short
  • There are features on a newer phone that would be useful to you, such as a higher-quality camera
  • Your old phone has a cracked screen or is otherwise structurally compromised

Don’t ask yourself whether or not you want to keep your old number. If you need a new number, you can get one through an app (such as Hushed) without changing your phone. Look at whether you like your phone itself when deciding whether or not to keep it.

2. Get ready for service

If you’re interested in keeping your phone, the next step is to look at Straight Talk’s list of compatible phones to determine whether or not your phone is compatible with Straight Talk (most are, but check to be sure).

If you’re looking at purchasing a new phone, you have two options:

  • Purchase a new phone from Straight Talk
  • Purchase an unlocked Straight Talk-compatible phone (not from Straight Talk)

Straight Talk offers a range of high-quality in-demand smartphones, including the iPhone and Galaxy Note. There are also less-expensive and free-with-a-plan options, such as the LG Rebel. If you don’t want the hassle of determining whether or not your phone will work with Straight Talk or looking for an unlocked phone, purchasing a model directly from Straight Talk is your best option.

Buying an unlocked smartphone, while more of a hassle, can result in a better phone at a lower price: unlocked iPhones are about half the price of new iPhones. However, unlocked phones are sometimes pre-owned (may be a bit beat-up), can be dangerous (you don’t know if malicious software was installed on the phone), and aren’t guaranteed to work with Straight Talk’s services. If you choose to buy an unlocked phone, select your model carefully.

When purchasing a new phone, don’t forget to look into these important factors:

  • Battery life. Low battery life is easy to overlook when shopping, but difficult to live with long-term. Look at online reviews to find out how a phone’s battery holds up over time, and whether or not it’s replaceable when it no longer holds a charge.
  • Camera quality: both front and back. Most of us use our phones as our primary camera. If you plan to print pictures taken with your phone – for photo frames, albums, Christmas cards, etc. – check the camera resolution and reviews.Look at both the front-facing and back-facing cameras. Unfortunately, many phones have one good camera and one bad camera. The front camera could be incredible, while the back camera may provide only pixelated blurs for pictures.Consider whether you take more selfies or traditional photos, and find a camera that meets your needs.
  • Space. Space is necessary for photos, but photos can be backed up. What can’t be backed up: apps. It’s easy to forget that apps take up space, too. Do you rely on any banking, email, messaging, social media, streaming music, audiobook, or organization apps? Each of these takes up space.To find out how much space you’ll need, look at your current phone’s storage information. It should tell you about how much is occupied by installed apps. Each app uses some extra space while it’s running, too.So, if your phone says apps take up 10GB, look for something with at least 15-20 GB to fully support your apps while running, a few photos (before they’re backed up), texts (because those also take up space, believe it or not), and phone operating system (easy to forget, but it takes up a few GB too).

3. Select a Straight Talk plan

Next, go to the Straight Talk website or your local Walmart to find a plan that works for you. All plans include unlimited domestic texting and calling – you just need to pick the plan that will provide the amount of data you need.

If you’re not sure how much data you use, Straight Talk provides a helpful guide to data usage to help you decide.

Did you purchase an unlocked phone, or bring your own phone? Don’t forget to purchase an activation plan. This will include a SIM card that allows you to switch your phone to the Straight Talk network.

Activate your plan (and your phone)

Finally, activate your plan. You can ask someone at Walmart to help you activate your plan, or you can go home and do it yourself online. Your service will start immediately – so enjoy your new contract-free service with some celebratory texts and phone calls!

Using Straight Talk

Once you have your Straight Talk phone, taking advantage of its features is easy.

Here’s how to use a few of Straight Talk’s top features:

Auto refill

To refill your plan, you’ll either need to purchase a refill card or sign up for automatic refill.

Purchasing a refill card is simple: order one online or pick one up at Walmart, then register the card online the same way you registered your first plan.

To sign up for auto-refill, simply go to StraightTalk.com and log into your account. Click on “Payments,” then follow the instructions to register a credit or debit card for auto-refill payments. You’ll receive a warning text before your account is charged each month, in case you change your mind about auto refilling your current plan.

screenshot of a message sent from Straight talk

Changing your plan

To change the amount you’re paying or your data allowance for the month, you have two options:

  • Buy a new plan at Walmart or online
  • Change your auto-refill settings

If you’re not signed up for auto-refill, simply purchase a different monthly plan the next time your phone runs empty. That’s it!

 

If you’re signed up for automatic refills, you’ll need to log into your account, then click on “Payments.” Your plan amount and auto-refill settings will show up. You’ll be able to select a new plan from here – if you’d only like to keep your new plan for a month or two, you may want to turn off auto-refill to avoid accidental charges (for example, forgetting to switch plans at the end of the month and getting charged again).

Using the Apps

Because Straight Talk offers smartphones, you can purchase an app-compatible phone and start using it to keep in touch, organize your life, and more.

To install apps to your smartphone, just go to the Google Play or Apple App store and search for the types of apps you’d like (“Calendar,” “Budget,” “Chase Banking,” etc). You can get yourself setup with Hushed. Real. Fast.

app screens from an iphone and the apple app store as well as a search in the store

If you’d like to add a new phone number, with separate texting and calling, you can download the Hushed app from Google Play or the App store to get started. Hushed will allow you to keep your original phone number while adding a new number. You can use this new number for business contacts, first dates, or whatever else you’d like.

Voicemails, texts, and calls will be kept in a separate, secure log, so you don’t have to worry about getting them mixed up with your old number’s communication. Hushed provides you with a second phone number that is private, organized, and safe, allowing you to keep your old number while starting your life fresh.

Setting up voicemail

Voicemail is free on all Straight Talk phones.

To set up voicemail on Android phones:

  • On the main screen, tap the “phone” icon.
  • Then, at the bottom of the screen, tap the “voicemail” icon.
  • Your phone will call your voicemail, allowing you to set up your voicemail.

To set up voicemail on most other phones:

  • Navigate to your dialing screen
  • Dial *68, then press “Call”
  • After listening to the greeting, press #.
  • Follow voicemail prompts to set up your greeting and inbox.

Some Nokia models and prepaid models have different instructions. If your phone is not an Android and does not respond to calling *68, your phone likely requires a different prompt. Pressing and holding “1” until your phone calls voicemail will allow you to set up your voicemail on one of these models.

Specs

Coverage: 99% of the U.S. population

Retail sales: Walmart

Data: 4G LTE

Calling and texting: Domestic, with some international options

OS: Android, iOS, and other (for example, Nokia phones)

Contracts: None

Maximum data plan offered: Unlimited

Maximum calls offered: Unlimited

Maximum texts offered: Unlimited

Free phones available: Yes

Final Thoughts

Straight Talk provides phones for free spirits – those people who don’t want to be held back by a phone contract.

Take a month of unlimited talk, text, and data to keep in touch with everyone, then go off the grid for a month.

Or sign up for a low-cost cell phone plan, and increase it when you’re ready. With Straight Talk, you have options that mirror your life.

If you want a new number, but you’re not ready to give up your old number and phone, you can pair Straight Talk with the Hushed app for a fresh start. Straight Talk will let you keep your old phone and phone number, so all your friends, family, doctors, and others can contact you there. Hushed will provide you with a second, new number: use it for business, Tinder dates, or whatever else is useful to you.

With Straight Talk, you have the flexibility you need in a cell phone plan alongside the capabilities you need to install life-changing apps. If you’re looking for a new phone carrier, head to Walmart and ask about Straight Talk to learn more about whether it’s right for you!