US Cellular is a decent cell phone carrier that offers a plethora of plans, including contract plans, but a narrow selection of phones. They are great for people on a budget or want control over how much data they use, but they don't offer a lot of interesting bonuses or neat perks like other carriers.
Despite this, they offer solid coverage and customer support, which has lent to their recent successes in the past years.
U.S. Cellular is home to 5.03 million subscribers as of Q3 2016, with its customers claiming it to be one of the best carriers around. Unfortunately, the provider only exists in 23 states, but on the upside, the network in the home area is quite strong.
Let's talk about the different plans offered by US Cellular.
U.S. Cellular Wireless Plans
|2GB Total Plan||2 GB||$40|
|6GB Total Plan||6 GB||$50|
|Unlimited Total Plan||Unlimited||$60|
U.S. Cellular contains two different types of regular monthly plans: Shared Data ("Family") plans and Individual Line Plans. However, these plans lack desired features, such as free unlimited music streaming. Yet, while the plans are rather lacking in features, they make up for it in network reliability.
U.S. Cellular is one of the few carriers that hasn't completely dropped the two-year contract format (though it is optional).
That being said, the Individual Line plans are a tad on the pricier side compared to U.S. Cellular's carrier brethren. There are three plans available: unlimited talk, 1GB data with unlimited talk and text, and the 2GB unlimited talk and text. The 2GB data plan, which includes unlimited talk and text, is $75 per month, excluding any phone installment fees.
Read More: You can compare US Cellular's plans to the competition using our comparison tool.
Family plans are dubbed Shared Data plans by U.S. Cellular. There are several types of Shared Data plans to choose from, ranging from 2GB to 24GB.
Surprisingly, US Cellular offers family plans that are both enticing and competitive compared to the more expensive major carriers.
These plans include unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada, as well as Data Tethering. Furthermore, U.S. Cellular features data usage controls, which allows customers to approximately allocate and manage data usage limits for devices on a Shared Connect Plan.
Pro Tip: Data tethering allows you to use your phone as a mobile hotspot. You can learn more about that here.
U.S. Cellular comes with its own set of prepaid plans, dubbed the Simple Connect Prepaid. These plans come with no credit check, no overages, no activation fee, and best of all, no contract!
There are three high-speed data amounts to choose from: 500MB, 2GB, and 5GB. However, once you run out of the selected data, you'll face unlimited 1X data. Unfortunately, 1X data is abysmally slow, so you may be better off adding more data to your service.
These plans do not come attached with unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada, but you can purchase the feature as an add-on to your plan for only $10 per month.
U.S. Cellular provides data-only plans for a fee. All plans include data tethering and, oddly enough, unlimited text.
Data only plans range from 300MB to 50GB, though the 50GB option is quite expensive. Like other carriers, devices, such as a tablet, mobile hotspot, wireless modem, or vehicle monitor, require a connection charge in addition to the plan cost.
Phones Offered By US Cellular
U.S. Cellular phone offerings aren't exactly vast, but they should satisfy anyone interested. The latest iPhone, as well as the Galaxy S Edge iteration, is showcased, meaning that you won't have to settle for an older device.
In fact, the majority of the phones available are of the Apple or Samsung brands, though you will find an LG, Motorola, ZTE, and Kyocera in the mix.
You can purchase a phone through an installment plan, which requires a retail installment contract and a shared connect plan. You can even select between 20, 24, and 30 months as the installment contract length. Online, these phones come with free shipping.
Read More: If you're looking to compare smartphones, you can always take our handy smartphone comparison tool for a spin.
With U.S. Cellular, you can obtain Device Protection+. After all, accidents happen, and you need to ensure that your device is protected at all times.
For the iPhone and Android, there are two types of Device Protection+ plans available: the Advanced Plan and the Standard Plan. You must enroll in either plan within 30 days of activating your device.
This plan protects your phone from accidental damage such as drops, spills, and cracks, mechanical or electrical breakdown, loss, or theft. Replacement for the devices can be delivered over the next business day.
Furthermore, you will receive up to 5GB of data backup, anti-malware software, and a service for locating your phone, alerting you, and locking and wiping your device. Finally, you'll receive performance monitoring and troubleshooting, some Geek Tools, and Geek Tips.
The advanced plan covers your phone from accidental damage, hardware malfunctions, loss, and theft. Like the standard plan, you'll receive free next business day delivery of your replacement device.
You'll also receive 100GB of data backup, anti-malware software, and the ability to locate, lock, and wipe your phone. Additionally, you'll receive 90-day credit monitoring.
Also included in the advanced plan is Tech Support, performance monitoring and troubleshooting, Geek Tools, and Geek Tips.
However, before you consider a cell phone insurance plan, you may want to read our article, "Is Cell Phone Insurance Worth It?"
If you're worried about any complicated activation process U.S. Cellular may have, don't. With U.S. Cellular, you can activate your phone via a special site. You can either retrieve a new phone number or keep your existing phone number.
However, if you're not comfortable with U.S. Cellular's site, then you can always contact the customer service department or bring your phone to a U.S. Cellular store for activation.
U.S. Cellular includes a Smartphone Mobile Hotspot in its plans, free of charge. The Smartphone Mobile Hotspot is a feature that is actually built into Apple and Android smartphones, so you can turn your phone into a mobile hotspot at no additional charge (unless it consumes your data).
However, you can connect a mobile hotspot device for a prepaid or monthly fee.
According to U.S. Cellular, SIM cards, which contains information on your subscriber profile (which you can learn more about here), cannot be swapped between devices. However, if you can obtain a new SIM card at no cost from the carrier.
U.S. Cellular Deals, Promotions & Discounts
U.S. Cellular offers plenty of incentives. The carrier is known for its "Phones for a Penny" offer, which is just that: you receive phones for a penny with a two-year contract. Though lower-quality phones may be part of the offer, iPhones (surprisingly) are too.
U.S. Cellular also urges customers to take advantage of its refer-a-friend and switcher offers. It also features a Bill Reducer, which is an exclusive app that is designed to help lower your monthly wireless bill.
Finally, the carrier pushes promotions heavily to the customer, such as "Switch and Get Half Off of Any Smartphone," plus get up to $650 more in U.S. Cellular Promo cards. Sometimes it will even offer a free Samsung 58" Smart HDTV when you buy two Samsung Galaxy S Smartphones. Talk about incentive.
U.S. Cellular Coverage
U.S. Cellular is limited in coverage, but in home areas, the coverage and reliability are strong. That being said, if you're not in the carrier's area, you could suffer greatly from reduced data speeds.
U.S. Cellular is able to provide the customer with a strong rural network. If you're in a rural network and U.S. Cellular is available in your location, you may want to consider the service.
U.S. Cellular Customer Support
U.S. Cellular does not have the greatest track record when it comes to customer service. In fact, many people complain of the customer service, citing lack of honoring of rebates and adding phantom charges to your account.
That being said, there are various ways to receive support from the carrier. You can:
- Visit a U.S. Cellular store
- Refer to one of its FAQs
- Chat with a representative
- Connect with the service via Facebook and Twitter
- Call their toll-free customer service number number
U.S. Cellular is a good option to consider if you live in any of the areas it services (especially remote areas). While the promotions and deals are enticing, the customer service isn't viewed as fantastic and the prices are rather steep for what you're receiving.
Unsure of what the other cellular carriers have in their services? Then you should consider reading our review of the best cell phone plans.