US Cellular: Everything you need to know
What you need to know about America’s fifth largest network provider.
When people talk about post-paid nationwide cell phone networks in the U.S. they usually mean the Big Four: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. But there is a fifth company who offers full-service nationwide contract plans that are as good or better than the bigger corporations: US Cellular.
It stands to reason. As of Q4 2016, US Cellular had 10x fewer subscribers than number four Sprint had with just over 5,000,000 in total. For comparison, America Movil (TracFone, Walmart Family Mobile) had just over 26,000,000. US Cellular is not the giant company that its rivals are. but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great option for a lot of people looking for a new phone company.
Let’s have a look at what you need to know about US Cellular.
Great nationwide coverage
US Cellular offers really good voice and LTE coverage in the continental United States. Coverage maps aren’t the best way to gauge service for any one particular area, but they can give a good indication of the overall network footprint. US Cellular’s looks better than Sprint or T-Mobile here.
There is a very good chance that you’ll have good US Cellular coverage if you’re in the states.
Reciprocal roaming and rural coverage
US Cellular uses what they call “4G LTE Data Partner Coverage” for a good chunk of their service area. This means it has an arrangement with another company to use its networks in areas where there is a need. Your US Cellular phone will work seamlessly in these places and you won’t even know it. It also doesn’t cost you anything extra when it happens. In addition to agreements with AT&T and Verizon, US Cellular partners with King Street Wireless for deployment of the 700Mhz LTE band in 27 states.
This means US Cellular has the same type of great coverage in rural areas that AT&T and Verizon offer. You can look here for an interactive map that shows where partner coverage is located.
There are data plans to fit everyone
US Cellular offers post-paid contract plans at 2GB, 6GB, and unlimited tiers. The unlimited plan is very competitively priced.
- Unlimited data on one line: $70
- Unlimited data on two lines: $110
- Unlimited data on three lines: $150
- Unlimited data on four lines: $160
All plans come with unlimited talk and text messaging, have no extra monthly connection fees, and there is no activation fee or ETF for service cancellation. You will need to pay for the phone if you are making installments, though. Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico is included in the 6GB and unlimited plan.
US Cellular also offers prepaid plans in 1GB, 5GB, and unlimited tiers. The 1GB and 5GB plans switch to standard 2G speeds for the remainder of the month when your LTE data allotment is used.
- 1GB of LTE data: $35
- 5GB of LTE data: $45
- Unlimited LTE data: $70
Prepaid plans include tethering and unlimited international texting.
US Cellular also offers corporate plans, data only device plans and complete business solutions that include automation and asset management in addition to communications.
Popular phones are supported
US Cellular offers installment payment plans for phones from Apple, LG, Motorola, Samsung and plenty of other companies. A currently offered installment agreement for the Galaxy S8 is $24 per month for 30 months, at zero interest. You’ll find plenty of other devices starting as low as $4 per month for a Motorola G4 Play. You’ll also find pre-owned devices and special deals to help save you even more money.
You can bring your own phone to the prepaid service, but it needs to be a compatible model. You can check your phone at the US Cellular activation website to make sure it’s compatible or take it to a local store.
Best US Cellular phones
When all is said and done, the most important factor when you’re looking for phone service is the coverage. US Cellular looks really good there thanks to both the native network and the partner programs. The company also has a very good reputation and has won numerous awards for customer service and community outreach. We think you should give them a look the next time you’re shopping for a new phone company.