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Prepaid Operator Profile - U.S. Cellular

This one of a series of Prepaid Phone News' profiles covering the major US mobile operators and MVNOs.

Overview: U.S. Cellular (888-944-9400) is the largest regional operator and the the fifth largest mobile network operator in the US. U.S. Cellular operates in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. At the end of the 1st quarter of 2015, U.S. Cellular had 4.67 million subscribers including 360,000 prepaid subscribers.

Technology: CDMA on the 850 and 1900 Mhz bands with 1xRTT and EV-DO data support. 4G LTE on the 700 Mhz band 12. LTE data is available to prepaid customers on plans priced at $50 and higher.

U.S. Cellular offers the following Simple Connect prepaid plans:
Monthly Cost Voice SMS MMS Data
$30 1 500 minutes unlimited unlimitednone
$35 unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited (throttled after 500 MB)
$45 unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited (throttled after 2 GB)
$60 unlimited unlimited unlimited  unlimited (throttled after 5 GB)
1 Feature phones only

U.S. Cellular also offers the Ready Connect brand, which is available from multiple national retailers including Walmart, Dollar General, and Amazon.com. Ready Connect handset selection is limited to a handful of lower end models. For details of Ready Connect plans see the Ready Connect site.

Monthly Cost Voice SMS MMS Data
$25 100 unlimited unlimited unlimited (throttled after 1 GB)
$35 unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited (throttled after 1 GB)
$45 ($40 auto pay) unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited (throttled after 3 GB)
$55 ($50 auto pay) unlimited unlimited  unlimited unlimited (throttled after 6 GB)
$75 ($65 auto pay) unlimited unlimited  unlimited unlimited (throttled after 10 GB)

Taxes and Fees: Applicable state, county and local taxes apply, and they vary by state.

International Rates: U.S. Cellular rates for international calling are very high; sample rates per minute: Canada 44¢, Mexico 52¢, India $3.15, Philippines $2.25, U.K. $1.62. A $3.99 International add on is available that reduces rates to: Canada 8¢, Mexico 16¢, India 27¢, Philippines 19¢, U.K. 20¢.
Domestic Roaming: U.S. Cellular  plans include no extra charge nationwide voice, SMS and 2G data roaming. Data roaming is capped at 200 MB/month.  Customers whose roaming minutes exceed 50% of their total minutes in three consecutive months are subject to termination.

Coverage: (map) U.S. Cellular has native coverage in portions of California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. There's nationwide roaming on Verizon and other CDMA operators.

Devices U.S. Cellular offers a selection  of prepaid feature phones and smartphones including current flagships like the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4.

How to Activate: Activate by calling 888-944-9400. You can port in a number from another carrier during activation. Activation is free.

Payment Options: U.S. Cellular stores (store locator) accept cash payments. Users can pay by credit or debit card at a store or by dialing #ADD (#233) from their U.S. Cellular phone or 888-944-9400 from another phone.

Automatic Refills: Automatic refills using a credit or debit card are available. Customers can choose to automatically add a specific amount each month or when their balance falls below $10. Set up automatic refills by calling 611 from your U.S. Cellular phone  or 888-944-9400 from another phone.

Account Management: 
Dial #BAL (#225) to check your balance
Dial #ADD (#233) to add money to your account
Dial 611 to hear how many minutes you have left

Call forwarding: not supported

Call waiting:  Call waiting is enabled by default. It lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller hears a standard message or is forwarded to voicemail. Unless you are on an unlimited plan, you will be charged for both calls.
To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND."

3-Way Calling: lets you create a conference call between yourself and two other people. You will be charged for both calls if you are not on an unlimited plan.
  • While on the first call, dial the 10-digit number of the second person and press "SEND." The first person is automatically put on hold while the call is made.
  • When the 2nd person answers, press "SEND" to create the conference call.
  • If the second person doesn't answer, press "SEND" twice to return to the first caller
  • To end both calls, press END
Free information services calls
#BAL (#225) - check balance
#ADD (#233) - add money
611 - Customer support
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services

PRL Update
The  preferred roaming list (PRL) controls which towers your phone can use. If you have no service in areas where you think you should,  updating your PRL may help: Dial *228, to update the PRL.

Customer Service:
Phone support: 888-944-9400 Support is US based. Hours: daily except holidays 6 AM - 11 PM CT, holidays 7 AM - 8 PM
Email Support: use the Web form on the Contact Us page
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter

Sales and General Information Web Sitewww.uscellular.com

U.S. Cellular Pros: No extra cost voice and text roaming, LTE and high end smartphones available. Free incoming texts. Top rated US based customer support.
U.S. Cellular Cons: Activation fees. no call forwarding, pricey pay as you go plan, high rates for international calls, limited account management options.

lls below $10. Set up automatic refills by calling 611 from your U.S. Cellular phone  or 888-944-9400 from another phone.

Account Management: 
Dial #BAL (#225) to check your balance
Dial #ADD (#233) to add money to your account
Dial 611 to hear how many minutes you have left

Call forwarding: not supported

Call waiting:  Call waiting is enabled by default. It lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller hears a standard message or is forwarded to voicemail. Unless you are on an unlimited plan, you will be charged for both calls.
To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND."

3-Way Calling: lets you create a conference call between yourself and two other people. You will be charged for both calls if you are not on an unlimited plan.
  • While on the first call, dial the 10-digit number of the second person and press "SEND." The first person is automatically put on hold while the call is made.
  • When the 2nd person answers, press "SEND" to create the conference call.
  • If the second person doesn't answer, press "SEND" twice to return to the first caller
  • To end both calls, press END
Free information services calls
#BAL (#225) - check balance
#ADD (#233) - add money
611 - Customer support
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services

PRL Update
The  preferred roaming list (PRL) controls which towers your phone can use. If you have no service in areas where you think you should,  updating your PRL may help: Dial *228, to update the PRL.

Customer Service:
Phone support: 888-944-9400 Support is US based. Hours: daily except holidays 6 AM - 11 PM CT, holidays 7 AM - 8 PM
Email Support: use the Web form on the Contact Us page
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter

Sales and General Information Web Sitewww.uscellular.com

U.S. Cellular Pros: No extra cost voice and text roaming, LTE and high end smartphones available. Free incoming texts. Top rated US based customer support.
U.S. Cellular Cons: No call forwarding, high rates for international calls, limited account management options.

Updated: 8/10/16: Ready Connect plans revised.

8 comments:

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  1. "throttled data"--this phrase is used over and over again in these plans--I understand the concept...but throttled to what speed...how would it compare to AT&T DSL(756 MBPS?)...or 3G speed(?)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Throttled speed varies with operator but it's never more than 256 Kbps. U.S. Cellular's is slower than most, 60-144 Kbps.

      Delete
  2. US Cellular put some of its troubles behind it, and actually grew in 2014 (first growth year since 2009). They added 98000 subscribers in Q4 and ended with 4.76M.
    http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/us-cellular-grows-postpaid-customer-base-2014-first-time-2009/2015-02-25

    ReplyDelete
  3. US Cellular - In-store ONLY (corporate/agent locations) $50 CREDIT for buying a US Cellular Phone and activating it on a Simple Connect Prepaid Plan. The credit can be used to purchase accessories or pay a monthly bill. Promo expected to last through July 15th. Also I beleive you can now activate any US Celluar no-contract phones 3G/4G LTE on the Ready Connect brand, no longer just the handful of lower-end models sold from multiple national retailers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. US Cellular Ready Connect Plans have updated. Just 3 plans now - $35 Basic & Smartphone Plan - Unlimited Talk & Text, also Basic Phones: Unlimited Mobile Web
    Smartphones: Unlimited 1X Data on the
    U.S. Cellular® Network; $45 Smartphone Plan- Unlimited Talk & Text with 3 GB of Data; $55 Smartphone Plan - Unlimited Talk & Text with 4 GB of Data. The $40 Smartphone Plan has been discontinued.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. New US Cellular Ready Connect Plan - $40 Smartphone Plan Unlimited Talk & Text with 1.5 GB Data.

      Delete
  5. US Cellular Ready Connect Plans completely revamped, some (3) with Auto Pay Discount.

    ReplyDelete
  6. NEW Motorola Moto G4 Play @ Walmart for U.S. Cellular's Ready Connect Plans

    ReplyDelete
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