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To cut cost, more people choose no-contract cell phone plans

Consumer Reports News: April 07, 2011 02:02 PM

People are turning to prepaid or month-to-month cell phone plans as a way to curb their wireless bills. As of last fall, almost 30 percent of all cell phone users in the United States were without contracts, according to figures reported by CNN. This number rose from just over 20 percent in 2008.

When it comes to no-contract use and options, Consumer Reports recently reported similar findings: In our latest survey of customer satisfaction and wireless phone carriers we found that no-contract options are steadily expanding beyond bare-bones basics.

Traditionally, phones offered by no-contract carriers have been much more basic than the options found through contracts, but that is shifting. For example, Boost Mobile, in partnership with Samsung, has just introduced a new Android-powered smart phone, the Galaxy Prevail. Out of eight no-contract carriers, Boost Mobile scored the highest in a JD Power and Associates 2011 survey of no-contract wireless customers.

According to those same survey results, the carrier with the worst customer satisfaction rating was AT&T Gophone, which mirrors Consumer Reports' Ratings of no-contract services from January: GoPhone also came in last out of seven no-contract wireless services for which we had enough data to score. Consumer Cellular came in first, followed by TracFone, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Virgin Mobile, with AT&T GoPhone in last place. At the time, we did not have enough information to accurately rate service from Boost and Metro PCS.

Could a prepaid plan fit your phone needs? For more check out our cell phone and service guide. Subscribers can get more detailed information about our Ratings of no-contract services here.

Boost Mobile scores highest among no-contract phone owners [CNN]
Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Prevail for Boost [CNET]
Boost Introduces First CDMA Android Smartphone [PCMag]

Maggie Shader

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