U.S. Cellular is a major wireless network that is the fourth-largest cellular company in the United States. U.S. Cellular brings something unique to the table that the other major wireless companies are not able to. It operates in a much smaller area but has roaming agreements with the other networks that allow its users to enjoy fast service even when they are not in range of the U.S. Cellular towers.
Your location will play a big part in whether or not U.S. Cellular is right for you. This U.S. Cellular review will discuss the pros and cons of the company, their phones, plans, and how they compare to major networks and MVNOs in the United States.
U.S. Cellular At a Glance
U.S. Cellular is a wireless company that makes up for its small network coverage (only 10% of the United States) with competitive roaming agreements, putting it somewhere between major networks and MVNOs. It has extremely strong coverage in the midwest, while the rest of the United States is covered through roaming. U.S. Cellular comes with postpaid and prepaid plans, fantastic family plans and perks, mobile hotspots, and a large phone selection in the store.
What Sets U.S. Cellular Apart?
Fantastic perks set U.S. Cellular apart. Their plans come with high data thresholds, huge mobile hotspot allocations, and free Redbox movies every month. These are nice, but the best perk that they offer is their multi-line savings. If you have a three or four-line plan you enjoy monumental savings on every one of their plans, making it a very affordable plan for what you receive. The only downside to this is that U.S. Cellular is only available in areas where they have coverage. While roaming agreements let users get service all over the country, their home base is limited to a certain area.
Price of U.S. Cellular Plans
U.S. Cellular offers plans at a variety of price points. They have three unlimited plans whose prices range from $70 to $55 a month for single-line plans. These all come with a strong set of perks and add-ons as well as a lot of priority data. The price of these plans with a four-line account drops a ton, ranging from $45 to $30 a month. Unlimited on U.S. Cellular for $30 a month per line is a fantastic deal if you can find friends or family willing to join in on the plan!
They also have prepaid plans that range from $60 to $30 a month, giving them a wide variety of price points from which to choose. It is easy to switch from one plan to the next while on U.S. Cellular, so you can hone your plan to the best one that suits you when you are on their network.
What Kinds of Plans does U.S. Cellular offer?
U.S. Cellular offers a variety of phone plans that offer different amounts of high-speed data and perks at different price points. The biggest difference is that they have a set of prepaid phone plans and a set of postpaid phone plans. The postpaid phone plans offer more data and more add-ons while the prepaid plans are cheaper and do not come with a credit check.
If you are on a tiered data plan and you go over your limit, they don’t charge you but they do reduce speeds by a considerable amount. If you are interested in a more affordable and limited-data plan we recommend building in some extra data because slowed speeds make most phone activities impossible on mobile data.
What Network does U.S. Cellular Use?
U.S. Cellular runs on its own network while making roaming agreements with the other major networks. The U.S. Cellular network is strongest in the midwest, and they only offer services to people in a select area of the United States. When you get on their website, find the prompt to input your zip code to find out if they provide service in your area.
Can You Bring Your Own Cell Phone?
Yes! Users are able to bring currently owned cell phones to U.S. Cellular as long as the IMEI number is compatible. You can check the IMEI number on their website. You have to make sure that your device is unlocked, which means you have to own it, it can’t be marked as lost or stolen, and you, generally, have to have an account in good standing with the cell phone company that you are leaving.
U.S. Cellular: Pros & Cons
Understanding the ins and outs of your prospective phone company is essential to knowing whether or not it is right for you. Between major wireless providers and MVNOs there are so many options from which to choose, and if there is something that is fantastic or a dealbreaker, this section will cover it! When looking at U.S. Cellular reviews, these are some of the pros and cons.
👍 What We Liked
- Impressive list of perks. All of U.S. Cellular’s unlimited plans have high data allotments before plans are reduced to slower data as well as an impressive amount of mobile hotspot data. They are able to provide a lot to their customers.
- Amazing multi-line savings. All of U.S. Cellular’s plans decrease by a huge margin when plans get to three or four lines. This savings allows well-planned users to get some friends and family together to enjoy fantastic savings on their phone bill while using one of the country’s major wireless networks.
- Midwest coverage. The great majority of U.S. Cellular’s coverage is in the midwest, where there are a lot of towers and a very strong network. Of the four major networks, U.S. Cellular is firmly entrenched as providing the best coverage in that area.
- Great phone selection. While U.S. Cellular lets users bring their own devices, their store is full of the latest and greatest phones as well as cheap flip-phones and other affordable options. When shopping at U.S. Cellular you can be confident that you will get the right phone for you.
- Calls and texts to Mexico and Canada. All of U.S. Cellular’s plans come with unlimited calling and texting to North America, which comes in handy if you have friends or family in Mexico or Canada.
👎 What We Didn’t Like
- Low coverage area. U.S. Cellular has good roaming agreements with the other major networks, but they only cover around 10% of the U.S. with their cell towers. This severely limits the potential for new customers, as there is no incentive to join U.S. Cellular in an area where they don’t have cell towers.
- Data deprioritization. If you are on U.S. Cellular’s roaming area, you get deprioritized data just like MVNOs. It is great that their roaming agreements allow you to get service all over the states, but when paying a premium for wireless coverage it is unfortunate to have slow data at any time.
- Low areas of offered service. Due to their low coverage area, U.S. Cellular only offers service to those within its bounds. That means that a lot of people in the United States cannot consider them as an option, unlike other major wireless networks.
- Single-line pricing. While their multi-line plans offer great savings, U.S. Cellular’s single-line pricing leaves a little to be desired. Their top-shelf plans come in much higher than MVNOs, more on par with other major wireless networks.
- Overwhelming online website. The website for U.S. Cellular is difficult to navigate, lacking the polish and ease that some other networks have to allow customers to browse confidently.
U.S. Cellular Services & Features
U.S. Cellular offers a great package of services and features along with their mobile plans. Their unlimited plans come with a great amount of mobile hotspot data as well as a huge data threshold before plans get deprioritized. Along with unlimited calling and texting, U.S. cellular offers free Redbox movies to sweeten the deal even further.
U.S. Cellular Plans & Pricing
U.S. Cellular has a wide variety of unlimited postpaid and prepaid plans. It is easy to switch between plans if need be, and their multi-line discounts make the plans very affordable. Knowing what plan you want from a wireless network is crucial before switching. The plans at U.S. Cellular are more expensive than MVNO plans, but their multi-line savings often leave their plans much cheaper than their major wireless competition.
If you want an unlimited plan you are looking at a cost of between $60 and $40 a month for a single-line plan which gives you loads of high-speed data each month, as well as a variety of other perks. Their prepaid plans are a little cheaper, and while they offer a little less for their value, U.S. Cellular’s prepaid plans are a great option for customers who do not want to get locked into a contract.
U.S. Cellular Phone Selection
U.S. Cellular has the latest and greatest phones on their store from both Android and Apple products. Their store is a little difficult to navigate if you aren’t sure what you are looking for due to the volume of phones available for purchase. Their phone store includes phones that are very affordable and flip phones, providing models for every customer.
How Well Does U.S. Cellular Actually Work?
Call & Text Performance
Within their network and without, U.S. Cellular’s call and text performance is great. Their roaming agreements ensure that no calls drop and no texts go unsent no matter where you are.
Their data speeds are, likewise, excellent. Roaming agreements mean users have to worry about deprioritized data on other networks, but as long as the overall usage in their area is not too high, users can enjoy super fast data all over the country.
U.S. Cellular vs. Competitors
U.S. Cellular vs. Verizon
Verizon, and the other major networks, have a major advantage in that their networks offer high-speed coverage all over the nation. U.S. Cellular is much more condensed in its network, but if you live in an area with a strong U.S. Cellular network, their affordable plans and excellent network coverage make it a competitive option for a new phone service. Compare and contrast your prospective plans and savings to figure out if U.S. Cellular is right for you!
U.S. Cellular vs. Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile is a new and shiny MVNO that runs on Verizon’s network, but the fact that it is an MVNO means that its users have deprioritized data just like U.S. Cellular’s users when they are using other networks. Mint Mobile’s plans are more affordable, but they require a year’s contract to get the best prices. If you are willing to stay with Mint for a year, their $30 unlimited plan is hard to beat, but with U.S. Cellular you will receive better add-ons with your plan.
U.S. Cellular Customer Service
U.S. Cellular has a comprehensive customer service department which includes 24/7 live chat and contact with a store near you during normal business hours. Their service line is 888-944-9400 and their live chat is available here.
What Customers Have to Say About U.S. Cellular
“We have been with U.S. Cellular for 2 1/2 months now and have experienced nothing but negatives!! Well, we thought the experience in-store setting up the plan was good until we found out that we were put on an upgraded plan that we didn't want and when we talked to customer service about it, they said they couldn't do anything...We had to talk to the store. The store manager said they couldn't do anything, we had to talk to customer service and the salesman told us we could pay for our phones outright to have the lesser plan. NOT what we were told in the store.” - Terri. (via Consumer Affairs)
“Terrific experience! Corina, who is the lady I have seen, made the experience seamless for me. She was very polite and patient. The phone and service are excellent, I'm very happy this lady convinced me to switch. The other cell company I used had zero customer assistance, I'm 72 so customer service is very important to me. Thank you again! Such a great atmosphere also.” - Ruth. (via Consumer Affairs)
“Have had this service my entire life and it has been better but it's relatively decent service, just seems with 5G the technology is not as good as it should be, my 5G runs at 4G speeds or less most of the time. Even with the S22 ultra that I pre-ordered, which also took a month after the release date to get.” - Keenan B. (via Trustpilot)
U.S. Cellular FAQ
What happens if I go over my data limit?
If you have a non-tiered data plan and exceed your data limit, your data access will be slowed down for the remainder of your bill cycle. Your usual network speeds will be restored on the first day of the next billing cycle. Please note that all plans will experience a reduction in speed when roaming usage exceeds 400MB. Customers will not be notified about speed reduction. However, you will receive text message alerts notifying you of your data usage.
Why is my U.S. Cellular bill so high?
If you add or change services in the middle of a billing cycle, the prorated or partial change will appear on your bill. Monthly service charges are, likewise, billed one month in advance. If you are having any trouble understanding your bill, call the U.S. Cellular customer service line or visit a store near you to get a more detailed answer to your questions.
Can I use my phone internationally?
Yes! You may be able to use your phone overseas. Outgoing calls are available on all plans, but international roaming is currently only available for customers on postpaid plans. You can find out more information by visiting U.S. Cellular’s website.
TLDR; U.S. Cellular is an Impressive Network Bridging the Gap Between Major Wireless Networks and MVNOs.
U.S. Cellular is bringing their own cards to the table, and they are providing great service with their limited coverage. Being able to roam all over the country on other networks makes it a viable option if you live within their network, but we do not recommend U.S. Cellular for customers who live in other parts of the country. If you live within their network, their multi-line savings are a great way to get an affordable plan that guarantees you high-speed data, robust customer service, and a great network.