Consumer Report: Best Cell Phone Companies

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

If you've ever been shocked by a cell phone bill, you're not alone.

One in five people got an unexpectedly high bill in the past year, according to Consumer Reports' just-released cell phone survey. Almost 60,000 subscribers weighed in to help determine the best services and the money-savers.

Sprint's C.E.O.'s confidence in his company's improvements appears to have struck a chord with Sprint customers, according to Consumer Reports' annual cell phone survey.

"For years, Sprint has been one of lower-rated cell-phone companies in our survey," says Donato Vaccaro of Consumer Reports. "But this year we saw a dramatic improvement."

Sprint tied with Verizon among the top carriers for cell phones with a contract. Most Sprint customers said the carrier offers good value.

"My bill's great," says Drew Williams, a Sprint customer. "It's cheap. It's small. Small bill, lotta service."

Even better in Consumer Reports' survey is U.S. Cellular, which rated highest for customer satisfaction.

AT&T is solidly in last place again for almost everything, from customer support, to problems making calls, to value for the money.

"My iPhone bill is just, it's over the top," says Dale Wilson. "There's times I got bills for $200."

If you're looking for a cell-phone service with no contract, a small company called Consumer Cellular came out on top.

"People found it offers great value, but it has a limited choice of phones," says Vaccaro.

If you prefer a greater selection of phones, Consumer Reports says consider T-Mobile, which now offers most of its phones, even smart phones, with a no-contract option.

Keep in mind that if you do decide to buy a phone without a contract, the phone will probably be more expensive, but your monthly fees will probably be less.

No-contract plans are best suited for people who only make occasional calls and text but don't surf the web or use their phone for email. They're also good if you is want a simple first phone for a tween or teenager.

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  • by Hank Location: Ingham county on Dec 9, 2010 at 10:45 AM
    We have very littel service at our location with Verizon. You can not depend on it at all. They use A T T equipment out here. Try and contact Verizon customer service..Via Email, almost non existent without a long search for the right link. They cannot make it work better but wont let us out of contract either. Pretty sad when you have to depend on a phone for emergencys
  • by Sue Location: Jackson on Dec 9, 2010 at 09:29 AM
    I must be odd man out. I have Sprint and haven't been charged for roaming. I had problems with them a few years back and when I have a problem I work with their cutomer service department and they resolve my issues.
  • by Elaine Location: mission on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM
    I was an sprint customer for 8 years my contract was unlimited with no roaming Oct they changed the contract by cutting me off oat 400 saying too mush roaming. my contract was no longer valid so dont trust Sprint they do not keep up to ltheir contracts.
  • by Sue Location: Arizona on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:21 PM
    Have AT&T with family plan. Each of 3 of us have different phones. Mine runs out of charge after 45min. Grandaughter only recharges 1 time a day and son every other day. I have to do it almost every time I am on phone which is once a day for about 1hr.
  • by Jim Location: ER on Dec 7, 2010 at 09:48 AM
    What about the rest of the companies?
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