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PureTalk Pros and Cons: The No-Contract Phone Plan helping Vets

By
Shayla Burke
February 21, 2024

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PureTalk is a phone company that operates on a few key principals: no contracts, no hidden fees, and every plan is an unlimited talk & text plan. They have a heavy market towards U.S. veterans and military members, the company’s CEO is a military veteran himself, and they partner with a few military organizations and even offer a 15% off military discount for those who have served- (more on that later).

PureTalk is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which means that they are a wireless service that doesn’t own their own cell phone towers, they instead will use the towers owned by major wireless networks like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. In PureTalk’s case they use AT&T’s network to get their cell phone coverage. And since they are piggybacking AT&T’s signal, you can expect some fairly good coverage if you sign up through PureTalk, along with lower-costing cell phone plans which is one of the biggest draws most people have when signing up for a MVNO. But that can come with its own drawbacks: slow internet speeds and no free perks which could be deal breakers when you’re looking for a sturdy phone plan. 

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves,

Let’s break down PureTalk’s pros and cons by giving you the inside scoop on what to expect from this cell phone company. Here’s what you’ll read about:

  • How PureTalk works
  • PureTalk’s phone plans
  • PureTalk’s pros and cons
  • What customers are saying
The official logo of PureTalk. Image courtesy of the PureTalk website.

How PureTalk Works

You already know that PureTalk get’s their wireless signal from AT&T, but how does it work? And what’s the “signing up” process like? Well…

  1. First thing they want to know is how many lines you will need? On their website you can choose one line, two lines, three lines, and “four plus” lines. And as you add more lines, you can save more. At two lines you can save 10%, three lines can save you 15%, and four plus can save you as much as 20%.
  2. Once you select the number of phone lines you will need, next you will choose one of their plans. (We will go over all of their cell phone plans in detail in our next section- don’t worry)!
  3. After you have your lines and plan selected next up is the fun part: choosing your phone. PureTalk does offer you the chance to “Bring Your Own Phone” or BYOP if you aren’t in the market to pay for a new one and/or want to keep your current device.
  • To see if your current device is compatible with PureTalk, go to the PureTalk website, scroll down till you see “Check your Phone” which should look a little something like this:
Courtesy of PureTalk.

You will be asked to put in your phone’s IMEI number to see if your phone is compatible with PureTalk’s service.

PureTalk has two SIM card options, (SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module and it stores identity information, phone information like text logs, and it allows for network authorization data so you can start using a wireless service like PureTalk to make and receive calls on their phone plans). They have the “PureTalk eSIM” which is a virtual SIM card that can be activated immediately once purchased or a physical “PureTalk SIM” which will be delivered to you where you will have to put it in and activate it.

If you want to start fresh, PureTalk has a number of phones you can buy directly from their website. They have flip-phones and Smartphones available for purchase you can see through their Shop phones page.

  1. Once you choose your SIM card or new phone, you will then be asked if you want to protect your device with Allstate for $10/mo. That protects your device from drops, spills, mechanical and electrical failures, and offers fast repairs and replacements. (Terms Apply).
  2. After that you will then proceed to checkout! Review your purchase over, add your billing and personal information so you can get your first PureTalk device or SIM card delivered to you.

Signing up for PureTalk is a pretty straightforward process if you know whether you want to buy a new phone or want to use your current device, as in less than 10 minutes you can be in check out with a new phone plan. 

Speaking of…

PureTalk’s Phone Plans

PureTalk has seven “unlimited” phone plans available. Here’s a baseline overlook at their one line plans:

Important to Note: PureTalk users will experience throttled data speeds, according to their website, “After you have used your plan’s high-speed data allowance, we will not turn off your data. Your speed will be throttled to 256 kbps.” And for unlimited data users: “After 60GB of data usage you will experience slower speeds.” To find more details on their speeds, look to the end of the Plans page on their website.

We mentioned before that PureTalk has discounted phone plans if you acquire more than one line. The more lines you have, the better the savings. 

Here’s a brief overhaul of the savings you can get with two or more lines:

To see PureTalk’s Map Coverage click here.

If you are not a frequent data user then their three cheapest plans, the 3GB, 5GB, and 10GB plans, might be a good fit for one line users. But if you or your family are people reliant on data, you’ll probably want to skip past those and look to either their Unlimited Data plans or the middling ones. 

One small thing that sets PureTalk apart is their mobile hotspot available with every plan, some other MVNOs will only have mobile hotspots available for one or two plans or none at all, while PureTalk has one in varying data amounts for each plan even their most basic.

Free Men Standing Near Flags Stock Photo
Vets can look forward to a discount if they sign up for PureTalk.

PureTalk Pros and Cons

Like most wireless companies, PureTalk has its pros and cons. Here’s what makes PureTalk’s list:

Pros:

  • Affordable Phone Plans
  • Multi-line Discounts
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • 15% Military Discount

Affordable Phone Plans

One of the main reasons PureTalk advertises their phone plans heavily towards seniors is because you’ll find that a lot of seniors won’t use a lot of data per month, meaning that most of their phone plans account for low data at low costs. The unlimited talk and text is the real benefit, instead of having limited minutes and texts and having to add them on at additional costs, older phone users can use their limited data happily as long as they know they have unlimited talk and text to communicate with family members all at affordable costs. 

Multi-line Discount

A huge plus for families on a budget is signing up for one of PureTalk’s multi-line plans. With each line you add you get more savings. 

  • 2 Lines: 10% off your total bill
  • 3 Lines: 15% off your total bill
  • 4 Lines: 20% off your total bill

That’s a big pro for PureTalk, especially when you’re trying to save money.

“100% Money Back Guarantee”

Shopping for phone plans can be a big investment, especially if you are looking for one on a specific budget and are in need of specific phone requirements. You can easily sign up for a phone plan and realize it’s not what you’re looking for and need to leave. Along with PureTalk’s no contract policy, they also have a “100% Money Back Guarantee” which means that if you aren’t finding PureTalk to be the service you thought it would be, you can get your money back.

It works like this: You have 30 days to see if PureTalk is the service you want to stick with. In order to receive the 100% Money Back Guarantee you will need to “cancel anytime before your next bill date, or before you use 500 minutes of talk, or 500 MB of data, whichever comes first.” 

It’s a nice bit of security for those who are apprehensive about signing up for a new phone plan.

15% Military Discount

For those who have served or are currently serving the United States you are qualified for a 15% discount. To receive this discount you will need to do a few things.

First thing, you will need to email [email protected] with one of two things:

  • Veteran Proof Documents including DD214, VA ID Card, or state driver’s license showing Veteran status.
  • Or you will email them your full name, date of birth, and your Active Duty Proof Documents.

If you have questions about qualifying or want to know more you can call 1-877-820-7873 for a representative. And to learn more about the plan and the cans and cants visit the PureTalk Military Discount page.

Cons:

  • Data Deprioritization and Throttling
  • No Perks

Data Deprioritization and Throttling

There is a possible major downside for some phone users if you sign up with PureTalk and that’s data deprioritization and throttling speeds. 

Data throttling is when your data is dramatically slowed to the point where sending an email can take forever and surfing the web is almost impossible. While data deprioritization is the temporary slowing of data speeds because of network congestion and high traffic areas.

Most, if not all, MVNOs will experience data deprioritization. That’s because they are piggybacking off of major wireless’s signal and in the event of those specific high traffic areas, (when you’re at a sporting event for example), direct customers and subscribers of the major wireless carrier will get prioritized over those who are getting their data through a MVNO.

And as for PureTalk’s data throttling, once you’ve used your plans data allowance or after 60GBs of data your speed will be reduced to 256 kbps. This could be a big red flag for those looking for a phone plan with fast data speeds.

No Perks

PureTalk’s plans are one of the most basic phone plans out there. If you’re looking for simple and no frills, then they might be a good option. But you would be missing out on perks like possible streaming service add-ons, storage upgrades, international calling, etc. from other phone companies. 

Free Man in Black Suit Jacket Talking on the Phone Stock Photo
Unlimited talk and text with every PureTalk phone plan!

What People Are Saying

If you’re someone that wants to see what others' experiences are with a phone company and know what people are saying about it before signing up- you’re not alone! There’s plenty that do it, so let’s see what’s behind the scenes.

PureTalk has been in the news for a few things. If you’re on X, formerly known as Twitter, there’s a chance you’ve seen PureTalk circling in more conservative circles. PureTalk has been endorsed by Ben Shapiro, a conservative podcast host, who makes his rounds in the limelight quite often. Apparently listeners of the podcast get 50% off your first month of service. You can find out more on PureTalk’s website here.

With that, there are people online who’ve reviewed PureTalk, a lot of the reviews we found on Trustpilot are leaning towards the positive side, here’s a couple for reference:

“They resolve issues fast. I got another phone put pure talk Sim card in a new phone I had to get. Had problems making calls. I contacted customer service it was resolved fast. My pure talk works great everywhere I go. Everything is a 10+ at puretalk wireless! Also customer service staff are super nice and super helpful!” -Patty Thomas (01/11/2024) via Trustpilot
“I never have to think about my phone service, that allows me to consider the other things in my life. I am an analog person, so, if I have a question I can talk to a courteous, real person that is patient with a senior citizen, I should mention the cost for service is right on for folks on a fixed income. Thank you, PureTalk !” -Leon Kirby (12/30/2024) via Trustpilot

Though there are a few online users and publications calling out PureTalk and commenting on the coverage.

“Our first year the coverage was great. Now we are consistently experiencing periods where we cannot make or receive calls. Customer service seems to have declined as our initial experiences were fantastic but now the individuals are cold and unknowledgeable. We switched to PureTalk to support a company with our values. Looks like cost cutting measures or something else have lead to a decline in service.” -Joshua (12/6/2023) also via Trustpilot

PureTalk has been known to advertise as “anti-woke” according to this Reddit thread with pictures of a PureTalk advertisement they got in the mail.

Justin Baragona, a Senior Media Reporter, at The Daily Beast detailed the potential hypocrisy of PureTalk here.

It seems that the “bare-bones” mobile plan has its pros and cons, along with many people paying attention to its moves.

If you want to compare and contrast PureTalk to over 1,200 other phone plans so you know you’re getting the service that’s right for you, then make sure to check out the REALLY compare page which allows you to look at pricing, coverage, what phone plans are available, current deals and steals, and how you can make the most of your potential phone bill.

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PureTalk 3GB + 2GB Hotspot

3GB + 2GB Hotspot
data
3GB
Hotspot access
2GB
Best for:
Lightest data users
More Details

PureTalk 5GB + 2GB Hotspot

5GB + 2GB Hotspot
data
5GB
Hotspot access
2GB
Best for:
Lighter data users
More Details

PureTalk 10GB + 5GB Hotspot

10GB + 5GB Hotspot
data
10GB
Hotspot access
5GB Hotspot
Best for:
Lighter data users
More Details

PureTalk 15GB + 5GB Hotspot

15GB + 5GB Hotspot
data
15GB
Hotspot access
5GB
Best for:
Light data users
More Details

PureTalk 25GB + 5GB Hotspot

25GB + 5GB Hotspot
data
25GB
Hotspot access
5GB Hotspot
Best for:
Average data users
More Details

PureTalk Unlimited + 20GB Hotspot

Unlimited + 20GB
data
60GB
Hotspot access
20GB
Best for:
Heavy data users
More Details

PureTalk Unlimited + 30GB Hotspot

Unlimited + 30GB Hotspot
data
60GB
Hotspot access
30GB
Best for:
Heaviest Data Users
More Details

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your questions,
answered

does this phone service work everywhere?

Yep, we offer premium wireless service on the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network. If you are in our dewi coverage areas, you’ll also get access to our decentralized phone network powered by the people which will give you even faster speeds and better coverage.

is there a contract?

Nope, it’s pay as you go.

is this prepaid?

yep! You put your card on file and prepay each month so that you never experience any disruption.

does my phone need to be unlocked?

Yep, but it’s super easy to unlock your device as long as it’s paid off. Chat with us and a real human can help you here.

what if I want a new phone?

We have some recommendations on what we think you should get, from iPhones to Droids. Check out our list here which includes affordable places online to get a good deal.

what does decentralized wireless (dewi) mean?

It means we are building a phone network that is powered by the people. Your neighbors put small radios on their roof and help extend the phone network to cover deadzones™ and get even faster speeds. Right now our DeWi network is available in Austin, but we’ll be expanding to other cities REALLY soon. Learn more about DeWi here.

can I keep my phone number?

yup! you can port your current number in a snap. need help? hit up your VIP concierge.