Consumer Cellular, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that is best known as being the preferred wireless phone provider to AARP members, has topped the list of best wireless phone providers as ranked by Consumer Reports.
The top 10 wireless companies ranked in the September 2020 issue of the consumer magazine are all prepaid virtual mobile phone providers that piggyback off existing networks operated by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Consumer Reports surveyed more than 103,000 of its members in 2019 to determine the top wireless companies in the United States. The magazine said members were asked to rank wireless providers on a number of elements, including value, customer support, data, wireless receiption and the frequency of telemarketing calls.
Consumer Cellular earned a high score for its value, customer support and data plans, the magazine said. Consumer Cellular offers prepaid phone service using AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks starting at $25 a month for one line with unlimited talk, unlimited texting and a small bucket of mobile data. The company offers an unlimited data plan bundled with unlimited calls and text messages for $60 a month.
Out of a possible score of 100, Consumer Cellular earned an 89 for overall satisfaction.
Prepaid phone company Ting earned the second spot with an overall customer satisfaction ranking of 87, followed by Google Fi, Republic Wireless and Mint Mobile. All three companies use T-Mobile’s current network and Sprint’s former network; Ting and Google Fi use other networks as well.
T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS — now doing business under the Metro by T-Mobile brand — was 9th on the list of best wireless companies with an overall satisfaction score of 83. It was the highest-ranking MVNO owned by a major carrier on the Consumer Reports list. Cricket, a MVNO owned by AT&T, ranked just below MetroPCS.
Of the three major carriers, T-Mobile ranked the highest with an overall satisfaction score of 81 out of 100. Consumer Reports members said the company delivered above-average value, customer support and data plans while earning reputable marks for wireless signal and frequency of telemarketing calls.
Verizon earned an overall satisfaction score of 73 followed by Sprint at 70 and AT&T at 69. All three companies earned poor marks for value and frequency of telemarketing calls. Sprint was absorbed into T-Mobile late last month.
Though not ranked in its member survey, Consumer Reports gave a special nod to Visible, a startup MVNO operated by Verizon, for its $40 unlimited talk, text and data plan for one line of service or $100 a month spread across four lines. The consumer organization said Visible is a good value for data-hungry phone users and families alike.