Verizon’s prepaid wireless brand Visible removed a perk that allows customers to lower their monthly wireless bill if they form a pact with at least two other customers.
The plan, called Party Pay, reduced the base cost of Visible’s all-inclusive wireless service from $40 a month to as little as $25 a month, depending on the number of people they added to their group plan.
In a statement released this week, a Visible spokesperson said customers didn’t like “the hoops they had to jump through” just to get the perk. Some customers reached out to total strangers on social media websites like Reddit just to take advantage of the perk.
Going forward, new customers will pay the same price per line, no matter how many lines of service they have. This week, Visible said the price of its base tier would be lowered from $40 a month to $30 a month, with unlimited, talk, text and non-prioritized data baked into the plan.
The company also debuted a new premium tier of service called Visible Plus that costs $45 a month and includes an allotment of high-speed, priority data, access to Verizon’s fastest 5G network and global calling to more than two dozen countries.
Current customers who are on Visible’s $40 a month plan or who use Party Pay will be able to keep their service at prior rates, but only until January 1, according to people familiar with the matter. Customers who switch to a new plan will also need a new SIM card, Visible said, and all customers will have to update their device software in order to keep using the phone service.
Visible operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) of Verizon, which owns the brand. MVNOs typically offer cheap phone service on a prepaid basis, where customers subscribe to a plan and pay for at least a month up front. Some MVNOs offer cheaper phone service with a longer, prepaid commitment — at least three months, but sometimes as long as a year.
There are some compromises with prepaid phone service: Most budget plans come with data plans that are de-prioritized over customers who pay more money directly to AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon. While a few select MVNO brands like Cricket (owned by AT&T) and Metro by T-Mobile have retail stores, most sell activation kits online or at retailers like Best Buy and Walmart.
Perks like free access to streaming services and the ability to pay off phones on installment are generally not available to prepaid customers, though some — including Visible — do partner with third party companies like Affirm that allow customers to purchase a phone through a payment plan.
Visible is generally seen as one of the better, lower-cost options because it uses Verizon’s robust 4G LTE and 5G wireless network to provide phone calls and smartphone data. Until recently, the company didn’t allow roaming on partner networks; the updated plans announced this week will allow customers with a new SIM card to roam when they are outside of Verizon’s coverage area.