Are you considering a switch to a prepaid carrier? You’re not alone. Find out in this Republic Wireless review how one of the leading prepay providers can save you money.
CNBC consolidated a few consumer reports and found that “over half of Americans with unlimited cell phone plans consume less than 10 gigabytes monthly” in 2019.
In response, not only are wireless customers changing plans with their current carrier, they are seriously considering using one of the many reliable prepaid options available.
One of the prepaid industry leaders is Republic Wireless. Not only are their plans flexible and cheap, but their coverage is reliable.
Quick Overview of Republic Wireless
Republic Wireless is one of many prepaid wireless providers that have disrupted the mobile carrier market.
The premium providers are Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. And while they generate income from prepaid providers by “renting out” their infrastructure, premium providers can no longer compete purely on customer pricing.
|Avg Monthly Payment per Customer by Majority*||$101-200/month||$51-100/month||$101-200/month||$51-100/month|
|% Customers Paying Over $100/month||51%||46%||47%||30%|
As one of the leading prepaid providers, Republic Wireless is among the most cost-effective of her competitors. Customers that simply need unlimited calls and texts pay an astonishing $15/month (before taxes and fees).
But there are a few downsides. These include data restrictions, customer service, and iPhone incompatibility. In this detailed review, we are going to examine Republic Wireless from every angle and then offer a few of our top pick alternatives.
If you are looking for specific information in this product review, feel free to jump to one of the sections listed below.
Table of Contents
- Republic Wireless Review Summary
- The Cost of Republic Wireless Plans
- Republic Wireless Coverage
- Republic Wireless Review of Call Quality
- Compatible Phones at Republic Wireless
- Customer Support at Republic Wireless
- Top Alternatives to Republic Wireless
- Closing Thoughts
Republic Wireless Review Summary
After examining user reviews online, we find that Republic Wireless performs average to above average among her competitors. As a result, many find Republic to be reliable, and customers are generally happy.
Whether or not you will be pleased with Republic depends upon how you use your smartphone. If your priority is mere calls and texts, look no further.
However, if you are a traveler and a heavy data user, your experience will probably be less than ideal. Lastly, users that need hand-holding from a customer service rep will be sorely disappointed.
The Cost of Republic Wireless Plans
As we’ve already mentioned, Republic Wireless is wildly affordable. The famous My Choice Plan allows for data plan changes month-to-month.
Talk and Text
Those that need data only occasionally are content since unlimited calls and texts are included in the bottom price of $15/month.
From here on out, Republic begins to sound a little less enticing. Each gig of data costs $5 extra.
Republic will allow you to prepay for up to 15 gigs of data each month (a total cost of $90 per month). If you’re using this much data, you’d actually save money by going for an unlimited plan with another provider. Even Verizon’s unlimited plan is cheaper than this.
You’ll need to figure out your usage to see if Republic makes sense for you. If your data usage exceeds two gigs per month, you should take a look at our list of alternative prepaid providers below.
As a side note, one great advantage to Republic Wireless is their ability to connect your phone to wireless networks nearby. Customers out and about are usually able to save a great deal on the data usage as a result.
The impaired ease of switching to nearby wireless networks is something of a pain point for iPhone users. As it happens, this is the main reason why Republic will not accept Apple devices.
Hotspot (or tethering) is not a separate service provided for Republic wireless customers. It comes as part of the data plan. If you frequent spots where this is no available wifi, you can simply adjust your data needs for the month and return to normal afterward.
However, if you find you need hotspot on a regular basis, it will quickly eat up your data usage.
Republic customers can call/text with ease to any U.S. or Canadian phone number. If you are overseas, you can still connect to a wireless network and call home to the United States or Canada.
Unfortunately, Republic customers are not able to call phone numbers in Mexico, unlike customers of most other providers.
New Phones for Opening an Account
Also, unlike many of her competitors, Republic does not currently give away free phones to those that make the switch. They do, however, offer payment plans on most smartphones.
Republic Wireless Review of Coverage
Republic rides off the wireless coverage of both Sprint and T-Mobile. As a result, coverage is decent. Areas of low coverage would also affect Verizon and AT&T customers.
Prepaid wireless providers are known as MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators). Instead of owning the wireless infrastructure that they lease for customers, they are tenants of another carrier’s wireless network themselves.
What’s the Difference Between GSM and CDMA Networks?
The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless carriers are Verizon and Sprint. AT&T and T-Mobile are Global System for Mobiles (GSM) carriers.
What does this mean for our Republic Wireless review?
Wireless providers went digital about 20 years ago when we began using 2G and 3G into the 2000s. When going digital, carriers had to decide whether they would use CDMA and GSM. This affected phone compatibility.
At this time, Verizon chose a CDMA network and programmed their phones accordingly. Consequently, that’s why Verizon phones could not be switched to AT&T or T-Mobile.
With the launch of LTE, the GSM and CDMA split made little difference at high data speeds. However, our smartphones today still occasionally run on 2G or 3G in low signal areas. As such, the difference between GSM and CDMA matters only a little bit today.
That being said, 5G LTE technology will soon be made available to all. As it happens, each of the four premium wireless carriers has already made plans to phase out their 2G and 3G networks over the next few years.
The split today matters most on older smartphones. However, GSM-built phones can switch carriers with greater ease (through the use of SIM cards) than can CDMA-built phones. Also, if your coverage lowers to 3G, mobile devices on a CDMA network cannot use data to surf the Internet at the same time while on a call.
The point is, prepaid wireless providers (like Republic) are more often working with customers on a budget. As a result, prepaid providers are doing more to accommodate older phone models to help those customers save money.
The CDMA and GSM setup can affect the quality of services on these older phones. Though a technical matter, it is a factor you should take into account when looking at prepaid options and examining this Republic Wireless review.
What’s the Difference Between a Standard Wireless Plan and Prepaid Plan?
First, monthly payments work differently. Prepaid means what it says: you pay in advance for a contracted amount of usage.
Standard or premium carriers allow for post-payment. You use what you need and then get billed for what you use. Prepaid plans stop your service once you’ve hit the limits of your subscription, but postpaid providers allow you to go beyond your plan (they simply bill you for the rest).
Second, while prepaid providers offer reliable connectivity, they are paying to use another carrier’s wireless network. Many have claimed that premium/postpaid are going to favor their customers over those belonging to an MVNO prepaid provider.
Third, phone selection is usually older with prepaid plans. If you love to upgrade to the latest phone model, you may not be able to use it with your prepaid provider.
Lastly, the premium providers are starting to offer more free add-ons for their customers, such as video and music streaming subscriptions. This is highly unlikely with your average MVNO prepaid plan.
Republic Wireless Review of Call Quality
Early users complained of frequent call dropping and poor call clarity. Those complaints have dwindled over the last five years.
Republic’s preference for wireless networks allows users to make calls in weak service areas. Having wifi networks nearby clearly improves call quality, as well.
Compatible Phones at Republic Wireless
As long as your phone runs on an Android platform, you will most likely be able to bring your own device to Republic Wireless. Here is an exhaustive list in alphabetical order.
- Alcatel A30
- Google Pixel
- Google Pixel XL
- Google Pixel 2 and 2XL
- Google Pixel 3, 3XL, 3a, and 3a XL
- Google Pixel 4 and 4XL
- Huawei Ascend 5w
- LG K30
- Motorola e4 and e4 plus
- Motorola e5 play
- Motorola e6
- Motorola g4, g4 play, and g4 plus
- Motorola g5 plus and g5s plus
- Motorola g6 and g6 play
- Motorola g7, g7 play, and g7 power
- Motorola x pure edition
- Motorola x4
- Motorola z and z play
- Motorola z2 play
- Motorola z3 play
- Motorola z4
- Nexus 5X
- Nexus 6 and 6P
- OnePlus 6T
- Samsung Galaxy A6, A10e, A20, A50, J3 (2016-2018), S7 edge, and J7 (2017-2018)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8, 9, 10, and 10+
- Galaxy S6, S7, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, and S10e
This list is likely to change over time. Republic allows you to search for your device to find out whether or not it is compatible with their wireless network.
Customer Support at Republic Wireless
Besides a less than cost-effective data plan, the most significant complaint by Republic Wireless customers is the lack of customer service.
Currently, Republic’s customer service relies almost exclusively on static web content or forums. If you are handy with finding the answers you need on forums, you’ll be okay.
But if you are like most people in that you like to have a customer service number available just in case, you should choose another provider.
The Republic Wireless App
Ironically, in the same customer review railing against Republic’s customer service, you find many excited about the functionality of the app. You can change your plan month-to-month with great ease from the palm of your hand.
The app is reliable and fast. If you’re tracking your data usage, the app will tell you your balance in real-time. As such, it is a definite plus that outshines other prepaid provider apps.
For the purpose of this Republic Wireless review, their app holds its own against and may even be better than nearly all her competitors.
Top Alternatives to Republic Wireless
For picky mobile users on a budget, there are increasingly more players in the MVNO environment. Here are our top 5 alternative picks.
Cricket plans start at unlimited call and text, plus two gigs of data. The base plan is $30/month ($25/month if you set up autopay). This is essentially the same value as Republic Wireless.
If you need more than two gigs, the next plan upgrade is five gigs for $40/month. However, if you bring your own compatible phone, that 5-gig plan automatically upgrades to an unlimited data plan.
If you need hotspot, you can pay another $10/month for up to 8 gigs of hotspot. The top prepaid plan is $60/month with unlimited everything, plus 15 gigs of hotspot data.
Cricket uses the AT&T GSM network. Switching is simple with a SIM card. After making the switch, customers are thrilled with the quality of Cricket’s customer service.
The downsides pertain to data speed capping. Even at full 4G LTE signal on an unlimited plan, your download speeds don’t exceed 8 megabytes per second. For lower plans, the download speed caps at 3 Mbps.
However, the top $60/month plan recently removed the 8 Mbps cap. With autopay and 15 gigs of hotspot, this is not a bad deal.
And once you’ve used the available LTE data cap (8 gigs) in unlimited plans, Cricket throttles your download speed to 128 kilobytes per second. At that speed, you may even have trouble checking for new emails on your phone.
- Affordable unlimited data plans
- $5/month discount to all plans on autopay
- Robust connectivity with AT&T network
- Excellent customer service
- Low download speeds
- Throttled-back data speeds are nearly impossible to use
If you make limited calls, texts, and mostly stay in areas that offer free wifi, you could achieve an astoundingly better deal than Republic Wireless. Ting boasts customers paying less than $10/month.
Ting is not a prepaid provider. They don’t have plans. You pay for what you use. In the screenshot above, Ting lays out your rate for the talk minutes you use.
The same is true for texting and data usage. If you use less than 1000 texts/month, you’ll only pay $5 (or less).
Indiscriminate data users will get into trouble. You pay $10/month for each gig of data you use. If you call/text on average and use five gigs of data, you’re mostly paying what you would pay Verizon for an unlimited plan.
As far as customer service, Ting is fully accessible and competent to help customers with questions and problems.
- Potential for <$10/month costs
- You only ever pay for what you use
- Great customer service
- Data costs can add up
- Call minute costs can add up
- Not suitable for travelers
Metro is an excellent option for those that care about unlimited data. It runs off the T-Mobile network, which is today no less reliable than the other networks.
Prices appear at first glance to be almost identical to Cricket. However, Metro grants 35 gigs of LTE to unlimited data subscribers before throttling. This is much better than Cricket’s throttling at eight gigs.
Unfortunately, Metro does not stream video in HD. If that feature is essential to you, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
As one of the few prepaid providers that give perks, top-tier customers enjoy a free Amazon Prime subscription. Unlimited users also receive 100 gigs of Google One storage.
Their family/group plans are far more affordable than most, even among other prepaid providers.
- Great data plans
- Affordable family plans
- Additional perks for unlimited customers
- Not for low-data users
- No HD streaming
4. Virgin Mobile
If you’re a moderate data user that doesn’t care to stream video or music on your phone, Virgin Mobile will be a great fit. Those needing to access productivity apps and make plenty of calls/texts favor Virgin Mobile over the rest.
Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network. While Sprint covers most of the same areas as the other premium carriers, call quality is comparatively spotty. Ironically, we do not see too many complaints about dropped calls.
The biggest complaint against Virgin Mobile is the fact that there are no group plans. Every plan stands alone, so there will be no savings for adding friends and family.
Virgin does, however, offer perks to members that like to shop at select brands.
- The best overall deal for average data users that don’t stream
- Unlimited talk and text for all plans
- Slow video and music streaming
- No group plans
If you like many of the features offered by Ting but prefer the prepaid setup (and more straightforward pricing), then you will love Tello.
Tello accommodates those that only want to use one or two of three standard wireless services (talk, text, and data). Those wanting a base of unlimited talk and text with two gigs of data can get it at $14/month.
Those that don’t care to use data can get unlimited talk and text for $8/month. If you want the data, but don’t care to call or text, you can get 12 gigs of data for $35/month. Unfortunately, there is no unlimited data plan.
Tello dispenses with most of the extra fees that other providers will charge. For example, there are no activation fees when making the switch. There is also no additional charge for tethering and hotspot.
With a Tello plan, you can make calls anywhere in North America and China using Verizon and Sprint networks.
As a downside, Tello is not best for families or those that like to bring their latest device. But when it comes to customer service, Tello outshines the rest.
- Remarkable plan flexibility
- No activation fees
- Great customer service
- No unlimited data plans
- Not ideal for family plans
- Won’t work with the latest smartphones
Republic Wireless Review Comparison Chart
Republic’s network reliability and affordable plans make it a great substitute for those looking to break from their postpay, premium carrier. We hope that this Republic Wireless review further informs your purchasing decision.
If you find that Republic is not for you, examine the many competitors within the MVNO and prepaid arena. You could be saving thousands of dollars a year without losing call quality and data usage.