What You Need to Know
As operator of the 5th largest mobile network in the United State, US Cellular serves nearly 5 million customers each year. In areas without network coverage, they offer voice and data service through partnerships with other carriers at no additional charge.
US Cellular is known for its affordable rates. Prepaid and post-paid plans offer flexibility depending on your preferences and credit score. At the time of writing, post-paid plans start at $60 per line, per month with the most expensive plan running $75. Multi-line plans offer additional savings and shared data pools. Prepaid plans range from $35 to $60 per line, per month.
A full line of phones and device financing with credit approval offer plenty of options if you need a phone. Options are limited for bringing your own device. However, the carrier supports of range of flagship models from major manufacturers.
- No-contract plans available
- Affordable phone selection
- Phone financing available
- Multi-line discounts available
- Unlimited talk and text on all plans
- Great customer service
- Limited bring your own phone options
- US Cellular phones might not work on other carriers
- Switching Incentives: US Cellular frequently offers incentives to switch to their service. At the time of writing, they are offering to reimburse up to $650 in termination fees from other carriers when signing up for service.
- Shared Data Plans: For families or groups looking for service, multi-line discounts offer substantial savings over per-line rates. With up to 24GB of data per month, there’s enough for the entire family to enjoy their phones or tablets.
- Unlimited Talk & Text to Canada and Mexico: If you frequently call friends or family members across the border, this $10 add-on is one of the most affordable amongst all US carriers.
Awards and Recognitions
- Ranked #1 in the North Central division for J.D. Power's "U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study Vol.1 (2017)."
- US Cellular currently has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau with 2,114 complaints closed in the past 3 years.
How's the Network Coverage and Speed?
US Cellular recently transitioned from a regional carrier serving the Midwest to nationwide carrier status. As such, there is little information about current speeds and coverage from studies or third-party reports.
Recent emphasis on expanding 4G LTE access has brought their coverage to a level comparable to other major carriers. They are still rolling out expanded 4G coverage on the West Coast.
For additional details on current and future coverage areas, consult their Coverage Map.
Do They Charge Roaming Fees?
All U.S. Cellular plans feature nationwide calling with no worries about roaming fees for calls placed within the U.S.
Outside of the U.S., roaming charges for calls vary. However, they do offer a number of roaming data add-ons to help keep data fees manageable. Each option costs $35 and includes between 50MB and 125MB of data depending on your destination.
Current rates for destinations around the world are available at their International Roaming Cell Phone Plans page.
What About Long Distance Fees?
All plans include nationwide calling at no additional charge.
Fees for calls outside of the U.S. vary by plan. If you to call often, you’ll find a range of add-ons to help reduce costs. Popular options include:
- International Long Distance Plan: For $3.99 per month, you can enjoy discounted per-minute rates to more than 200 countries as well as unlimited calls to landlines in Mexico.
- Unlimited Calling Canada Plan: For $5.99 per month, you can call Canada at no additional charge.
- Unlimited Talk & Text to Mexico & Canada: For $10 per month, you can stay in touch with friends or family in these two popular locations.
Pay-as-you-go rates for international calls will differ based on where you are calling. Rates start at $0.20 per minute. Find out more about international calling fees on their Long Distance Cell Phone Plans page.
Does US Cellular Offer Wi-Fi Calling?
No. US Cellular does not support native Wi-Fi calling or offer a Wi-Fi calling app.
How About Voice over LTE (VoLTE)?
Can I Tether My Phone?
US Cellular allows tethering at no additional charge. Data used will be billed at the same rate as data used by your mobile device.
Be aware that tethering with a PC, game console or other device might cause increased data consumption. Any data used by those devices while tethered counts against your data bucket. Always tether with caution.
Do They Offer Data Rollover?
No. US Cellular does not offer rollover on either postpaid or prepaid services.
What Add-ons or Bundles are Available?
At the time of writing, no additional bundles or add-ons are available. However, features vary between plans. If you’d typically add data or specific calling features, checking plans around the price of the plan you are considering might yield additional options.
Do They Offer Bring Your Own Device/Sim-Only Plans?
Bring your own device options are limited. Currently, they support a handful of flagship phones from major manufacturers. However, support will depend on if the device is unlocked and which carrier it used initially.
As a CDMA carrier, your options for bringing phones from another carrier are likely limited to Verizon and Sprint.
Due to the limited list of supported devices, we recommend contacting U.S. Cellular with your device details for up to date information.
Do They Require a Credit Check?
Prepaid plans are available without a credit check.
However, for device financing, multi-line plans and post-paid individual plans, a credit check is required. At the time of writing, this is a "hard" credit check. This means the check will likely appear on your credit report.
To run the credit check, the carrier will need:
- Your name
- Current address
In some cases, a government-issued ID--such as a Driver's License, State Identification Card or Passport--is required as well.
NOTE: Credit checks from carriers that pull your credit bureau report may impact your credit score. If you're not sure the best options for your credit profile, we suggest contacting the carrier directly before attempting to obtain service.
For more information on credit check requirements and how they might affect your account, consult their Plan FAQs.
What About Activation and SIM Fees?
U.S. Cellular may charge a one-time activation fee for every new line of service depending on the plan you choose.
Their Total Plans have no activation fees.
Current charges for other plans include:
- $25 for devices purchased with an installment agreement
- $40 for subsidized devices
For more information, consult their Miscellaneous Fees page.
If you bring your own phone or tablet, you'll also need a U.S. Cellular SIM.
SIM kits are available through retail locations for a small fee and online through customer support for free.
NOTE: Fees often differ between retail stores and websites. Be sure to check both before signing up or adding a line to your account to maximize savings.
Do They Charge an Early Termination Fee?
If you are subject to a term contract or device financing agreement, you will likely face an early termination fee of up to $350 per device if you end service early.
Their Terms and Conditions of Agreement state:
“If the Agreement is terminated for any reason during the Initial Term ("IT") other than pursuant to (i) the "Changes to Relationship" paragraph below, (ii) any applicable U.S. Cellular guaranty period or (iii) U.S. Cellular ceasing to provide Service in your Home Market, you may be assessed an Early Termination Fee ("ETF"). The duration of the IT and initial value of the ETF are defined in your Service Agreement. (Devices purchased via a Retail Installment Contract are not subject to an ETF.) Each applicable line of Service shall be subject to a separate ETF. The ETF shall be pro-rated over the IT of the Agreement. New smartphones and tablets are subject to a pro-rated $350 ETF. New feature phones, modems and hotspot devices are subject to a pro-rated $150 ETF.”
Can I Port My Number To or From US Cellular?
As per Local Number Portability requirements, you are free to bring your number to or transfer your number from US Cellular as long as a few conditions are met.
- The account with the number must be active and in good standing.
- US Cellular must offer service in the area where the number is based.
- Number portability must be available in the area where the number is based.
- You must be able to verify the billing address, account holder name and account number of the account from which you want to port your number.
For more information about porting numbers, refer to their Number Portability FAQ page.
Will They Unlock My Phone?
Yes! You can stop by any store or contact US Cellular by phone, email or chat to start the unlocking process. Unlocking required differ by plan type.
For postpaid plans:
- You must have met the obligations of your term contract or financing agreement
- Your account must be in good standing
For prepaid plans:
- You must wait 12 months from the date of activation to unlock your device.
For military personnel, unlocks are allowed if the account is in good standing once deployment papers are provided.
For additional information about unlocking your U.S. Cellular device, consult their Mobile Wireless Devices Unlocking FAQ.
For additional questions about pricing, features and coverage, be sure to check our US Cellular Q&A Forum. It’s filled with questions and answers from people like you looking to get the most out of their mobile service!
If you spot any errors or missing information, please let us know! It's appreciated and will help make this page better for everyone.
Voice network: CDMA, LTE
Data network: 1xRTT, EV-DO, LTE
8410 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60631-3486
1-888-944-9400 (or 611 from your cell)
Review Sources and Citations
Use this product?
Help inform others by sharing your experience with U.S. Cellular