The wit, wisdom, zen, and philosophy of Paul Diamond Blow.

PlatinumTel Cell Phone Service Review: Great Rates but Sucky Phones!

PlatinumTel's Pay As You Go Plan offers excellent rates, but their phones just plain suck!

by Paul Ace Diamond "Huggy" Blow

I've been using T-Mobile's prepaid cell phone plan for over five years now and have been very happy with both the prepaid plan and T-mobile's service. However, at ten cents for every text message sent or received, my minutes get used up rapidly by friends (especially girl friends) who like to communicate by texting. So, I set out on the internet with a mission of finding an alternative cell phone pay-as-you-go plan with cheaper rates. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon PlatinumTel -- a relatively new cell phone service company with a pay-as-you-go plan with much lower rates than T-Mobile: five cents per minute talk time and only TWO CENTS for every text message sent or received. I was stoked!

Cheap Rates, Good Coverage
Platinumtel has been providing cell phone service since 2001 and they use the Sprint network for coverage, so the coverage is good and available for most of the United States. PlatinumTel's "Real Paygo" plan does indeed offer the cheapest rates for pay-as-you-go at five cents per minute talk time, two cents for each text message sent or recieved, and ten cents per megabyte on the web. You can purchase phone time cards for $10 (good for 90 days), $20 (good for 90 days), $30 (good for 180 days), $50 (180 days), or $100 (365 days). PlatinumTel also offers an Unlimited Talk & Text plan that offers "unlimited" talk and texting for $45 a month. Both these plans come with no contracts, activation fees, or long term commitments. Sounds good, right? The Real Paygo plan sounded good to me, so I went with the $30 card to test out their service.

Sucky, Sucky Phones
With rates this cheap, you gotta wonder what the catch is. Before I invested any money I checked out cell phone service review sites to see what people were saying about PlatinumTel. Most people said the service and coverage were fine, but many people complained about the phones PlatinumTel sells not lasting very long. That's the catch right there: to use PlatinumTel's pay-as-you-go or unlimited talk and text plans you must also purchase a cell phone from them. The problem with this is that most of the cell phones they offer are "refurbished" (used) phones. They offer only a small selection of phones to choose from, about a dozen. I purchased a refurbished Motorola Krazer clam phone along with my $30 card. Each refurbished cell phone comes with just a one month warranty.

Well, after about one month of light use my refurbished Motorola phone started getting glitchy: it would periodically freeze up and return to the main menu when trying to type text messages or access other sub-menus, and when having a phone conversation the phone would freeze up and disconnect after about ten minutes. The phone got so glitchy and frustrating to use I finally called PlatinumTel's customer service to complain about the phone. They told me my warranty period was over (I only had the phone for six weeks at that point) and would either have to purchase another phone or try resetting the phone to the factory defaults. I followed their instructions on resetting the phone, but resetting it only made it worse. The phone is now so glitchy it is unusable... in fact, after turning it on it will not go past the "Hello Moto" welcome screen until someone calls or texts me! I only used ten dollars worth of time on my $30 card. By comparison, the Motorola flip phone I got from T-Mobile has been running strong for over five years.

Another problem with PlatinumTel's phones is that PlatinumTel is a CDMA carrier so their phones do not use SIM cards. Basically, you are stuck with the phone they sell you and you cannot use their service with a reliable cell phone you may already own... which sucks! I believe the way PlatinumTel really makes their money is by selling these refurbished phones. The rates are great and the Sprint coverage is fine, but who can afford to buy a new cell phone every 2-3 months?

All in all, my advice is to stay away from PlatinumTel and not let them sucker you in with their cheap rates. Since I refuse to gamble with them again by buying another cell phone I will probably never use up my remaining $20 of phone time, so for the price of $59.99 ($29.99 for the Motorola phone, $30 for the phone card) I got only $10 worth of phone time and a glitchy phone that is headed for the trash bin.

UPDATE: As of February 2016 Platinum Tel is now officially out of business.