TextNow is an MVNO running on Sprint and T-Mobile’s 4G LTE networks. Its low-cost prepaid plans are geared toward budget-minded consumers. One key upside of TextNow is that it prioritizes your WiFi connection for calls and texting ahead of cellular services (Sprint’s network for CDMA phones and T-Mobile’s for GSM phones), allowing for more affordable service plans.
TextNow Cell Phone Plans
TextNow has four contract-free wireless plans available starting at $9.99/month for WiFi-only service (no data) with unlimited talk and text. TextNow’s other three plans offer data allowances of 2GB, 5GB, or unlimited (well, 23GB; speeds are slowed to 2G once you’ve hit this limit). Technically, TextNow doesn’t officially support tethering or mobile hotspot use, but customer service will turn it on for use with your data plan when asked.
There are no data overages on TextNow plans. Instead, TextNow will simply reduce your data speeds to 2G until the next month. Unfortunately, 2G speeds are somewhat unbearable in 2019 for anything beyond basic web browsing.
TextNow plans include the following features:
- Unlimited talk and text in the U.S./Canada
- Free international texting to over 100 countries
- Prioritization of WiFi over cellular networks
- Data allowances on three plans
- Hotspot use on three plans
- Conference calling
- Caller ID and call forwarding
- Voicemail transcription
Let’s Talk Tip: You can upgrade or downgrade your TextNow service plan at any time you like during your bill cycle.
TextNow 23GB Plan
TextNow’s best value plan is its 23GB (or as it’s technically called, the Unlimited LTE) plan. It costs $39.99/month and includes 23GB of high-speed data per month before TextNow slows your speeds to 2G. Slowing data after a certain threshold on unlimited plans is common at many carriers, but data speeds usually slow to 3G rather than 2G. That might make TextNow’s Unlimited LTE plan less attractive to heavy data users. Nevertheless, because TextNow prioritizes WiFi over data and 23GB is a good amount, it’s unlikely most users will hit this speed threshold.
TextNow International Calling
TextNow includes free international texting to over 100 countries with its plans, but international calling costs extra. However, you can purchase credits to use for international calls (230+ countries) through TextNow’s mobile app.
In addition, TextNow offers customers the option to earn credit for international calls. Using TextNow’s mobile application, you can earn this credit by:
- Watching videos
- Installing apps
- Completing offers
- Referring friends
- Promoting TextNow on social media
International call costs vary based on each country’s call rate, but some are as low as one cent per minute. Still, compared to other international calling-friendly MVNOs like Ting, GenMobile, and Red Pocket, TextNow’s offerings are mediocre at best.
You can add 10 additional lines to any TextNow plan and save up to $10/month for each line on select plans.
TextNow allows you to add extra lines to all of its plans—up to 10 on a single account, in fact. Better yet, you can save up to $10/month for each line added to TextNow’s 5GB LTE and Unlimited LTE plans.
For example, each additional line on the $29.99/month 5GB LTE plan costs $7/month less ($22.99/month). Each additional line of TextNow’s $39.99 Unlimited LTE plan will save you $10/month.
This means you can get a 3-line 23GB plan (AKA Unlimited LTE) from TextNow for $100/month. That’s a competitive unlimited family plan deal, even against the likes of more mainstream MVNOs like Boost, Metro by T-Mobile, or Cricket.
MVNO Unlimited Family Plans Compared
|Talk, Text, Data||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|High-Speed Data Threshold||23GB then 2G||22GB then 2G||35GB then 3G||35GB then 3G|
|Mobile Hotspot||Tied to data use||Add 10GB for $10/month||1GB/line||5GB|
Note: Additional lines of TextNow’s Talk & Text Only and 2GB LTE plans do not receive savings.
Buy a TextNow Phone
TextNow sells over a dozen phones ranging from inexpensive Android phones to modern flagships. Selections include older LG, Samsung, Apple, and Motorola devices, some of which are used or heavily discounted.
Some notable phones offered by TextNow include the:
- Apple iPhone 6, 6S, and 7
- Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, S8, and S9
- Motorola Moto E4, E5 Plus
You can buy a TextNow phone outright without a credit check, or pay for one via a monthly financing agreement through third-party company Affirm. With Affirm, a credit check is required, and you can choose to make payments over 3, 6, or 12 months with interest. Just be aware that Affirm interest rates range from 10-30%, which can cost you much more than the value of the phone in the end.
Bring Your own Phone
You can bring both Android devices and iPhones to TextNow. Boost, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Virgin phones are compatible with TextNow and do not require a new SIM card. You can also bring unlocked CDMA or GSM devices. Just make sure to order a FREE TextNow SIM card so you can activate your device with their service. Activation can be done via TextNow’s website and by contacting TextNow customer service.