Sections on this page
- What is Red Pocket?
- Common Complaints
- Claim: Unlimited Calls Aren’t Really Unlimited
- Claim: Cell Coverage is Not as Promised
- Claim: Data Speeds Are Slow
- Claim: Unlimited Data Isn’t Really Unlimited
With a 4.05/5 star rating on Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a 4.4/5 rating on Trustpilot, Red Pocket seems like a trustworthy service offering affordable cell phone plans. However, on the other end of the spectrum, sites like Coverage Critic and Money Saving Pro see Red Pocket's ratings drop to around 2.5 to 3 out of 5 stars.
Although the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) appears to have decent customer service, as seen on the BBB website, the company still has its share of haters and naysayers who claim the budget service is a scam. We take a look at the legitimacy of these claims and tell you how it really is.
What is Red Pocket?
Red Pocket is an MVNO (a wireless service provider that uses other network operators’ cell phone towers) offering budget-friendly cell phone plans to customers across the U.S. What makes Red Pocket stand out from some other prepaid carriers is that it provides cell phone coverage on all four networks:
- Sprint (now also T-Mobile’s network)
(You need to choose one of the four networks to power your cell service.)
Red Pocket’s Plans
Red Pocket’s cell phone plans are for those who don’t want to spend a fortune on their cell phone plan and don’t need all the bells and whistles, such as travel benefits, entertainment benefits, or a phone installment plan.
The carrier’s plans start at $20/month for a 3GB plan (just $10 for your first month) and go up to $50/month for a 50GB plan (just $25/month for your first month). Compared to major networks like Verizon and AT&T, these plans are much more affordable and an excellent choice for those on a budget.
Common complaints that people have with Red Pocket, and their cell phone carriers in general, include:
- Phone service (specifically calls) being cut off due to excessive use (even on an unlimited plan)
- Bad cell phone coverage
- Slow data speeds
- Unlimited data not really being unlimited
While these are valid complaints to have when you switch to a new carrier, they’re not always signs of a scam. Sometimes it’s a matter of reading the fine print and understanding the terms and conditions.
We get it; who actually reads the fine print? It’s ok; we’re here to explain why you may run into some of these issues as a Red Pocket customer and why these aren’t problems exclusive to the carrier.
Claim: Unlimited Calls Aren’t Really Unlimited
Some complaints online, including on Reddit, are from customers who claim Red Pocket shut off their phone service after they made a certain number of calls. This is definitely a problem when you’ve paid for a plan with unlimited calls.
The general response that these customers receive from Red Pocket is that their accounts were flagged for excessive use, and per the Terms and Conditions, their service was suspended temporarily.
According to some reports, customers have been told by Red Pocket that their service was suspended because they exceeded 3,000 minutes of call time before their plan was up for renewal.
The Reality: Red Pocket Isn't the Only Carrier that Does This
While it may be frustrating to have your cell service cut off because you’re using the calls you paid for, these terms are pretty standard with many carriers, including AT&T, Straight Talk, and Ting.
Suspending or slowing down services is very common for carriers as there is limited bandwidth on the networks. For example, have you ever been to a concert or big sporting event and had trouble calling or texting a friend? That’s because there is a large number of people in a small area, so those cell towers become congested.
Claim: Cell Coverage is Not as Promised
It’s easy to land on Red Pocket’s home page and think you’re going to get the best coverage since the MVNO uses all four networks. However, there are a few things you need to know when signing up for a Red Pocket plan (or a plan with any MVNO, for that matter):
- You’re probably going to be limited to one network.
- Your cell phone affects your coverage.
- Don’t like your coverage? Try another one!
Limit to One Network
Although many smaller carriers advertise that they use more than one network to power their services, it doesn’t mean that you, as a customer, get access to all four (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint).
With the exception of a small number of carriers, you will be limited to just one network when you pick your plan—usually based on which one offers you the best coverage and which one your phone is compatible with.
This is true of Red Pocket—you need to pick one of the four networks.
When choosing a plan, you will need to look at which network offers the most coverage in your area. Red Pocket does great job of showing you the coverage you’ll get on each network, borrowing maps from the network carriers.
Coverage Maps Can Be Misleading
When checking coverage maps, make sure you understand what you’re looking at. Some carriers show you coverage with everything combined (e.g., 3G, 4G, 5G coverage), making it seem like coverage is at almost 100% of the U.S.).
Make sure you find a map that distinguishes 5G, 4G, and 3G coverage from each other to get a better idea of what your service will really be like.
Your Phone Affects Your Signal
When you don’t have good reception, it’s natural to automatically blame your carrier—in this case, Red Pocket. Although coverage isn’t a common complaint coming from Red Pocket customers, several factors can cause your signal to be less than ideal, including your phone itself:
- Low battery: When your phone battery is low, your signal suffers because your phone cannot connect to the cell tower as easily.
- Phone case: Some phone cases can block your phone’s ability to connect to cell towers, especially those that are very thick.
- Cell phone model: Some brands and models get better reception than others. According to PCMag, Samsung Galaxy phones offer better speeds than iPhones.
Unhappy with Your Coverage? Just Switch!
If you’re unhappy with your cell phone coverage, switching to a different network is easy. Whether you’re with Red Pocket or another carrier, there are no contracts with cell phone plans, so you can switch to another network without any cancellation fees.
Red Pocket offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, so you don’t even have to wait until your plan renews before switching plans.
Claim: Data Speeds Are Slow
Some people who switch to an MVNO, like Red Pocket, are disappointed to find out their data speeds aren't what they experienced when they were on a T-Mobile or Verizon plan. It's frustrating because you're using the exact same network, so why isn't it the same?
The Reality: Almost All MVNO Plans Are Slower (Not Just Red Pocket's)
If you’re switching to Red Pocket or another prepaid carrier to save some money, you should be aware that you’re probably going to (at some point) notice slower speeds than when you were on a Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T plan. This is because the aforementioned networks let their customers enjoy faster speeds over other carriers’ customers—which seems pretty fair when you think about it.
Think of it like the FastPass lane at Disneyland or the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on the freeway. Everyone is in the normal line/lane but the network's main customers get the benefit of taking the fastlane and speed past everyone else.
You likely won't notice this change in speed unless the networks are congested, so it shouldn’t happen too often.
Claim: Unlimited Data Isn’t Really Unlimited
This is a common complaint across all carriers, not just Red Pocket. Many customers sign up for an "unlimited" plan then notice that their speeds are slowed down significantly after reaching a certain data cap. Some may even receive warning messages from their carrier saying they're about to hit their high-speed data cap.
If you have an unlimited plan, why is there even a data cap?
The Reality: Unlimited Doesn't Mean Unlimited High-Speed Data
Although they promise unlimited data, Red Pocket's plans don't give you unlimited data at 4G or 5G speeds. Unlimited data means unlimited data at any speed, including the useless 2G speeds.
However, Red Pocket is unlike other carriers who try to be sneaky, making you believe you'll be getting unlimited fast speed. They clearly show on their plans page that full-speed data is capped at a certain amount. Other carriers say their plans are unlimited in large font, then in the fine print state that high-speed data is limited—Red Pocket does just the opposite.
Once you hit your 5G data cap, your data isn’t cut off entirely, it's just slowed down until your plan renews/recharges for another month.
When choosing a plan with any carrier, it’s important to read the fine print to understand just how much high-speed data is included in your plan since “unlimited” doesn’t always mean unlimited high-speed data.
The Bottom Line
Red Pocket isn't a scam. In fact, many of the terms and conditions of use align with the terms of many other cell phone carriers. Red Pocket is actually more upfront about what their plans include than some other carriers, specifically regarding cell phone data.