Visible offers one of the best deals in wireless right now, but the Verizon-owned service is not for everyone.
If you’re thinking about switching to Visible from Verizon or another premium service, you need to understand how Visible works to decide if it’s worth the monthly savings.
What Is Visible and Is the Phone Service Worth It?
Visible is a low-cost cell phone service provider that’s owned by Verizon. The service runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE and 5G networks. Visible’s prepaid unlimited plan costs as low as $25 per month.
I joined Visible in October 2019 and have been a paying customer ever since. My cell phone bill is just $25 a month.
In this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons that you need to know before you sign up for Visible. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Plan and Pricing
- Network Coverage
- Call and Text Performance
- Data Speeds
- Mobile Hotspot
- Video Streaming
- Phone Options
- Customer Service
- Deals and Discounts
1. Plan and Pricing
Visible offers a single prepaid plan with unlimited talk, text and high-speed data for $40 a month. Taxes and fees are included.
Visible’s single line price has remained the same since it launched in 2018, but the service added a new way to save in late 2019 when it introduced the Party Pay group discount.
With Party Pay, groups of two, three or four get the same unlimited plan for a cheaper price:
- 2 people: $35/month per line
- 3 people: $30/month per line
- 4 people: $25/month per line
Party Pay is unlike other multi-line discount programs because members don’t share the bill. Each person has their own Visible account and is responsible for paying their portion.
Since billing is separate, many Visible customers add total strangers to their party and everyone enjoys the savings.
When you sign up for Visible, you’ll receive a custom referral link that you can use to fill up your party. One reliable place to post your link is on Visible’s Party Pay Reddit forum.
Billing is handled through the Visible app. As a prepaid service, no credit check is required unless you finance your phone. There are no activation or early termination fees.
If you want to cancel Visible phone service, you can initiate a live chat through the Visible app.
2. Network Coverage
Visible is owned by Verizon and uses its 4G LTE and 5G nationwide networks.
If you live in an area where Verizon offers strong 4G LTE coverage, Visible is likely a solid option to consider. But in rural areas that rely on domestic roaming, you may have issues with coverage.
Here’s what I learned after reaching out to a Visible customer service representative through Facebook Messenger:
“While Visible uses Verizon’s network, we specifically operate on their 4G-enabled towers, so there may be some towers on their prepaid and postpaid network that aren’t accessible to Visible users. That said, we do have domestic roaming available through some third-party towers, which helps make our service accessible in some areas where Verizon 4G isn’t available!”
Visible’s coverage map is frequently updated as 5G access expands. Enter your address here to confirm network coverage.
At the time of this writing, Visible doesn’t offer international coverage. As a workaround, you can purchase a SIM card at your destination and temporarily swap out your Visible SIM card.
3. Call and Text Performance
Visible’s call and text performance will vary depending on your location. During my time as a Visible customer, I’ve had no dropped calls or missing text messages. It has been very reliable.
In the early days of my Visible service, I did receive a few spam text messages. However, that is no longer an issue.
If you’re in an area with little or no cell coverage, Visible supports Wi-Fi Calling at no additional charge. Just make sure to go into your phone’s settings to activate this feature.
4. Data Speeds (5G and 4G LTE)
If you currently have a premium plan with Verizon, you won’t get the same data speeds with Visible. Like most low-cost cell phone service providers, Visible slows your data when the network is congested.
Despite the occasional deprioritization, I’ve always been able to stream video, use my apps and surf the web with Visible.
I’ve tested Visible’s data speeds extensively over the past year. When Visible rolled out 5G access to Apple iPhone 12 users in December 2020, I recorded download speeds as high as 229 Mbps (megabits per second).
That’s higher than Visible’s 200 Mbps speed cap with 5G. Learn more about Visible’s 5G here.
In places where 5G is not available, you’ll connect to 4G LTE data. Using the Speedtest by Ookla app, I conducted 25 separate speed tests in the fall of 2020 to provide a better snapshot of Visible’s 4G LTE service.
Take a look at the results in the chart below, then scroll down for some context.
|Date||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)||Ping (ms)|
Let’s break down the results:
- First, the average download speed on Visible’s 4G LTE network was 29 Mbps. That’s well above the 5-12 Mbps that Visible’s website says customers can expect.
- Next, the average upload speed checked in at 26.1 Mbps. Upload speeds are generally lower, but this is also solid.
- Finally, the ping averaged 120 ms (milliseconds), which is not great but slightly faster than the 150 ms that Visible mentions on its website. Gamers will want 60 ms or less.
If you want the absolute fastest data speeds, steer clear of Visible and other low-cost cell phone service providers. For me, Visible’s data speeds have been fast enough to do everything I need — including streaming live TV on my phone.
5. Mobile Hotspot
Unlimited mobile hotspot usage sets Visible apart from many of its competitors, but there is a 5 Mbps speed cap.
I tested the mobile hotspot feature while putting together this review. Instead of connecting to Wi-Fi, I used Visible’s mobile hotspot capability to connect my laptop to the internet and type away.
According to Speedtest.net, the download speed was 10 Mbps. That’s double the 5 Mbps speed cap.
That mobile hotspot speed test result aligns with my experience over the past year. The 5 Mbps speed cap isn’t always enforced.
6. Video Streaming
If you sign up for Visible, don’t expect to stream video in high definition. The phone service says that video typically streams at 480p, which is standard definition.
Before you rule out Visible for that alone, note that many low-cost providers do the same thing.
From my experience, 480p isn’t a big deal on a 6-inch phone screen. But if you insist on 720p or 1080p resolution, Visible isn’t for you.
Keep in mind that you can stream in 720p when connected to Wi-Fi instead of cellular data.
Not sure what to make of this? Open up YouTube on your phone and watch a few videos in different resolutions to see if you can really tell the difference.
If your experience with 480p isn’t bad, you won’t be disappointed using Visible.
7. Phone Options
Visible has made a lot of progress when it comes to phone options. Customers can purchase a new phone or bring a compatible Apple or Android device to the service.
You can use the compatibility checker on Visible’s website to see if your phone will work.
I switched to Visible at a time when I needed a new phone, so I ended up purchasing a device from the carrier. At last check, about two dozen phones were available for sale. They include:
- Apple iPhone 12
- Apple iPhone 11
- Google Pixel 5
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Motorola Edge
When I purchased my device, I got a $200 prepaid Mastercard. That’s a frequent deal for new customers.
I always pay for my devices in full, but financing is offered through Affirm at as low as 0% APR. Financing does require a credit check and you may need to make a down payment.
Phones do go out of stock from time to time. See Visible’s website for the latest offers.
8. Customer Service
If you’re switching from Verizon or another major carrier to Visible, perhaps the biggest change will be adjusting to the way customer service is handled.
Visible has no physical stores or even an 800 number to call for help. Everything is done through the app.
Customer service options:
- Live chat
- Facebook Messenger
My switch to Visible was trouble-free, but I’ll admit the absence of phone support made me nervous. The company does provide frequent updates about your order via email.
I signed up on a Friday and began the process of transferring my number with Visible.
My old cell phone service provider released my number to Visible before my new phone arrived, but my service continued without interruption.
After FedEx delivered my phone on Monday, I turned it on and was using Visible moments later.
I read on Visible’s website that the average length of time to complete porting is 4.9 days, so don’t wait until the very end of your billing cycle to make the switch. Give yourself about 7 to 10 days.
Also, have the account number and PIN from your current provider. Visible needs that for the transfer.
Although Visible primarily offers customer support through live chat, you can request a callback. I have a separate article to help you save time and avoid hassle when contacting Visible customer support.
9. Deals and Discounts
I finally made the switch to Visible because of a limited-time offer that gave me a $200 prepaid Mastercard for purchasing a new phone and transferring my number.
At the time that I signed up, there was a $100 offer if you brought your own device.
Deals and discounts change frequently, so it’s best to visit Visible’s website for the latest information. Just know that they’ve been pretty aggressive with the prepaid Mastercard promos and even free gifts.
After reading my Visible review, I hope that you have more information to help you decide whether to switch to Visible or consider another wireless provider.
If it’s not for you, consider Xfinity Mobile. I had it for two years and it also uses Verizon’s network.
Visible Phone Service Pros and Cons
|Low price: $25/month with Party Pay||No physical stores or 800 number|
|Verizon’s network||Data speeds slower at times|
|Unlimited mobile hotspot||5 Mbps speed cap on mobile hotspot|
|Frequent phone deals and discounts|
BOTTOM LINE: If your cell phone bill is too high, there are ways to lower it. You just have to weigh the pros and cons. But don’t expect all the perks that a premium cell phone plan offers when you’re paying half the price.
Have you switched to Visible or another low-cost carrier? Add your review in the comments below.