Ever since Verizon Wireless launched the discount brand Visible, I’ve wondered if its $40 unlimited plan was too good to be true.
Now that I’ve switched to Visible, I’m ready to share the phone service’s pros and cons in this customer review.
VISIBLE PHONE SERVICE REVIEW SUMMARY: Verizon-owned Visible offers a simple unlimited plan for $40 a month, taxes and fees included. The new Party Pay feature drops the monthly price to $25/line for groups of four. Aside from the cheap price, the biggest plus is that Visible runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. 5G is coming soon. Visible eliminated a 5 Mbps speed cap, though download speeds may still be affected when the network is congested. Video typically streams at 480p. There are frequent deals for customers who bring their number to Visible, whether they keep their current device or purchase a new one. Support is only available online, not in stores or by phone.
Over the past year, I’ve tested more than a dozen low-cost cell phone providers that run off the major networks — Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.
I prefer carriers that use Verizon’s network because it performs best everywhere I’ve lived, including at my current residence in Miami Beach, Florida.
In this article, I’ll review the key features of Visible’s $40 unlimited plan and my personal experience to help you decide if you could save money by changing cell phone providers.
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
Let’s begin by reviewing Visible’s one and only cell phone service plan. Since its launch in 2018, Visible has offered a $40 per month plan that includes unlimited talk, text and data.
Visible is a prepaid carrier, which just means that you pay for service in advance.
Here’s an example: I signed up for Visible on October 1, 2019. On that day, I paid for a month of service. My next bill was due on November 1, 2019.
With prepaid carriers like Visible, there is no credit check required unless you finance a phone.
- $40/month per line
- Taxes and fees included
- No activation fees
- No contract or long-term commitment
- No credit check required
- Auto pay through the app
Visible’s $40 per month plan also includes taxes and fees, making it a great value compared to Verizon’s postpaid unlimited plans that cost $70 to $90 for a single line before taxes and fees.
Party Pay Discount
In late October 2019, Visible introduced Party Pay. You get the same unlimited plan but a cheaper price for groups of two, three or four.
- Party of 2: $35/month per line
- Party of 3: $30/month per line
- Party of 4: $25/month per line
Unlike most multi-line discount programs, members don’t share the bill. Each person has their own Visible account and is responsible for paying their portion.
Don’t have family or friends on Visible? No problem. Since billing is separate, you can add total strangers to your party and start saving money.
With Visible, you don’t have to worry about early termination fees because there are no contracts. You can cancel at any time by initiating a live chat with customer service through the app.
2. Network Coverage
Since Verizon own Visible, it should come as no surprise that Visible runs on Verizon’s network and uses its towers. In October 2020, Visible said it plans to launch 5G at no additional charge “in the coming months.”
I reached out to a Visible customer service representative through Facebook Messenger to learn more about the network coverage. Here’s the response I got:
“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!”
To see Visible’s coverage where you live, follow this link to view the coverage map and enter your city.
As I mentioned earlier, Verizon is my preferred network because it has performed the best in the three cities where I’ve lived: Washington D.C., Atlanta and Miami Beach.
You get Verizon’s network with Visible, but the cost is significantly less. It’s a win-win.
RESOURCE: If you want to see how Verizon’s network coverage compares to AT&T and T-Mobile, check out the latest real-world results from RootMetrics.
Visible does not offer international coverage. On a recent trip to Europe, I used Wi-Fi and WhatsApp to stay connected. I was also able to use the native text messaging app when connected to Wi-Fi.
If you need a data plan while overseas, you can always buy a local SIM card and swap it out temporarily.
3. Call and Text Performance
Checking the coverage map before switching to Visible or another cell phone provider is the first step to ensuring that you don’t have problems with call and text performance.
Since I did the research that I laid out in the previous section, I was confident that I wouldn’t have any issues.
I’m happy to say that I’ve had no dropped calls or missing text messages on Visible’s service, though I did receive a few spam text messages during my first few days of service.
Fortunately, those messages stopped after I used the messaging app’s “Block & report spam” feature.
I would like to see Visible and all other carriers step it up when it comes to preventing robocalls.
Another area where I think Visible could improve is with Wi-Fi calling. The feature is available on select Apple and Android devices, but not mine. I wish that I could have tested it out for this review.
Fortunately, I haven’t needed Wi-Fi calling because I live in a major city where I can always get a strong cell signal.
4. Data Speeds
When Visible first launched, it restricted download speeds to 5 Mbps. However, the company lifted the speed cap by the time that I signed up for the service.
Like most other carriers, Visible will slow your data when the network is congested. I expected that.
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 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.
For some additional data, I asked a family member who has Verizon to let me run a few speed tests to compare it with Visible. Here’s what I found:
After I conduct a speed test, I typically pull up a YouTube video to see if there’s any sluggishness. Whether the test has shown 5 Mbps or 100 Mbps, the videos have played without buffering.
I’m able to stream video, browse the web, check email and use apps — so Visible is fast enough for me.
5. Mobile Hotspot
It is rare for a $40 per month unlimited plan to include mobile hotspot, but Visible does. For this feature, Visible has kept the 5 Mbps restriction that it lifted for data.
I tested the mobile hotspot feature while putting together this review from a coffee shop.
Instead of connecting to the coffee shop’s 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 slightly above the cap at 5.87 Mbps.
6. Video Streaming
If you sign up for Visible, don’t expect to stream video in high definition. The company 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 device Apple or Android device.
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
- Apple iPhone XS
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Google Pixel 4
- Motorola G7 Power
I purchased a Google Pixel 3a for $408 before a $200 rebate. The list price is normally $399.
I always pay for my devices in full, but financing is offered through Affirm at 0% APR. Interest-free financing does require a credit check.
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 handled 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 a week.
Also, have the account number and PIN from your current provider. Visible needs that for the transfer.
After the initial setup, I haven’t needed to reach out to Visible for any issues. However, I asked general questions using Facebook Messenger to test customer support.
Each time, the customer service representative answered in a timely manner and helped me out.
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 promos!
After reading my customer 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
|One simple plan for $40/month||No physical stores or 800 number|
|Unlimited talk, text and data||Data speeds slower at times|
|Verizon's top-rated network||5 Mbps speed cap on mobile hotspot|
|Unlimited mobile hotspot||Wi-Fi calling not on all devices|
|Frequent phone deals and discounts||Limited robocall and spam call blocking features|
THE 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 because there may be compromises.
Have you switched to Visible or another low-cost carrier? Add your review in the comments below.
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