In 2008 Alltel was the fifth-largest mobile operator in the United States, behind AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. During the year Verizon purchased the company, and the sale closed in January 2009. Most Alltel markets have since migrated to Verizon.

While the majority of markets have switched to Verizon, there are still a number of markets in which Alltel still operates. This includes their prepaid service.

Pros: Alltel's prepaid plans cover three different tiers to fit various types of users. Subscribers can get a number of unlimited features for 75 cents per day, and can pay a quarter to add more.

Cons: Most of the available phone options with Alltel prepaid pay as you go service are on the expensive side. In addition, the activation fee is expensive and there is a minimum initial balance required to start up service.

Plans: Alltel U Prepaid offers three basic plan types. With the pay per minute plan, all calls are 15 cents per minute. There is a minimum 20 dollar initial balance. For each month of non-use, a fee of four dollars applies. The pay per day plan costs 75 cents per day, so between $22.50 and $23.25 per month. Subscribers can choose two of four feature options: unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited mobile to mobile, unlimited favorite number calling, or unlimited text messaging. Subscribers can add a third feature for an additional 25 cents per day, and can further add a fourth feature for another 25 cents. Calls not covered by the voice usage options are 10 cents per minute. There is also a 20 dollar minimum initial balance. The pay per month options features three plans that resemble regular phone plans, but without the contract. The $29.99 plan offers 200 peak minutes and 1,000 night and weekend minutes. Calls made above those minutes are charged at 35 cents per minute. The $39.99 plan offers 400 peak minutes and 2,000 night and weekend minutes. Calls made above those minutes are also charged at 15 cents per minute. The $69.99 plan offers 700 peak minutes, unlimited night and weekend minutes, unlimited mobile to mobile, and unlimited text messaging. Calls made above those minutes are charged at 15 cents per minute. Unlimited favorite number calling is available on any monthly plan for five dollars extra per month.

Customer Service: Customer service is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week via a toll free number, email or by dialing a special number from your Alltel prepaid cell phone with no airtime charges. Customer service is also available at retail locations during normal business hours.

Credit Check: None

Contract: None

Payment Options: You can pay for your Alltel minutes or plan online, via phone, by purchasing a replenishment card, visiting an Alltel store or contacting an Alltel customer service agent.

Text and Picture Messaging: On plans that do not include unlimited text messaging, the cost is 10 cents per message. Picture messaging is available for 25 cents per message, though it is not available on all handsets. Text messaging packages are available for the pay per minute and pay per month plans: 5 dollars for 300 messages, or 10 dollars for 750 messages.

Data Plans: Alltel U prepaid offers use of their Axcess data service. There are three price points: $19.95 a month for the All Axcess Pass, which includes unlimited messaging and web, plus a one-time $5 credit for downloadables; $5.99 for a month of just web; and $1.49 for a day pass of web-only.

Downloadables: Alltel prepaid offers several offerings including ringtones, wallpaper, games, podcasts, email, IM, and others depending on the capabilities of your phone. Prices vary.

International Calling: International calling is available, but only to Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. You'll want to check with Alltel prepaid customer service prior to making calls to verify rates to the destination country you plan on calling.

Roaming Charges: Alltel does charge 59 cents per minute for calls made while roaming.

Calling Features: Alltel's U Prepaid offers voicemail, 3 way calling and caller ID with all plans.

Activation Fee: A 35 dollar activation fee is required. In addition, new users must carry a 20 dollar minimum initial balance to start service (except for the pay by month plan).

Nationwide Long Distance: Alltel wireless includes nationwide long distance in all of their calling plans. Calls made within the United States are treated as regular calls.

411 Calls: Directory assistance is available at a cost of $1.50 per call plus airtime.

Earliest Minute Expiration: Alltel's pay per minute plan has minutes that expire based on the amount you replenish. For a $20 to $44.99 refill, minutes expire in 60 days. For a $45 to $54.99 refill, minutes expire in 90 days. For a $55 to $99.99 refill, minutes expire in 180 days. For anything one hundred dollars or over, minutes are good for one year. Minutes from the pay per month plans expire at the end of the month and do not rollover.

911 Calls: Yes