When it comes to PINless prepaid calling there are three factors that are key to a successful plan: simplicity, quality of service and low prices. Pure Minutes hits the mark on all fronts.
In general, with PINless prepaid, users register their home or mobile phone number only one time. Then they never have to dial a PIN again in order to make calls. On a landline, they just call an access number and then their destination number. In that case, they can even set up speed dial to hit one digit for their destination.
But on a cell phone, PINless prepaid can be even more enticing since users can dial the destination directly from a smart phone app, never having to even call an access number. So, in the mobile world, a successful PINless provider offers an app that seems as if it’s native or organic to the phone. That means it can dial directly out of the phone’s contact list, for example.
Pure Minutes offers both landline service with an access line and speed dialing, as well as an Android and iPhone app. I decided to review the Android app specifically to judge just how well it integrated into my device, in addition to how well the phone service worked.
Downloading Pure Minutes from the Android, Simple and Fast
I went to my Android Marketplace, searched for Pure Minutes, hit download and within 10 seconds the app lived on my phone. Next I had to activate my account. The Pure Minutes app prompted me to enter my name, phone number and a password. In less than 5 seconds, I received a text confirming my user name and password – and thanking me for my business. The text also included customer support information -- a good start! That would be the last time I would ever have to register my phone number with Pure Minutes whether I wanted to use a mobile phone or landline.
A Simple How-To Explanation
With registration out of the way I was offered some next steps: I could view my account (which was still empty), load/reload minutes, integrate my phone book, see a call history, check out rates to a huge range of countries, click through to customer support, or choose a page called “How we work.”
I clicked the final option, knowing that many customers download PINless apps because they’re cheap, but don’t really know how they work. I was grateful to be brought into a super simple, three-part slideshow that told me basically how to begin calling. You would have to be truly challenged to miss the point.
Setting Up My Account
Next I needed to add credit to my account. One of my very few drawbacks to Pure Minutes on an Android is that you need to have a credit card, debit card, or a prepaid debit card in order to buy minutes. That can be problematic considering so many prepaid customers don’t have credit cards. Yet a credit card is almost always necessary when buying online – and Pure Minutes is available using cash at hundreds of retail storefronts. The Pure Minutes website allows users to find storefronts in their zip codes with an easy search engine.
Sticking to my Android, though, I entered my name and credit card information and had added value in about 10 seconds.
I chose a $5 credit (but was given the option for many denominations.) I immediately received a text alerting me of my credit. There was also the choice to set up autorecharge. With this option I would automatically reload minutes using my saved credit card info once I hit a specific balance. I chose for the balance to be $3, but could have chosen any amount up to $30.
In many prepaid apps, autorecharge can be a danger sign since so many of these programs are associated with hidden fees. However, if PINless is to become an organic app on the device, autorecharge makes sense. You don’t want to pick up a phone and suddenly be out of minutes. Nevertheless, users should always gauge how their minutes are being debited.
As soon as I registered for Pure Minutes and loaded value, a little “PM” symbol appeared on the header of my Android homescreen, next to my voicemail and email boxes. In any other application, I might have been annoyed to see a logo of a brand new app in such prime territory on my screen, but since the goal here is to make Pure Minutes an integrated calling app, it seemed to make sense. However, users are given the option to turn the Pure Minutes app off, which would make the logo disappear, but require them to launch the program every time they place a call.
Finding International Rates is Clear
Prepaid rate plans can be complicated. After all, rates can differ depending on whether you’re calling a landline or a cell phone, for example. Pure Minutes allows users to choose from a huge range of countries from Angola to Zimbabwe, and then it offers up a clear set of rates for each destination. I searched Jamaica and was shown rates for landlines, as well as for mobile devices from a few different service providers. The good news is that all of the rates were very reasonable (as low as a half cent per minute).
Calling from the Android App… Smooth Sailing with a Few Bumps
Calling from inside the Android app is pretty simple. I clicked “make a call,” and a keypad popped up on my screen. I entered my international code and destination number, heard a message that indicated I was being connected through Pure Minutes, and I heard the number of minutes I had to talk. Then I heard ringing and was connected on a call that sounded perfectly clear with no latency.
I was also given the option to click on “phone book” instead, in which case I could have dialed any one of my existing contact numbers directly. No PIN or access number was needed anywhere in the process.
I called the Czech Republic, I called England, I called Zimbabwe – all smooth sailing. But when I called a friend in Jamaica, I got nothing. No ringing, no recording, just silence. I had finally hit a bump.
But there was an upside. I had a reason to call customer service – and this is the ultimate judge of prepaid program quality. After all, every technology has disruptions, but they’re only really bad if they can’t be rectified and if they persist. But here’s where Pure Minutes came through.
Customer Service… Professional and Helpful
Inside my Android Pure Minutes app, I clicked on “contact us,” which prompted me to click through to a customer service phone number. It was a Saturday night at around 8 p.m., and I just knew that I was going to hear that they were closed… but that wasn’t the case at all. Within seconds, a customer service rep picked up and asked me if there was a problem. I told him that calls to Jamaica were not connecting through my Android app. He checked in his computer and let me know there was a server problem on calls to Jamaica. He gave me an access number and told me to connect that way.
Using the Access Number Worked Perfectly
While I was mostly interested in testing Pure Minutes as an organic Android app, I was really glad to see that I all I had to do was dial an 800-number and my originating phone was immediately recognized. I was prompted to enter my destination number in Jamaica, and was connected without ever having to enter a PIN. Now I knew that my Android calling was at least 95 percent, but that my access-line calling could be used as a back-up. Service was as clear as a bell. •
The Sum: Pure Minutes
Free download; super-low international rates as low as a half-cent per minute; no monthly fees.
• App can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace or iTunes
• Prepaid value for international service can be added directly from the Android or iPhone app
• Users can set autorecharge so they never run out of minutes
• Users can check pricing for specific international calls before dialing
• Pure Minutes can place calls directly from the smart phone’s contact list
• Mobile users without international plans
• Mobile users that need super-low
• Easy to download
• Easy to load prepaid credit
• Good quality domestic and
• Very low prices
• Excellent customer service
• Very easy to learn the application
• In a very few cases, when servers are down, calls must be made using the Pure Minutes access number instead of directly from the smartphone app
Editor’s Rating: 4.5 STARS