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TracFone Plans Review

TracFone Wireless is the largest prepaid or no contract cell phone service provider in the US. It's focus is to provide reliable phone plans at the lowest costs. This is a tall order. Does their premise work? In this review, we go over in detail their pros and cons, and how TracFone compares with other cell phone companies.

If you've already read the review and want to get started, click here to access the TracFone phones catalog - Enter Zip code to see phones that work in your area. Getting started >>

How TracFone Works

TracFone is a prepaid cell phone company that offers consumers low cost reliable cell phone services. Plans start at $20 for 90 days of service (or $7 a month). Additional plan options are listed here on this page.

Consumers need to purchase a TracFone Wireless cell phone and activate it to access their services. Users can transfer their existing phone numbers to TracFone.

The cost of TracFone cell phones start at $10 for a basic cell phone, and $80 for a smartphone. A good touchscreen phone that can be used for emails, web browsing and social updates costs around $40. Finding a suitable TracFone cell phone and choosing a plan (ie. getting an airtime card) is the first step to getting on board with the service. See steps to getting started with TracFone.

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Cellular Networks

TracFone provides reliable phone connections by utilizing the cellular networks of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. They are what is known as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, where they have contracts with cellular network owners to rent excess capacity as low prices.

As the largest prepaid phone service with most subscribers in the US, TracFone has definite clout and economies of scale. It is owned by América Móvil, a dominant mobile operator in Latin America and one of the 4 largest telecommunications companies in the world.

They have a capacity to form major alliances in the telecommunications filed. For example, AT&T is moving into the Latin American wireless market in partnership with América Móvil.

How To Get Started With TracFone

Types & Cost Of Plans

TracFone Wireless has 2 main types of plans: Pay As You Go and Monthly plans.

Pay As You Go

Pay as you go plans require customers to refill airtime cards either every 90 days or once a year. These cards can be purchased online or through retail outlets. Here are examples of how Pay As You Go airtime credits work:

90 Days Service Airtime Cards

$19.99 for 90 days ($7 per month) What You Get:

Basic 60 minutes airtime - before Double or Triple Minute Bonus

Double Minutes For Life (comes with most non-smartphones):
For 3 months, up to 120 minutes/400 text messages or
For 1 month (average), up to 40 minutes/133 text messages
(SMS text messages are deducted at 0.3 credits per text sent/received.)

Triple Minutes For Life (comes with most smartphones):
For 3 months, 180 minutes + 180 text messages + 180 MB data OR
For 1 month (average), 60 minutes + 60 text messages + 60 MB data

How To Get Started With TracFone

$29.99 for 90 days ($10 per month)

Basic 120 minutes airtime - before Double or Triple Minute Bonus

Double Minutes For Life (comes with most non-smartphones):
For 3 months, up to 240 minutes/ 800 Text messages or
For 1 month (average), up to 80 minutes/266 text messages
(SMS text messages are deducted at 0.3 credits per text sent/received.)

Triple Minutes For Life (comes with most smartphones):
For 3 months, 360 minutes + 360 text messages + 360 MB data
For 1 month (average), 120 minutes + 120 text messages + 120 MB data

$79.99 for 90 days ($27 per month)

Basic 450 minutes airtime - before Double or Triple Minute Bonus

Double Minutes For Life (comes with most non-smartphones):
For 3 months, up to 900 minutes/3000 Text messages or
For 1 month (average), up to 300 minutes/1,000 text messages
(SMS text messages are deducted at 0.3 credits per text sent/received.)

Triple Minutes For Life (comes with most smartphones):
For 3 months, 1350 minutes + 1350 text messages + 1350 MB/1.3 GB data
For 1 month (average), 450 minutes + 450 text messages + 450 MB data

1 Year Service Airtime Card

$99.99 for 1 year ($8.33 per month)

Basic 400 minutes airtime - before Double or Triple Minute Bonus

Double Minutes For Life (comes with most non-smartphones):
For 12 months, up to 800 minutes/1333 Text messages or
For 1 month (average), up to 66 minutes/111 text messages
(SMS text messages are deducted at 0.3 credits per text sent/received.)
Tip: TracFone's website often lists a Promo code for an extra 200 minutes with a 1-year airtime card purchase

Triple Minutes For Life (comes with most smartphones):
For 12 months, 1200 minutes + 1200 text messages + 1200 MB/1.2 GB data
For 1 month (average), 100 minutes + 100 text messages + 100 MB data

How To Get Started With TracFone

Monthly

Another alternative to Pay As You Go plans is Monthly plans. With Monthly plans, customers can set-up their accounts to automatically receive airtime credits each month. Monthly plans are:

- $9.99 a month for 50 minutes basic (100 minutes with Double Minutes For Life, and 150 Minutes/150 Text/150 MB data with Triple Minutes For Life). Add $5.99 for an additional family line with 40 basic minutes before doubling/tripling.
- $19.99 a month for 125 minutes basic (250 minutes with Double Minutes For Life, and 375 Minutes/375 Text/375 MB data with Triple Minutes For Life).
- $29.99 a month for 200 minutes basic (400 minutes with Double Minutes For Life, and 600 Minutes/600 Text/600 MB data with Triple Minutes For Life).

Users can supplement their regular monthly plan airtime by purchasing additional airtime packages. Users who regularly use 100 or more minutes of airtime a month usually receive a slight per minute cost advantage compared with purchasing 90 days service airtime cards. Another advantage is that there is no need to remember to purchase airtime cards and activate them periodically.

To choose between Pay As You Go plans or Monthly plans, do the math and consider the cost and convenience.

How To Get Started With TracFone

Rollover Minutes

All TracFone airtime rollover. If you have minutes or other credits left over after the period of service on the card, it will carry over to the next period, as long as the phone is kept active.

Even if service is deactivated, TracFone is usually willing to restore the lapsed airtime credits within a one or two month time frame. However, this is not a promised feature, just something that they are usually willing to do.

Compared To Other Companies

  • Lowest cost - TracFone has the lowest cost of entry to use a cell phone. Their $7 a month plan includes credits for talk, text and data. You can use a smartphone or a regular cell phone. Some companies claim you can get started at $5 or $10 a month, but that's just to keep the line open without adding any service credits to dial/receive calls or texts.
  • Most flexible - They have small bundles of airtime, so users can make incremental purchases accordingly. Some plans have a low cost per minute price, but they require you to purchase larger packages of 300 minutes that will expire in 60 days, more than you can use in before they expire.
  • Rollover - Most companies are shifting away from offering rollover minutes, but TracFone has stayed true to its roots of continuing with its rollover minutes policy.
  • Not suitable for heavy users - TracFone does not have an unlimited option. Heavy users are well advised to look at Virgin Mobile or Straight Talk, as these companies offer heavy use or unlimited plans that will turn out to be cheaper for the user.

Click Here To Start Saving On Cell Phone Costs Every Month With Tracfone - Enter Zip code to see phones that work in your area.

Calling Features

These calling features are included: voicemail, call waiting, caller ID.

To save airtime minutes, users can check their voicemail from a landline by calling their TracFone and pressing the * key when they hear the greeting. You will them be prompted to enter your PIN. The PIN can be set-up through the TracFone website.

Phone Options

lg optimus dynamic iiTracFone Wireless offers a great selection of phones at low prices. For years, TracFone cell phones were somewhat lagging in design and features, but the gap is closing. Today, TracFone phones are stylish and fun to use. Users need not feel embarrassed about carrying a "prepaid looking" phone, as the styles offered are updated and recent - in tune with current times.

Phone options include Android smartphones such as the LG Optimus Dynamic II, Samsung Galaxy Centura, and ZTE Valet.

Non-smartphone options are wide and varied. There are feature phones with physical keyboards, slider phones, flip phones, wifi capabilities and touchscreen phones. Touchscreen phones look very close to smartphones and offer a near smartphone user experience.

See a list of the Top 5 Tracfone Prepaid Cell Phones Selections

To see a list of phones that work in your area, and related offers, visit this link and enter your Zip code.

Roaming & Long Distance

TracFone cell phone service does not have roaming charges or no long distance charges.

When buying a TracFone cell phone, you will see a message that says "one rate for local or long distance calls, and roaming at local rates."

Complaints

While customers rave about the value that TracFone Wireless offers them, it's not a perfect company. The most common complaint against TracFone is that their customer service is poor. Usually, the representatives are said to be polite, but many have pointed out that they were not able to solve more difficult and rarer issues.

When it comes to customer support for cell phone companies in general, the ratings are low across the board. Consider that Tracfone received BBB 5,464 complaints vs. 35,346 complaints for T-Mobile. T Mobile has roughly about 2.2 times the number of subscribers, so getting 6 times the number of complaints is out of whack (not a good thing for T-Mobile). Tracfone has a BBB rating of A, and T-Mobile B-.

TracFone's customer support can be considered adequate for most users. Putting things in perspective, the odds that a user will receive proper service and support is high.

International Calling

International calling is available at the same rate as local calls to hundreds of destinations. This includes Mexico, Canada, Russia, India and China.

The wide range of destinations work for most, but for countries that are not included, we advise users to purchase an inexpensive phone card at local stores.

Getting Started With TracFone

1. To get started with TracFone, visit their site here, key in your Zip Code, and review phone and offers that work in your area.

2. Choose a phone to get started on.

3. Choose an airtime card (recommended). Smartphones require an airtime card for activation. Non-smartphones can be activated without an airtime card, but you won't be able to use it much without loading it with airtime credits. Users can change to a monthly recurring plan afterwards. There are no penalties or fees for changing plans.

4. Activate your phone online or over the phone (from another phone, not your new cell phone).

5. Enjoy your service and savings!

 

 

Disclosure and Limitation: This site participates in affiliate programs from various merchants, whereby website publishers can earn referral fees. If you purchase through the links on this site, we will more than likely receive referral commissions. We do our very best to provide the most accurate information. However, this information is shared without any warranties. Things can change with time, so please double-check and verify that you are satisfied with the company before making a purchase. Thank you.

 

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