TracFone Review

Perfect for individuals and families on a budget, TracFone has some of the best pay-as-you-go plans in the industry. However, the absence of an unlimited plan may be a problem for frequent cell phone users.

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The Good

Add as many minutes as you need

TracFone has one of the most flexible pay-as-you-go plans in the industry, allowing you to purchase airtime cards to refill your account as needed. You can buy as little as 30 minutes at a time, which are good for 30 days after they’re applied to your account. On the other end of the spectrum, you can purchase 1,500 minutes at once, which are all good for a year. There are also data airtime cards, which can only be used with Android smartphones. These work the same as the traditional airtime cards, where you pay a certain amount upfront for a designated amount of web access on your phone. You can buy more airtime whenever you need. The only thing you need to be careful of is that the minutes expire after a certain point, so you only want to buy as many minutes as you’ll use during that time.

Contract-free family plans

Not only does TracFone offer plans for individuals, but they also have a Family Value plan that gives each family member a designated number of minutes each month. The first line costs around $10 per month and gives you 50 minutes to use. Each additional line costs an extra $6 per month and gets 40 minutes to use. If you decide you need more than that, you can purchase additional minutes in 50- or 100-minute increments. These are one-time purchases and you can buy them whenever you want, so you never have to worry about running out of minutes. Family plans aren’t something you find with every prepaid phone provider on the market so, if you’re interested in one, TracFone is one you’ll want to look into.

Large selection of affordable phones

TracFone does have a few Android smartphones available for purchase, but the majority of their phones are more basic and come at a very reasonable price. Some phones can be purchased for as little as $10, which is great if you’re operating on a tight budget. These prepaid phones are also suitable for people who’re just looking to have a phone on hand in case of emergencies and don’t need anything fancy. If none of the phones TracFone offers appeal to you, you can always use your old phone instead, which is another smart way to save money.

Save money on common purchases

When you sign up for TracFone’s Trac ‘N’ Save program, you can earn special discounts on everything from hotels, restaurants, and common household items. In order to access these savings, you need to first sign up for a TracFone prepaid phone plan. Then, create an online account and a profile on Trac ‘N’ Save. The information you include in your profile is used to find you the best deals in your area and the ones best suited to your individual preferences. This is a service that’s relatively unique in the industry and could help sweeten the pot if you’ve been on the fence about whether to choose TracFone.

The Bad

No unlimited plans

Frequent cell phone users may want to explore some other options. You can purchase as many additional minutes as you need, but it might end up getting pretty expensive depending on how you use your phone and how often you use it. In these cases, a monthly unlimited plan is more cost-effective. You can find these with most other prepaid phone providers, including Net10 and U.S. Cellular.

Small selection of smartphones

Though there are a few Android phones you can purchase, TracFone has a relatively small number of smartphones available compared to their competitors. You can’t buy a new iPhone or BlackBerry from them, though you can use your old smartphone with TracFone if the device is compatible. All you have to do is purchase an access code, buy some airtime minutes, and you’re all set. If you choose to go this route, though, check that your phone is compatible before you sign up for a plan.

Can't text international numbers

While you can make international calls from your TracFone, there’s no way to send or receive international text messages. This probably isn’t going to be a concern for most people, but it is something you should be aware of before making a purchasing decision. If you need a phone with international texting capability, you may want to check out other prepaid phone providers like Straight Talk.

The Details

Monthly Plans

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Data: $0.05/minute
  • Minutes Included: 50 - 200
  • Monthly Rate: $9.99 - $29.99
  • Texts Included: $0.03/text

Pay-As-You-Go

  • Access Fee: $9.99 - $199.99 (one-time fee)
  • Activation Fee: None
  • Cost Per Minute: $0.13 - $0.33
  • Cost Per Text (MMS): $0.03
  • Cost Per Text (SMS): $0.03
  • Data: 300MB - 2GB (separate purchase)

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