TracFone Plans Review: It’s Cheap, but Should You Sign Up?

Mobile Network

In a time when people are doing their best to save money and use their budget sparingly, people would of course also factor in their cell phone plans. TracFone may not be as famous as other brands but they currently offer some of the more affordable prepaid plans currently out due to their unlimited talk & text features, as well as unlimited carryover data.

Not only are TracFone plans economical and contractless, but they also offer a few perks for those shifting to their service like their Keep Your Own Phone (KYOP) program which lets customers keep their phones from their previous service provider.

 

Inside This Article

  1. Why TracFone?
  2. Tracfone Plan Options 
  3. Features, Add-Ons, and Discounts
  4. Network Coverage
  5. Customer Service
  6. The Cons
  7. Alternative Options
  8. Verdict

 

Why TracFone?

TracFone is a bit different compared to other carriers, mostly because they don’t actually own any wireless network infrastructures since they are a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). In exchange, they have agreements with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile to use their networks. This gives TracFone a large, overlapping, and dependable nationwide 4G LTE and 5G coverage for their customers at a conservative price since they don’t have to maintain physical sites.

 

TracFone Plans: What Are Your Options

TracFone offers smartphone plans and simple phone plans which are available via sim cards as part of their KYOP program or with a bundled phone. Their bundled phone option includes both brand new and refurbished phones from several manufacturers like Apple’s iPhone SE and iPhone 11, Samsung’s Galaxy A11 and A50, as well as Motorola’s Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power.

TracFone plans ranging from $20 to $30 a month advertising unlimited talk & text with carryover data.
Screencast from TracFone website

Starting at a cheap $20 to a reasonable $30 a month (30 days), TracFone offers three prepaid smartphone plans. While all plans have the same unlimited talk & text feature, the main difference between plans is the amount of data available per month. All monthly plans also allow compatible 4G LTE and 5G phones onto the network, depending on coverage and availability.

You could also switch between monthly plans as much as you want with the unused data carrying over.

TracFone plans for basic phones from $19.99 to $39.00 with a basic 90-day service day plan.
Screencast from TracFone website

TracFone plans also come in limited Basic Phone Plans from $19.99 to $39.99 through Airtime Service Cards which run on a 90-day cycle instead of a 30-day. These plans don’t have the unlimited talk & text promises of the smartphone plans; instead, it has a maximum time for their services ranging from 60 minutes to 200 minutes per bought card.

Those wanting to take advantage of the KYOP program can check their phone compatibility on the website. Those who may need phone unlocking may also lookup TracFone’s policy on unlocking.

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Features, Add-Ons, and Discounts

Those wanting a little more from their TracFone plans have two choices open to them: the $10 Global Calling Card and Airtime Service Cards. Both are more beneficial to those with Basic Phone Plans.

The $10 Global Calling Cards allow sim holders to make calls to international destinations not included in Basic International Calling. Sadly, Basic International Calling is only available to Basic Phone Plans. Just take note that Tracfone’s international calling only works when you are calling from the US — it doesn’t allow roaming.

The other options are Air Service Cards which add minutes to Basic Phone Plans and Internet data to smartphone Plans. The cards have different prices, with the cheapest being the 1000 Text Add-On Card worth $5 to a full 200 Minutes Talk, Text, Web Card for $39.99.

All cards can be bought online through the TracFone website with a small discount for those that will sign up for auto-refill. Those wanting to get physical cards could also use the store finder to find a retailer nearby which includes most 7-Eleven, Walmart, and Family Dollar stores.

TracFone currently offers students with StudentBeans, a $25 discount for purchasing a phone and plan bundle.

TracFone is also able to port phone numbers from incoming customers using other carriers through their KYOP program.

 

Network Coverage

Screencast from TracFone website
Screencast from TracFone website

Before moving to TracFone, it’s best to first check if your area is covered using the coverage checker on their website to see if their service is appropriate for your needs. 5G or 4G LTE coverage is dependent on location and may not be available in some locales.

 

Customer Service

TracFone currently only has chat and phone customer services available to their customers through 611611 on TracFone devices and on 1-800-867-7183 through other phones. Other avenues for customer support include their customer forum, Facebook (@TracFoneDeals), and Twitter (@TracFoneCalls) handles.

 

The Cons

TracFone seems to be aiming both Basic Phone Plans and Smartphone Plans to users who don’t use their data exhaustively. Their limited 3 GB offering even at the most expensive smartphone plan is proof of that. If you’re in need of an unlimited data plan, Tracfone will not be fit for you.

Another big problem for TracFone would be their over-reliance on other networks. Because of their lack of infrastructure, customers locked into a competitors’ network. This means frequent drops in connectivity speed during peak hours because major networks prioritize their customers over MVNOs when their network is loaded. If this seems to be a big downer, you might as well go for AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile who have their own cell towers.

Also read: AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile’s coverage and plans.

 

Alternative Options

TracFone won’t satisfy every one of course, especially with their limited data offerings. Others may also find that their area isn’t covered for 5G or 4G LTE connectivity and that’s where alternative options come in. Still focusing on the price, these carriers give a bit more data in exchange for a few bucks more.

 

1. Consumer Cellular

Orange Consumer Cellular text in white background
Photo by Consumer Cellular

Per price point and range, Consumer Cellular is the closest to TracFone’s offerings. Similar to TracFone, Consumer Cellular is also an MNVO but only has agreements with AT&T and T-Mobile which limits their range somewhat. For those taking just one line, they have an unlimited talk & text plan from $26 to $60, a 250-minute talk and unlimited text plan from $20 to $55, and a text-only plan with $15 and $20 options. The biggest advantage of their offers is a significant discount to those taking more than one line with them.

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2. Red Pocket Mobile Plans

US MVNO: Red Pocket Mobile
Photo from Red Pocket Mobile Facebook Page

The main advantage of Red Pocket compared to TracFone is how they let customers choose their network from GSMA, CDMA, GSMT, and CDMAS devices. Another MNVO, Red Pocket uses AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile’s networks. Their plans come at $20, $30, $40, and $50 with 3 GB, 10 GB, 22 GB, and 30 GB respectively. The main drawback for Red Pocket is their 5G connectivity which is limited only to those choosing GSMT devices.

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3. Airvoice Wireless Plans

Airvoice Wireless with signal strength indicator
Photo by Airvoice Wireless

Airvoice Wireless plans are similar to TracFone plans with a marked difference in unlimited international SMS and their days of service. It offers two types of plans: unlimited plans and pay-as-you-go plans. Their unlimited plans start at $5 and may go as high as $70 with inclusive unlimited calls, texts, MMS, and international MMS. The pay-as-you-go plan comes at a range from $10 to $100 with service days as long as 365 days.

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4. Unreal Mobile Plans

Unreal Mobile white background
Photo by Unreal Mobile

Unreal Mobile is a slightly costlier alternative to TracFone with preferred pricing only on the first month and increases from the second month on. Their one-month plans start at $10, $15, and $25 for the first month and increase to $15, $25, and $40 for the subsequent months, respectively. Similar to Red Pocket, their 5G offer is only for GSMT phones.

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TracFone Plans: Is it Worth It?

During the tough days when money’s short and luxuries are rare, TracFone plans are the best one could ask for. Cheap yet functional, their offerings combine sensible communication through unlimited text and calls with a modest amount of data. It is a perfect combination for those needing a working phone without splurging too much on it.

Their KYOP program also allows those who have a spare phone or those who just finished their contract to easily switch to their services without any hassles. Contractless, reliable, and inexpensive, TracFone is perfect for first-time smartphone users, students, or those that are looking for cell phone plans for seniors.

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