• Tracfone


    Tracfone was established in 1995 and is based in Miami, Florida. It is a subsidiary of Mexican telecommunications company AmericaMovil. Its website claims that it is the largest non-contract provider in the U.S. It has over seventeen million customers. Like Cricket, Tracfone has an agreement to use Sprint’s network, but they also have similar agreements with AT&T,Verizon, and T-Mobile. Like Cricket, it offers customers the flexibility of a “pay as you go” system. There are no activation or cancelation fees. Customers are not even required to undergo a credit check.

    The company has three major brands – Tracfone, Net10, and Straight Talk. The Tracfone brand is a basic service with the cheapest montly price. Net 10 is an intermediately priced service that includes unrestricted amounts of internet use, voice calling, and texting. Straight Talk is the most expensive and services smartphones. Tracfone’s website features a multiple choice quiz to help customers decide which phone and plan are the best for them.

    Both prepaid providers offer many of the same features. Tracfone utilizes the services of more major wireless networks, while Cricket offers the popular iPhone on a prepaid plan. Customers must decide whether it makes more sense for them to pay up front for their phone, or if they would prefer a contracted provider with a lower initial phone price but higher fees in other categories.

    Thanks to advances in technology, we’re seeing more and more high-tech smartphones that can do everything short of making toast. (Perhaps we’ll see that feature on the iPhone 6.) But as the top tier of smartphones becomes more sophisticated, so do hundreds of prepaid cell phones. The days of low quality prepaid phones are gone, replaced by some surprisingly nice–and surprisingly cheap–Tracfone phones.

    Tracfone doesn’t offer free phones with their service, because they don’t require their users to sign a contract. Those “free” iPhones available on some networks actually cost hundreds of dollars, paid out of pocket by the carriers. In return, they require two-year contracts, restricting your options and forcing you to pay high fees if you need to cancel your service. In reality, you pay for the phone over the course of a few years. Tracfone is one of few cell phone providers that doesn’t require a contract, charge activation fees, or charge you anything to cancel service. Even at a glance, it’s a good deal. In exchange for that freedom, you’ll find a lack of the more advanced phones available on other major carriers, but there are still a lot of great options for users who don’t need all the bells and whistles of an iPhone or Android phone.

    Tracfone offers devices from popular manufacturers like LG, Samsung, and Motorola. Ranging from $9.99 to $89.99, their phones include features such as full QWERTY keyboards, touch screens, and even benefits like double minutes. (More on that later.) Not only that, but most of them aren’t quite as breakable as the more popular smartphones, which often have large glass screens that can crack the first time they’re dropped. Despite being less “smart”, many Tracfone prepaid phones have access to email and web browsers, enough to satisfy most users. If you can survive without buying the newest smartphone every year, you’ll be able to take advantage of some great prepaid plans.

    Monthly Value Plans
    Tracfone offers prepaid monthly plans, which essentially act like a paid-in-advance cell phone bill. If you want to cancel service, simply don’t renew your plan at the end of the month, and that’s the end of the story. All of Tracfone’s value plans include nationwide coverage and carryover, allowing any unused minutes to accumulate over time.

    Keep in mind, your minutes are used for everything your do on your phone. Tracfone refers to them as “units”. Making calls costs one unit per minute, which is why they’re generally referred to as minutes. Using the web costs half of one unit for every minute you’re online. Texts costs anywhere from 1/3 to half of a unit per text, with some phones allowing free incoming texts but charging for the ones you send. Starting with the 50 Value Plan, you get 50 minutes and a month of service. The 125 Value Plan and 200 Value Plan follow the same pattern, giving you 125 and 200 minutes for $19.99/mo and $29.99/mo, respectively.

    The Family Value Plan is fairly straightforward. You get 50 units per month, plus another 40 for each additional phone you add. For that, you pay $9.99/mo plus $5.99/mo for additional phones. Unfortunately, there are no family options with more monthly units available. You can, however, purchase “Minute Bundles” on any of the value plans, with 50 extra units costing $9.99 and 100 units costing $19.99. You can also purchase service protection on any of the value plans. With the optional service protection, if your service plan expires, you’re charged $5.99 and you get an extra 30 days of service. While you don’t get any extra minutes, it will preserve any carryover minutes you may have accumulated over time. It’s a good safety net in case your payday comes one day too late.

    Prepaid Airtime
    If you don’t want a monthly plan, you may opt for prepaid airtime cards. Cards cost anywhere from $9.99 to $199.99, and include between 30 and 1500 minutes. Cards also push your service end date back; if you reach your service end date, you pay a $5.99 fee and lose any carryover minutes you may have had. It essentially becomes a game of pushing back that service end date. The 30-unit card extends it by 30 days, and costs $9.99. From there, the 60-, 120-, 200-, and 450-unit cards ($19.99, $29.99, $39.99, and $79.99 respectively) each extend your service by 90 days.

    At the higher end, there’s a 400 minute airtime card that extends your service by one full year for $99.99. Bump that to $119.99 and you get the same full year of service, but you get 800 minutes and the coveted “double minutes” feature. The double minutes card costs $19.99 on its own, and it does exactly what it says. Once activated, it gives you double what you pay for on any airtime card you buy. It only deactivates if you–you guessed it–reach your service end date. The double minutes card is a must if you choose to go the airtime route, as it pays for itself almost immediately. For $159.99 you get a year of service and 1,000 minutes, and $199.99 gets you the year of service and 1,500 minutes. That’s a whopping 3,000 minutes if you purchase the double minutes card. Compare that to the Monthly Value plans, and those 3,000 minutes for $219.98 cost you an average of just over $18 per month. That’s 250 minutes per month for the price of 125, had you chosen the Monthly Value Plan. Granted, it costs more upfront, but you get more for your money in the long run.

    User Reviews

    1. August 20, 2016

      Name: Danny .

      Provider: Tracfone

      Make: LG

      Model: ZTE


      Don’t care for the price I pay. Less than 100 messages per month, maybe 600 minutes monthly, and rare for internet usage.

    2. July 19, 2013

      Name: Samone P.

      Provider: Tracfone

      Make: Samsung

      Model: key board




      i love my phone service when i, go out of town i, can still talk on my phone the only problem i, have with this when you report your phone issues the company has a big problem with exchange the phone i, never want my money i, just ask for a replacement phone but it take a long time to get the replacement back in the mail most of time i, just need a new sim card to put in my phone the company has a big problem with that at times this is why i, am switching to a different company i, only deal with unlocked cell phones only

    3. March 7, 2013

      Name: John M.

      Provider: Tracfone

      Make: Samsung

      Model: sch-r455c(gp)



      I use minutes because I cant afford a plan most of the time.The customer service is good. They are prompt. The coverage is great. I live in the mountains an I get a good signal. I have the basic features on my phone.

    4. March 3, 2013

      Name: Ouida M.

      Provider: Tracfone

      Make: LG

      Model: Alcatel A382G

      I’ve had this phone for one month…and I used up 400 minutes quickly and now realize that I prefer the convenience of unlimited talking although I do not want to stay on phone if I don’t have to. Now, I am out of minutes and do not want to pay constantly because I am out of minutes. I like the other details of this phone especially how the text is big and bright because I am 68 years and appreciate this detail. I think I will be using
      this phone for people who I prefer not to talk to…too long.