TracFone Wireless: The Definitive Guide (2019 Update)

TracFone is a good idea for those seeking to take a break from major mobile carries. Their prepaid plan is affordable, hassle-free, and you only need to pay what you use.

TracFone Wireless: The Definitive Guide

We currently live in a world of postpaid plans. That’s what the big four: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint mostly offer.

For those who only use their mobile phone just once in a while, postpaid plans are economically inefficient. In the end, customers have to spend money on a service they don’t really use.

This is where TracFone comes in. In the era where people use their mobile phone heavily, there’s a gap in a market full of low-key users.

TracFone has been smart enough to target this market. Has been around since 1996, TracFone has evolved to be the largest prepaid wireless provider.

It’s no secret that TracFone user base is people around the age of 55 and older. They specifically target an age group where people don’t need an unlimited talk plan or don’t surf the internet that often.

Consider these following situations:

  • You prefer to use landlines
  • You rarely surf on the internet
  • You only use your mobile phone on the go
  • You want to save money
  • You mostly use Wi-Fi for internet
  • You don’t like to pay an expensive monthly plan
  • You prefer to not be bound by any contract
  • You need a phone for emergency

If you fulfill most, if not all, the condition above, it’s better to consider TracFone for your next mobile provider.

Let’s learn what plans they offer, what are its perks as well as some drawbacks to consider.

Coverage and Performance

Theoretically, according to the coverage map on TracFone website, Tracfone networks cover almost all areas of the United States. They claim to be the largest and most dependable networks in America. And that’s not without reasons.

TracFone is a virtual network provider. They use the network of big providers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It’s a good thing since you will get coverage anywhere in the country.

Wherever you go, as long as there’s a tower owned by one of those big 4 carries, you’re good to go.

Customers reported no significant issue when using the phone in big cities where network towers abound. They got good coverage and experience no problems.

If you’re residing in a highly-populated area and rarely travel, coverage isn’t something you should worry about.

However, decent signals may be harder to attain once you reach a more rural area. The reason being, when high traffic hits a rural area where only a tower or two is available, you won’t be a priority customer.

TracFone is only leasing those towers. The network would prioritize direct customers of any major carrier the tower belongs to. It’s a price to pay when choosing a budget provider.

Smartphone Plans

TracFone Smartphone Plans comes with various range of plans you can choose based on your need.

The cheaper, at $15 for 30 service days, allows you to have 500 minutes phone call, 500 text messages. You’ll also get 500 MB data for internet. That’s more than enough amount to check your Facebook once in a while.

If that’s too much for you, you can save more money by extending to a two-months plan. With $25, you’ll get 500 minutes calls and doubled quota of 1000 texts. The amount of data you’ll get stays at 500 MB, though.

You can also opt for TracFone yearly plan. Priced at $125 (or $118.75 with auto refill), customers will get 365 service day plus 1500 minutes of phone calls, 1500 texts, and 1,5 GB of data.

The complete list of TracFone Smartphone Plans are as follows:

PriceAuto RefillService DaysAirtime
$15$14.2530 days500 minutes, 500 texts, 500 MB data
$20n/a30 days500 minutes, 1,000 texts, 1 GB data
$25$23.7560 days500 minutes, 1,000 texts, 500 MB data
$35$33.2560 days750 minutes, 1,000 texts, 1 GB data
$45n/a90 days750 minutes, 1,000 texts, 1.5 GB data
$50n/a90 days750 minutes, 1,500 texts, 2 GB data
$125$118.75365 days1,500 minutes, 1,500 texts, 1.5 GB data

Unlimited Plans

As of July 2019, TracFone offers unlimited plans to its customers. There are three options of this plan. The $20, $25, and $30 unlimited plan.

All comes with unlimited calls and texts, and a fixed amount of data (1 GB for $20 plan, 2 GB for $25 plan, and 3 GB for $30 plan).

TracFone Unlimited Plans support Data Carryover. It means that your data never expires as long as you keep renewing the service. They also support add-ons for data and Global Callings.

PriceAuto RefillService DaysAirtime
$20n/a30 daysunlimited talk & text, 1 GB data
$25n/a30 daysunlimited talk & text, 2 GB data
$30n/a30 daysunlimited talk & text, 3 GB data

Basic Phone Plans

When TracFone was first established during the feature phone days, it aimed to make mobile phones more affordable. Today, TracFone Basic Phone Plans is still one of their important products.

Their basic phone plans are the cheapest among its competitor. Starting at $9.99 a month, customers will get 30 minutes airtime on their phone. You can use it for call, text, and surfing websites.

This cheapest plan is perfect for you who use the phone only for something like an emergency. With auto-refill, it’s even cheaper. A customer only needs to pay $8.99.

The second cheapest plan is priced double at $19.99. Customers get 90 service days and 60 minutes of airtime.

You can also buy a yearly basic phone plan. The starting plan for 365 service days is priced at $99.99. With it, you will get 500 minutes for call, text, and internet.

See the complete list of TracFone Basic Phone Plans below:

PriceAuto RefillService DaysAirtime
$9.99$8.9930 days30 minutes for talk, text and web
$19.99$17.9990 days60 minutes for talk, text and web
$29.99$26.9990 days120 minutes for talk, text and web
$39.99$35.9990 days200 minutes for talk, text and web
$79.99$71.9990 days450 minutes for talk, text and web
$99.99n/a365 days400 minutes for talk, text and web
$159.99n/a365 days1,000 minutes for talk, text and web
$199.99n/a365 days1,500 minutes for talk, text and web

Service Add-ons

If you ever come into a situation where you used up the allocated amount of data, call, or texts, you can always do a refill with TracFone service add-ons. The price won’t scare your wallet either.

Here is the list of TracFone Service Add-ons:

  • $5 for additional 1000 texts for your phone (smartphone text only card).
  • $10 for an additional of 1 GB data (smartphone data only card).
  • $10 for an additional 500 minutes for call, text, and web.
  • $10 for international long distance. Read more on TracFone International Callings below.

One thing to note, all these TracFone service add-ons don’t add more service days to your existing plan.

TracFone Phones

TracFone offer customers a bundle package with several smartphone brands. They have a decent collection, although their line is comprised mainly of older models.

They offer phones from major brands such as Apple, Samsung, and LG. Some of their products aren’t available in certain states, so make sure you check first upon buying.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

iPhones

No fancy iPhone X, the latest version of Apple phone Tracfone offer is iPhone 7. Another model includes iPhone SE, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, but that’s all.

After adding a phone to a cart, you will get offered to select a plan based on your preference. If you don’t need a plan, don’t worry, because you can skip this process altogether.

Android Phones

TracFone offer more selections when it comes to Android. The most high-end Samsung they have is Galaxy S7. For mid-range options, you can pick among their Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 series.

LG is represented by LG Rebel and LG Stylo series, while there are also some models from ZTE, Alcatel, and Motorola.

One thing to pay attention on their Android line is their special deal. You can get a reconditioned Galaxy J7 Sky Pro with only $39.99 (required to select a plan). A refurbished LG Rebel 3 LTE is only cost $9.99.

If you’re looking for a deal, TracFone Android collection is where you should look into.

Basic Phones

TracFone also offers basic phones. Their collection is not much, only Doro 7050, a flip phone with 4G LTE feature. Another option is reconditioned ZTE Z233, a flip phone with android.

Doro 7050 comes with a price tag of $69.99. Meanwhile, ZTE Z233 cost zero dollar or free! Yes, if you buy ZTE Z233, the phone itself is free, but you have to select a plan with it. The cheapest plan is the $19.99 plan with 60 service days.

Do TracFone devices worth to buy?

The answer is depending on your need. If you’re okay with using a phone released a couple of years ago, the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 actually is a deal.

There are undoubtedly several risks when it comes to buying an older model, such as the software that might not keep up with new apps. But if you need a phone that just works or it’s your first new smartphone, a TracFone device is more than decent.

A tip, read reviews from other buyers before buying. You may want to avoid any of their products that are refurbished or reconditioned. It can save you from any issue in the future.

TracFone KYOP (Keep Your Own Phone)

Some of you might already consider migrating to TracFone. Only, you’d rather keep your own phone. TracFone offer a hassle-free process for migrating customers. Switching is easy and simple. You can keep your old phone and even your old phone number too.

The first thing you need to do is to check the phone’s carrier compatibility. If you have an unlocked phone, your phone will almost always compatible.

Things can get tricky if you have a carrier-bound phone such as from the one from Verizon or T-Mobile. When buying a SIM card, make sure you pick a Verizon-compatible TracFone card, or whichever your old carrier is.

Next, buy an activation kit. Only at $0.99, you’ll get 3-in-1 standard, micro, and nano SIM Card. Customers need to access TracFone website afterward to activate your new number.

Keeping your old number

If you want to keep your old number, you will need an extra step of calling their customer service.

Porting, what this process is called, typically needs a couple of days. Make sure to prepare all the information needed, such as your name, address, SSN, and bills from your former carrier.

TracFone Mobile Protect

TracFone offers handset protection plans called TracFone Mobile Protect. They are basically separated into two options, Mobile Protect, and Mobile Protect Plus. You need to enter your phone number first to see which plan you’re eligible of.

Both Mobile Protect and Mobile Protect Plus cover accidental damage such as water damage and cracked screen. Mobile Support App is also included in both.

Aside from those, the two plans differ significantly. The plus plan offers more perks since it also covers you when your phone is stolen or lost. Your phone is also insured for damages due to normal usage and any out-of-warranty malfunction.

As for the payment, Mobile Protect requires one-time payment for 13-24 months coverage. Meanwhile, you need to pay monthly for Mobile Protect Plus.

TracFone International Callings

TracFone allows their customers to make an international call to over 100 destinations around the globe. A customer only needs to buy Global Calling Card, priced at $10.

One of TracFone service add-ons, Global Calling Card doesn’t add your service days, but you can top up as many cards as you want. You need to be registered on a TracFone plan for international callings to work. You can’t use it as a standalone service.

Depending on location, TracFone international rate can be as low as $0.01 per minute. Among the countries covered are Germany, Colombia, Mexico, United Kingdom, and India. It also covers both mobile and landlines.

TracFone international call only works if the caller stays in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company don’t allow international roaming.

How to make an international call with TracFone:

  1. Make sure you have bought TracFone Global Calling Card.

  2. If you use an Android phone, download the Tracfone International Dialer app, it’s free.

    If you prefer not using an app or have a non-Android phone, skip to step 3.

  3. Dial the access number for international calls, 305-938-5673.

  4. Choose the preferred language, “1” for English, “2” for Spanish.

  5. Enter 011, followed by the country code + city code + telephone number.

    For Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, and Dominican Republic just dial: 1 + city code + telephone number.

  6. Wait until you get connected, it might take some times.

    Do not press any other key on your device or you might be disconnected.

In the past, TracFone offers an international dialing service called “Basic International Plan” which allows you to call certain countries such as Mexico, without buying any global card.

The call will use your current allocated minutes whichever your plan has. However, although you can still read about it on their official website, many customers reported that the service is no longer working.

TracFone Customer Service

TracFone Customer Service, in general, is either a hit or a miss. It obtained mixed reviews from customers.

Some customers reported TracFone representatives being helpful toward whatever concerns they had. While other customers are frustrated because their problems remained unsolved. TracFone customer satisfaction can be either a nightmare or a great experience.

It depends on the complexity of your issues, which rep picking up your call, and whether he or she had been trained or not.

Some customers reported, if a certain representative is not being helpful, you can disconnect and call again until you get a different, more trained representative.

However, it’s relatively easy to reach TracFone customer helpline. TracFone offer several ways tor you to get assistance. These are what you can do:

Reach by a Call

If you want to speak with a TracFone representative, you can call them every day seven days a week. Mark their active hours, from 8 AM to 11.45 PM (EST).

The number you should dial is 1-800-867-7183. Wait until you get connected to a representative then explain your situation.

Online Chat

You can also reach TracFone agent via their online chat. On TracFone official website, click the red bubble on the bottom right corner of your screen. You’ll be prompted to provide your information such as name, email address, and phone number if you’re their customer already.

You will also need to specify your problems. Shortly after, a representative from TracFone will answer your chat in real-time.

TracFone Online Chat
TracFone Online Chat

Social Media and Forum

Another way to reach TracFone customer service is via social media and internet forums. TracFone maintains quite a good presence on the net. They have active Twitter (@TracFoneCalls) and Facebook (@TracfoneDeals).

Their blog is routinely updated with the latest info. You can also post your issue on TracFone users forum, where your concern will be addressed by a TracFone rep and other users who had similar issues in the past.

TracFone Text Helpline

TracFone also provide helpline via text messages, all you need to do is text a keyword and send it to 611611. You’ll get a reply with information depending on your keyword.

Standard rates apply for TracFone Text Helpline, so make sure you have enough texts balance.

Here are some popular keywords on TracFone Text Helpline:

  • BUY: To buy a plan or an add-on, Text BUY and send it to 611611
  • ILD: If you want information about International Long Distance callings
  • ACTIVATE: Keywords for activating TracFone services
  • DEAL: To see what deals TracFone currently offering
  • APN: To update data settings in order to send MMS and access the internet
  • BALANCE: To check your current balance

Final Thoughts

TracFone is a nice alternative if you have had enough paying giant carriers a lot of money every month.

Their pay-as-you-go benefits customers in several ways. It saves money, customers only need to pay what they use, and customers can add extras if their current plan is not enough.

Pros:

  • The most affordable prepaid plan out there
  • A lot of plans to choose
  • A selection of affordable add-ons for extra data
  • Cheap international callings
  • Easy to migrate from your current carrier, and can keep your old phone.
  • Nationwide coverage
  • No contract required
  • Affordable selection of TracFone devices, with plenty of deals too.

Cons:

  • No high-end products available on their devices store
  • No unlimited plan
  • Customer service can be better
  • Coverage can be tricky in rural areas
  • No international roaming

To summarize, if you are a casual user whose life doesn’t revolve around staring at phone screen and scrolling through social media, go for TracFone.

It’s also for you who wants to save money, only use the phone occasionally for calls and texts, and only online when it’s absolutely necessary.

However, if 24-hours unlimited access to internet is important for you, then you might want to check major carriers instead.


TracFone FAQs

Can a TracFone be traced?

Yes, theoretically it can. TracFone is a prepaid service so it might difficult to track and the result is less accurate. But if you’re willing to track a TracFone number, you can use a phone tracking service.

Usually, you have to pay a fee to track a phone number down to its location. Also, make sure you’re not breaking any law. And make sure the phone you’re tracking is turned on.

Is TracFone Mobile Protect worth it?

Depending on your need and what type of phone you have. If yours is a flagship phone you’re so dear about, it can be wise to ensure your phone.

Some phone does offer a warranty, but the warranty often covers a limited number of issues. For extra protection, TracFone Mobile Protect may be worth it. Especially for a rather expensive phone, insuring can save you hundreds of dollars in repair or replacement fee in the future.

How do tracFone minutes work with texting?

On TracFone Basic Phone Plans, one session of sending a text costs 0.3 minutes of airtime. It also costs you the same when receiving a text message. If you send or receive a text with image, it counts as a full minute of airtime.

TracFone Smartphone Plans separate calls, texts, and data. You’ll get a specified minutes of voice call, a fixed amount of texts you can send, and a certain megabytes for internet.

Do TracFone Minutes Ever Expire?

It will expire once you go past the service days and you don’t buy the plan again. If you have unused minutes, you will not lose them as long as you keep an active plan. TracFone call this perk “Unlimited Carryover”.

To make it more convenient for customers, they also provide an auto-refill option. You just need to provide card details and they will buy a new plan for you once the service days are over. Plans are also priced cheaper with auto-refill.

Will TracFone charge me when I exceed the allocated data?

No. TracFone won’t charge customers anything once they exceed their data allowance. You can buy service add-ons to refill your data.

Can you do international texting using TracFone?

No. TracFone only offers international callings but no international texting whatsoever. Some customers reported they were still able to receive international texts. But you can’t do otherwise.

According to their terms and condition, if you try to send a message overseas, it could result on your plan termination.

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