When it comes to prepaid cell phone plans TracFone is one of the more recognized names in the industry. They’ve been providing prepaid wireless service longer than many of their competitors. But as you’re comparing cheap cell phone plans you may wonder how they stack up against the competition.
Overall they get pretty good ratings for customer satisfaction. They offer a variety of affordable plans, cheap cell phones and they have a good coverage area, but they do have complaints about customer service – not unlike StraightTalk and Net10.
TracFone cell plans are mostly targeted towards light cell phone users who want a low cost cell phone plan and a cheap cell phone to go with it. The initial setup cost is pretty low and maintaining service is pretty affordable too, if you’re not a heavy cell phone user. They also offer web exclusive deals when you buy your phone, like triple minutes, to help you get more for your money.
Use this Index to go directly to these specific sections:
- TracFone Cell Phone Plans
- Basic Plan Details
- Cell Phone Selection
- Customer Service
- Pros And Cons
Monthly Cell Phone Plans
Like StraightTalk and Net10 cheap cell phone plans, TracFone’s monthly Value Plans run on a 30 day schedule. With the Value Plans you agree to a recurring payment for a set monthly rate, but unlike contract plans there is no cancellation fee if you decide you want to cancel the service.
They offer three different individual 30 day plans and a family cell plan option. All of these plans include talk, text and basic web/email. Unused minutes carry over for all of these plans.
- The 50 Value Plan provides 50 anytime minutes for $9.99
- The 125 Value Plan provides 125 anytime minutes for $19.99
- The 200 Value Plan provides 200 anytime minutes for $29.99
- The 50 Family Value Plan provides 50 anytime minutes for $9.99 for the first line; additional lines are $5.99 each, up to 5 additional lines, and they include 40 anytime minutes.
If you run out of minutes on any of these plans before the 30 days has passed you can add minutes at any time. They offer bundles of 50 or 100 minutes for the Value Plans.
If you have purchased the lifetime double minutes option you will also receive double minutes on the Value Plans.
Pay As You Go Cell Phone Plans
TracFone also offers pay as you go plans in increments of 30, 90 or 365 service days. Like other prepaid cell phones, if you want to keep your plan active and retain your cell phone number you need to add more time before your service days expire. If you run out of minutes before your service days expire you can easily add more minutes if you need them. Your unused minutes and service days will carry over.
TracFone is a little different than many other cheap prepaid cell phone plans in that they offer a few different annual options. This is nice for people who only want to worry about adding more airtime once a year.
Here are TracFone’s pay as you go options:
- For $9.99 you get 30 minutes and 30 service days
- For $19.99 you get 60 minutes and 90 service days
- For $29.99 you get 120 minutes and 90 service days
- For $39.99 you get 200 minutes and 90 service days
- For $79.99 you get 450 minutes and 90 service days
- For $99.99 you get 400 minutes and 365 service days
- For $119.99 you get 800 minutes, double minutes on future airtime purchases and 365 service days
- For $159.99 you get 1,000 minutes and 365 service days
- For $199.99 you get 1,500 minutes and 365 service days
What Else You Should Know
Texting is available with all of their plans, but the charges for texting are a little confusing. The charges vary depending on the model of phone you have, but generally speaking you can send up to 3 texts messages for a minute of airtime.
TracFone offers an option they call Double Minutes. If you purchase this service for $19.99 you will get double minutes on future airtime purchases. Consider this option as you do a cell phone plan comparison.
Here are a few of the plan details for TracFone prepaid cell phone plans:
- No credit checks
- No contracts
- No activation fee
- Rollover minutes and service days
- No roaming charges for GSM phones
- Roaming for CDMA charges 2 minutes for every minute used
- International calling available to 60 destinations at no extra charge
- No international texting
- Auto-refill available on Value Plans. Airtime can be purchased for other plans at participating retailers or online.
- Family cell phone plans are available
- You need to buy a TracFone headset to use their wireless service
TracFone doesn’t have the best cell phone selection, but you need to buy one of their phones if you want to use TracFone wireless service. They specialize in cheap cell phones and lower end headsets (starting at $9.99), but they do offer a couple of phones with mobile web capability. They have a couple of phones with QWERTY or sliding QWERTY keyboards for easy texting. Some of their options are reconditioned or refurbished cell phones.
Most TracFone cell phones come with double or even triple minutes for life. That means whenever you buy more airtime for that phone you will get double or triple the amount of minutes. This definitely helps make the plans more affordable since the per minute rate isn’t that low, when you compare prepaid plans. Some of the phones also come with a few starter minutes that are available when you active the phone.
Their phones all have an airtime display that allows you to easily track your minutes used and your remaining minutes. Beyond avoiding bill shock, you’ll always know how many minutes you have available with a quick glance.
Even though they don’t specifically offer senior cell phones, some of their basic phones are pretty easy to use with buttons that aren’t too small or difficult to maneuver. It’s a cheap way for some seniors to start using a cell phone plan.
Check the coverage area before you choose a phone because different phones have a different coverage area.
TracFone has a pretty comprehensive website that allows you to answer most questions and take care of the basics like purchasing a phone, activating a phone or buying more service days or minutes. They also have a pretty detailed FAQ that should answer most basic questions.
Unfortunately they don’t have the best record for customer service though. If you need to call to resolve an issue be prepared; some customers have complained about long wait times and having to call a couple of times to resolve an issue. However, some people have had a positive experience with customer service. Others have recommended doing as much as you can online.
TracFone cell phone plans, like many other cheap prepaid cell phone plans, don’t have a lot of added fees. They don’t have an activation fee, a cancellation fee or an added charge for 411 calls, and like other prepaid cell phone plans you won’t have to worry about expensive overage charges either.
- Cheap cell phones
- Affordable plan options
- Good coverage area and call quality
- Customer service complaints
- Not one of the cheapest per minute options
- Limited cell phone selection
Compared to other prepaid wireless carriers TracFone rates pretty well in customer satisfaction surveys, according to consumer groups like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power And Associates. TracFone and their parent company, America Movil, have been in the prepaid cell phone business for quite a while and in that time they’ve established a pretty good base. TracFone cell phone plans are geared towards light users who want a low cost cell plan, while Net10 cell phone plans are geared towards medium users who want more minutes for the money and StraightTalk cell phone plans are geared towards frequent users who want a little of everything at an affordable price with no contract.
If you want an affordable low use cell phone plan for yourself, your kids, or your elder parents, or if you need a temporary or emergency phone, TracFone is an option worth considering. They offer a good coverage area and call quality at a low up front price and the plans are pretty cheap to maintain if you don’t use a lot of minutes. They offer both cell phones and plans starting at $9.99. To make your money go farther you can take advantage of their double minutes for life option.
People who have fairly basic cell phone needs are generally pretty happy with TracFone. This isn’t the best cell phone plan for people who use their cell phone frequently or people who want data coverage. StraightTalk or MetroPCS cell phone plans offer better prepaid plan options for people who need a lot of talk/text/web time at an affordable price.
If you’re looking at per minute cost TracFone isn’t one of the cheapest cell phone plans, but they are one of the lowest out-of-pocket options for light cell phone users. Whether or not this is the best cell phone plan for you really depends on your needs._____________________________________