TracFone is an MVNO known for its wide array of affordable and flexible prepaid plan options. TracFone operates on all of the major networks, meaning switching from a different carrier is a breeze. The network your plan will run on depends on whether you’re bringing your own phone (and from where) or which TracFone phone you’ve purchased. TracFone requires no credit check, charges no overage fees, and has 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, and annual plan options for its basic plans.
Pros & cons of TracFone
TracFone is one of the best when it comes to affordability and plan selection—but where it falls short is in its lack of add-ons and features. TracFone offers no international calling or texting, no hotspot capability, and nothing in terms of entertainment perks.
|- Low-cost plans |
- Versatility in network availability
|- No unlimited |
- Almost no add-ons or features
- No international calling
Compare TracFone plans
TracFone plans come in two variations: smartphone plans and pay-as-you-go plans. And depending on the plan tier you choose, there are different renewal periods available (30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or 1 year).
TracFone’s smartphone plans range in data allowances, with the maximum being 3GB of 4G LTE data per month. While this isn’t very much data, TracFone does offer a carryover data feature, allowing you to keep and use your unused data from previous months. For example, if you were on TracFone’s 3GB plan and you only used 2GB that month, then the next month your allowance would be 4GB.
In theory, the carryover plan is a great feature to have, but it will do you no good if you never have any data left to carry over at the end of your billing cycle. That’s why TracFone smartphone plans are ideal for low data users who only use their phones for basic activities, such as web browsing, Google Maps, and email.
Basic Pay-As-You-Go plans
TracFone’s pay-as-you-go plans are available in several different service length options, including:
- 30 days
- 60 days
- 90 days
- 365 days
The way these plans work is that you purchase “Airtime minutes” upfront, and despite the name, these minutes can be used for talk, text, and web browsing. Once you use up all of your Airtime minutes, you’ll have to wait to refill the next month or purchase more.
The longer your service period, the more money you save. For example, if you bought the 365-day plan that includes 1,500 minutes, then you wind up only paying $16.66/month for 125 monthly minutes, whereas the 90-day plan including a total of 120 minutes will run you $30/month.
It’s clear there’s value in planning ahead, and if you’re someone who only needs your phone to make the occasional call or send the occasional text, then it may be worth considering a TracFone basic plan.
TracFone family plans
While TracFone used to offer its FamilyValue Plan years ago, it no longer offers any variety of family plans. You’ll have to set up individual accounts should you want multiple lines.
TracFone add-ons & extras
TracFone doesn’t offer much in terms of features; however, there are a handful of plan add-ons available. Whether you’re using a basic phone or smartphone will determine the number of add-ons you’ll have at your disposal, with smartphone users having the option of adding additional data at a rate of $10/GB. Both smartphones and basic phones can add things like additional text messaging, minutes, or international calling cards, but that’s where TracFone’s options end.
|1GB data add-on||$10/GB|
|1,000 additional text messages||$5|
|500 additional minutes||$10|
|International calling card||$10|
TracFone plans vs. competitors
TracFone isn’t the only MVNO that offers its plans on all major carrier networks—Red Pocket Mobile, Straight Talk, and Net10 all use all of the major networks as well. TracFone’s ace in the hole is its unlimited carryover feature, letting you carry over unused minutes, text, and data. But it falls short in the categories of unlimited plans and plan features.
A comparable carrier, such as Red Pocket, offers the same network coverage and also adds the options for unlimited plans and free international features. Furthermore, carriers like Straight Talk and Net10 offer affordable unlimited plans, and since these two carriers are owned by Tracfone, there are likely to be similarities in your experiences with them.
In short, TracFone is a great choice if you need very little data and just want a cheap phone plan that will save you money on your phone bill, but if you’re looking for more data and features, you’ll want to look elsewhere.