Introduced in the early 2000s, TracFone is one of America's oldest prepaid wireless services. TracFone is a division of América Móvil, which is the third largest mobile network operator in the world. In addition to TracFone, América Móvil also owns and operates Net10, Straight Talk, SafeLink Wireless, Telcel América, Simple Mobile and Page Plus Cellular.
Pros: Phones are inexpensive, and there are no access fees.
Cons: Customer service is below par, and data is extremely expensive. Their phones are also very out of date.
Lowest Price Per Anytime Minute: $0.18
Tracfone has a number of pay-as-you-go and monthly plan options. Their pay as you go cards range from 30 minutes for $10 to 450 minutes for $80. They also offer cards which grant double minutes on all future airtime purchases for $20 and cards that don't expire for one full year. Their monthly plans start at $10 for 50 minutes and range to $30 for 200 minutes. Family plans, additional phone lines and service protection are also available.
Read more about TracFone plans
Customer Service: As with most larger companies, TracFone has a toll-free customer service number with an auto answer to help with most tasks. Customer service associates can also be reached via live chat on their website, and they have an email form as well.
Free Nights: No
Credit Check: None
Free Weekends: No
Daily Access Fee: No
Payment Options: Tracfone refill cards are available at retailers and convenience stores nationwide. Customers can also buy airtime on the Tracfone website.
Text and Picture Messaging: Text messaging rates vary depending on which phone or service a customer is using, but generally you can send/receive 1 text for each unit purchased. So a card with 60 minutes could send 60 texts.
Data Plans: Tracfone does offer mobile web usage, but the rates are not disclosed.
Downloads: Ringtones available for $1.49 each, other features (such as games, wallpapers) vary by phone.
International Calling: Tracfone offers an international long distance plan that allows customers to call 60 international destinations for the same rate as domestic calls. They also offer a service that provides callers with a local number in a number of countries, which allows for cheaper local calls, short dialing of international numbers and a $10 global plan that allows for cheaper rates to select international locations.
Text Messaging Available: Yes
Roaming Charges: Tracfone does not allow for roaming on any networks, so there are no charges.
Text Messaging Charge For Incoming: Yes, if the message is opened
Calling Features: Tracfone offers voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, and 3 way calling with its phone plans.
Unlimited Text Messaging Plan Available: No
Activation Fee: None
Nationwide Long Distance: Long distance calls are charged the same as regular calls.
Unlimited Plan Available: No
411 Calls: Yes, at no extra fee - charged as regular calls.
Earliest Minute Expiration: All of Tracone's one-year plans expire in one year. Monthly plans roll over every month, so customers can retain unused minutes. For the pay-as-you-go cards, the 30-minute card expires in 30 days and the 60, 120, 200, and 450-minute cards expire in 90 days.
911 Calls: Yes.
Phones: Tracfone offers a number of low-end handsets for reasonable prices and most of them are priced below $100. Phones can be purchased online or at various retail stores around the country. Tracfone also allows consumers to bring their own compatible devices. When purchasing a device from Tracfone, the G at the end of some models indicate it uses a GSM network (AT&T and T-Mobile), while a C indicates CDMA network (Verizon and Sprint).
Standard Calling Features: Voicemail, caller ID, call waiting
Some Available Cell Models: LG Ultimate 2, Alcatel Onetouch Pop Icon, LG Optimus Dynamic II, LG 840G
Cheapest Phone Model: $9.99