What is Tracfone?
Tracfone Wireless is one of the largest prepaid cell phone companies in America. They sell phones and cell phone service through almost every major retailer as well as online and operate with several brand names including Tracfone, Net10, StraighTalk and more.
They are typically known for providing no-frills prepaid cell phones at a very affordable price and offering flexible service plans and minutes refills.
Tracfone was acquired by Verizon in 2021, leading to some consolidation of the networks available for users.
This review will cover some of the benefits of Tracfone and prepaid cell phones in general, while also noting some of the disadvantages.
What are Prepaid No-Contract Cell Phones?
For anyone unfamiliar with what prepaid cell phones are, or exactly how it is defined, here is a brief explanation.
Prepaid no-contract cell phones are, as the name suggests, cell phones and service minutes or plans that are paid for in advance but have no contract obligations and no extra fees or strings attached.
You can simply go to any retail store, buy a Tracfone prepaid phone, buy airtime, activate it, use it once and then never use it again and there will be no additional fees or charges besides what you initially paid for the phone.
The minutes or service plans for Tracfone come with a wide variety of options, including unlimited monthly choices. Many of Tracfone's prepaid plans are for one month.
Pay as You Go plans are very simple to use and provides the most flexibility. There are some options that include a specific amount of Talk, Text and Data, and other plans that offer unlimited Talk and Text, with a certain amount of Data. These cards come with a specific number of minutes and service days (90 days for most) and allow the user to pick how much to spend based on the number of minutes he or she is likely to use. If the phone gets low on minutes, another refill can be purchased and the minutes/service days will stack.
There are also Tracfone promo codes that can be used when adding refill cards to get free bonus minutes.
Review of Tracfone Prepaid Cell Phones - Pro's and Con's
Now on to the review of the Tracfone Wireless company.
Tracfone is not the only prepaid option available, but it is one of the biggest and best. Below are some likes and dislikes about Tracfone and prepaid phones to keep in mind when evaluating your cell phone options.
Here are some of the benefits Tracfone provides.
1. Very affordable.
Tracfone is incredibly affordable for those who are not heavy cell phone users. For a basic cell phone and enough minutes to use as a backup or emergency phone, it can cost as little as $15 for the phone and $99 for a YEAR of service. Yes that is less than $10 a month.
For those who might use their phone more often for calling and texting, several value plans are available for $20-30 a month.
Tracfone also offers several unlimited talk/text monthly plans for $20-$40 that also come with 1 to 8 GB data.
The best part of prepaid cell phones, and Tracfone, is if you need to use your phone a lot one month, you can buy extra minutes when you need them, but if the next month you hardly use your phone, you don’t have to spend anything.
2. Easy and simple to set up.
One of the best aspects of prepaid cell phones is that they are fast and easy to set up and Tracfone is no exception. After buying a phone, it can take less than an hour to get the phone activated with your own number.
After the phone is activated, adding minutes takes seconds and the number of service days and minutes remaining on the phone are shown on the main screen (for basic phones)
For those that already have an unlocked smartphone, you can quickly buy a Tracfone SIM card and activate service for your device and add airtime..
This makes Tracfone a useful phone for not just regular cell phone users, but also for those who need a backup or emergency phone.
3. No extra fees or contracts to worry about
Tracfone does not charge any extra fees, contract termination or anything like that because there are no contracts. It is a worry free option that is also very affordable.
Most of the phones are relatively inexpensive making losing one less of a problem or stress.
Tracfone's year-long airtime options for around $100 means that users only have to pay for their phone once a year - making it easier if someone else is managing that.
4. 5G Network Coverage at no extra cost
Tracfone offers 5G network speeds for customers at no extra cost on Verizon's network for those who have a smartphone with that capability. Tracfone also sells several smartphones with 5G connectivity.
While some prepaid service providers offer limited 5G coverage, or throttle speeds after a certain amount, Tracfone has full access to 5G.
Now let’s look at some of the drawbacks of Tracfone and prepaid cell phones.
1. Poorly Rated Customer Service
Tracfone's customer service is generally rated poorly and some users have experienced technical issues that take weeks to be resolved.
While Tracfone has recently been acquired by Verizon, the customer service issues seem to continue.
2. You can lose service if you forget to buy airtime
Contract phones are convenient in that they are usually unlimited and thus you almost always have service, and they auto-bill your credit card.
With Tracfone, if you forget to buy a refill card and let your service days or minutes run out, then your cell phone becomes a paperweight until you buy more. While most people won't run into this problem, it can be surprising if you forget to buy airtime and suddenly are without any service.
3. Verizon Network Coverage Only
Before Verizon bought Tracfone, they offered service on all the major networks includign ATT, T-Mobile and Verizon. But with the Verizon acquisition, they are now moving to only offer Verizon coverage. For users who live in areas without good Verizon coverage, they will have to look for other service providers that use ATT or T-Mobile's networks.
4. No Unlimited Data Option
Tracfone has several plans that offer unlimited talk and text, but they don't have any unlimited data options. And to buy extra data can add up quickly for those that use 10-20 GB a month. Many of Tracfone's monthly plans offer 1-8 GB.
Tracfone isn't a good deal for those that would use high amounts of data on their smartphone.
Conclusion - How Much Money Can You Save?
Overall, the Tracfone Wireless Company provides budget cell phone service options that give consumers the control over how much they want to use and spend.
Prepaid cell phones from Tracfone are not for everyone, but they can be a great way to save money when trying to cut costs. Additionally, users can buy un unlocked smartphone and use it with Tracfone.
For some cell phone users, prepaid service from Tracfone could save hundreds of dollars each year - but typically it is best suited for those that don't use their phone's data very much.
For example, if you bring your unlocked smartphone to Tracfone and get the $20 unlimited talk and text plan, with 1 GB data and 30 service days, the yearly cost would be just $240. Compare that to the typical yearly cost from most post-paid providers of around $840 ($70 per month). The difference can add up quickly.
So how much are you paying each month for cell phone service?
Learn more about Prepaid at Tracfone Reviewer
- Tracfone Wireless
- Tracfone Reviewer
Full cell phone reviews, service information and promo codes for Tracfone Wireless
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on August 14, 2015:
Pete, great product review on Tracfone. Very useful and informative as well. Voted up!
Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on May 05, 2013:
Glenn - Thanks for your comment!
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on May 05, 2013:
This is a very good review of TracFone. Your list of likes and dislikes is very useful to help a new customer decide if TracFone is the right thing for them. I use NET 10 which is owned by TracFone. The service is similar and the price is in the same range when you compare to the triple minutes TracFone offers. But I see that TracFone has a better deal for very-low-usage customers -- by buying the one-year service. With triple minutes that gives 1200 minutes per year for under $99. Not a bad deal it all!
Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on February 03, 2013:
teaches12345 - Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! Sometimes knowing what other options are out there makes it easier to bargain for a better deal.
Dianna Mendez on February 02, 2013:
Thanks for the information on this phone service. Good to know what options are out there when the time comes to renew a contract.
Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on January 31, 2013:
kashmir56 - Thanks for reading and for your feedback!
Angela Blair - Yes, the minutes do sometimes seem to disappear and some of the minutes that get burned up on 10 second phone calls are annoying! Thanks for your feedback, and glad you fond this interesting!
Angela Blair from Central Texas on January 31, 2013:
When trying to decide on which cell phone service I wanted to use I went to Tracfone in the interim. The service was good and really, for the purpose and time I had the phone I had few complaints BUT -- all those minutes aren't quite what they're touted to be. Like you're charged a full minute for any portion thereof, etc., etc. All-in-all a decent service but I don't think I would have been happy with a long-time use as minutes seemed to disappear very quickly in instances I couldn't even figure out (but maybe that's just being dumb on my part)! Super Hub and great information. Best/Sis
Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on January 31, 2013:
Great hub and review of the Tracfone and it's services. My first cell phone was a Tracfone, has you said it don't have a lot of features but it was a great working phone .
Well done ! Vote up and more !!!