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Best TracFones

Updated November 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 9 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 118 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best TracFones

    Last Updated November 2018

    If you are like the majority of people, you probably depend on a cell phone for communication. Maybe you use it to make occasion calls when you are away from home; maybe you keep it close by at all times for calls, texts, and social media. You may even be looking at it right now.

    In recent years, the cell phone has evolved from a luxury item that few could afford to a necessity that most users couldn’t imagine living without. But the costs and restrictions associated with contract plans are not for everybody. What’s more, the cancellation fees associated with prematurely ending a contract leave many customers feeling trapped if they want to change carriers before terms have expired.

    If cell phone contracts have left you frustrated, you have another option. TracFone is a no-contract wireless carrier with quality pre-paid phones that offer reliable coverage and flexible monthly minutes, texts, and data. When you use TracFone, you free yourself from the restrictions of wireless contracts.

    The TracFone company was founded in 1996.

    If you’ve never used a no-contract cell phone plan, the idea of trying TracFone for the first time or switching from a contract carrier may seem overwhelming. You may have questions about the service. You may not know where to start when it comes to selecting the right TracFone for you.

    BestReviews is here to help!

    We understand the needs and concerns of consumers because we are a team of consumers, too. We purchase hundreds of products and test them in our labs. We use data from our tests and other research to help readers make informed shopping decisions.

    Because we never accept free products from manufacturers, you can feel confident that our honest, informative advice is here to help you make the most of your money.

    If you are ready to free yourself of the constraints of contract wireless service, we can help you find a TracFone that fits your communication style and budget. Please continue reading for more information.

    EXPERT TIP

    No-contract, prepaid phone plans of TracFone are a great way for people who don’t use a lot of data, minutes, or texts to save money each month.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    TracFone options: smart vs. basic

    Though many wireless customers prefer smartphones, not everyone is into the latest technology. TracFone has a variety of smart Android options to choose from, but the company also carries several basic “flip phone” models.

    The best option for you depends on your budget, what you use your cell phone for, and how frequently you call and text.

    Smart TracFones, including Samsung and LG options, have a large internal storage capacity of up to 32GB. These phones have features and functions that many other smartphones do, including a camera and the ability to download your favorite apps.

    Basic “non-smart” flip phones, on the other hand, have limited internal storage. Although they have cameras, they lack the intuitive technology that smartphones offer. However, if you don’t use your cell phone very often or you’re not a fan of technology, this type of phone may be worth considering.

    Consumers with contract cell phone plans who don’t examine their bills closely may be surprised to find numerous extra fees and surcharges. This isn’t a concern with TracFones. In fact, it’s one of TracFone’s biggest selling points.

    TracFone smartphone pros and cons

    • Pros:

      • Offers some of the latest technology.

      • Lots of storage space for photos, videos, and apps.

      • Appeals to tech-savvy consumers.
         

    • Cons:

      • Pricier than basic phones.

      • Requires data for web access.

    Basic TracFone pros and cons

    • Pros:

      • Easy to use, especially for anyone who only uses wireless for calls and texts.

      • Affordable.
         

    • Cons:

      • Limited storage, which could be problematic if you take a lot of photos.

      • Battery life tends to be shorter.

      • Lacks the capabilities of smartphones, such as useful downloadable apps or GPS.

    EXPERT TIP

    Though TracFone prepaid plans include data GBs, heavy users may have to purchase additional data.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    TracFone prices

    When it comes to phone prices, TracFone offers a variety of options to fit your budget.

    Budget

    If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, you can find TracFones for under $100.

    There are even some TracFones that sell for $50 or less; these tend to be non-smart flip models.

    A common misconception is that only financially challenged consumers use prepaid wireless services. While saving money is welcomed by anyone, the freedom from contracts and the quality of phones that are available are features that appeal to all customers.

    Mid-range

    If you want to spend a little more, you can buy a popular Samsung or LG model with smart technology for around $100.

    Expensive

    If you want a top-selling smartphone with ample storage, you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of several hundred dollars.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    As long as you keep your TracFone service activated from plan period to plan period, your unused data, texts, and talk time will not expire and will roll over each month or plan period.

    Using your new TracFone: first steps

    Once you’ve found the right TracFone, you are ready to begin enjoying your prepaid wireless access. With a few easy steps, you’ll be talking and texting in no time.

    Activate your phone

    • Once you get your new TracFone, follow the prompts on the TracFone website to get started. You’ll be asked to enter your phone’s IMEI/MEID/Serial number, which will be located on the activation card that comes with the phone.
       

    Select a plan for your smartphone

    Prepaid plans are available to suit a variety of needs and budgets. TracFone prices may vary, but the following is a general guideline as to what to expect.

    • Smartphone plans start at 30 days. They may include 200 to 300 minutes and 1,000 texts and cost around $15 to $20.

    • 60-days plans may also include 1,000 texts. Minutes may vary from 500 to 750 for $25 to $35.

    • 90-day plans may include 750 minutes with the choice of 1,000 or 1,500 texts for $45 to $50.

    • At the time of this writing, TracFone’s 365-day plan includes 1,500 minutes and texts for $125.

    • All smartphone plans include data that ranges from 500MB to 2GB. Extra GB and text plans are available as needed.

    TracFone has an easy-to-access App Store where you can find games, ringtones, and much more.

    Select a plan for your basic phone

    If you have purchased a basic phone rather than a smartphone, you’ll still have some decisions to make. Again, the following are general guidelines that may fluctuate.

    • Basic phone plans start as low at $9.99 for 30 days, but airtime is limited and could be as low as 30 minutes.
    • 90-days plans are available for a bit more money (around $20) and may include 60 airtime minutes. There are also 120-minute plans, 200-minute plans, and 450-minute plans. The prices go up incrementally.

    • If you prefer a year-long plan, TracFone has some options for you here as well. For example, you may be able to purchase around 400 minutes of airtime for $100 or 1,500 minutes of airtime for $200.
       

    Set up your phone with your plan

    • Follow the online prompts to add your plan’s talk, text, and data to your phone. Once finished, you are ready to begin communicating.
    EXPERT TIP

    Are you helping an elderly loved one learn how to use a cell phone for occasional use? A TracFone flip phone, combined with a month-to-month plan, is a practical option that can be easily and affordably refilled as needed.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Network coverage

    A major concern of wireless customers who are considering switching from a contract to a prepaid plan is network coverage.

    After all, what good is an affordable, flexible phone plan if you frequently experience dropped calls or dead zones?

    However, with one of the largest 4G coverage areas in the U.S., TracFone offers a network that’s comparable to those of  contract carriers.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    TracFone’s international service can be used to call both cell phones and landline phones.

    Tips

    Regardless of the type of TracFone or plan you choose, these tips will help you make the most of your phone and service.

    • Keep your budget in mind. The newest smart TracFones have a lot of impressive features, but they are also the most expensive offered by the brand.

    • Keep your number or get a new one. TracFone allows you to keep the number all your friends and family are used to. Or, if you prefer, you can start from scratch with a new number to go with your new phone.

    • Refill your talk, text, and data as needed. Just because you select a specific prepaid plan doesn’t mean you are limited. If you run out of airtime, need more texts, or approach your GB limit, you can easily add more of what you need to keep you plan going.

    • Don’t let your plan expire. Always remember to refill your plan to keep it activated. For example, if you have a 60-day plan, you will need to refill it with another plan once the 60 days are up even if you still have minutes, texts, or data you haven’t used. They will roll over to the next month, so you will never lose what you haven’t used when you keep your plan activated.

    • Think about any extras you may need. If you make a lot of international calls, text excessively, or use data for video streaming, TracFone has add-ons that you can purchase to customize your wireless plan.

    • Help is available if you have questions. TracFone offers several platforms, including text, phone, and online support.

    TracFones aren’t just for seasoned cell phone users. With the phones that are available, the affordable prices, and the flexibility of prepaid plans, TracFones are perfect for parents who are introducing their children to cell phone ownership.

    FAQ

    Q. I’ve always had a contract cell phone, so I’m concerned that the need to refill my plan will be a hassle. Is it difficult to do?

    A. This is a common concern among cellular customers who are transitioning from a contract to a prepaid plan. However, refilling your plan after it has ended is not difficult. Simply select the refill product you want, follow the prompts on the TracFone website, and you’re good to go.

    Q. What happens if I let my plan lapse?

    A. While you can simply re-activate your TracFone if you let it expire, keep in mind that you have to keep your plan continuously activated to avoid losing unused talk minutes, texts, and data.

    Q. How do I reach customer service if I have questions about my phone or plan?

    A. TracFone customer service can be accessed by phone, text, or online chat to help you when issues, concerns, or questions arise.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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