TracFone Wireless Review

TracFone’s low-priced plans are a great option for anyone who doesn’t use their phone a lot, but if you’re looking for unlimited talk, text, and data, look elsewhere.
TracFone’s low-priced plans are a great option for anyone who doesn’t use their phone a lot, but if you’re looking for unlimited talk, text, and data, look elsewhere.
Overall Rating 2 out of 5
Uses AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon networks
Low prices
Limits on talk, text, and data

Gone are the days when my mom’s dorky old TracFone caused my high-school self a huge amount of embarrassment.

Nowadays, TracFone plans also work on sleek smartphones that won’t cause your teen to roll their eyes because you’re, like, so not cool.

But is TracFone the best choice out of the dozens of prepaid carriers out there? We’ll take a look at where TracFone shines and show you who should do a double take at its plans and prices.

TracFone smartphone plan prices

Plan price*Talk and textDataLearn more
$14.25200 minutes, 500 texts500 MBView plan
$20300 minutes, 1,000 texts1 GBView plan
$23.75500 minutes, 1,000 texts500 MBView plan
$33.25750 minutes, 1,000 texts1 GBView plan
$45750 minutes, 1,000 texts1.5 GBView plan
$50750 minutes, 1,000 texts2 GBView plan
$1181,500 minutes, 1,500 texts1.5 GBView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

TracFone plans for smartphones

No unlimited talk, text, or data here. If that’s important to you, you might be better off going for a competitor’s plan.

TracFone’s smartphone-only plans come with a small amount of data, perfect for anyone who surfs the web now and then but doesn’t plan on streaming the latest episode of Queer Eye on Netflix or sniping enemies with a Kar98 in PUBG mobile. (If you don’t know what either of those are, don’t worry—you’re in the right place.)

TracFone smartphone plan prices

Plan price*Service daysTalk and textDataLearn more
$14.2530 days200 minutes, 500 texts500 MBView plan
$2030 days300 minutes, 1,000 texts1 GBView plan
$23.7560 days500 minutes, 1,000 texts500 MBView plan
$33.2560 days750 minutes, 1,000 texts1 GBView plan
$4590 days750 minutes, 1,000 texts1.5 GBView plan
$5090 days750 minutes, 1,000 texts2 GBView plan
$118365 days1,500 minutes, 1,500 texts1.5 GBView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Heads Up icon

Don't let your service run out!

Take note of how many service days each plan has. You’ll need to refill your account before your service end date—otherwise your phone may be deactivated and you may lose your phone number, even if you have minutes left over.

We recommend enrolling in the autorefill program so you don’t have to worry about your phone being deactivated—and you’ll save some money too.

If you gotta have your data, you’re probably better off with a prepaid plan from the likes of MetroPCS or Boost Mobile.

For example, MetroPCS’s unlimited data plans start at $50 per month, which also gets you unlimited talk and text. By contrast, TracFone’s $50 plan (about $16.68 per month) comes with only 2 GB of data, plus limits on minutes and texts. Oh, and don’t forget, since MetroPCS has a monthly payment system, your MetroPCS plan won’t expire after 90 days like a TracFone plan will.

But there’s gotta be a catch, right? Yes and no—and it comes in the form of coverage. MetroPCS uses T-Mobile’s network, while Cricket Wireless uses AT&T’s network. But TracFone hops on both AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, as well as Verizon’s, Sprint’s, and US Cellular’s. So if you don’t get good coverage in your area from T-Mobile or AT&T, it may be worth the higher price for TracFone.

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Add a global calling card

Need to add some mileage to your phone plan on top of the Basic International service? You can grab a Global Calling Card for $10, or check out TracFone’s other international services.

TracFone pay-as-you-go plans

TracFone’s plans for basic phones are perfect and well-priced for anyone who doesn’t use their cellphone often.

TracFone’s pay-as-you-go plans, meant for basic phones, start out cheaper than the smartphone plans but quickly break $100 in price. (That escalated quickly.)

But if you rarely use your phone and don’t need a lot of minutes (or any data), these plans start out on the cheap end of the spectrum compared to others. In fact, most competitors’ prices won’t drop below $25 per month, while TracFone’s basic phone plans start at $8.99 a month (with autopay).

How much are TracFone plans for basic phones?

Plan price*Service daysTalk, text, and web minutes**Learn more
$8.9930 days30 minutesView Plan
$17.9990 days60 minutesView Plan
$26.9990 days120 minutesView Plan
$35.9990 days200 minutesView Plan
$71.9990 days450 minutesView Plan
$99.99365 days400 minutesView Plan
$159.99365 days1,000 minutesView Plan
$199.99365 days1,500 minutesView Plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

** One “web minute” is used for every minute you spend browsing the internet.

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Do minutes carry over with Tracfone?

You bet they do. Your unused minutes, texts, and data will carry over on both TracFone’s smartphone and basic phone plans as long as your service is active and you use it within a six-month period. Winning!

Tracfone add-on plans

TracFone’s add-on prices seem pretty par for the course. Cricket Wireless also offers 1 GB of extra data for $10, and Simple Mobile offers 1.5 GB for $10.

But if you find yourself paying for an extra gig of data each month, you may want to consider other carriers that offer higher data caps, like Simple Mobile or Total Wireless.

  • 1 GB data: $10 (doesn’t add service days)
  • 1,000 texts: $5 (doesn’t add service days)

TracFone autorefill discount

If you tend to use up all or most of your minutes, texts, and data before your service days are up, setting up autorefill is a smart idea.

Once it’s set up, autorefill saves you 5–10% on certain plans for both smartphones and basic phones. Free money? Sign us up!

TracFone cellphones and devices

No new releases, but plenty of older Apple, Samsung, and LG devices.

If you love getting your hands on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, TracFone may not be for you. Right now, it’s at least a couple of models behind.

But if you’re content with an older model, there are several to choose from between Apple, Samsung, LG, ZTE, and Alcatel. Plus, you might be able to comparison shop at Target, Walmart, and Amazon. Let the price wars begin!

What top phones does TracFone have?

MakeModels availableLearn more
iPhoneiPhone 7, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s / 6 PlusView Prices
SamsungGalaxy S7, Galaxy J7 Sky Pro, Galaxy J3 Luna ProView Prices
LGStylo 3, Premier Pro LTE, Rebel 2, FIESTA 2 LTE, PREMIER LTEView Prices
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Bring your own (Trac)phone

Gotta have the latest phone? You might be able to keep it near and dear even if you switch to TracFone. Just scope out whether it’s compatible with TracFone’s network to get started.

How good is TracFone performance?

If you’re in the city, coverage and speed are a-OK. Elsewhere, not so much.

Rating TracFone’s coverage and speed is difficult because it uses networks owned by Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular.

Being able to piggyback on any of these networks is most likely a boon to you. The network TracFone will use depends on which one is most available in your area—and it also depends on which phone you use. So in theory, you should get good coverage no matter what.

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Check your coverage

You can double-check what TracFone coverage is available in your area by entering your ZIP code on the site.

Buuut maybe not so much. We noticed coverage troubles in rural areas with our own TracFone. We had trouble getting a signal in northern Georgia, for instance, to the point where we missed several calls. Ugh. We also experienced spotty coverage in Wisconsin suburbs—but not as often.

TracFone customer service

If you’re lucky, you’ll get great customer service.

Here’s the thing: the cellphone industry is not known for great customer service. Of course, that’s no excuse not to treat customers like the royalty they are, but it does help put things in perspective.

TracFone has many of the same issues other wireless providers have when it comes to customer service. But some customers sing its praises and fully admit most of their problems were self-inflicted.

If you’ve got a problem—self-inflicted or not—and need to get a hold of someone at TracFone, you can try reaching out on social media or TracFone support forums.

Recap—is TracFone good?

Wanna know if you should use TracFone? Here’s a quick recap of what we think.

  • Plans: You’ve got a lot of options for plans, but unless you really, really don’t need the data or extra minutes, we think the smartphone-only plans are the better deal. If you do need the data or extra minutes, plans from competitors like Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS may be a better investment.
  • Performance: TracFone works by connecting to towers owned by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular. So coverage and speed are pretty good, but we ran into issues in rural areas.
  • Customer service: TracFone has room to improve its customer service just like all wireless providers. But if you need to reach them, they’re also available on social media and support forums, so you don’t have to wait on the phone for two hours.
  • Overall: We think TracFone is great for anyone who doesn’t use their cellphone a lot, especially since its basic phone plans start out cheaper than most of the competition.

But if you need lots of data, texts, or call time, competitors’ prices and features offer more than TracFone does.

FAQs

Q: Does TracFone have overage charges or hidden fees?

If you use up all your data, you won’t have to pay an overage charge. But TracFone will throttle your data down to 2G speeds.

So if you feel like your web surfing is more like web crawling, better check that data usage.

Q: Does TracFone charge an activation fee?

Nope, no activation fees here.

Q: Should I get a warranty or insurance for my TracFone phone?

No one likes a cracked screen—take it from us and the $200 bill to have ours replaced. So we always recommend grabbing a case and screen protection from Amazon.

But sometimes a case and screen protector aren’t enough—so TracFone offers two different protection plans that may fit your needs.

Q: Does TracFone let you bring your own phone?

It sure does. You’ll need to see if your current phone will work with TracFone, and if it does, you may also need to buy a SIM card. After that, you’re ready to switch over.

Q: Can I keep my phone number?

Yup. You can transfer your phone number (make sure it’s still active first) by calling up TracFone’s customer service department.

Q: What are TracFone’s return policy and early termination fee?

If you need to cancel your TracFone plan, breathe a sigh of relief: there are no cancellation fees.

Its return policy is based on where you bought your phone: online or in a store. We recommend checking out the terms and conditions to get a better idea of how you can return or exchange your device.