5 Things to Know Before You Sign Up for Tracfone Wireless

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TracFone Wireless
Image Credit: Clark.com/TracFone

If you’ve browsed the prepaid cell phone section at major retailers, maybe you’ve heard about Tracfone Wireless.

Tracfone is a big player when it comes to low-cost cell phone plans. In addition to its Tracfone Wireless brand, the company runs Total Wireless, Simple Mobile, Straight Talk and more.

These popular prepaid brands all provide no-contract plans with many similarities, but they’re not identical.

What Is Tracfone Wireless and How Does It Work? 

For example, Tracfone Wireless is trying to stand out from other wireless providers by offering unlimited carryover data on its plans that are designed for light data users.

In this article, I’ll review the key features and what you need to know before you sign up!

Table of Contents: 

1. Network Coverage 

Tracfone Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that partners with four major cell phone companies: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

Although Tracfone doesn’t own any wireless network infrastructure, it has agreements with the Big 4 that allow the company to offer service to its millions of customers.

When you sign up for Tracfone, you’ll get service on one of those major networks, not all of them. It’s based on your device and location.

If you’re currently a Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint customer, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to keep your existing phone, phone number and network when you switch.

To be sure, follow these links to check coverage and phone compatibility.

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2. Plans and Pricing

Tracfone’s most popular prepaid plans with carryover data start at $20 a month. For that price, you get unlimited talk, text and 1GB of 4G LTE data. There are $25 and $30 monthly plans with more data.

If you ever run out of high-speed data, you can always add more for $10 per GB. No unlimited data plan is offered.

Tracfone service plans
Some of Tracfone’s most popular plans (Image: Tracfone.com)

Other service plan options do exist, including several 365-day plans with very limited data. Tracfone’s eBay exclusive annual plan features 1,200 minutes, 1,200 texts and 3GB of data for $39.99.

As I mentioned earlier, these types of plans will only work for people who don’t use their smartphones too often.

3. Service Features 

You won’t get many premium features with Tracfone. In fact, the unlimited rollover data is perhaps the most valuable perk that you get with this low-cost carrier.

I reached out to a Tracfone support representative for details on the following features:

  • Mobile hotspot: Not supported
  • Video streaming: Video streams at DVD quality, 480p
  • Wi-Fi calling: Yes, if your phone supports it

As you can see, Tracfone offers simple phone plans with talk, text and a fixed amount of data. If you rely on mobile hotspot or HD streaming, this isn’t the provider for you.

4. Phone Options 

Most people who switch to Tracfone will want to keep their existing smartphone. That’s possible if you have a GSM unlocked device or one that’s compatible with Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile.

To make sure that you can bring your own smartphone to Tracfone, check the company’s website first.

Tracfone phone selection
Phones available for sale on Tracfone’s website (Image: Tracfone.com)

For those who want a new phone, Tracfone sells a limited number of devices. When I checked the company’s website, there were about 30 smartphones for sale. All of them were priced below $300.

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New and refurbished phones from Apple, Samsung, LG and Motorola are among those for sale online.

5. Customer Service 

There’s no in-person support for Tracfone users, so any issues that you may have activating, setting up or using your device will be handled through phone or chat customer service.

Customers can also get fast answers to common questions — including data usage — by dialing 611611 from their device.

As part of my research for this article, I reached out to Tracfone’s customer support a handful of times. There was sometimes a wait, but the representatives were able to answer my questions.

In the past, I’ve had mixed results with customer service from other Tracfone-owned brands.

Final Thought 

With a presence in major retailers and online, Tracfone makes switching to a prepaid carrier convenient. If you don’t use a lot of data, its plans will likely save you money compared to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

To learn about other wireless providers that can lower your bill, see Clark’s guide to the best cell phone plans and deals!

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