Things to know before you sign up for TracFone

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Things to know before you sign up for TracFone
Image Credit: Tracfone.com
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The cell phone service landscape can be a confusing mix of “premium” brands, outrageous contracts and no-frills providers. TracFone, a pre-paid phone service, bills itself as the latter — and for good reason. TracFone has become a favorite for people looking for cheap cell phone plans that offer flexible terms.

TracFone, whose parent company is Mexican telecom giant América Móvil, has been in operation since the mid-1990s, undergoing several iterations before finding its niche as a pre-paid provider. The cell phone service has quickly caught on with senior citizens in particular.

TracFone: Here’s what you need to know

How well-regarded is TracFone? One person emailed Team Clark to say this: “A great deal for those that want a phone but don’t make many calls. On eBay, TracFone is selling a new Samsung Galaxy Luna, with a year of service (1200 calls, 1200 text messages and 1200 mb of internet)  for $50. Great for seniors.”

RELATED: Best cell phone plans and deals right now

One of the major pluses for TracFone is that there are no contracts, activation or cancellation fees, making it a harmless option for people who just want to try the service out.

Which network does TracFone run on?

Another benefit is that TracFone runs on the same cellular networks as the Big 4 players — AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. That means it’s rarely a problem with reception or coverage.

TracFone allows you to keep your phone or choose from major brands such as iPhone, Motorola, LG and Samsung. TracFone also provides 4G service, making its coverage just as far-reaching as the major networks.

What data plans does TracFone offer?

Currently, TracFone offers four data plans, all of them much cheaper than what you would pay for comparable service from the Big 4. Here are the data plans:

  • TracFone provides a plan as low as $15 a month (200 minutes and 500MB of data and 500MB of text)
  • $25 plan provides service for 60 days (500 minutes and 500MB of data and 1K of text)
  • $35 plan is also a 60-day plan (750 minutes and 1GB of data and 1K of text)
  • $125 plan is the 365-day plan (1,500 minutes, 1,500MB of data and 1,500 text)

How to switch to TracFone cell service

To make the switch, the first thing you must do is choose a smartphone or confirm that the one you have is unlocked and compatible.

You can activate your phone online by following the prompts at TracFone/Activation/SelectDevice. There you will have to confirm your previous provider and whether you have a SIM card or need one. You can also call 1-800-867-7183 to activate. An airtime card or service plan is required for activation.

Another TracFone review

Team Clark received another email from a person raving about TracFone so we wanted to share it with you. The customer said their phone service through AT&T was too spotty and Verizon’s was great, but too costly. But now, things have changed:

I have the BEST carrier and I pay maybe $25.00 a month for my phone service.

All you need to do is sign up for TracFone and get a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) phone. You must be absolutely sure it is a CDMA phone and not a GSM ( (Global System for Mobiles) phone. When you sign up for TracFone, it asks you to put in your zip code.  YOU MUST use a zip that uses CDMA only e.g. I use Las Vegas, NV. CDMA phones run on Verizon lines and GSM run on AT&T.

When you put a CDMA zip code in, it generates phones that work in your area. That is when I take my time, research the phones to make sure they are CDMA and have good reviews. Then after I choose the one I like best, I go to Amazon or a discount phone dealer and purchase it.  Most of the phones that I purchase are labeled TracFone compatible and are simple to activate over the Internet.

I have been doing this for over 10 years changing out phones every so often.  I rarely have to contact TracFone for support and when I do, they have a handy chat feature on their website that I use because a lot of their workers are hard to understand. 
I have great Verizon service at an unbeatable price!

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who stills read paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer.
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