"GREAT PHONE FOR THE OCCASIONAL USER, Costs under $8/mth"5.0 starson by cruising-photographer
Pros: My recepiton is great and I'm paying only about $8.00 mth for service. With "double minutes" and promo codes, I'm getting 1000 minutes/year for $100.00 If the phone is lost, I'm out $30, not $200 for a replacement phone! BEST DEAL FOR THE $$$.
Cons: Tracfone isn't for someone (like my wife) who spends hours on the phone every day chatting (for her, I have AT&T for $40/mth). Photos from the camera phone must be sent in text messages to web sites to print, no USB into the computer.
Summary: I have owned a Tracfone for 3 years and just purchased one for my elderly mother who wanted a basic cell phone for when she's out. If you don't spend a lot of time on your phone, Tracfone will be less expensive for you than most standard network plans. Most of my calls are short calls (1-5 minutes) and I rarely use more than 60 minutes a month. I don't need to surf the web, watch TV, etc...from my phone, just quick calls or short text messages to friends and co-workers. In my area, Tracfone connects through the AT&T network, so the quality of the signal is great. I've also taken my Tracfone to New York, Las Vegas and even Alaska and had no problems. (If you travel outside the US though, it won't work.) I also love the fact that I can call relatives in Italy for the same cost per minute as calls to friends in the U.S. This is much cheaper than using either my home phone line or my wife's AT&T cell phone. If you have relatives overseas, check if you can call to that country using Tracfone's long distance service. To call an international number, you call a Tracfone 800 number, then enter the international phone number.Where did you buy the phone? Did you get it from a local store or online? Since Tracfone uses different networks in different areas, not all Tracfones work everywhere. If you buy from a local store, you're pretty sure it will work on the local network Tracfone uses in your area.
Buying a Phone: When you buy a new Tracfone, be sure to buy one with "Double minutes" included. This means that, when you buy 400 minutes, you'll get 800 minutes, if you buy 60 minutes, you'll get 120 minutes. My "Double Minutes" Motorola w-376 was only $29.95 for a new phone. A "Double Minutes" card cost $50, so I'm already ahead $20.00 and have a "free" phone. Also, because Tracfone buys their service from the major wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobal, etc...) be sure to buy your phone from a local store or from their website to insure compatability with your local network. BUYER BEWARE IF YOU BUY ON E-BAY!!!
Buying Minutes: I buy my minutes through the Tracfone website. This way, I can usally see if there's any problem before I make the final purchase. Also, I always check if there's some promo for additional free minutes. After purchasing the minutes online, the minutes are transfered to my phone, usually withing 30 seconds. In spite of all the customer service issues I've read about, I believe that, if you're careful when entering the regestration information, you won't have any problem activating the phone.
I want to point out that Tracfone has a pattented "remaining airtime" display on their phones that show you how many minutes you have left on the phone and the expiration date you must renew by every time you turn on the phone. Also, if you renew before the expiration date, any unused minutes are "rolled over" to the new expiration date. Minutes can be transfered to a new phone if you need to do that as well.
The Motorola w-376 phone i purchased also has a camera phone (low res.) and basic internet connection (Tracfone's web site only for news, weather, sports, misc). I later purchased Tracfone's Motorola w-260 for my mother without these extrafeatures. Love both phones!!! Don't expect high tech phones, just good basic phones that work (I personally have avoided the cheap $10.00 phones).
There's lots of complaints about customer service. I have only had to call them once. Tthe service is outsourced overseas (who's isn't), so it can be hard to communicate. But we worked patiently together and solved the problem of transfering minutes from an old Tracfone phone that was stolen onto the new phone.
In sumary: For people who don't spend hours on the phone, Tracfone is a grat value and the phones work great. Buy the "double minutes" includes phones and watch for promos and your cost can be about $.10/minute, $8.00 month. VALUE FOR THE DOLLAR, YOU CAN'T BEAT TRACFONE.
Updated on Mar 16, 2009