Senior Cell Phone Plans Guide

cell phone plans
Seniors have a lot of choices when it comes to finding a good cell phone plan. Regardless of the company and plan, it is vital that the mobile connection between a senior and his contacts are reliable. In this article, we go over this topic and various factors to consider when choosing a cell phone plan for the elderly user.

To ensure the best experience, it is a good idea to give yourself a little time to compare and then pick the best one. At the end of the guide, there are also specific cell phone companies (eg. Great Call) and plans listed.

Choosing a Cell Phone Plan for Seniors – What to Consider

Good Reception of Mobile Signal

Of all the different considerations in choosing a mobile plan, perhaps the most important is the quality of mobile signal provided by the company. Different companies have different mobile signal strengths in varying locations. You have to first find out if the service carrier has good reception in the area where the senior lives or goes around.

Service Reliability

Service reliability is of utmost importance in service plans, especially for seniors with medical conditions or those who are living alone. For ordinary individuals, having a bad signal and choppy calls can already be inconvenient. This problem is even more frustrating for seniors who could have hearing impairments.

What’s Included: Minutes, Text, Data

Another factor to consider is the list of service inclusions in the mobile plan. This list includes the number of text messages, minutes of voice calls, and mobile data that are can be ‘consumed’ per month. These entirely depend on the lifestyle of the senior.

Some seniors like to call and chat on their phone a lot, but many others hardly use their cell phone. If that describes you consider opting for a plan without too many frills to avoid paying for unused services. Some plan providers offer customizable cell phone plans based on their customer’s usage requirements. This usually makes it easier for the senior to save costs by lowering his or her desired text, call, and data limits.

Most plans these days have a fixed cost for unlimited talk and text, which means that you will be overpaying if your usage is very low. There many elderly customers who do not really need to have all the text and call minute allocations of even an average plan. Customizable plans from cell phone companies like Tracfone or Jitterbug make it possible for those who do not need unlimited type usage to pay less.

Some cellphone companies allow for family or friends to be added onto a plan with unlimited text and calling, and that shares a predetermined monthly high speed data allocation (Eg. 2 GB, 8 GB etc). For example, Verizon Wireless allows for new family members to be added onto a New Verizon plan (with limited data) for $20 for each new line of service. With Total Wireless, a $60/month plan can be split between 2 lines of service with unlimited talk, text and 15 GB total of high-speed data.

Cost

Cost is a mainstay in the list of considerations for choosing any plan. Note that the cheapest is not necessarily the best plan especially if the reason for the lower cost is the limited reach and scope of services. The plan cost should be reasonable given the services provided and the plan inclusions.

Also consider options for pre-paid or pay plans. They are usually cheaper than regular post-paid plans. They also present no surprises – you pay for service upfront and there are no overage charges. The cost of whatever service used is simply deducted from their pre-paid ‘load’ credits.

Take note, however, that top up cards should be bought and loaded in order for the senior to use cell phone services. If there’s an emergency and the cell phone is not loaded, the senior will not be able to contact his caregiver or loved ones immediately.

Take a close look at the plan contract. Be aware of lock-in provisions and other liabilities that the cell phone services company might pass on to you. Check the overage charges and fees as well so you know what you could be charged with.

If you want to search out the right cellphone before buying a plan, check out our Senior Cell Phones Guide here. Keep in mind that not all provider plans will work with cell phones that are not sold through them.

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The Best Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

Great Call

great call logo
GreatCall is the service provider for Jitterbug phones. The company provides cell phone plans and solutions targeted especially for the elderly. Recognizing that there are seniors who do not have the need for unlimited talk time, messages, and higher than average mobile data plans, GreatCall offers smaller plans priced less. Great Call plans will only work with their Jitterbug cell phones. These are phones specially designed for seniors.

Their basic plan provides a senior with 200 minutes of phone calls for $14.99 (before taxes and fees). For a higher price, additional mobile data and text messaging can also be included in the plan. For an extra cost, the plan provides customers with access to their 5Star Urgent Response service for 24/7 access to emergency assistance. Caregivers and loved ones can also make use of this service to receive updates regarding the health status of the senior listed in the plan.

Their plans are not the cheapest. However, their customizable usage plan offerings along with access to their 5Star emergencies monitoring and GPS location sharing makes it an attractive option. Click here for the full Great Call Jitterbug review >

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular also provides plans that are especially geared towards helping seniors and their loved ones. Their basic senior plan provides unlimited texts, 250 minutes of call time, and 250MB of mobile data. Additionally, if the allocation is too much for the senior, the same data and minutes can be shared with a designated person.

In case of they find the need to change their plan, Consumer Cellular provides the option for seniors to do so every month. Moreover, this plan is also connected to the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP. Seniors that are also AARP members are entitled to a 5% discount on Consumer Cellular plans.

TracFone

Tracfone company logo

Tracfone offers great mobile phone service for seniors starting at $20 for 90 days of service. It has no contracts, bills, or overages. Texts, minutes, and mobile data are can be ‘loaded’ by buying cards. Different cards have different prices and inclusions so seniors can choose which service would fit them best.

Additionally, it also features unlimited carryover. This means that the unused texts, minutes of calls, and mobile data are carried over to the new top up. These unused data will not expire until they are used. Click here for the full TracFone review >

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless Logo

Verizon Wireless is the largest mobile operator in the US. Their network is highly rated in numerous industry surveys. With Verizon, customers are assured that they will be accessing the most reliable cellular connections over a large coverage area. Though there are numerous mobile operators today that rent network bandwidth from Verizon to power their own plans, it’s not quite the same experience as becoming a direct Verizon customer. The catch is that Verizon Wireless plans will cost more than some of the low cost prepaid providers out there. However, in recent years, they have added new plans that are competitively priced.

If you just need a single line, Verizon’s prepaid plans offer the best value. For $40 a month, there’s unlimited talk and text, and 3G of high-speed data. Another good option is their regular post-paid plan that costs $35 a month for an allocation of unlimited talk and text, and 2G of high-speed data. There is a cost of $20 per line of service, and you can add multiple lines of service to the same plan. For two people (two lines), it works out to a total of $75 per month, or $37.50 for each line of service. To learn more, visit Verizon Wireless.

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Total Wireless

Total Wireless logo
Total Wireless also has plans that may be suitable for senior mobile users. Their plans work off the Verizon network. For $25 a month, the plan offers unlimited talk and text. You can subscribe to a higher level plan that includes data, or else purchase data cards for $10 (5 GB with carryover) each time. Although they do not offer smaller customizable plans, their costs are very reasonable starting at $25 per month. Their plan contracts are month-to-month so you can change your plan and even your service bundle as necessary.

There are flexible plans from reliable cell phone services companies that seniors can take advantage of. It would be good to go through all your options with your senior family member in order to get the most reasonably priced and value-packed plan. Click here for the full Total Wireless review >

Once you have decided on a cell phone plan that suits your needs, you can get a phone through the same company. Alternatively, you can purchase an unlocked phone if the service provider has a bring your own phone option. To learn more about shopping for senior cell phones, check out guide here.

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How To Choose a Good Prepaid Cell Phone Plan

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In the past, the only way you could get the newest phone and the best coverage was through a two-year contract with a major carrier. Today, that isn’t true anymore. Most carriers no longer require a contract. In addition, prepaid plans offer even better value, with more data for a low flat rate. These is so for most prepaid plans, whether offered by one of the big four (eg. Verizon Prepaid), or through dedicated prepaid companies like TracFone.

In the past five years, prepaid carriers that are upping their networks and offering some pretty innovative pricing plans. If you’re new to the entire prepaid cell phone scenario, then we are here to help you by telling you what to lookout for when shopping for a prepaid cell phone plan …

Available Plans from the Phone Company

When you’re first starting out, you should take a look at the price of the prepaid cell phone plan that is available with each carrier, as well as what they offer you. How many minutes do they offer each month? Are there any data limits? Figure out your price range, look for those plans within your price range and see what they get you – this is the best place to start and will help you pluck out a couple of plans.

During this time, you should also look at the pay scheme of the phone company. There are two different plans that you may run into. These plans include:

Pay as you go – this involves paying a dollar amount up front – the money is then docked for every minute/text you utilize. If you are looking can check out our comparison chart here.

Paying a monthly prepaid plan – this will involve a normal, monthly bill, but you won’t have that two-year contract. It is sometimes thought of as a monthly pay as you go plan, because there are no overage charges and no contracts.

Yes there are other types of plans, depending on the phone company, like daily, but those two are the most common. If you’re looking for a phone just to use for emergencies, then a pay as you go plan would be best. If you’re a heavy user, however, then the monthly plan would be a better idea for you.

Network and Speed

Most of the no-contract carriers are referred to as Mobile Virtual Network Operators. This means the offer services through arrangements with one or more of the four top carriers. For example, Boost and Virgin Mobile uses Sprint, which is the networks of their parent company, while Page Plus uses Verizon networks for EV-DO data and voice calling.

Most of the time, by visiting the website of the MVNO carriers, you’ll be able to find what network they use.

Phone Selection

If you already have a phone you’d like to use, it is important to realize that not every carrier is going to allow you to bring your phone with you. If you really want to keep your current phone, you need to check with different carriers to figure out which ones will allow you to keep it. There are some plans that may not allow you to use smartphones, while others will.

Data Restrictions

You also need to consider the data restrictions – each carrier will have different data restrictions. Some may offer “unlimited” data, but only after they push you back once you have used a certain amount of high-speed data. You may also find some carriers restricting access to online markets, including Google Play Store.

By taking the data restrictions, price, phone selection and network/speed into mind and doing your research properly, you should be able to find a good plan that fits your needs.

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$49 Discount on a Tracfone Annual Smartphone Plan Card ($125 Reg)

With the expiration of my Tracfone service coming up in two weeks, I needed to shop for a new smartphone-only annual plan that normally sells for $125. This card includes 1500 minutes/ 1500 texts / 1.5 GB data plus 1 year of service. I found a deal on eBay and ended up paying $75.99 (instead of $125) for the same, plus an extra 300 minutes/ 300 texts / 0.3 GB data bonus to boot. That’s a discount of $49 or 39% and I got additional bonus minutes/data/texts!


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What I Needed

I wanted to get a Tracfone annual plan because the service period lasted the longest – one full year. If, for that year, I still needed more minutes for calling, I would add on another pay as you go card with more minutes. However, by buying an annual plan card, it gave me peace of mind to know that my service and phone number will not expire for at least a year. It also saves me time in having to shop for cards a few times during the year and key in the long pin codes to activate them.

Why eBay

I proceeded to eBay to look. Why eBay? I’ve always found prices to be competitive (you can compare amongst sellers) and the process easy. There have also been times when the cost was a few dollars more than card’s face value, but for the convenience and sometimes lack of sales tax, I’m OK with it.

A lot of eBay sellers do the part of adding on the minutes/text/data credits for you, which appealed to me. All I needed was to purchase and leave the eBay seller my phone number. And then presto, the minutes will be added to my phone. No need to scratch and activate a physical card.

There are numerous other options for purchasing Tracfone cards, such as going through their website or app or going to a grocery store. All roads lead to Rome. Choose what works best for you. Anyway, my story continues …

Found a Great Discount

This time round, I stumbled upon an awesome eBay deal for a Tracfone annual card. The seller was advertising a price of $75.99 for the $125 annual card.

They also had another listing for $71.99 for the $99 annual card. With this card, you get 1200 minutes/ 1200 texts / 1.2 GB data for that card if your phone has Triple Minutes for Life. The $75.99 price for a $125 annual plan made the most sense to me, as it offered more minutes/text/data that I forsee myself needing for the year ahead.


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On a per minute/ per text or per MB basis, this is the lowest I’ve paid ever for my Tracfone minute. A total or 1800 minutes (after 300 minutes bonus) for $75.99 worked out to 4.2 cents per minute/ text/ MB. This is better than any smartphone-only plan or triple minutes for life deal.

Skepticism

However, I was skeptical. What if the seller is a scam? Then I looked at the feedback for their account. They have been an eBay seller for 4 years, and they have a 99.9% positive rating. I found tons of recent positive feedback on purchases of the same Tracfone annual card I was eyeing! I concluded that the risk was low. And if they somehow were not able to deliver, I felt that I will still be able to ask eBay for a refund.

So I proceeded to make a quick eBay purchase.

It Worked!

I purchased this on a late Saturday evening. It took 2 days before the order was fulfilled on Monday. On top of the 1500 minutes, there was an extra 300 minutes added. Total 1800 minutes/ 1800 text/ 1.8 GB data added. Bingo!

Based on this experience, I would buy from the seller again if I needed a refill. I would recommend this to my friends to help them save some money. The main downside is that the seller says it takes up to 3 days to fulfill an order. If you need your refill urgently, there are other sellers who will probably do this quicker. If I needed to get some quick minutes, I would just buy a cheaper card at the store as a stop-gap measure, but I would probably get this offer to buffer up my balance. I’m going to need those minutes sooner or later.

I doubt this offer will stay open much longer. I don’t think they any seller is going to have an unlimited supply of cheap minutes. I’m just glad the seller delivered this round.

Purchase Tips

If you do purchase, make sure to add your phone number to your order so the seller can credit you the minutes, text and data. In my case, I had forgotten to add my phone number during the purchase. I then sent them a message with my Tracfone number right after.

Also, I did not receive any SMS when the minutes were added. I only found out later by messaging the seller and then checking my Tracfone smartphone app. So give it a day or two, and then check your balance through the Tracfone app or however you normally do it.

Hope this helps. If this also worked for you or if you have any comments, let us know below.


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Best Cell Phone Plans for International Students Studying in the US

International students on college campusHaving a reliable cell phone plan is a great convenience for international students currently staying in the United States. Cell phone plans have decreased in costs since the early 2010s as a result of increased competition and an increase of telecommunications bandwidth.

Today, international students in the US have a lot of options to pick from, and for less than they would have if they were here 5 years ago. With so many options, picking the right plan can get confusing. Company pricing tends to vary due to cell phone and monthly plan options. To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the best plans available for international students like yourself.

Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile is a prepaid no contract provider that offers cell phone plans ranging from $25 to $60 a month. International students can save even further by opting to automatically recharge their account each month. The $25 a month plan includes unlimited calling, texting and 1 GB of high speed data. Once the high speed data is used up, the speed goes into 2G. For higher data caps, they have plans going all the up to truly unlimited for $60. With the proliferation of campus wifi, students can adjust their plan costs to reflect their data needs.

What’s stands out about Simple Mobile is that their plans include international texting and international calling to a number of countries like Mexico, Canada, China and India. For other countries, customers can access low rates by adding a global calling card.

  • $25 a month for unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of high-speed data
  • Other plan options to suit a variety of budgets and high-speed data needs
  • International texting and calling included in plan (for calling 60 countries)
  • Truly Unlimited high-speed data plan option
  • Reliable service using the T-Mobile network (they have a virtual network agreement)
  • No US credit score needed
  • No contract, stop service or upgrade/downgrade plan anytime
  • Works with unlocked GSM phones

 

FreedomPop

If you are looking for great value, it’s hard to beat FreedomPop. They have a free phone plan that gives 200 talk minutes, 500 text messages and 500 MB of high-speed data each month. In an age where more and more communications are routed through internet apps and wifi is widely available, their free plan is sufficient for a lot of students. However, they have numerous upgrade options as well. Plans go as high as 4 GB per month, and 1.5 cents per MB for paid plan users.

One advantage of FreedomPop for international students is their Global Free 100 plan. This is a free add-on option that gives users 100 free minutes a month to call over 50 countries. There are upgrade plans that allow for more minutes.

If you travel to your home country, your phone can still work through wifi calling as long as you have access to good wifi reception. This gives you an easy way to stay in touch with your friends in the US.

  • Free plan 200 talk minutes, 500 text messages and 500 MB of data
  • Freedom to upgrade to higher level plans
  • Free global plan that allows calls to 50 overseas destinations
  • Wifi calling app – when you are in your home country, make and receive calls and texts just like in the US
  • Good service powered by VoIP and Sprint’s 4G LTE data network (they have a virtual network agreement)
  • No contract
  • Bring your own unlocked phone – GSM SIM card option for unlocked phones (Free 200 MB instead of 500 MB with FreedomPop phone)

 

Tracfone

TracFone offers quality mobile phone services which are highly reliable at an affordable price along with the much-needed flexibility. For students on a budget or those who do not need to use their phones much, this is a welcome option. A smartphone plan costs starts a $15 a month.

TracFone is the largest prepaid mobile service provider in the US with almost 26 million subscribers under its belt. They also operate the Total Wireless service listed above. For newcomers to TracFone, you might be a bit skeptical since its low cost of $15 a month for service appears almost too good to be true. In fact, it is not, as TracFone plans have limits on the calls, text and data usage. It’s economical for customers who do not need unlimited call and text plans.

Many international students on a budget find it worthwhile because they can save more each month. As their communications needs are easily met through campus wifi and communications apps that work through their phone, they can cut down on traditional calling, texting and the use of mobile data.

  • From $15 a month for limited talk, text, data (see price comparison chart)
  • Reliable service using the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks (they have a virtual network agreement)
  • No credit check, very easy to get started (Prepaid Service)
  • No contract, stop service anytime
  • International calls to many countries worldwide at US rates (ie. in many cases, it costs the same to call US or the student’s home country)
  • Bring your own GSM/CDMA phone – use the same phone here and in your home country

 

Total Wireless

Total Wireless provides a 35-dollar monthly mobile phone plan package with unlimited call and text, plus 5GB of high-speed data. It’s perfect for international students with moderate data needs and don’t need a pricier cell phone plan. With this low-cost option offered by Total Wireless, students can enjoy a stable connection and keep in touch with their family and friends.

If you need more data, you can buy additional data card for $10 each. These carryover without a fixed deadline, until such a time when you decide to no longer continue with their services. There are also different phone payment plan packages to help customers spread out their payments within the year.

  • $35 a month for unlimited talk, text and 5 GB of high-speed data
  • Option to add 3 GB of high-speed data @ $10 (will carryover until you stop service)
  • Reliable service using the Verizon network (they have a virtual network agreement)
  • No credit check, very easy to get started (Prepaid Service)
  • No contract, stop service anytime
  • Global calling card for $10, call internationally for low cost
  • Bring your own CDMA phone – use the same phone here and in your home country

 

Verizon

In the US, Verizon is the leading network which many cell phone owners use. When it comes to quality performance, it provides the best wireless network in all six regions according to research firm JD Power. Some of the advantages include: mobile hotspot and video streaming without additional fees. A Verizon plan typically includes unlimited talk and text, unlimited or limited data, video streaming, mobile hotspot tethering, Mexico and Canada service (premium plans).

Students can either choose the U unlimited plan or other more inexpensive options such as S for 2GB, M for 4GB, and L for 8GB cell phone plan. They also have prepaid plans that cost $40 a month, with unlimited talk, text and 3 GB of high speed data. Depending on the features that you need, you will have to pay a monthly fee of from $35 to $80 per line – plus taxes and other fees.

  • Plans range from $35 to $80 a month. All include unlimited talk and text.
  • Verizon is considered by many to be the best network.
  • No credit check if you go prepaid.
  • All Verizon Plans are no contract plans. However, if you are making monthly payments on the phone you buy through them, that is a separate two-year contract plan that needs to be paid off over time.
  • International calls at low rates with international calling plan.
  • Bring your own CDMA phone – use the same phone here and in your home country

 

StraightTalk

Another great option is StraightTalk since it offers a variety of plans, but without the need for contracts. The available plans include $35 with 2GB data and unlimited call and text nationwide, $45 with 8GB data and unlimited call and text nationwide, $55 with 12GB data and unlimited call and text nationwide, $60 with 8GB data and unlimited call and text worldwide, $30 with 100MB data and unlimited texts, $10 with international calling cards, and the extended plan with 8GB data and unlimited call and text nationwide.

You can use this plan with your own phone, under their bring your own phone program. StraightTalk is a prepaid plan, meaning that you prepay for the services ahead of time, and there are no overage charges. It also means more data for the same price compared to post-paid plans. For more tips on choosing a good prepaid plan, check out our post here.

 

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless offers cellphone plans that are fairly affordable for a student on a budget. The plans costs between $15 and $90 every month. The package would include unlimited call, text, and mobile data. A pretty basic, but this is all a student really needs to always stay connected. The phone units for each plan starts at $179, however this is only available for Android phones. No contracts are needed when choosing a Republic Wireless cell phone plan.

T-Mobile Prepaid

With Simply Prepaid by T-Mobile Prepaid, students can enjoy up to 10 GB of LTE within a limited period for only $50 per month. For 4 GB of LTE, you will pay $45 per month. Another option is the $55 monthly fee with 6 GB of LTE. Offers include unlimited call and text, fastest network, phone options, and choice to keep your phone number. Stateside international calls cost $15 per month while the unlimited call to Mexico and Canada costs $5 per month.

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TracFone Ends Triple Minutes For Life, New Smartphone Plans Offer Improved Value

If you are a TracFone user, chances are you have heard about their Triple Minutes for Life (TMFL) feature. Basically, you buy a TracFone smartphone featuring this, and you can get triple credit. In other words, you buy a TracFone with 60 minutes, you will get 180 minutes of talk time, 180 text messages and 180 MB of data. This has been an incredible deal for anyone who wants a phone at an inexpensive cost.

How I Saved $49 on a Tracfone Annual Smartphone Plan Card ($125 Reg)

Fortunately TracFone’s newer smartphone-only plans will continue on that value-providing proposition. You can check our Triple Minutes vs. Smartphone-Only Plan comparison chart here. Smartphone-only plans do not triple in credit. These smartphone plans will work for both Android and iPhone users. To learn more about TracFone, check out our full review.

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The Triple Minutes for Life (TMFL) feature plan has been phased out since 4/1/2017 for all new phone packages introduced afterwards, in favor of moving customers to their smartphone-only plans.

In general, their new prepaid smartphone-only plans offer a really good deal for customers. The main disadvantage is that the minimum monthly spend is now a $2 – $3 more a month. It’s probably unavoidable, with the rising costs of everything else. The smartphone-only plan’s minimum spend now works out to $10.42 a month before sales tax. It’s a great alternative to typical $40 a month unlimited plans if you aren’t using the phone as much.

What’s great is that these smartphone-only plans offer a lower cost on average when you break it down by per minute, text and MB of data. They also more accurately reflect the usage habits of smartphone users – allocating more airtime for texting and data vs. talking. Below is a comparison of the pros and cons.

Comparison Chart of Tracfone Smartphone-Only Plans vs Triple Minutes for Life (TMFL) Plans

Cost Service Days Cost Per Month Minutes Text MB Talk Time (Cents Per min) Text (Cents Per Text) Data (Cents Per MB)
TracFone Smartphone-Only Cards – Airtime Credit will not Triple      
$15 30 15 200 500 500 7.5 3.0 7.5
$25 60 12.5 500 1000 500 5.0 2.5 5.0
$45 90 15 750 1000 1500 6.0 4.5 3.0
$125 365 10.42 1500 1500 1500 8.3 8.3 8.3
Old TracFone Airtime Cards – All Minutes/Text/ Data credit Tripled for comparison      
$20 90 6.67 180 180 180 11.1 11.1 11.1
$40 90 13.33 600 600 600 6.7 6.7 6.7
$100 365 8.33 1200 1200 1200 8.3 8.3 8.3

Minutes/Text/MB listed are the total airtime provided with each plan purchase, eg. $15 plan provides a total of 200 minutes, 500 texts and 200 MB of data.
$125 Annual Plan offers the lowest average monthly cost ($10.42) and longest active period (365 days). For low volume users who want the least hassle, this plan makes the most sense.
Unused talk/text/data credit carryover as long as phone service remains active.
Need more data? $10 for 1 GB – add as you need. Unused data credits carryover.
How to get started? If you are currently a Tracfone smartphone user, you can get started on these plans by purchasing and activating their smartphone-only plan cards. If you are not yet a Tracfone customer, you can get started by purchasing and activating a TracFone smartphone through their website here. Alternatively, you can buy a compatible unlocked phone from Amazon or eBay and insert a TracFone SIM card into the phone (see Tracfone bring your own phone post).

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Related Blog Post: How I Saved $49 on a Tracfone Annual Smartphone Plan Card ($125 Reg)

TracFone Per-Minute/Text/MB Spend Has Lowered

New $45 card for 90 days service with 750 min, 1000 texts and 1500 MB
New cost per minute: 6 cents/ minute, 4.5 cents/text, 3 cents/MB
New monthly cost $15 per month.
vs.
Old $40 card for 90 days service with 600 min, 600 texts and 600 MB (usage credits tripled)
Old cost per minute: 6.7 cents/ minute, 6.7 cents/text 6.7 cents/MB
Old monthly cost $13.33 per month

TracFone Per-Month Minimum Spend Has Increased

New $125 for an annual card with 1500 min, 1500 texts and 1500 MB vs.
Old $100 for an annual card with 1200 min, 1200 texts and 1200 MB (usage credits tripled)
Monthly cost increases from $8.33 per month to $10.42 per month.

Average talk time per minute remains the same for annual plan. For all other plans, per minute/text/MB cost has decreased using new smartphone only plan (see example above).


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TracFone’s Smartphone-Only Plan More Accurately Reflects Current Talk, Text and Data Usage Habits

TracFone’s smartphone-only plans come with varying amounts of talk, text and data usage, unlike its traditional cards that standardizes the volume in each bucket. For example, it’s $15/month plan provides for 200 minutes of talk time, but 500 text messages. More and more users find themselves using text more often than making or receiving calls. Do you talk more or text more?

The traditional TracFone airtime cards were introduced in an era before texting and data use over a cell phone. Then prices lowered, and to address that, the Double Minutes For Life came about. Prices lowered further, and with the rise of smartphones, the Triple Minutes For Life. All these are based on a multiple of the underlying talk time (eg. 60 minutes gave rise to 60 texts and 60 MB etc). The new smartphone monthly plan allocates varying talk, text and data instead.

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Just Need a Regular Non-Smartphone? Double Minutes Still Applies

Many people have no need for a smartphone or for the many different applications available. All they are interested in doing is making a telephone call. They have little to no interest in text messages, data plans, games and the like. Rare for certain, but there are some people like this still in the world.

If you don’t need a smartphone, you can still get on a similar deal with the double minutes.

What does this mean for the TracFone user who is interested in the triple minutes plan? You may still be in luck because of independent sellers who have stores on eBay and Amazon may have cards with triple minutes available for users of the TracFone.

The phase out of the Triple Minutes for Life (TMFL) feature system is a forgone conclusion. However, new or current users have much to look forward to with TracFone’s new Smartphone-only plans.


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If you are not yet a Tracfone customer and want to get started, check out our TracFone Review for guidance or get started on TracFone’s Official Website.

Tracfone PhonesUse Promo Code TRACFONE15 (all CAPS) for 15% Off Phone + Plan Purchases. Max Savings $100. Free Shipping. Till 6/30/2018.

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TracFone Smartphone Only Plans From $15

TracFone’s new smartphone only plans set them apart from the competition in terms of pricing and value. These prepaid cell phone plans present additional plan options to consumers. Those are still available! However, depending on your usage needs, these new TracFone plans could be even more cost-effective. We will do a comparison of these various plans choice here in this article, so you can pick the best one for your needs.


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Note: All TracFone plans are meant for users who do not use their phones for talking much, or if you are on the phone a lot, use it mainly with wifi. You can see the plan allowance below. If you need to use your cell phone a lot (over an hour of voice each week), you may want to compare this with Total Wireless and StraightTalk plans.

Unlimited plan users can also check out the $35 unlimited talk and text plan with 5 GB of data (at the time of this writing) by Total Wireless. Total Wireless is a subsidiary of TracFone.

TracFone’s Smartphone Plans Compared

Cost Service Days Cost Per Month Min Text MB Talk Time (Cents Per min) Text (Cents Per Text) Data (Cents Per MB)
$15 30 $15.00 200 500 200 7.5 3.0 7.5
$20 30 $20.00 300 500 1000 6.7 4.0 2.0
$25 60 $12.50 500 1000 500 5.0 2.5 5.0
$35 60 $17.50 750 1000 1000 4.7 3.5 3.5
$45 90 $15.00 750 1000 1500 6.0 4.5 3.0
$50 90 $16.67 750 1500 2000 6.7 3.3 2.5
$125 365 $10.42 1500 1500 1500 8.3 8.3 8.3

Minutes/Text/MB listed are the total airtime provided with each plan purchase, eg. $15 plan provides a total of 200 minutes, 500 texts and 200 MB of data.
Unused talk/text/data credit carryover as long as phone service remains active.
Need more data? $10 for 1 MB – add as you need. Unused data credits carryover.


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Related: How I Saved $49 on a Tracfone Annual Smartphone Plan Card ($125 Regular)

$125 Every 365 days (~$10.42/Month)
Recommended for lowest average monthly cost and longest service period (less hassle).

  • 1500 Minutes
  • 1500 Texts
  • 1500 MB

Notes: This is a great one-year value plan. If you don’t need that many cell phone minutes, and can get by with wifi for a majority of your communications needs, this is a powerful option. It works out to be about $10 a month. You get some decent talk time, plus text messaging and data for that. Most cell phone companies charge $30/ month and above for a smartphone plan.

On a per unit usage (eg. per minute) basis, this may not be the cheapest, but the annual plan will stay active longer.

The Annual Plan is works best for people using the bare minimum. If you expect to be using more than the bare minimum, the $25 or $35 plan would be more cost-effective (better cost per minute/GB). Your total cost will also be higher to reflect the higher number of minutes and data GB.

If you are interested, check out this blog post: How I Saved $49 on a Tracfone Annual Smartphone Plan Card ($125 Reg)

$15 Every 30 days

  • 200 Minutes
  • 500 Texts
  • 500 MB

Notes: Another good basic smartphone plan. If you don’t use voice much, and rely a lot of wifi, this may be all you need. A $15/month iPhone cell phone bill is unheard of. But why pay more?

$25 Every 60 days (~$12.50/Month)

  • 500 Minutes
  • 1000 Texts
  • 500 MB

Notes: This plan offers even greater value than the $15/30 days one above. By paying for 2 months instead of 1 month each time, you get extra minutes, text and data usage credits. Considering that each month goes by so quickly, the benefit of paying another $10 upfront is well worth it.

 

$35 Every 60 days (~$17.50/Month)

  • 750 Minutes
  • 1000 Texts
  • 1 GB

Notes:For anyone who need more talk time and data, this plan offers tremendous value.

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Other factors to take note of:

Additional 5% Off

Some plans come with an additional 5% discount with auto-refill.

Unused Credits Carryover

All usage credits carryover. If you don’t finish using them pass the expiration date, they carry over to the next active period if you continue to buy airtime for your phone.

Triple Minutes for Life Does NOT Apply

The Triple Minutes for Life benefit will not apply. The airtime credits have been adjusted to provide equal or better value than standard TracFone airtime cards after tripling. These plans are for smartphone users only. Since April 2017, the Triple minutes for Life benefit is no longer offered with new smartphones. The new $15 a month smartphone offers better value. See comparison here.

If you need more minutes/text/data, you can supplement the plan by buying additional plan cards (eg. buy another $15 plan card). You can shop for these at eBay:

Tracfone smartphone only plans Disclosure: This site receives referral compensation for purchases. Learn More

Type Of Phones You Can Use TracFone Low Cost Plans With

TracFone plans work with all TracFone smartphones (iPhones and Androids) or you can bring your own phone. TracFone offers shoppers the choice of both Android phones and Apple iPhones. In order to activate a phone, you need to apply a service plan to it (eg. add a $15 card).

TracFone also has a Bring Your Own Phone program that allows users to bring their existing cell phones (either unlocked or previously used on other carrier networks) over to the TracFone network.

TracFone’s Bring Your Own Phone program also accepts unlocked cell phones.

How Does This Compare With Tracfone’s Existing Plans

Most people think of TracFone’s standard airtime cards as offering great value. Originally developed for non-smartphone users, TracFone has been able to offer attractive value to smartphone users by adding Data and Triple Minutes for Life to these cards. However, the Triple Minutes for Life benefit has been phased out and superseded by these Smartphone-Only plans since Apr 2017.

The good news is that TracFone’s new smarpthone plans offer better value. For example, getting a 450 minute card ($79.99), even if that triples to 1350 minutes, you end up paying 5.9 cents per minute or GB of data. In comparison, with the new Smartphone-only $25 plan card, you get 500 minutes, and the per minute price is 5 cents. See comparison chart in this post.

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One exception for buying their regular airtime card is when you rarely use your phone. For that, TracFone’s most basic 60 minutes card could still be the cheapest spend. The card costs $20 card and provide for 90 days of service. This translates into 60 minutes, 60 text messages and 60 MB for a 90 day period. This works out to less than $7 a month (or more accurately, 30 days). With a smartphone only plan, the minimum spend is $15 a month (30 days), but you get a lot more credits to use.

Whichever plan you pick, if you won’t be using the cell phone much, or are using it mainly with wifi, TracFone’s plans cannot be beat. With most prepaid phone companies, the most economical plans for iPhone or Android phone users call for a minimum spend of at least $30 month.

To learn more about Tracfone, check out our full Tracfone Review >

Get Started with Tracfone

 
 

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Limitation: We make every effort to share the most accurate information on this site but we cannot provide any warranties on this content. Things change with time as well. Please always do your own verification to make sure.

Read the full TracFone Wireless Review>>

Tips on Buying an Unlocked Smartphone

Ready to shop for a new smartphone, but you are not quite sure what to choose? Unlocked phones offer consumers greater flexibility and potentially greater savings. This guide presents 6 tips on choosing a good unlocked phone for your needs. Consumers with an unlocked phone can choose what plan or which carrier you prefer their phone to run on, even if they had purchased the mobile phone from another service provider.

1. Look for phones that fit your budget

Since you are not under a contract from a specific provider, you will be purchasing the phone at full price, unless the store where you purchase it from offers a good discount.

Consumers can choose from a wide selection of the latest iOS (iPhones) or Android phones (Samsung Galaxy, LG etc). If you are interested in an iPhone, check out this related article.

2. Look for the features that you need in a phone

Consider the features that you are looking for in a phone. This is one of the major advantages of not being tied to a contract. You can choose if you want a phone just with the basic calling and texting features or if you want a phone with more advanced features.

For example, the BLU R1 HD is popular choice because it runs on Android 6.0, uses a fast 1.3 GHz quad core processor and comes with an 8 MP camera. It also helps that it looks good in design. For additional guidance, check out our guide on choosing a good prepaid Android smartphone.

3. Look for phones that will work with the carriers you are interested in. Consider the features that you need in a plan

More and more prepaid or regular cell phone companies are offering their services to customers who want to bring their own devices into the network. These include both prepaid companies like Tracfone or standard cell phone service companies like Verizon or T-Mobile. They offer what is called a BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) programs.

Consumers are not tied to a contract with these plans. You can choose how many call minutes and SMS text messages you’ll have plus how much data limit you can have for social media, video streaming, browsing the Internet.

4. Read reviews on these phones

Check out reviews about these phones on Amazon and other retailers to see how others like the features on their cell phones, and whether other customers have successfully used their phones with their desired networks.

5. GSM/CDMA network compatibility

Remember that there are two network standards in the U.S. and abroad which are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). Not all unlocked phones work on both network standards. In fact, most aren’t. Decide which network would work better for your needs. Some companies like StraightTalk work with both GSM and CDMA networks, and they sell SIM card of start-up packages for unlocked phones that previously worked with AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon.

6. Look for a dual SIM phone

This is most recommended for those who are frequently traveling so that you can put your provider’s SIM in one of the slots and the SIM from the country where you have traveled to in another slot. However, this is not just for jet-setters but also for those who would like to separate personal and business calls and messages. By having two SIM cards, you can manage your personal and your work life better.

Now, you can start shopping around for the unlocked phone that will be best suited for your needs. In 2016, Amazon launched a new Amazon Exclusive Phones program offering Prime customers discounts on unlocked Android phones.

Shop for unlocked phones

Verizon Prepaid Upgrades Data Plan And More

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Verizon, arguably America’s best wireless network, is staying competitive in its prepaid data and calls plans. With several plan options, customers can pick out a cost-effective prepaid services plan to suit their preferences.

All Verizon cell phone plans come with no contracts, but Verizon prepaid plans offer even better value for a lot of individual consumers. This plan upgrade makes Verizon prepaid plans even more attractive.

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Since May 2016, Verizon has raised the data limits of its monthly prepaid plans. From 1GB, Verizon raised the data limit to 3GB for the $45 monthly plan. Customers must sign-up for Auto-pay to get the full 3 GB, or else it’s 2 GB.

Meanwhile, a 6GB data limit now comes with the $60 monthly plan. Unlimited calls and texts to Mexico and Canada also come with this subscription. These new prepaid plans started as promotional pricing.

Read the full Verizon Prepaid Review

Verizon’s new smartphone prepaid plans include the following details:

6 GB of data that includes 1 GB AutoPay Bonus Data with unlimited texts and calls in the U.S. as well as unlimited texts and calls to Canada and Mexico for $60 per month (prior plan only came with 3 GB);

3 GB of data that includes 1 GB of AutoPay Bonus Data with unlimited texts and calls in the U.S., as well as texts to Canada and Mexico for $45 per month (prior plan only came with 1 GB);

Unlimited texts, calls, and Wi-Fi for just $30 a month.

In order to receive the full amount of the new data plan, Verizon subscribers are required to enroll in Verizon AutoPay.

Verizon also offers their basic plans starting from only $30 per month. This plan is bundled with unlimited calls and texts exclusive of a data plan. Subscribers also have the option to choose any combination of 300 voice minutes, multimedia messages or texts that will come with an unlimited mobile web for only $15 per month.

Verizon subscribers can be in control with no fees or annual contract to think about.

According to a Verizon spokesperson, these new prepaid plans keep users in control without having to worry about hidden fees or overages.

Verizon also provides its subscribers with more ways to be in control. With the MyVerizon app, subscribers can customize as much as they want. Changes can be made and money can be added to accounts with this app. Data plans can also be customized through the MyVerizon app.

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Read the full Verizon Prepaid Review

TracFone Bring Your Own Phone Program Explained

iPhone 6 PlusTracfone, the largest carrier for prepaid cell phones in the US, is currently offering a “Bring Your Own Phone Program” (BYOP). Through this program, you no longer have to buy a new phone just to enjoy the services provided TracFone. You can use your existing cell phone and run this through TracFone’s cost-effective cellular plans.

You can also purchase a new Unlocked Phone that can be set-up to work with different phone companies. The BYOP program works for both iPhones and Android models. TracFone’s calls are routed through America’s largest and most reliable networks such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

What BYOP essentially means is that you “bring” your current phone or unlocked phone to TracFone to obtain TracFone’s services and 4G or 3G capabilities to your phone, allowing your phone to access the internet and make calls and texts based on the kit you choose to obtain. Don’t worry about the hassle, it is actually a quick and simple process, consisting of only 3 steps.

Step 1: Verify your phone’s eligibility to the program.

Eligible phones are AT&T phones, T-Mobile, Verizon, unlocked GSM phones, and some models that are CDMA technology compatible. If you are not sure whether your phone is eligible for the program or not, just visit TracFone’s official website (Top Menu, Click on Shop > Bring Your Own Phone) and click the “Check Compatibility” option.

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Step 2: Choosing the Right SIM

Once you are sure that your phone is qualified for the BYOP program, you can now choose which “kit” or SIM to get, most of them being bundles, offering 4G-3G together with airtime service plans. Take your time in choosing, and make sure to consider your current situation, such as your area coverage, your kind of phone (choose a TracFone BYOP AT&T SIM for an unlocked GSM or AT&T compatible phone; choose a CDMA Compatible BYOP TracFone SIM for LTE models that are CDMA compatible) and of course your budget.

Whichever you choose, however, you are guaranteed not to experience everything you don’t want in your phone service: activation fees, overage fees, cancellation fees, and being tied up to a long contract.

Step 3: Activate Your Phone

Once you have made a choice, simply activate it in your mobile phone, it’s that simple. For CDMA phones, you can click on the “Register CDMA” and then click “Activate CDMA;” the text provided should be more than enough for you to navigate your way. For GSM phones however, you might want to try clicking on “Activate GSM” and then update your ASPN settings. After the installation, you should be able to enjoy all the benefits of the services at your full disposal. If you are having trouble activating it however, you can go to TracFone’s official website (Top Menu, Click on Phones & BYOP > Bring Your Own Phone). You can look up your current problem among the FAQs, which should more or less cover your basic needs in troubleshooting your phone.

Things to Consider Before Going With TracFone

Keep in mind that the Bring Your Own Phone BYOP program is designed to be your prepaid service provider, meaning you would need to pay before you are able to enjoy all of its features.

You will enjoy unlimited carryover on your unused text messages, data, and minutes. However, carryover of airtime credits will only apply for as long as you keep your service active.

If you are interested in an Apple iPhone, check out this Buying an Unlocked iPhone 7 or iPhone 6 article.

About TracFone

Tracfone is a telecommunications company specializing on prepaid wireless services with headquarters located in Miami, Florida. Founded in 1996, it has been growing quite steadily ever since, currently handling multiple brands under its name, such as NET 10 wireless and Straight Talk, to name just a few. It is a subsidiary of “América Móvil”, the largest telecommunications company in Mexico. For more information, read the full TracFone Review.

Since things will change over time, pl

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