ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
I just wondered if any readers have had any experience with TracFones. I am considering getting one because I do not want to add another monthly bill; I would prefer a pay as you go plan. I do not feel that I would use a regular cell phone often enough to justify the cost. Click here more information about Tracfones.
We have had a Tracfone for the past year or so. One thing Tracfone neglects to tell you ahead of time is that to keep your Tracfone service active, you must purchase an additional Tracfone prepaid card before the due date that is displayed on your phone. This is about every 60 days, and this must be done regardless of how many minutes you have left.
The only way to get around this is to buy a one year card which gives you 150 minutes for about $100.
This activates your phone for a year, and you can add more minutes if and when you need them. We purchased ours for the same reason that you give for wanting to purchase one. But when our 60 days were about to expire, we would still have about half the minutes left, but would still have to buy another 40 minutes which was about $22.00.
They are generous and sometimes give you an extra 20 minutes free with your purchase, but you still have to purchase every 60 days. Another thing they fail to tell you up front is that if you make a call and there is no answer or the line is busy, it still costs you units of time. One minute local is one unit, and long distance costs you 2 units for each minute.
If you still want to buy a Tracfone, I would recommend that you monitor their website, as they have sales where you can save money on the initial purchase. It will be much cheaper than buying at Wal-Mart or somewhere locally. We got our phone, and 60 minutes on sale from the website. The phone was free and we paid $24.99 for 60 minutes of airtime. With freight and tax, the total was $32.22. At that time the phone with 10 minutes airtime was selling at Wal-Mart for about $45.00.
Our son has added my husband to his family plan with Cingular, and it costs us about $20.00 a month, but that includes insurance for the phone, and we have free nights and weekends, and any calls made to another cingular or Altell customer anywhere, anytime are free. I am thinking about having him add another phone, so we each have one. If we didn't need our home phone for access to the internet, I would have it disconnected and use only the cell phone.
Harlean from Arkansas (05/15/2005)
We have Cingular, and Tracfone. I personally like the prepaid Cingular better then the Tracfone, but then again I don't like change. :-)
We also go prepaid because we don't like the contracts, and the obligation to keep their service.
~ Rose ~
My daughter has had a Tracfone for 2 years, mostly just to have when out in the car for emergencies. We would try to keep at least a $20 card of airtime when we needed it. It really serves the purpose if you only keep it charged and in the car for that purpose. Last month my son and daughter-in-law let my 2 kids still at home sign up on their Cingular family plan. By doing that they also got one free and gave it to me since I babysit and this will be a home connection to her while at work. I think their parts of the family plan will be around $25 a month.
If calling another Cingular customer the day call is free of charge and they have free nights and weekends. So the point I am making is; when you consider the amount of airtime they will have and the fact that with the Tracfone you must watch how often you use it (plus I think every time they use it a certain amount of minutes is automatically deducted to connect) the best deal by far is Cingular.
Some helpful advice don't ever go a long distance away from home without a cell phone of some type. I recently submitted an article about a trip my son and I made, had a flat, and he walked 5 miles both ways on the interstate to get to a phone to call his brother for help.
Believe me I learned then and there the value of a phone in a car. I guess it's the society we live in, but people will not and offer help. If you travel much, get some kind of phone! (05/16/2005)
I got 3 Tracfones - for my 17 year old son, boyfriend, and myself - several years ago and have been very happy with them. We only use the phones for emergencies and, in my son's case, to call home and let mom know where he is. We found buying the one-year card for $95 the best deal. Before that, we were buying time monthly and it was easy to forget. If your time limit runs out, you lose the existing phone number and have to get a new one. After that happening to 2 of us, we got the one-year plan and now we only have to worry about buying new cards once a year. (05/16/2005)
A good deal, if you're not using it that much. I've had one for a couple of years. Easy to renew time, etc. Check out TracFone's website. Setup takes time, but is worth it. Unused minutes are rolled over if you don't let the expiration date go by, and there are choices of how much time you purchase. A real savings over "traditional" cells!
Good luck! (05/16/2005)
I have a Tracfone and I love it. Go to eBay and type in Tracfone cards - - sometimes you can get a great deal on a phone card there. Also, even though I have my Tracfone for emergencies, I still use it to text message my teenage son. Text messaging uses less time and you only have time deducted for sending them, but not when you receive them. My son and I can keep in touch quite nicely that way. (05/16/2005)
By Louise B.
What I haven't noticed posted as feedback yet is that Tracphone also has a yearly program. Not the yearly card you buy but another for $7.99 per month. This plan allows you to carry over your minutes from month to month with no charge. You don't have to buy extra minutes until needed. I've been on this plan for 2 years and love it since my cell bill is just $7.99 per month. We too use the phone in the car just for emergencies and this was the easiest way to go and assure we wouldn't lose any minutes nor be forced to buy time when we didn't use it. (05/17/2005)
I have a Tracfone and I love it! Their customer service is very good, and you can activate new cards directly on the Internet (and buy them inexpensively on the Internet and eBay!) (05/17/2005)
I have had a Trace phone for almost a year and I love mine. We don't use it hardly at all for emergency calls, but it is so handy. Not good in certain areas, but for the most part I like it. Try to buy the 1 year for $100 if you don't use your phone much it's much cheaper in the long run. Also if you have problems the 1-800 people are really nice and helpful. I give them a A-. (05/17/2005)
I was so glad to see all your advice. I've been wanting a phone for my car, but didn't want to pay a monthly bill either. I had T Mobile for a while, but found out their reception areas are very limited and I was probably "alone" most of the time, so I cancelled it. I'll check out the website and hope for a better "can you hear me now?" area. (05/17/2005)
I find that by using Tracfone you really do save money. You buy your minutes up front and renew when you run out of minutes. You are in control totally and you don't have to worry about additional charges.
June 1 2005 I have used Tracfone for 5 years, excellent phone for short, quick conversations. Very expensive for long talks/conversations. Caution! I bought a new Tracfone. My old Tracfone had more than 1000 units in it. Tracfone could not transfer my old phone number to the new phone. Tracfone could not transfer the 1000+units to the new phone. Tracfone said that I must wait 4 to 6 weeks to verify that I have 1000+ units. then they will put them in the new phone? Caution be aware of this sort of thing happening to you! They only gave me 20 free units/minutes with the new phone. (06/01/2005)
My own experiences have been the same. I am on my second phone and my second time sending it off to be repaired for an internal problem. It will take 10 days and with a trip planned 6 hours away with my special needs daughter, this could not have happened again at a worse time. The first time with the first phone I needed an ambulance for her due to seizures and tacky alerts (she was having a stroke) Tracfone failed. I have tried them again and now again it has failed. Thank God for Lincs, but I wish you all of the best. (06/25/2005)
Have had a Tracfone for 2 years with no problems, but I'm not a big telephone talker and never have been, but I just like having a phone with me.
I recently broke the antenna off the phone and have bought a new one ($29.95 at Walmart), one that doesn't have an external antenna. I'm still waiting for Tracfone to return my email and tell me how to transfer my minutes to the new phone. (07/11/2005)
The Tracfone I have is excellent, great deals, cheap; and it rolls over. Plus it has that auto-pay services. It's wonderful and exciting to have this kind of offer. I do talk a lot. But I am planning to get a double minute to double my minutes. And also I have a 7.99 auto pay that pays for my service. So I don't need to worry. Get Tracfone! It's great offer to all small talk, talkers, and emergency users.. (07/15/2005)
We were so satisfied with TracFone that we ported our home phone landline in to TracFone.
Use the promotional codes that you can locate throughout the internet. (Yahoo Tracfone users groups have databases of the best ones.) You'll reduce your costs immensely if you do.
If you should run into any problems, be aware that there are 2 levels of customer support, their executive resolutions dept. has authority that the regular level of customer service doesn't have. I've never heard of a legitimate problem that ERD couldn't solve to the customer's satisfaction. (08/27/2005)
You can also buy the double minute package with the 1 year deal, which means that every time you buy minutes, you get double minutes for the whole year. Watch their web site for promotional deals as well as the calendar that comes with your phone and in the mail. (08/29/2005)
The Tracfone system is great. I could be in the mountains in PA and calls would go through. But the Nokia phone I had was the pits. When the minutes are up on this one, I plan to get a better phone but still stick with the Tracfone system. (06/04/2006)
I've had Tracfone for approximately 3 years. It is very convenient and great for a person who just uses a cell occasionally. My only complaint is that when you send in a complaint, given a case number and check back later and receive a message that the problem has been resolved; it has not been resolved. Resubmit and get the same results. I am not sure anyone every receives the complaint in the first place; just an auto reply. Also, they say they will answer you emails; no, they don't. Call and there is difficulty understanding the reps. Other that those two complaints, the service is good. (10/05/2007)
By George B.
We have had Tracfones for about 7 or 8 years. Whenever they first came out we bought one and have continued to keep buying them as gifts for our relatives. They have transferred my minutes on a phone that got run over on the farm. They told me I would have to wait 3 months before they would transfer the minutes, but I called every week and in about a month they just added my minutes. I am very pleased with Tracfone. (11/24/2007)
I have had 2 Tracfones before and I was pretty happy with them. I text a lot so it is okay good for me. I have had 2 flip phones from Tracfone and I have liked them very much. I think that if you are considering to buy one than go ahead and buy one. They are very cheap and if you don't text or talk on the phone a lot then they are good for you.
The only thing about them is that for some phones when you text it takes away .3 units when you send them and you receive them. I wish it only took away when you send them but everything can not be perfect. I have given one to my daughter (my old one) and she wasted all of the minutes on texting her friends. I was a little upset because she wasted 3455 minutes and I hope she won't do it again. I text a lot. I am so excited because I am going to get at new Tracfon today! Anyone have any advice on which one I should get? (02/12/2008)
I have just purchased a TracFone and am disgusted with the company and their ripoffs to force the unnecessary utilization use of minutes e.g. calling from the U.S. to Canada. When you follow their instructions to the detail they disallow the call. You go on and on, only occasionally getting the other party. I would never deal with them again and am willing to pay more by re-connecting with Rogers in Canada. At least I can trust them!
By Bill O.
I thought the TracFone was great (only used for staying in touch with hubby when working out of town) until I got my first SPAM text msg! I was told there was no such thing with this phone, but with this phone I can't ID a caller until I chose to answer the txt msg (thinking it's hubby who is the only one who has number!), and the charges are deducted! What a scam! I immediately complained to them online, I am waiting to hear from them I requested they reimburse me for those units!
Will also call Monday (it's Sunday and I imagine it's either very busy or I won't get an answer, so I'll wait 'til tomorrow) and re-state my issue to them. Other than that the phone was great (I would get a txt from hubby when he arrived out of town and when on his way back...that's all I wanted!), but now it may very well turn into a "headache"! I also kept it in the glove box of the car if I went somewhere, when he went out of town, for emergencies. (03/30/2008)
By New TracFone User
Just horrible. To refill, I spent 90 minutes on the phone. Then then minutes never appeared even though they charged me. I had my credit card co. withhold payment. Bought more minutes with a card. Then they wouldn't let me use those minutes because they had turned off my phone. Now I'm just out lots of money, lots of time, and have a useless dead phone. Absolutely no attempt to fix the problem. Just taking my money and telling me to get lost.
They steal your money. Stay away. (04/08/2008)
By John D
I had used their "number portability" option on a landline I had had for over 10 years. I had been promised a new SIM card to complete the process for 6 weeks. They sent the wrong one and all I could use my phone for was "emergency use only." Then when I contacted them again I was told they'd send me a new SIM card again, but it wasn't received by the time my "service expired." So, now the phone number I had had for over 10 years is gone since they had notified the other company the "number portability process had been completed" so they closed the account.
So, now I don't have a Tracfone or my old landline phone number. My suggestion; check out another provider you opt to use their service, let alone their "number portability" option. They kept telling me to call them in subsequent emails. Kind of tough without a phone, but they said to call from a payphone, but that too costs money. I had had over 100 minutes remaining on my Tracfone before they placed it on "inactive" status, but now I lost those too. Who wins? They do! (04/24/2008)
Well, my dad has a TracFone, and it sure is great having it! I didn't know that you can text on it though. That is actually really cool! But then again, the only problem we have with them is redoing our minutes, and we do it online. Other than that, I think TracFones are great, and I'm trying to get one too! I just need to earn money, that's all! (06/11/2008)
Do you like talking to a door? Or kicking yourself, hard, well if you do, then this is the company for you! The phone was not a problem for me, other than they conveniently put the "web connect" so close to the answer button, guarantee you'll lose units constantly, as well as you have to pay to set up voice mail 7 to 10 units and pay to listen to them.
The customer service reps are brainwashed, and quite frankly brain dead, but polite! They do not listen to you, make you wait for long periods of time, and make you do all the work to get the phone working, (even though they do have the capability to do it on their end). They ask you to press a gazillion numbers, then just to tick you off, they say oops try this number instead. They claim your issues are taken care of, to get you off the phone, guess what, they aren't.
Time to start all over again and another 45+ minutes of your life sucked away! Maddening! Absolutely terrible service and to top it all off they are all foreigners, I do not believe I have ever spoken to anyone that is clear enough to understand. Well I will like to end on a positive note, although you do feel like strangling the CSR's, they are always polite when asking you to wait two minutes for the twentieth time. Good luck if you choose this non customer friendly company. (09/30/2008)
Absolutely the worst customer service ever. They are unable to make a decision on the simplest problem and seem to enjoy aggravating the customer. Even so-called "top management" refuses to resolve an issue. I have never seen anything like this in my life. (10/23/2008)
I bought a Tracfone about this time last year. I bought a year card that said it would add a year and double the minutes for the life of the phone. I had trouble with the phone and took it back to Wal-mart about three of four weeks later and they gave us another and called Tracfone and had the minutes changed for us. A few days ago I bought another year card and added it to the phone and only came up with the four hundred min.
I called service to try and get my double minutes and just got jerked around. Finally got the number to the executive resolution dept. I called them this morning and after being put on hold several times while they finally told me they would make a decision in one to three days and call back Wed. to get my answer. I don't think I should have had to make the phone call at all. If they had taken care of the problem a year ago like they should have. Even when I called and explained what was wrong they could have taken care of the problem. I don't like to be jerked around like this.
It isn't worth it for a few dollars. I have a Net 10 phone and have used it for several years and let my mother have it. I think my Tracfone will be going in the trash when the minutes are gone. I am going to check into a paid plan or go to Net 10 at least you get can get 150 minutes for 15 dollars. Not at all happy with Tracfone right now. (12/15/2008)
By Jim J.
Mixed feelings. I loved the Tracfone I first bought. The only thing I didn't like was that I didn't realize that there was no camera. I let the minutes dwindle down a bit and decided to buy another phone that had the camera. I transferred all my minutes from the old phone to the new one with no problems. And even the picture messaging was working well. Up until a few weeks ago. In the past few weeks, I am unable to send/receive pictures, but it was still taking my minutes and saying "sent" but the pictures were never going through. Nor was I receiving any. I tried a few different people before I emailed Tracfone to see what was up.
After 20 minutes on the phone with them, they came to the conclusion that I can only send/receive pictures to people with other Tracfones. I don't know of anyone else who has a Tracfone that is on my list of friends. And why was I receiving them before the past few weeks? The lady on the phone said that some pictures may go through and some may not. So, if they don't go through, I am still out my minutes that it took to send it, even if it doesn't go through. That is a scam if you ask me. If the phone has the feature, it should work for all phones.
All of my text messages go through to other people, so why not the pictures? There is nothing on the box that says anything about only sending/receiving pictures to Tracfone customers. That is very misleading. And for some of them to go through and others not, it doesn't make sense.
I do like the phone since I do not have unlimited texting on my other phone. But they need to figure out the picture messaging and make it fair to all. (02/04/2009)
By confused guest
Tracfone works great for me since I rarely ever need it. I buy one 200 min. card (with bonus minutes) every 2 to 3 months. That is a cheap 'leash'. (02/19/2009)
I have never been jerked around by their customer service, and my numbers were ported to my Tracfone (from Alltel) within 2 hours. My daughter, who had a Cricket phone, had almost a 30 day wait, so I think it might depend on where the porting is coming from. (04/11/2009)
I love my Tracfone because I am not chained to a plan. Alltel was a nightmare. I live in a rural area and even though I had really poor service, Alltel would not let me out of my contract. I paid around $100 a month for 2 phones I hardly ever used. With Tracfone, I spend no more than $250 for minutes and service for an entire year for 2 phones. They do have bonus specials and I always hold out buying more minutes until there is a bonus promotion.
I bought a year service card, and with my double minutes card, plus bonus minutes, I ended up with 1200 minutes for 12 months for $100 (on my one phone)---which was what I was paying monthly with Alltel. Since I do not use my phone at home, and only use it when I am actually mobile, Tracfone is the most cost efficient cell phone. (04/11/2009)
Money-wise, Tracfone is a good choice. But you will start getting their promotion text message everyday. When you ask to stop it, they start calling your home phone. I am sure they are selling your info to make extra money. So be prepared for all kinds of calls/messages. Try to remove yourself from their promotion list? Their customer service said my number is not on their list. Nice try! Most of my calls are from collection agents. You never know what the previous phone number owner did. Good luck! (09/02/2010)
I had used Tracfone for a few years but then began having problems. At first I could send pictures to my email, then that quit... I thought something was wrong but my year was almost up so I waited until I got my new Tracfone... same problem with sending pictures. I talked to several of their tech people, no help at all (also very hard to understand) and now have sent phone back, haven't heard a word from Tracfone. I will not be using them again, might try Consumer Cellular.
I had Tracfone for a while. It was great at first, but then I was forced to pay for extra minutes on the due date. I don't text and I didn't like receiving texts from other people. Most of the texts I received were from people that I didn't know. So I called Tracfone to see if they would block texts from coming in. Well, I probably would have gotten satisfaction if I talked to a brick wall. My texts were not blocked so I was being charged for them. I always had a problem undestanding the customer service representatives from Tracfone, and had to try and cut through their heavy accents. They probably had just as difficult a time understanding me since I live in the USA.
I then switched to Consumer Cellular which is located in the USA, and all their representatives speak English. I pay the base rate and don't pay extra for the internet or the texting. In fact I can't receive texts, which I'm very happy about. I have 250 minutes per month which serves my basic needs, and the minutes don't roll over every month. If I don't use the 250 minutes I lose them.