What Is TracFone Wireless and How Does It Work?
TracFone Wireless is the number one prepaid no-contract wireless and mobile phone provider in America. It is a subsidiary of América Móvil, Mexico’s largest telecommunications company and a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that runs on America’s largest and most dependable networks, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. The company offers low-cost plans, a wide selection of quality mobile devices from the best brands, convenient accessories, tons of special deals, unlimited carryover, the ability to bring your own device, nationwide coverage (including 5G), and many other great services. It comes with no extra fees, no contracts, and no hassles.
Joining TracFone and its millions of subscribers is simple and it only takes three quick steps.
- Step 1: Buy a phone or keep your own: TracFone offers both flip phones and the latest and most advanced smartphone models from all the top brands, including Apple, Samsung, LG, and Motorola. However, if you already have a device that you love and works well for you, you can also bring your own phone to TracFone. If you decide to bring your own device, make sure the device is compatible (most GSM and CDMA smartphones are) or unlocked. In this case, you will just have to buy a SIM kit and activate the device to start using their affordable services.
- Step 2: Activate your service: When you have both a phone and a SIM kit, you will be required to activate your service. To do so, you must simply follow the easy instructions provided inside the SIM kit. There are three ways to activate the TracFone service – online at tracfone.com/activation/selectdevice, on the TracFone My Account App, or by calling TracFone’s customer service at 1-800-867-7183.
- Step 3: Refill your service: In this step, you will be required to select and buy a plan at TracFone’s website, using the Auto-Refill option, TracFone My Account app, or at any of their countless retailers throughout the country. To refill your service, follow the instructions provided on the back of the card. You can also refill your service by calling their customer care at 1-800-867-7183 or by texting ‘BUY’ to 611611.
What Are The Key Features Of TracFone Wireless?
Pricing and Plans
The prices of TracFone’s most popular prepaid plans with unlimited carryover data start at $20 a month ($15 with Auto-Refill). This affordable basic plan comes with unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of 4G LTE data. The $25 and $30 a month plans offer more data. In case you run out of high-speed data, you can buy an extra GB of data for $10. TracFone also offers a 356-day plan with 12 GB of data for $199, as well as other plans with fewer minutes and fewer texts. However, TracFone currently doesn’t offer any plans with unlimited data, therefore their plans may not be the best for big data consumers.
TracFone’s network coverage is one of their best features and major selling points, as the company offers all four largest American networks and uses all of their towers. Each customer only has access to one of these networks (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint), depending on the device and location (they can choose the network that has the best coverage in their area). This also provides customers with flexible options if they decide to bring their own device, as most GSM and CDMA smartphones are compatible with at least one of those networks. In addition, existing AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint customers have a higher chance to keep their current phone, number, and network, when they switch.
TracFone’s service features include Wi-Fi calling with enabled devices, video streaming at DVD quality (480p), plans with a certain amount of talk, text, and data, and most importantly unlimited carryover data, which is definitely one of their biggest perks. However, the company does not offer mobile hotspot support or HD streaming.
If you are planning to buy a new phone, TracFone has got you covered – they offer quality new and refurbished devices from top brands at affordable prices. The exact selection of the phones they offer depends on your location. On the other hand, if you are planning to bring your own phone, you can do so with an unlocked phone or an AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint-compatible CDMA or GSM device.
The popular wireless provider is also known for reliable and responsive customer care. In case you have any questions or issues, you can contact them via online chat from 8 AM to 11.45 PM (EST) 7 days a week, call them at 1-800-867-7183 from 8 AM to 11.45 PM (EST) 7 days a week, send them a letter, or find out about your data usage and other important topics by simply dialing 611611 using your TracFone device.
How to Determine Which Carrier TracFone Uses in My Area
While most other MVNOs have a contract with just one of the major networks, TracFone is an MVNO using the networks of all of America’s four largest carriers – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Each customer only has access to one of those networks, depending on the device he or she uses and where he or she lives. As long as the user has good reception, which TracFone always tries to ensure by providing the client access to the network that has the best coverage in their area, the network they use is generally of little importance. Nonetheless, in some cases, it’s important to determine which carrier TracFone uses in your area and more importantly, which network you use. Learning which network your device uses can help you set realistic expectations for coverage, which is especially important when going traveling or if you are planning to move.
There are several ways to determine which carrier your TracFone uses.
- Send yourself a message: In case you already have the phone, you can simply send a text message from your TracFone device to your email address. When you receive the message, look at the sending address of the email (the ‘from’ section), as it should contain the carrier name. In some cases, the email also includes a ‘sig’ with the carrier’s logo at the bottom. You can also check the headers on the email to see which servers handled it. In Gmail, you can see the headers by clicking the three-dot menu at the top right corner of the message and press ‘See original’. Somewhere near the top of the original message, you will see the server’s name in a form of ‘mail.txt.carriername.com’ or something similar.
- Use an online lookup tool: Open your favorite browser and search for ‘phone carrier lookup by number’ or something similar. As you will see, many people have the same question and the browser will offer you several online services or tools you can use. These tools allow you to enter your phone number, SIM card number, or IMEI and thus tell you exactly which network you use, even if you got the phone from an MVNO.
- Check out the SIM number: Another simple way to determine which network you are on is to look at the SIM number. The first six numbers of the SIM ID determine the carrier. 890126 is used by T-Mobile, 890141 is used by AT&T, and 891480 for Verizon.
- Check out the phone model number: Phone model numbers ending with ‘C’ or ‘VL’ typically run on Verizon. Numbers ending with ‘G’ or ‘AL’ use AT&T. Numbers ending with ‘BL’ could mean that the phone uses either AT&T or T-Mobile. However, this method is not certain, especially nowadays, as many phone models don’t use these number endings anymore.
- Contact customer service: You can also contact TracFone’s customer service by phone or chat and ask them which network your phone uses. You will probably have to provide your phone number and perhaps some other info, such as your SIM card number or IMEI.
- Choose the network beforehand: The best thing you can do is to consciously select your network before you actually activate the phone. You can check out which carrier has the best coverage in your area at tracfone.com/coverage/check and then purchase (or bring) a phone that is compatible with this carrier. You can also use TracFone’s Check Compatibility tool on their website to see if a certain phone works on the network you prefer.
What Carriers Are Compatible With TracFone
TracFone is an MVNO that holds agreements with some of America’s largest carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. TracFone is also a subsidiary of América Móvil, Mexico’s largest telecommunications company and it operates several other brands and services, including its subsidiaries Straight Talk, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, Walmart Family Mobile, Net10 Wireless, Page Plus Cellular, SafeLink, GoSmart Mobile, Telcel America, and Clearway.
The key advantage of prepaid MVNOs is that they use the reliable network from major carriers, yet provide much cheaper plans. You can switch to any of TracFone’s subsidiaries and reap their benefits. Below you can learn more about some of the carriers that are compatible with TracFone.
1. Straight Talk
Straight Talk is TracFone’s no-contract phone plan service that offers affordable prepaid plans and sells its services most widely at Walmart. The company provides very affordable and diverse monthly, no-contract plans, including an unlimited talk, text, and data plan for $55 a month, extension plans, and quality but slightly older phones.
2. Simple Mobile
Simple Mobile was launched in 2009 as T-Mobiles MVNO, however, in 2012 it was acquired by TracFone. It may be a good option for customers who wish to keep their phone and phone number, want to use T-Mobile’s network and are willing to prepay for cell phone service every 30 days.
3. Total Wireless
Total Wireless is another TracFone subsidiary and a low-cost cell phone wireless provider that runs on Verizon’s nationwide network yet is much more affordable than Verizon. Total Wireless inexpensive individual plans without full-speed data, cheap family plans with hotspot data, and fast and reliable Verizon’s network.
4. Walmart Family Mobile
Walmart Family Mobile provides prepaid coverage on T-Mobile’s network at a low price. Their service comes with no commitments, no contracts, and no cancelation fees. This TracFone subsidiary may be suitable for those who wish to use T-Mobile’s network, need an inexpensive unlimited data plan, have a compatible phone, or wish to purchase one, and don’t need in-person customer support, as they don’t offer one.
5. Net10 Wireless
This TracFone’s subsidiary offers pay-as-you-go and monthly no-contract plans, including several unlimited plans with no data caps. As Net10 runs on all four major carriers, depending on the phone and the location, they offer better coverage than the average MVNO. In addition, most latest Android, Google, and iOS devices are compatible with Net10 services.
6. Page Plus Cellular
Page Plus runs on Verizon’s network and offers the same quality coverage. Their plans, however, are much more affordable (prices typically range between $10 and $45 a month for smartphones, and $80 for regular cell phone plans). They provide a simple switching process, allow customers to keep their number, and customize their plan. In addition, the service comes with no contracts and can be purchased online.
What Phones Are Compatible With TracFone
TracFone cell phones use either GSM or CDMA technology. Below, you can see a list of TracFone-compatible phones depending on what type of network they use. The list doesn’t include all of TracFone’s devices as the full selection depends on the area, besides, it tends to change often. You can see the complete list of TracFone phones available in your area at shop.tracfone.com/shop/en/tracfonestore/phones. Make sure to choose the right location.
GSM phones – AT&T and T-Mobile:
- LG 306G
- LG 440G
- LG 500G
- LG 530G
- LG 840G
- LG Rebel
- LG Sunset
- Motorola EX431G
- Samsung S390G
- Samsung S425G
- ZTE ZFIVE 2 (Available on Tracfone website)
CDMA phones – Verizon and Sprint:
- Huawei Glory
- LG 290C
- LG 501C
- LG 505C
- LG Fiesta
- LG Optimus Dynamic
- LG Optimus Dynamic II
- Motorola Moto G6
- Samsung Galaxy Centura
- Samsung Galaxy J3 Orbit
- Samsung Galaxy J7 Crown
- Samsung Galaxy Luna Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Sky Pro
- Samsung R455C
- ZTE Valet
- ZTE ZFIVE
TracFone also allows you to bring your own phone, as long as the device is compatible or unlocked. Most GSM and CDMA smartphones are compatible, as most of them can be bought at one of the four major carriers or at one of their MVNOs that surely run on one of the networks that are also used at TracFone. Check exactly which phones are compatible with TracFone at tracfone.com/keep-your-own-phone.
What Network Towers Does TracFone Use?
Unlike most other MVNOs that only use network towers of one of the four major carriers in the U.S., TracFone has contracts with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular and uses and relies on all of their towers. TracFone’s combined coverage is therefore even better than any of those individual networks, however, each consumer only gets access to one of these networks, depending on the device they buy/bring (GSM phones can use AT&T or T-Mobile’s network, while CDMA phones can only run on Verizon, Sprint, or US Cellular) and the location where they live, work or otherwise spend the most time (all of these carriers have nationwide coverage, however, their towers are unevenly distributed, therefore, some carriers may have better reception and coverage in some areas – especially remote ones, than others). To find out which network has the best coverage in your area, go to tracfone.com/coverage/check.
What Kind Of Phone Technology Does TracFone Use – GSM or CDMA?
There are two different phone technologies – GSM and CDMA and America’s ‘big four’ carriers use different technologies. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM phone technology and Verizon, US Cellular, and the old Sprint network use CDMA phone technology. As TracFone uses the networks of all these carriers, TracFone uses both GSM and CDMA technology.
The company offers both GSM and CDMA phones, as well as newer devices that are compatible with all cell phone standards and technologies, such as GSM, CDMA, and LTE. Moreover, the customers who wish to bring their own phones are welcome to bring both GSM and CDMA phones, as most GSM and CDMA smartphones are compatible with TracFone service.
What Is The Difference Between GSM and CDMA Phones?
GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communication. Worldwide, it is the more popular cell phone standard. AT&T and T-Mobile both use GSM networks for their cell phone services. Tracfone GSM phones run on one of these two carriers (AT&T or T-Mobile).
CDMA, on the other hand, stands for Code Division Multiple Access. Globally speaking, it is less popular, however, in the U.S. CDMA is the more popular cell phone standard. Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular all use CDMA networks for their cell phone service. As such, TracFone phones that use CDMA generally run on the Verizon network.
GSM and CDMA are competing wireless technologies. GSM phones need a SIM card, while CDMA phones have internal memory. They have different data transfer technologies, different network methods, and CDMA has a single frequency band (850 MHz), while GSM has multiple (850/900/1800/1900 MHz). Both technologies are equally good, as such most users can’t really tell the difference.
TracFone Related Others Thing You Should Know
What is TracFone Customer Service?
TracFone customer service is a web of professionals trained to answer any questions customers may have and resolve any issues. You can contact them via online chat from 8 AM to 11.45 PM (EST) 7 days a week, call them at 1-800-867-7183 from 8 AM to 11.45 PM (EST) 7 days a week, send them a letter, or find out about your data usage and other important topics by simply dialing 611611 on your TracFone device.
How Good and Reliable Is TracFone Coverage Network?
Considering the fact that TracFone doesn’t run on one but on all four major carrier networks, it has a much better combined coverage than most other MVNOs. You can find out more about the coverage in specific areas at tracfone.com/coverage/check.
What is TracFone free min?
TracFone free min stands for TracFone free minutes. Several plans and minute cards offer TracFone customers free minutes. TracFone also often runs promotions and offers coupons and codes, which provide free additional minutes, which you can add to your monthly plan. To find such promotions, simply search for ‘TracFone promo codes’ online.
What is a TracFone promo code?
Promo codes or promotional codes are a type of passwords offered by TracFone and the retailers that provide customers with a certain discount or free services to encourage them to purchase their products or services.
Is TracFone owned by Verizon?
In September 2020, Verizon has decided to buy TracFone and all of its related brands. Verizon plans to bring its huge 4G LTE and 5G networks and other mobile technologies to TracFone customers but to maintain all TracFone employees. The 6.9 billion deal is scheduled to end in the second half of 2021 and it currently awaits approval from government regulatory agencies.
Can I put my TracFone SIM card in another phone?
Yes, you can put your TracFone SIM card into another SIM-based cell phone. However, for the card to work, the phone has to be unlocked or compatible with TracFone services.
Are all TracFone SIM cards the same?
Yes, all TracFone SIM cards are essentially the same, however not all TracFone devices need a SIM card to get TracFone services. In fact, TracFone devices that use Sprint or Verizon towers and are only 3G data capable have no SIM cards. On the other hand, phones that use AT&T or T-Mobile’s network and all 4G LTE capable devices (both GSM and CDMA) require a SIM card.