TracFone offers some unusual perks for a prepaid service -- like international long distance to over 60 countries at the same cost as a local call, and a network that blankets nearly the entire United States. In customer surveys, TracFone receives high scores for network coverage, pricing, plan options and low-cost phones. However, there are complaints about customer service.
Inexpensive and with a family plan. TracFone has a variety of inexpensive annual, monthly and pay-as-you-go plans to suit occasional callers and heavy users alike. However, unlike Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk (*Est. $35 per month and up) and T-Mobile Prepaid (*Est. $30 per month and up), TracFone offers only basic handsets and no unlimited monthly plan. And while T-Mobile's prepaid minutes don't expire for 90 days, TracFone minutes expire in 30 days.
Reviewers praise TracFone's inexpensive monthly plans. There are three individual monthly plans, all of which include talk, text, web and email. The cheapest plan is $10 per month for 50 minutes; there is a $20 plan for 125 minutes and a $30 plan for 200 minutes. TracFone is one of the few prepaid carriers that offer a family plan. The first phone in the family plan costs $10 per month for 50 minutes; additional phones are each $6 per month for 40 minutes. While TracFone doesn't offer an unlimited monthly plan, its Pay As You Go plan (*Est. $200) has 1,500 minutes, valid for a year.
Unique features. TracFone offers some unique advantages -- such as a vast nationwide network that rivals that of Verizon Wireless, and free international long distance to locations in over 60 countries around the world. For most of these countries, calling to a cell phone is not included in this feature. However, the countries to which you can call cell phones include the Bahamas, Mexico, Canada, Indonesia and Hong Kong. Contributors to Viewpoints.com rank TracFone highly for call quality and coverage.
Mixed reviews for customer service. Although some users are very happy with TracFone, others report poor customer service. Contributors to Viewpoints.com assign TracFone low ratings in this area, citing problems which include phones not working and replacements not working either, being repeatedly assigned the wrong area code and generally bad customer service. The editors of TopTenReviews.com report that they found TracFone's customer service representatives to be less than knowledgeable about TracFone's service.
Inexpensive but basic phones. All TracFone handsets are very basic, unlike the phones you can get with T-Mobile Prepaid (*Est. $30 per month and up) or Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk (*Est. $35 per month and up). Reviewers at PrepaidReviews.com praise the simple, low-cost phones, while others complain about the poor selection.
Review Credibility: Excellent TracFone is one of six prepaid wireless service providers ranked in this latest report at ConsumerReports.org, based on feedback from more than 66,000 cell phone users.
Review: Prepaid Cell Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, January 2011
2. J.D. Power & Associates
Review Credibility: Excellent In this survey of about 6,400 prepaid wireless cell phone users, TracFone rates third out of nine carriers, with a score convincingly above the industry average overall.
Review: 2011 Wireless Non-Contract Customer Satisfaction Index Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, March 31, 2011
Review Credibility: Good The editors of TopTenReviews.com place TracFone in 10th place in their 2012 evaluation of prepaid cell phone services for 2013. They find its cost per minute to be more than other providers', and its customer service representatives to be less than knowledgable about the service. Note that TopTenReviews.com's evaluation of prepaid cell phone providers is based only on features and doesn't look at how each phone service performs.
Review: 2013 Prepaid Cell Phones Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Fair Editors at PrepaidReviews.com give TracFone a 4-star rating (out of 5), praising its simple, low-cost phones and carryover minutes. Over 1,800 customer reviews, however, give TracFone a disappointing overall rating of only 2 stars, with many citing problems with customer service.
Review: TracFone Prepaid Cell Phone Plans, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, As of December 2012
5. Savvy Senior
Review Credibility: Fair TracFone is one of three prepaid cell phone providers that offer inexpensive plans suitable for seniors recommended in this brief article.
Review: Best Cell Phone Options for Seldom Calling Seniors, Jim Miller, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Fair With over 150 customer reviews, TracFone is voted best for prepaid cell phone plans. Contributors to the site rank this carrier highly for call quality and coverage, but average for plan features and customer service.
Review: Best Cell Phone Providers, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2012