With the current state of the economy, many smart consumers are looking for ways to save money. When I review my expenses for ways to save, I like to look first at the recurring costs – the things I pay each and every month. In those cases, one change can continue saving money for months or even years to come.
If you’re looking at your monthly expenses and notice that your wireless phone bill is costing you a lot of money, you might want to consider a service called TracFone. TracFone is a prepaid wireless service provider. What this means to you is that you can pay for your minutes in advance, so there are no surprising huge bills, and you only pay for the minutes you actually use. Further, TracFone requires no sign up fee, no activation fee and no contract. You can even transfer or “port” your current phone number to a new TracFone account. So it’s easy to get started and, if you decide it’s not right for you, it’s also easy to cancel.
TracFone may not be widely known, but it is very popular with its users. In a recent poll on my website, I surveyed 500 current users. A whopping 94% stated that they would recommend TracFone service to others!
One of the biggest advantages of TracFone is that you’ll get excellent coverage, and you won’t pay any roaming charges. TracFone doesn’t own any networks; instead they have agreements with the major network owners (such as Verizon, US Cellular, Alltel, AT&T, and T-Mobile) to use those networks. So TracFone buys huge blocks of minutes and then resells them in smaller blocks to us, and we get the benefit of using the biggest networks in the country.
As I noted earlier, it’s easy to get started. You could go to your local discount store such as Target, Walgreens, CVS, or Walmart and buy a phone off the shelf (prices currently range from $10 to $50 for a new phone, depending on the features), and activate it within minutes by calling TracFone’s 800 number or going to their website. They’ll give you 10 (if you call) or 20 free minutes (if you activate online) to get you started. Another advantage of the cheap phones is that it is inexpensive to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged phone.
What I recommend, though, is buying a “bundle” from TracFone’s site. TracFone usually offers a few different package deals that include an airtime card at regular price (currently from $20 to $100), along with a FREE phone. Sometimes the phones are brand new, and other times they are “refurbished,” but they are always in like new condition, in my experience. Either way, this is a great way to give TracFone a trial run – buy some airtime and get a free phone.
If you end up deciding to stick with TracFone service, you can either keep the phone that you got for free, or you can later upgrade to a new, more expensive phone with more features. (To see what deals are available from TracFone.com please click here. And if you order from their site, use Promotional code 23444 when you checkout to save $3.)
I’ve heard many stories of previous contract phone users switching to TracFone in just the manner I suggested, and saving hundreds of dollars per year as a result. In general, I suggest that if you use a TOTAL of 300-400 minutes or less per month, you’ll save money with TracFone (or their sister company, Net10). A good rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay around 10 cents per minute, although there are certainly other tips and tricks I can offer to help you get that amount even lower.
But for the sake of comparing TracFone to your current plan, 10 cents per minute is a good place to start. Figure out how many minutes you use on average each month, and multiply that by $.10. If the number you get is lower than your average cell phone bill, you could be saving money with TracFone. But, keep in mind here that I’m talking about ALL the minutes you use every month, including nights and weekends, free mobile-to-mobile, and other promotions offered by your current company.
TracFone is not for everyone, though. Here are a couple of things you may want to consider before making the leap:
- TracFone does NOT offer any of the aforementioned promotions such as free in-network calling, free nights and weekends, or family plans.
- The phones offered by TracFone are often not as “cool” as those offered for contract providers. They may not offer as many features, but they’re fully capable of making and receiving calls, and text messaging. Isn’t that what you really want from your phone?
- If you use 400 or more minutes, you might be better off just sticking with your current plan. In the same poll I mentioned earlier, 84% of users talk only 150 minutes per month or less, on average.
- Text messages also cost 1/3 of a minute on most TracFones (or 1/2 a minute unit on Net10 phones), so if you do a lot of texting you’ll also need to figure this into your assessment of whether TracFone is right for you.
Now, in conclusion, here is a recap of the biggest advantages of TracFone:
- It’s easy to get started and test out the service inexpensively, to see if it’s right for you.
- You always see how many minutes you have left, so you won’t have any surprises when it’s time to pay for more minutes.
- You never have to sign a contract, so you’re not obligated to continue using the service if your needs change.
- As long as your service is active, your minutes will never expire, so you’ll always get to use the minutes you’ve paid for (including if you upgrade from one TracFone model to another).
- You can transfer your current phone number in from your existing provider (called “porting”).
If, after reading this article, you think that TracFone is a good fit for you, please Click here to see what deals are available from TracFone.com. And don’t forget to use promotional code 23444 when you checkout to save $3.) And once you receive your phone, check out my tips for activating your new TracFone. It will help you get the most out of your new phone and get that cost-per-minute down as low as possible.