How to get started with TracFone
It may take a couple of minutes to understand this all, but luckily you have an expert (me) helping you through it. It may seem somewhat complicated, but spending a few minutes now will ensure that you get a great deal on a phone that meets your needs. And once you get it set up, I’ll make sure you can stop worrying about it and you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars per year.
Step 1 – Decide which phone is best for your needs
In general, especially for seniors or those who have not owned a cell phone before, I recommend flip phones for the following reasons:
The phone can (and should) be closed when not in use. This eliminates the risk of accidentally pushing buttons and dialing numbers unintentionally. This will save minutes on the user’s account. It will also prevent the worry that loved ones might feel if they receive an accidental call from the senior’s phone, and hear only muffled noises on the other end.
When a call is coming in, opening the phone will often “answer” the call. This makes it easier to use.
Closing the phone will “hang up” the call. This can save money and prevent problems that could occur when a user forgets to push the “end” button when a call is done.
On this style of phone, the mouthpiece is closer to the mouth of the user. This may seem trivial, but to someone who has never used a cell phone before, it can feel very unnatural to speak “into” a receiver that is far from your mouth.
When deciding which specific TracFone model is best for you, you should understand that there are basically two different types of cell phone networks in the United States – CDMA and GSM. The technical details are not important, but a quick analogy may be helpful.
I compare these types of network to AM and FM radio. If you have an FM only radio, you won’t be able to listen to any AM stations, and vice versa. Similarly, a CDMA phone will work ONLY on a CDMA network, and a GSM phone only on a GSM network. There are no phones that do both.
That said, TracFone is VERY good about contracting with the owners of these networks (such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) to use them for TracFone customers. So, anywhere in the U.S. there is any CDMA signal, if you have a CDMA phone you will be able to make and receive calls. Same goes for GSM – where there is a GSM signal, your GSM phone will work.
In my experience, I have found that my GSM phone works almost everywhere that I want it to. However, I have also found that CDMA coverage is slightly better, especially in rural areas. If you intend to use the phone frequently in rural areas, or while traveling, a CDMA phone might be a better choice. For that reason, I am going to focus on a particular model of CDMA phone for the remainder of this article. But I’ll also provide more info on the other phone models you might also want to consider.
For the next page, including the TracFone that I recommend, click here.