I have three bits of TracFone news, each of which is fairly significant, but maybe not enough to warrant a post on it’s own. So here I’m going to combine the three topics into a single post. Here’s a summary before I get into the details:
Significant TracFone policy change – combining airtime
This is a big one, and I am very disappointed in TracFone on this one. For as long as I’ve been using TracFone, over ten years now, it was possible to “merge” the minutes and airtime from multiple phones into one phone. Perhaps this is best explained with an example:
Assume that today’s date is October 1st. You own two TracFones, as follows:
||Nov. 15th (45 days remaining)
||Dec. 1st (61 days remaining)
In this example, the former policy would allow you to call TracFone and ask to transfer the remaining balance from phone 1, with or without transferring that phone number, onto phone 2. This would result in phone 1 being deactivated. Phone 2 would then have a balance of 325 minutes, and a service end date of January 15th (determined by adding the minutes and service days from the two phones).
To me, this always seemed fair, because if I had paid for the airtime on both phones, shouldn’t I be able to combine them if I wanted to? However, TracFone apparently felt that some users were taking advantage of that situation, because now if you want to transfer airtime from one active phone to another, the “recipient phone” will have all previous minutes wiped out.
So continuing from the example above, after transferring, phone 2 would lose its previous balance, and be left with 125 minutes, and an expiration date of November 15th – exactly what phone 1 had prior to the transfer. Further, the phone number from phone 1 would be transferred over to phone 2 as well, regardless of whether the owner wants it transferred.
Whatever the reasoning behind this change, TracFone users must be informed of it or risk losing some very large balances when transferring between phones. Worst of all, TracFone service reps will not warn you of the new policy before making the transfer.
This policy eliminates a lot of flexibility for those of us that liked to try out a new phone for a while before deciding it would become our “main” phone. Further – and I think this is probably the “target” of the new policy change -some people previously took advantage of deals by purchasing a phone that came loaded with a bunch of minutes and airtime, such as from HSN, and then after some time transferring those minutes to a different phone. This strategy no longer works under the new policy.
One last thing worth noting, though – this won’t affect users who upgrade to a new phone, and transfer their old balance at the time of activating the new phone. Here’s a quick summary of how this would work, thanks to HowardForums member tfusr19
1. Transfer service/minutes/phone # from your current Tracfone to the new phone purchased thru this deal.
2. Verify phone works ….. e.g. phone # , service days and minutes all came over from old phone, you can make/receive calls, etc.
3. Add PIN number for 1200minutes / 1-year now at the end. (You could do this as part of step 2, but I’m wanting to make this KISS).
By following these steps, users can add all previous airtime to the new phone, and the new phone will still be eligible to receive any “bundled” minutes such as are offered by HSN.
For more discussion of this topic, check out the forum thread at HowardForums.
Moto G on TracFone BYOP
Back when TracFone first introduced their Bring Your Own Phone program, I lamented that two of the 3G phone models I would be most interested in putting on TracFone, the iPhone 4s and the Moto G, were not allowed on the BYOP program. Several months after BYOP debuted, TracFone began activating iPhones. However, until recently, I was not aware of any Moto G phones activating successfully on TracFone service.
Now some people have been able to activate the Moto G, as I’ve learned recently thanks to a comment from “Danny” posted to this blog. He was able to successfully activate a Moto G, purchased off eBay, on TracFone’s BYOP service earlier this month. He shared a screen shot (at left) of the TracFone My Account Android app running on his Moto G, displaying the device model number.
It seems the key to making this work is that the Moto G must have been active on Verizon’s own prepaid service for a minimum of six months. At that time, Verizon will release the phone from their list of devices that are prohibited on MVNO’s (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) such as TracFone. Since the Moto G was just announced in the U.S. in December, 2013, those 6-month active phones are just now hitting the secondary market.
At this time, Moto G’s are selling for $70-$90 on eBay. If you want to try this route for yourself, though, be aware of the following caveats:
1. The phone must have previously been on Verizon Prepaid, and active on that service for at least six months.
2. There is now a second generation Moto G that has 4G LTE – this newer version has 4G, and WILL NOT work on TracFone.
If you decide to try activating a Moto G on TracFone, please share your experience in the comment section below this post.
Another step toward 4G service
In a previous post, I commented on some indications that 4G LTE service would be available to prepaid companies that provide access to the Verizon network. At that time, there was speculation that pay-as-you-go company Page Plus would soon announce LTE service. That announcement has been made official, and Page Plus will accept 4G devices beginning in just a few days.
While this doesn’t have any direct bearing on TracFone, Straight Talk, or Net10, it is hopefully a step in the right direction for all MVNO’s that operate on Verizon’s infrastructure. Like I said last time I posted about this topic, I wouldn’t hold my breath over it, but at least there is a glimmer of hope now.
It looks like TracFone could potentially see some new phones debuting in time for the holiday shopping season, and I’ll soon be doing a post about those possible devices.