A Comparison of TracFone, Net10 and Straight Talk

by pbushx2 on

The following was written by “RZOMBIE79.” She has been helping people with their TracFone, Net10 and Straight Talk questions for years on various forums, and she and I recently connected. She shared this with me, and I thought it was too good not to pass along and publish it for everyone else to learn from it. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

I think it is especially valuable in helping new prepaid users decide which service will best meet their needs, but even pay-as-you-go veterans could benefit from taking another look to make sure they are still spending their money wisely. And as always, if you have anything to add to this, or if you disagree, please do leave a comment below the post so we can all benefit from further information.

Many thanks to RZOMBIE79. Here’s her analysis:

Double Minutes for Life Tracfone Vs. Triple Minutes for Life Tracfone Vs. Net10 Vs. Straight Talk

Many people are switching from contract phones to prepaid phones to save money. Prepaid phones will save you money, if you buy the correct service and plan for your needs. The first thing you need to do is figure out how many minutes and text messages you will use per month. This will help you figure out what you will be spending per month. If you are already using a Tracfone and find that you are spending more than you thought you would, maybe Net10 or Straight Talk would be a good alternative for you.

I have found that when I buy minutes for my Tracfone cell phone or Net10 cell phone I usually buy the same amount of minutes each time. Which means I spend the same amount of money each time I purchase minutes. I know that some people may buy different amounts each time they buy minutes. But for the purpose of proving what service will save you the most money, I am going to pretend that you would buy the same amount of minutes each time you and spend the same amount of money for each purchase.
TracFone

Net10

Straight Talk

TracFone

Double Minutes for Life Tracfones can be purchased for as low as $14.99. I suggest that you buy a Tracfone with at least Double Minutes for Life. In my opinion, if you buy a Tracfone that is not labeled as a Double Minutes for Life (DMFL) or Triple Minutes for Life (TMFL) you are throwing money away. Tracfone minutes will add up and rollover as long as you add more airtime before the service end date. The service end date is on your phones home screen.

$ per airtime card Minutes included on airtime card Minutes received with DMFL phone # of cards for a year of service Total Minutes received per year Total $ per year spent on airtime
$20.00 60 120 4 480 $80.00
$25.00 90 180 4 720 $100.00
$30.00 120 240 4 960 $120.00
$40.00 200 400 4 1200 $160.00
$80.00 450 900 4 3600 $320.00
$100.00 400 800 1 800 $100.00

Tracfone now offers Triple Minutes for Life Tracfone cell phones. The cheapest Triple Minutes for Life phone is currently listed for $59.99.

$ per airtime card Minutes included on airtime card Minutes received with TMFL phone # of cards for a year of service Total Minutes received per year Total $ per year spent on airtime
$20.00 60 180 4 720 $80.00
$25.00 90 270 4 1080 $100.00
$30.00 120 360 4 1440 $120.00
$40.00 200 600 4 2400 $160.00
$80.00 450 1350 4 5400 $320.00
$100.00 400 1200 1 1200 $100.00

Since the airtime card that you add to your phone determines the rate of each text message sent, I did not include the price per text message in the rates for Tracfone. If you use the web browser on your Tracfone, you will be charged 1 minute of airtime for each minute you are using the web browser.

Tracfone also uses Promotional Codes to give you additional free minutes when you add an airtime card. A list of current promotional codes can be found here http://www.pbush14.com/2008/02/28/tracfone-promotional-codes-3/. The use of Promo Codes will change the total number of minutes that you receive with a Tracfone. Promo Codes rates change from month to month. The number of bonus minutes that you will receive with a promo code will also change, depending on the amount of money that you spend on the airtime card. So I can not factor in the use of promo codes when figuring the rates for Tracfone.

Net10

Net 10 offers two types of plans to use with the Net10 service. You can buy a minutes plan that will add up and roll over, just like the Tracfone minutes. The text messaging rate is .5 or ½ of a minute for most models of Net10 phones. If you use the web browser on your Net10 phone you will be charged 1 minute of airtime for each minute you are using the web browser.

$ per airtime card Minutes or Text Messages included on airtime card # of cards for a year of service Total minutes received per year Total $ per year spent on airtime
$20.00 200 minutes/400 text messages 12 2400 minutes/4800 text messages $240.00
$30.00 300 minutes/600 text messages 6 1800 minutes/3200 text messages $180.00
$45.00 600 minutes/1200 text messages 6 3600 minutes/ 7200 text messages $270.00
$60.00 900 minutes/1800 text messages 4 3600 minutes/7200 text messages $240.00
$100.00 1500 minutes/3000 text messages 2 3000 minutes/ 6000 text messages $200.00

You can also buy 30 day (Monthly) plans. The monthly plans will not rollover and if you do not add another airtime card on or before the service end date you will lose your phone number and any unused minutes.

$ per airtime card Minutes/Text Messages included on airtime card # of cards for a year of service Total minutes received per year Total $ per year spent on airtime
$25.00 750 minutes or 750 text messages 12 9000 minutes or text messages $300.00
$50.00 Unlimited minutes and text messages 12 Unlimited minutes and text messages $600.00
$65.00 International Unlimited national/ international minutes and unlimited national text messages 12 Unlimited national/international minutes and unlimited national text messages $780.00

You can switch between the monthly plan and minutes plan as many times as youlike. If you are using a minutes plan and add a monthly plan card to your phone you will lose any rollover minutes and service days you may have had built up.

Net10 also offers the reserve option with their monthly plans. You register your Net10 phone at Net10.com. Then you can add as many monthly plan cards as you want. As long as you have a monthly plan card in reserve as soon as your service end date is reached, the monthly plan card will be added automatically.

Straight Talk

Straight Talk is only available at Wal-Mart stores and online at Straight Talk.com. Straight Talk offers 30 day plans only. Straight Talk unlimited plans can also be added to a reserve. If you have an unlimited plan with Straight Talk and add another unlimited plan to your phone. The 30 days will start over from the current date. So you can never have more than 30 service days on a Straight Talk phone.

$ per airtime card Minutes/ Text Messages/ web access included with airtime card # of cards for a year of service Total minutes received per year Total $ per year spent on airtime
$30.00 1000 minutes/ 1000 text messages/ 30MB of data 12 12000 Minutes/ 12000 Text Messages / 3.6GB of data $360.00
$45.00 Unlimited 12 Unlimited $540.00
$60.00 Unlimited National / International minutes and unlimited national text messages 12 Unlimited national/international minutes and unlimited national text messages. $720.00

Summary: Straight Talk vs. Net10 vs. Straight Talk

So what do I recommend?

If you are new to Tracfone, Net10 or Straight Talk. I recommend that you estimate how many minutes you are going to be using per month. Then look at the chart below to find what phone and airtime card to buy.

Minutes used per month Phone Type Airtime card value Days of service # of cards for a year of service Total $ per year spent on airtime
Emergency phone DMFL Tracfone $20.00/60 minutes 90 days 4 $80.00
Less than 40 minutes DMFL Tracfone $20.00/60 minutes 90 days 4 $80.00
40-60 minutes TMFL Tracfone $20.00/60 minutes 90 days 4 $80.00
60-120 minutes TMFL Tracfone $30.00/120 minutes 90 days 4 $120.00
120-200 minutes TMFL Tracfone $40.00/200 minutes 90 days 4 $160.00
200-300 minutes TMFL Tracfone $40.00/200 minutes 90 day 5 $200.00
300-750 minutes Net10 $25.00 750 minutes or texts 30 days 12 $300.00
750-1000 minutes Straight Talk $30.00/ 1000 min. 1000 texts 30 days 12 $360.00
Over 1000 minutes Straight Talk $45.00 unlimited 30 days 12 $540.00
Over 1000 minutes Net10 $50.00 unlimited 30 days 12 $600.00

Tracfone Tips

-If you are a current Tracfone customer and have more minutes than you will ever use. Buy the $20.00 60 minutes 90 service days cards to extend your service end date. Do not buy the $100.00 800 minutes 365 service days card. This will save you $20.00 per year.

-If you are buying a Tracfone for an emergency phone and do not want to bother with remembering when to add airtime cards. Buy 4 $20.00 60 minutes with 90 service days cards and add them to your phone all at once.

-If you tend to use all of your minutes and run out of minutes before your service end date. Leave at least 5 minutes on your phone. This way you will not risk losing your phone number. You will also be able to see the people that call you. If you use all of your minutes and you still have service days on your phone, your phone will ring, but the caller ID will not show you who is calling.

Net10 Tips

-If you are a current Net10 customer and have more minutes than you will ever use. Buy the $30.00 300 minutes 60 service days airtime cards to extend your service end date.

-If you tend to use all of your minutes and run out of minutes before your service end date. Leave at least 5 minutes on your phone. This way you will not risk losing your phone number. You will also be able to see the people that call you. If you use all of your minutes and you still have service days on your phone, your phone will ring, but the caller ID will not show you who is calling.

Monthly Plans Tips

-If you need the monthly plans but have a hard time remembering to add airtime cards on time, either Straight Talk or Net10 will allow you to put extra airtime cards in a “reserve.” Register your phone at either StraightTalk.com or Net10.com, and you can buy multiple monthly plan airtime cards and put them into your reserve. The new airtime card will automatically be added on your service end date.

-Straight Talk rates may be cheaper per month. But if you have to drive to Wal-Mart specificity to buy Straight Talk minutes you may want to use Net10. Net10 minutes can be purchased at many retailers including discount stores, gas stations and grocery stores. (Note that airtime cards are also available online at Straighttalk.com.

-Straight Talk rates may be cheaper by $5.00 per month. But the Net10 phones can be found on sale at various retailers. Straight Talk phones do not go on sale. If you are a person who looses their phone, breaks their phone,or likes to switch phones, I recommend Net10.

-Straight Talk unlimited minutes cards will not “stack” on top of each other. When you add a new airtime card, the service end date will be 30 days from the date you added the service card. . You can never have more than 30 service days on a Straight Talk phone.

Now that you know what company is best for your specific needs. Choosing a phone that will work best for you is the second step in choosing a prepaid provider. You can find reviews of phones here.

(ADD LINKS)

Have fun with your new Tracfone, Net10 or Straight Talk phone!

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Old Man April 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Good article, but it is wrong about not being able to add unlimited cards to the reserve on Straight Talk. I add unlimited cards each month to reserve on all 3 of my family’s phones.

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pbushx2 April 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Hey “Old man,”
You are correct about the Straight Talk reserve. I edited the article to show the correct info. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

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Chris April 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm

The cheapest method to extend the airtime of a Tracfone with plenty of accumulated minutes is to enroll in their service protection plan. It is $5.99 per month which adds up to $71.88 a year. It protects the phone number and rolls over all the minutes in the account on a monthly basis. This is a great option if one doesn’t use the phone very often.

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rtox33 April 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm

While it is technically cheaper, if you buy the $20 card, you get the extra airtime, just in case, and only have to purchase it every 90 days. It works out to being only $.67 more per month. However if you’re cash strapped, the $6 charge is easier to handle.

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John H April 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Thank You for doing all the calculations for which service to select. It pretty much confirms my choice of the Net 10 750 minute a month plan.

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Chuck April 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Good explanation. I would have to HIGHLY recommend that anyone who wants to use the internet on their phone must purchase a true smart phone. I tried browsing on one of the Net10 phones with “features” meaning it’s not really quite a smart phone. Well actually not at all now that I think back to it. I used Tracfone a lot when I had a land line and just needed a back up. Now that I have an actual Android phone I have cut the cord entirely. I also end up doing a lot more texting then I ever thought I would since I have unlimited texting.

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Barb April 20, 2012 at 7:05 am

I have always been a happy Net10 customer. I have never had a situation where the call didn’t go through. They have really great coverage. My problem is that I just never used all the minutes, and now I am in the situation that I have accrued over 1000 min. It just doesn’t make sense to keep buying the minimun card. My days expired on 4/17 /12 with over 1000 min. left on the phone. Does anyone know if the 1000 minutes left will ever expire? What if someday in a year or so I were to buy another card and put it on that phone? Would I get my minutes back?

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Matt April 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

I would definitely say that if you want the true smartphone experience on the prepaid budget, Straight Talk has the SIM-only program now (straighttalksim.com). I bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 (AT&T model) off of craigslist for 300, still with warranty, off-contract. With the unlimited Straight Talk plan, I have a true smartphone. I have unlimited cell data, so I can take full advantage of my phones features. I use about 200-300 minutes a month, and send about 800 texts a month. If I didn’t need the cell data, I would have purchased a feature phone and the $30 Straight Talk plan. However, being tech support, I like having access to the net when I need it (which I use for work out in the field most of the time).

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marilynne April 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Thanks. Just the kind of info I was trying to figure out on my own. You did a much better job!

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James Brady April 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm

The above information proves my experiences; that TracFone is the most economical way for me.

Having used TracFone for so many years, I have accumulated 14 years of time, and must purchase minutes every year or less, which means the time builds up. So I am reluctant to switch because I would lose all that time.. But I want a smart phone.

Will TracFone ever give us something??

I have also discovered that the service provided by TracFone has improved dramatically over the past few years such that I no longer avoid calling for help

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A April 21, 2012 at 6:57 am

I agree with James. We as Tracfone customers keep on buying Tracfone’s devices, many of them and they dont meet the current needs of their customers! You all need to give us a true smart phone on Tracfone’s cdma network and AT&T network! With my saying we buy your devices longing to get better use of our phones and it just doesn’t fit the bill! Of course the comment by Tracfone would be raised that alot of people get prepaid to throw away and not keep for a long time but what about Tracfone customers like me that have purchased many phones and service minutes thus not giving us a TRUE SMARTPHONE ALL NETWORKS with TRUE WIRELESS ABILITY because there are lot of us that don’t even have the coverage to use your phones for wireless data; raising the true need for wireless from our homes. Please let us know you are listening to us TRACFONE.

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Gene April 21, 2012 at 10:18 am

Tracfone Tip—If you are a current Tracfone customer and have more minutes than you will ever use. Go to tracfone.com and buy the web only, 30 days & 30 minutes for $9.99. Then at check out add 365 extra days for $49.99. For about $60 you get 13 months and 60 minutes w/DMFL.

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Thomas April 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Tracfone offers monthly billing plans.
$10 for 50 minutes (which are doubled or tripled),
$20 for 125 minutes, or $30 for 200 minutes.

Or the family plans, with 50 minutes for $10 on the 1st, the 40 minutes for $6 on each additional phone.

Also, every Tracfone I’ve owned (6 different models) the cost of SMS messages was fixed on the phone. Either 0.3 or 0.5 minutes/SMS.
Only the cost of purchasing ringtones/backgrounds depends on the last card you added.

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Thomas April 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Oh, and the minutes from the TF monthly plans roll over/build up.

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Linda April 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm

If you change phones on TF, you can transfer any time and minutes from your old phone to the new one so you can upgrade without losing any time or minutes. Double or triple minutes does not transfer.

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trudy April 26, 2012 at 9:14 am

I like the idea of getting triple and double minutes. The triple minute LG800 from Tracfone is a really nice little phone.
If I buy the $10 plan I actually will get 150 minutes which is more than I need. I prefer the 800 to the 500 phone and for me to spend more than $10 for my minutes would be a total waste of money, I am not a heavy cellphone user.

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pbushx2 April 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Chris, you make a good point also. The service protection plan is a great way to “set it and forget it” so your phone will never completely expire on you. And Gene, that’s a very creative way to extend your service.

I like to say that no matter how cheap your minutes are, they’re not a bargain if you’ll never use them!

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pbushx2 April 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Barb –

If you let your service lapse by few days, you will be able to reactivate and retain your minutes. Somewhere, though, I think there is a limit to how long you can be inactive before you will lose the minutes. I don’t recall what the time limit might be. I personally wouldn’t take that risk if it were my 1000 minutes at stake.

One way to extend your minutes a little further is to switch phones more frequently. Every time you activate a new phone, you will get another 60 days added to your expiration date. This can be handy if you find a deal like there is currently offered on the Net10 website, which includes a 300 minute card and a Motorola w408g phone all for $30. If you buy this package and switch to the new phone, you’ll get 60 extra days. The card will then give you another 60 days, plus of course the 300 minutes. I believe you could buy two of packages at a time. If you really want to push it, you could even try to sell the airtime card and just use the phone(s) for the service days. Net10 will frown on this if you do it too frequently, though.

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pbushx2 April 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Thomas has a great point in the opposite direction of Chris and Gene. If you need a lot of minutes frequently, that’s a good way to do it. Many people, though, prefer the flexibility of picking the card they need at the time they need. Of course, it’s easy enough to go in and cancel your monthly plan on the website, but for some reason to some people it just feels more restrictive to have to do that. And, others either do not have a credit card or prefer not to let TracFone have their credit card on file.

Absolutely, though, if you need those minutes each month then that is a great cost per minute.

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Rzombie79 April 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Barb-

You have 30 days to re-activate your Tracfone or Net10 phone with a minutes plan before you will lose your phone number and all of the minutes that you have built up.

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Marie April 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Gene, thanks for that tip. We’ve been paying $80/yr. each for two Tracfones but have over 1,000 minutes on each. Your suggestion will save us $40 per year. Thanks!

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jeanette May 10, 2012 at 9:39 am

I disagree my phone I lost all my numbers and minutes and I am sure that it wasn’t 30 days

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John May 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

My wife uses my Straight Talk phone, and uses over 2000 minutes a month. I was waiting for an android ST phone that runs on Verizon, and am glad to see the Samsung Galaxy Proclaim has come out on ST.

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fiftysomething May 21, 2012 at 3:42 am

As pbush says minutes are not a bargain unless you use them. That is why I use the $20 for three month card. This gives me 120 minutes (beause I have the double minute card). Should I require more minutes I can always purchase more. For me using the double minutes and converting every minute into two is a bargain because I don’t overbuy on the minutes.

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blt33 May 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I have only had a simple tracfone ( samsungt301g) and never tried either the net10 or straight talk but have always wanted to. I just like the simplicity of tracfone where I just chose my phone and was able to aid airtime and got double minutes so easily. Do any of you have the basic tracfone plans? Is switching to net10 better? I want to stay with tracfone because for me it has been extremely reliable and the costs and savings are AMAZING.

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pbushx2 May 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Hi blt
I would say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” It sounds like you are pretty happy with TracFone. If it suits your needs, stick with it, especially if you read the post above and haven’t been persuaded to switch. The main advantages of Net10 and Straight Talk are for people that use more minutes, as well as some of the nicer phones – but in that case you’ll have to pay more per month for the privilege of using those smart phones.

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digger May 30, 2012 at 6:43 am

On Net10 if you sign up for the Unlimited Monthy Plan Auto Refill it is actually $45 instead of $50.

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bernie w June 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm

06/12/2012 code for 60 minutes on a 60 minute card just worked for me
is there any way to delete voice mail from a Motorola 376g ?
CU

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Jousse Baedel November 23, 2012 at 3:42 am

First off, str8talk has 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month unlimited plans and each one of them saves you monies off of the normal $45 plan. You only save $5 on the 3 month plan but $45 on the 12 month plan so you’d get a free month. You won’t lose your number if you let the end date arrive without re-upping. Second, the tracfone $20 60 minute cards are shit. If only for an emergency phone it would be ok but if you have 1 friend that you talk to even once a week and txt everyday and a mother you’ll be buying multiple cards a month. The 90 day service end date won’t matter cuz you’ll never last that long. My girlfriend had a double minute tracfone when we got together and there was months when she was buying 4 $20 cards a month, it was never less than 3. I finally talked her into letting me get her a str8talk phone which was free online with purchase of a service plan and she just gets the $30 card and shes never used all her minutes and txts in the 30 day allotment. You get 1000 of each; talk minutes, txts, and 30MB of browser.

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Ron of Ft. Washington, Md January 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Been with Tracfone for YEARS and my wife’s phone has a service end date of 2022 … dealt with Net10 for a minute due to loss of my Tracfone and that was the pits (Net10). Got a new triple minute Tracfone and I’m a happy camper again!

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Ken January 10, 2013 at 8:38 am

I have been looking all over the web to the answer to this question and I can’t find it. I have the new touch screen tracfone (I think it’s called the LG 800 G) and I was wondering, is there any way to accept credit card payments using a card reader such as the ones put out by PayPal, Intuit, Square etc. I noticed on the top of the phone there is a female port (on the top left side) but I don’t know if that is for the card reader jack or it’s just made so you can plug in a earphone or earplug. Does anybody know if tracfone is set up for this?

Thanks for any help you can provide\
Ken

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Arturo January 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

You are super-freaking awesome to take the time to put this review together! There IS hope for humanity if more people were as helpful as you are. Thank You! It made my choices to switch to prepaid service much easier.

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HelenesDreams January 17, 2013 at 11:40 am

I am using an unlocked Iphone 4s with Straight Talk. I purchased the one year card for $495 unlimited minutes, text and data. That boils down to $41 a month. It runs on ATT towers here in Bend, Oregon. Works great for me. I was paying $100 per month for a Droid X with Verizon…

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Chaz January 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Great piece! Cell phone plans are overcharging Americans by billions of bucks. My T-mobile contract was a scam, like dealing with the mafia. Pay as you go is the only sane choice and this info presented here was essential. Awesome job!

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pbushx2 January 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Thanks Chaz!

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Sherrod February 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Net10 now offers a family plan up to 4 with unlimited everything and when you do auto refill it takes off $5 so for me and my husband it’s only $85. Definitely the way to go seeing we’re paying over $100 for a regular plan through verizon, not even a smart plan. This info was just what I was looking for thanks!

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Robin May 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I’m having reception problem with my Net10 prepaid. If I had a Net10plan, would I have better reception?

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Thomas June 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm

For the past few of years, I’ve been buying Tracfone’s 1500 minute package online for $200 ($0.13 per minute), with double minutes bringing it up to 3000 ($0.067 per minute). This set-up usually lasts ten or twelve months before I have to top off (some months are busier than others. I also use Google Voice when making phone calls to save minutes). Been thinking about getting a triple minutes phone ($0.04 per minute) with Wi-Fi capability (saving minutes when browsing the web, so long as you’re within range, of course).

All the same, this article is making me want to research the current offers of the three brands and seeing which one would work best for me. As much as I love Tracfone, I’m open to other options.

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Amber August 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I have the same question as Ken. I’m looking at the LG800 to use with TracFone. I need to be able to accept credit card payments for sales at an open market. Will I be able to use the Square reader on the phone to accept payments? Anyone know? This information and even all the comments are very helpful. Thank you everyone.

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Ron September 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm

What is left out is the fact that Trac Phone and Net 10 are owned by the same company. Also, Trac Phone has the WORST customer service in the history of planet Earth, and that is putting it mildly.

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Paul September 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm

If you normally use less than 200 minutes/month, Net10′s easy minutes 200/30 days with carryover for $15 may be the best deal.

I noticed that periodically the service extends my “through” date by an extra month, allowing me to pause the auto renew for a month. The accumulated carryover minutes are convenient for heavier than normal use when I’m traveling or on vacation.

Net10 also offers UNLIMITED HOME wireless phone service for $18/month, making it an inexpensive alternative to Vonage.

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don October 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Just bought the samsung smart phone with triple minutes from hsn if u want a smart phone

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Doug November 21, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Don that deal has “Limitations” too as I found out, I bought the same phone but Verisonnet will not honor the Tracfone smart phone while roaming. You get to the end of your home area and that’s it!! The phone goes dead…. Tracfone is lying thru their teeth about the deal and their phone manual says you can roam with it but for Version it’s another story. NO ROAMING and they mean it. I’m still waiting for my money back from HSN.

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John December 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Excelent summary! Here is another good one to add to the comparison, Family Mobile, run by Walmart on the T-Mobile network: http://www.myfamilymobile.com/

They have unlimited everything for $39 or talk&text only for $29. There is an initial cost of $25 per line for the SIM activation kit though. If you have 2 lines, second line is $5 off.

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pbushx2 December 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

That plan is something that’s been on my radar for a while, but the T-Mobile coverage just isn’t sufficient near where I live.

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dd August 27, 2014 at 9:35 am

Just a quick note Walmart family talk.yes it sounds good but beware they don’t support wifi calling and other features that you will have with T-Mobile 4g prepaid. Also T-Mobile has lost their some of their cell tower partners. They lied to me for over a month. I had no signal at home due to them losing cell tower partner and they were telling me that they were doing tower upgrades. T-Mobile are liars and customer service stinks. I was with them for 5 yrs. Now I have to buy a new phone and loose the monthly payment. And also wifi calling has problems. You can’t text with it either. Stay away from T-Mobile

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bob January 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I’ve used Tracfone for over a year it is cheapest for the little that I text…maybe 3-6 times per day. HOWEVER, it sometimes takes hours or even a day to receive a text. And sometimes it is instant so whether it is cheap or not……I am looking for another phone and plan.

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pbushx2 January 16, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I’ve never heard of that problem before – at least not that persistently. What phone are you using? Actually now that I think of it, there was a text message problem on the early version of the LG 800g. So it could be the phone itself. Or it could be the underlying carrier.

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melissa February 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

This is outstanding! I’ve been a Tracfone user for probably close to a decade but never really knew much about the other two services. I did a Google search looking for comparisons and your detailed review was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for posting those charts and helping people decide what’s best for them and letting them know they have options other than the contracts with the big monopolies.

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pbushx2 February 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Thanks Melissa, your comment really made my day! I’m happy to help.

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Dalton May 1, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for the help. i just started back using Net10, but I have had it take 1 day to get a text. So I know what Bob is talking about.

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John Willis May 30, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Thanks PBushx2,
Great article. I’ve been using TF for about 10 years. Very happy.
Want you to write an article comparing TF v ST v Net10 comparing smart phones offerred or allowed.
I’m totally confused regarding options, e.g., BYOP, multiple sims, GoogleVoice, etc.
Thanks again, and keep up the great work.
JCW

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pbushx2 May 31, 2014 at 9:28 am

Thanks, that’s a great suggestion that I will have to implement. If you get a chance, would you be interested in spelling out the exact questions you have? Then I can answer them specifically.

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Jill June 4, 2014 at 6:35 am

I tend to text a lot and have used up almost all of my text “minutes”. Once I run out of text “minutes” can my “talk” minutes be used for texting? I cannot find this answer anywhere on the internet. Thanks for your answer.

I have a Hauwei (sp?) android phone, which allows me triple minutes for any card purchased….but I am a text-a-holic. Can my “talk” minutes be used for texting?

Jill

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pbushx2 June 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

Hi Jill,
Unfortunately that is not how it works. This is a major drawback of the “buckets” system – for those that use text or talk disproportionately relative to the other two buckets. (If data was the issue you could buy a data-only card). For texting, it’s cumbersome, but you could try using other apps such as LINE, facebook messenger, What’s App, or Google voice. I’m not well versed in these, but I believe that they can all be configured to send short messages over the data network, and therefore it wouldn’t count against your text bucket. I’m not positive that’s how it works with What’s app or Google voice – you may need to test it out and/or play around with the settings, but I’m certain about Facebook messenger and LINE. Since so many people have facebook already on their mobile phones, Facebook Messenger would be my first try at an alternative app.

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Jill June 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Thanks for the info….. now I have another question… I have a HUAWEI H868C android smart phone that I use with Tracfone. When I bought it, it offered TRIPLE everything forever. Should I use my phone to redeem the card or should I go to the website and go into my account. I want to be sure that I get ALL of the minutes (triple). So, on the phone or online? Thanks again!!

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pbushx2 June 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Hi Jill,
It doesn’t matter how you redeem your minutes, you will get the triple-triple either way.

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Spanky June 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Add them on-line; because you can make sure bonus codes go through, first. Don’t try more than 3 failed codes before you “clear your browsers cache” and then return anew to the “Add airtime” > “Add card on-line” site. Start with the most bonus code minutes (to try). You never know when they’ll fail or will not work with certain phones. I’ve seen it go through with no bonus minutes credited and you don’t want to call-in begging for those lost bonus minutes. Do you?

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pbushx2 June 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Good point, it was my mistake to not think of that. Thanks for catching it. However, in Jill’s case, adding to a smart phone, it doesn’t matter since smart phones don’t receive the benefit of bonus codes.

russ July 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm

The unlimited straight talk plan is not unlimited. They have a limit,but I haven’t been able to find out what it is yet. I have 12 days left on this 30 day cycle and only marginal date flows, I’m not happy to say the least!if you read the fine print on the back of the card it tells you, but not what the data limit is.

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pbushx2 July 22, 2014 at 11:18 am

Russ, you are exactly correct. It is the most frustrating part of Straight Talk’s service. They have become perhaps a little more transparent about the limit and penalties for exceeding that limit than when the plan first came out, but it is still hard to find this info. Further, the application of the limit seems to be inconsistent. 2.5 GB per month is the “official” limit, but others have reported being throttled before they hit 2 GB, such as this forum discussion:

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1793580-OFFICIAL-Straight-Talk-and-Throttling?p=15465842#post15465842

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Trillium September 11, 2014 at 11:48 am

Are these charts above still current? If not, I think it would be great to update this or revisit it each year. I am just about ready to buy a Tracfone smart phone LG39C on HSN like you have advised recently and moving from Verizon and only had flip phones before. These smart phones and prepaid plans are new to me and there seems to be so many ways to manipulate all of this. I have no idea how much I will use it so maybe the first year is always going to be the test.

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pbushx2 September 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Good point, I will need to revisit this.

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