A Comparison of TracFone, Net10 and Straight Talk

by pbushx2 on April 19, 2012

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.

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