TracPhone questions

I seem to remember seeing some TracPhone experts on this forum. I have some questions -

I'm looking into TracPhone because my usage is low and I get good coverage on Verizon. So have been looking into the TracPhone (Verizon) phone+airtime deals that I see on prepaidphonenews. Have never had TracPhone before so total newbie.

Thanks everyone!
Edit - ah, it's Tracfone - and not like I spelled it! Oh well, you know what I mean.

QVC also has had good deals. You can add a gb for $10. It just doesn't add any time to your 365 days. Before the year is over you need to buy another card. That way your minutes etc. will roll over. Tracfones not bad. you can buy another deal like that on hsn every year

Tracfone does have lots of detractors. I've used them for years, and been very pleased. If your use is intermittent & modest, it's very competitively priced. If you use lots of minutes, or lots of data (averaging a gig a month or more), it's not a good choice.

(Sorry if I repeat some of Mark's info here!)

You can add data cards or text cards cheaply-- as noted, those add-ons don't include service days, but they will continue to roll over as long as you have service days available, and stack on top of what you already have. For example, if you buy one of the promo bundles with a years worth of service, adding a 2GB data card will add an additional 2GB of data to be used over the year of time you already have on the phone.

There isn't any way to add a bucket of minutes without adding a package that includes everything including additional days of service.

Tracfone tips: you need to spend a little time to understand how the system works to keep the cost as low as possible. There are 2 active non-official Tracfone forums with members that are knowledgeable and always willing to lend a hand figuring things out. (Search here for 'Turk' to find a link to one, and the other is a sub-category on Howard Forums-- or here, of course.)

Tracfone benefits by selling both minutes, and service days. Folks are always tempted to 'save' one by spending too much on the other. (For example if you use very few minutes, and have 700 minutes left at the end of the year, it's tempting to add an additional card to 'save' the 700 minutes you might never use.) You'll do better if you only worry about the cheapest way to get what you need, and are willing to let stuff you won't use disappear.

The Luna seems to be a good choice. The Luna Pro is generally recognized as the best currently available Tracfone. You can do regular scans on HSN.com, QVC.com, and Evine.com to find limited time offers. (I recently bought a similar package with a cheaper phone for $50.) You can BYOP if desired, too. (The Verizon Prepaid phones from C7Recycle that you're looking at might be eligible, and that's one of the reasons I'm interested in one........)

As Mark mentions, after the year is up you might be wisest to simply buy another promo bundle. At that time, if you've got a phone you already like, there is a process to 'harvest' the units and service days from the new bundle, use it on your old phone, and roll over any units you still have available from the old package. Don't try this without learning how-- but at that point, you can just shop for the cheapest promo bundle without worrying about the crappy phone included.

Thanks guys. I see I have a lot to learn! Tracfone does look like a good choice for me. I think I will stick with the phone+airtime bundles for now. And maybe BYOP after I have gotten the hang of Tracfone.

Question - how can I be sure that the Tracfone phone+airtime I buy from HSN is on Verizon? I seem to have read that Tracfone uses all carriers - I want to be sure it's Verizon because other carriers are not as good where I am.

And is roaming likely to be a problem?

TIA.

In reverse order:
Tracfone smartphones do not roam outside of their native carrier. (** with a note that the Tracfone website used to clearly state this, and the wording has changed to that it's not clear-- but I haven't been able to confirm that the actually policy has changed.)

To assure VZW as the carrier: it's frequently in the description on HSN, etc. If not, look at the model number. I always try to confirm the model number via a google search or by browsing the model-specific thread at http://s1.zetaboards.com/Turk/forum/1712922/ , but VZW Tracfones always seem to have a 'V' in the suffix. (The phone you mentioned above is model SM-S120VL : An AT&T version might be SM-S120LL or -L, -BL, -DL, )

HSN, QVC, & Evine typically sell predominately VZW versions, since they will work for more shoppers. You can find occasional AT&T versions on these sites. I don't think I've ever seen a T-Mobile version offered through one of these stores--you'll only see these in a local store, or ordering directly from Tracfone. (And you won't find Sprint network.)
If someone needs T-Mobile, some (but not all) of the GSM Tracfones are carrier agnostic--Tracfone will ship a replacement SIM if you need T-Mobile.

A warning for those not familiar-- Tracfones are locked down tight. Don't count on ever using one on any carrier outside of Tracfone's brands.

(EDIT TO ADD: Tracfone units and time are carrier-agnostic-- they're tied to your account, and not to a particular phone or carrier. If you buy a Verizon phone, you can change to an AT&T phone and keep your minutes and days of service.)

Tracfone is the most complicated prepaid provider on the market. At least if you want to make the most of it!

Yeah-- I think that's one of the reasons so many people don't like Tracfone-- they got burned because it wasn't a good fit for their needs, and they didn't understand how it was going to work.
The same oddities make it attractive if you have the right needs, and understand how it works.

So thanks to your help, i felt confident enough to take the Tracfone plunge! Have ordered the HSN phone, airtime bundle. The only thing that miffed me was that HSN baited me into signing up with them by showing me a 15% off coupon and then refused to give me 15%off with that coupon code. Then they wouldn't let me use the $10 off SHOPHSN code either. That sure soured the whole experience.

Being of the not-cheap-but-frugal variety :slight_smile: like the rest of the denizens of this forum, I wish I could have gotten the 15% off!

The HSN discount codes are a bit of a blind guess-- the fine print usually says they're not usable on electronics. I've had them work sometimes, and fail sometimes, for Tracfone purchases.
Is the SHOPHSN code the 'new customer' code? I would have expected that one to work.

Which phone did you get? I think you were looking at the Luna SM-S120VL ? If so, let me know what you think of it. I've looked longingly at it because it's a 4.5", and that's the size I prefer (and is hard to find). But I have a 5" phone that I could use via BYOP, and a currently active 3.5", so my frugal nature has prevented me from getting one.

Yeah, I expected the shophsn code to work too because I was indeed a new customer seeing how they enticed me to sign up with that other (non-working! Totally miffed about it!) 15% off coupon. And the shophsn coupon didn't have any small print either, so I was even more miffed when it too didn't go through! Anyways, i should learn to let go of such frugality-insulting miffs!

KentE, yeah, i was looking at the 4.5" Luna but decided to go with the Luna Pro. Actually because of it's larger size! And also because it has 16gb instead of 8gb. It was bundled with 1500 of everything instead of 1200, which was also an attraction -- maybe I can stretch that so I won't have to buy that 1gb card later.

Question for Tracfone veterans -- anything i should keep in mind while activating the phone? I haven't received the phone yet, should i be bracing myself for any problems likely to crop up during activation? Any tips on avoiding activation glitches? Don't relish the thought of having to use customer service chat at activation, so would like to be prepared in advance.

Thanks guys, you have all been a great help!

The Luna Pro is a good choice-- it's a slight variant of a very popular current Samsung model offered through multiple prepaid carriers, and as a Factory unlocked version. Tracfone used to always offer only severely stripped and/or obsolete phones, and it's nice to see 'mainline' options.

I believe you don't have a current Tracfone? If not, the steps should be quite easy, with the only need to contact Customer Service if the allotments don't report correctly after activation.
Hang on to any paperwork from the package, and take a screenshot of the HSN page just for security, until you see everything working properly after activation.

Anytime you decide to switch phones, to merge lines, to add a high-value card (like a one-year card) etc., you need to document remaining allotments before you do so, preferably by having Chat read those remaining allotments to you, and saving the transcript. That way, if anything goes wrong, you have a record of the Chat agent confirming all your totals.

Do you plan on porting a number? Or letting Tracfone assign a new #?

KentE wrote: Do you plan on porting a number?

No, no, I plan on keeping things simple. Won't port in a number. I use GoogleVoice anyways, so I'll take whatever number Tracfone cares to assign me. I ported in a number once and got burned, so no more ports for me!

You should find activation very simple, then. Nothing really to watch out for.