December 29, 2014

New to Tracfone? Start Here! - Tracfone Beginners Guide

Learn How to Get Started with Tracfone Prepaid Service

tracfone for beginners
Getting Started with Tracfone
If you're new to Tracfone, or trying to learn about it, this is a great place to begin.

We are going to go through the very basics of what Tracfone is, what they provide, and how to get your phone up and running!

We will also give a general overview of the prepaid minutes you need for calling and texting, and also the phones you can buy and use with Tracfone.

Let's get started!

What is Tracfone?

Tracfone is a low cost wireless prepaid cell phone company. They provide both cell phone service, and phones to use with their service.

If you would like more general information on Tracfone, go check out our page, About Tracfone (and then come back).

What Does Tracfone Offer and How Do Minutes Work?

Tracfone offers prepaid cell phone service in the form of minute cards, with values ranging from 30 minutes to 1500 minutes. Some options are only available online at the Tracfone website, but many prepaid minute cards, like the 60, 120, 200, 450 and 400/1 year cards are available from many different retailers, both in stores and online. (You can find cards at stores like Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Amazon, and eBay)

tracfone for beginners
Tracfone 1 Year/400 Minute Card
Unless otherwise marked, most of the minute cards come with 90 days of service. So, for example, if you buy a 60 minute card (which usually costs $20), you get 60 minutes for calling and texting, and also 90 days of service time

If you use all the 60 minutes, you can't make any more calls or texts. And if you get to the end of the 90 days, you also can't make any more calls or texts. So you don't want either to run out!

The nice thing is that minutes and service days roll over. So if you already have 100 minutes, and 10 service days, when you add a 60 minute card, you will end up with 160 minutes and 100 service days!

So its good to keep a little bit of a buffer on your minutes/service days.

Many Tracfone devices come with either Double Minutes for Life or Triple Minutes for Life. These are great bonuses that make it so every minute you add to your phone will be either doubled, or tripled. Look carefully at the descriptions for Tracfone devices to see which they include. Most newer Tracfone's come with Triple Minutes for Life, including all the Android phones.

Tracfone service can be very low cost, as little as $10 a month. And some options even take away the worry of keeping track of your minutes.

The Tracfone Family Value Plan is a great deal for getting minutes and service days automatically added to your phone each month with no hassle. Visit our Guide to the Tracfone Family Value Plan to learn more!

Tracfone also provides its own phones to use with its service. These include both smartphones and regular phones. They have a fair number of options, ranging from $10 flip phones, to $100 Android powered smartphones. We will cover more details on the phones offered by Tracfone a little further below.

Minutes are deducted for calling or receiving calls, and for sending or receiving texts, and also for surfing the web.

On Android smartphones, minutes are split into three pools, one for calling, texting and data. Learn more about how minutes work by reading our Guide to How Minutes Work with Tracfone Smartphones.

Now, let's move on to activating your Tracfone.

How to Setup Your First Tracfone

Setting up a new Tracfone devices is fairly easy, and can usually be done in a few minutes, with it taking a few hours to fully activate.

Each Tracfone device should come with a small red card that includes instructions, and the phones serial number which you will need to register the phone.

You can activate your phone by following the directions, and either calling Tracfone or going online to their website. You can choose to either activate your phone with a new number, or transfer your number from your old phone.

The process for activating phones with Tracfone is usually very easy, and doesn't take much time. But occasionally, and especially with BYOP phones or Android phones, you might run into problems that cause it to take longer. The key is to be persistent and patient.

Once your phone is activated, you will be able to manage your minutes on the home screen (except for the smartphones, which can't display that). You can also check your minutes by signing in to the Tracfone website and going to your account page.

Now that your phone is all set, you can add minutes to it, and start enjoying the freedom and flexibility of a no-contract phone.

Cell Phones Available with Tracfone

As we mentioned above, Tracfone provides its own devices for use on their cell phone network. They get these phones through partnerships with many major cell phone makers like LG, Samsung and others.

Tracfone cell phones cannot be used on other networks, and other cell phones (except for BYOP phones) cannot be used with Tracfone.

There are three general categories of Tracfone devices that we will explain:

  • Non-Android Phones
  • Android Smartphones
  • BYOP Phones

The Non-Android phones are the cheapest, and usually include flip phones, some touchscreens, and other 'basic' phones which do calling and texting well, but might not have internet capabilities. These phones may have double or triple minutes included, and often have long battery life.

These phones have been around for a while, and are generally durable and get the job done. Some examples include the LG 530G and LG 306G.

See these and many more phones on our Cell Phone Reviews page.

Tracfone Beginners guide
Moto E - Android Tracfone
Android Smartphones are a little more expensive, but come with the Android Operating System which is a standardized OS making it possible to download and use a huge variety of Apps through Google Play. This adds amazing potential to these phones, and a long with internet connectivity, you can do a lot beyond calling and texting.

The Android phones significantly range in prices and specifications. The LG Optimus Dynamic can sometimes be found for just $20, while the LG Ultimate 2, and Moto E are closer to $100, but are probably worth it. All Android phones come with Triple Minutes for Life.

Learn more about these and other Android phones on our Android Tracfone List.

Lastly, Tracfone recently created a new program called 'Bring Your Own Phone' or BYOP, which allows users to bring a Verizon CDMA (and now AT&T GSM smartphone) device to use with Tracfone. This has opened the door to phones like the iPhone 4S, and Moto G. The BYOP program is still a little new, and details are not always clear. But you can find everything we know, on the Tracfone BYOP page.

These are the three basic categories of phones available with Tracfone. Each category offers different things to users.

Tracfone Promo Codes

If you're new to Tracfone, you might not know about Tracfone Codes! Basically these are codes provided by Tracfone which will give you extra minutes for free whenever you add a new prepaid minutes card. There are certain codes that work for different Cards.

Visit our Tracfone Promo Codes page for all the codes, and more details.

Unfortunately, these codes won't work with BYOP or Android phones.

Additional Tracfone Resources and Helpful Links

We want to share a few more additional resources for learning more about Tracfone, and getting the most from your device. So browse the following links and take advantage of the information.

For the latest deals and sales on Tracfone devices, head over to our Deals and Discounts category which features periodically updated blog posts that share the lowest prices on Tracfone devices and minutes.

If you have a new smartphone, two posts which are great resources are The Best Android Apps for Tracfone, and Tracfone Smartphone Cases and Covers.

Debating about buying a smartphone? Our list of 6 Major Differences Between Android Smartphones and Non-Android phones may help you with that decision!

Well we hope this information will help you out, and be sure to leave a comment if you have questions! Also share this along with a friend who could also use it!

And if you want to keep up with us and the latest news and info, follow us on Facebook.


  1. Wow! Good info! Didn't know about the byop option, but the free minutes from those codes are great! Are there any tracfone phones you think are like kinda comparable to high-tech modern phones like galaxy s4? or could you bring something like the s4 in on the byop?

  2. Can anyone tell me why some Android phones say they won't work in certain areas? I'm interested in upgrading from the ZTE Valet, and when I search my zip code, none of the new phones come up. It even says the Valet won't work in my zip code, but I'm currently using one. I live in a good sized city, too. If I buy one of the new ones, will it work?

  3. Can someone tell me how to add Promo Codes to the UMX maximum pro?

  4. You don't add promo codes to the device itself- you fill it in when you are adding the minutes thru your online account. At the end of the form there is a question asking "do you have any promo codes?" I just added it there and BAM got a few extra minutes. The minutes were tripled to begin with (so I'd purchased 60 mins which turned into 180 then the promo code bumped it up to 230- so that was a good deal)

  5. I currently have a Trac flip phone and would like to switch to a Trac smart phone, but having difficultly finding a retailer locally that has phones that do NOT require a plan.
    What would be a good phone that I can do that with?

  6. how do you get music on lg phone, so frustrated

  7. Have a new TracFone LG Ultimate 2 that I got through QVC and have finally gotten it connected ... but phone and texts only are working. I'm having a really hard time trying to get internet service, and cannot seem to find any information anywhere. Doesn't it automatically work for internet? They certainly made it sound like it does. The Wi-Fi sources that come up as available all require a password...well, I don't have the passwords for any of them, so I still have no internet service. Any ideas?

    1. Did you get an answer? I have the same problem,do you or anyone know of a real
      person or number that I can talk to?

  8. Can anyone tell me a tracfone model that is NOT a smartphone that will display the sending and receiving texts on the same screen? I have one that displays the text messages on separate screens and I don't like not being able to see the entire conversation on one screen. Thanks!

  9. To get data working on the QVC tracfone once your home page is there,put your finger up top and swipe down. look to top right where you see "Data" tap it with your finger to activate e-mail etc........assuming you have e-mail/internet g-mail etc it should star to download

  10. Why do I have to redeem a code to get messenger for Facebook ? Then when I try to to put one in, it tells me I HAVE NO INTERNET ! This Android is a pain & I have no service at my house. Loosing patients fast !

  11. I would like to have a cover for my new LG Power L22C Tracfone. Would appreciate your help.

  12. *Best* feature of tracefone you don't have to create account /register; ~register~ phone yes, but not yourself.

  13. How do I transfer my remaining minutes on my non android phone to an identical phone which has never been activated? Please reply. Thank you!

    1. Go on the Tracfone website and activate your phone, transfering your number/airtime over

  14. What do you think of auto refill. Are there any cons. I see you get a 10% discount and they already have your credit card information?
    Next question, I went with the BYOP and when on my account showing different options for purchasing airtime, ex if signing up for auto refill it asks if you have a promo code. I thought you couldn't use promo codes with smartphone?
    Thanks for all your helpful information, I really appreciate it as I find Tracfone's site and customer service, user unfriendly.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Are there any Tracfones that can connect to my computer via the USB so I can download photos and upload music?
    Great site, thanks for the effort.

    1. Smartphones will!
      Just install a micro SD card in it. (64GB)
      Plug the charging cord into your computer.
      Go to and treat it like
      it is a flash drive !!!
      I wish You Well;

  17. Is the tracfone reconditioned Samsung galaxy e5 any good or should I stay anyway from it?

    1. It depends on the price, if it is available for under $200 it might be a good deal. It is a less expensive version of the Galaxy S5, and it doesn't have some same features. The original version, priced at $350 new, seemed a little overpriced for what you got, but a refurbished version might be worth the money. Other options might be the LG Stylo 2.

  18. Whenever I get a group text message I get an alert that says I have a text but when i try to read it it says "can't download now..." Can this be fixed?


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