August 27, 2015

How Data Works on Tracfone Android Devices

All About Tracfone Data Cards

Welcome to the TracfoneReviewer blog! This post will share specifics on how data works on smartphones with Tracfone. Be sure to also take a look at some of our other posts while you're here.

how does data work on tracfone
Data Cards for Tracfone
Update - Some of the prices and information in this post have changed, take a look at our new article, New Prices/Changes to Tracfone Smartphone Cards to learn more about the changes to data prices.

Tracfone is a prepaid cell phone service provider that offers both phones and airtime cards. On their newer smartphone devices, you also get data when adding an airtime card which you can use to surf the web when not connected to free WiFi.

Data is very useful on smartphones, but how does the data work on Tracfone smartphones, how can you get more, and what can you do with the data you have?

We are going to cover these questions and more in this post sharing all the details about how Tracfone Data works on smartphones.

Some of the popular smartphones that Tracfone offers include the LG Power, the LG Ultimate 2, and the recently released LG Sunset which uses 4G LTE service on GSM networks.

Or you might be interested in the Tracfone BYOP program, which allows users to bring their own smartphone. Follow the link to learn more, and see a list of the possibilities.

Both the smartphones offered by Tracfone, and the BYOP devices, use data in the same way. So let's get started looking at how data works on these phones.

What is Data on Tracfone Smartphones?

Data is the term generally used to describe the amount (usually in megabytes) you can download or upload on your smartphone via the cell phone network. So data is basically information you download or upload from the internet. This can include many different activities, like checking email, posting photos on Facebook, reading webpages, or watching videos.

Data is used based on the amount of megabytes you download or upload. So if you download a 20 MB image, that will use 20 MB of your data. If you visit a webpage that takes 1 MB to load, you will use 1 MB of data. (further down we will share more on estimating how much different online activities will use up your data.)

On older, non-smartphone devices, data was used at a rate determined by the amount of time you were on a website, but this is not the case for smartphones which is a nice improvement.

As you can see, data works similarly to your calling minutes, in that you are charged based on how much you use. But calling minutes are based on time, rather than megabytes. (EX: if you make a 20 minute call, you will be deducted (about) 20 minutes of talk time.)

How Can you Get More Data for your Tracfone Device?

There are two ways to get more data for your smartphone:

Airtime Cards - You get an equal number of Texts, Data and Talking minutes in various amounts from 60 to 450.
Data Cards - You get only Data, in various amounts from 300 MB to 4 GB (4000 MB)

For most situations you will probably want to add an Airtime card to your phone to increase all your 'buckets' of talk/text/data.

But sometimes you may only want to add data, in which case the data only cards are useful. Let's take a closer look at Data cards to better understand how to use them.

What Are Data Only Cards?

As mentioned above, Data cards increase the amount of data for your smartphone, without adding any additional texts or talking minutes.

This is similar to the Text only cards we recently discussed.

There are some important things to be aware of the make the Data cards unique.

First, they can only be used with smartphones, including the Android devices offered by Tracfone, and all phones offered through the BYOP program.

Second, in our testing, Airtime cards will triple for all smartphone devices, while the Data cards do not, so be aware of that when choosing one or the other. This doesn't necessarily make the regular Airtime cards a better deal, but we will compare the costs for each card next.

Data Card Amounts and the Cost Per MB Compared to Airtime Cards

Tracfone Data cards come in several different amounts, and are at this time, as follows:

300 MB for $10
750 MB for $15
2000 MB for $30
4000 MB for $50

You have several options to choose from, but which one is the best value, and how do they compare to the regular Airtime cards? Take a look at this chart:

Cost per MB for Tracfone Data cards and Airtime cards:
Tracfone Data Card Amounts
Cost per MB for Data and Airtime Cards
Straight away we can see that the Data cards cost between 1 cent and 3 cents per MB, with the largest card, the 4 GB (4000 MB), the best value.

If we look at the regular airtime cards and run the same calculation we see they are not nearly as good a deal for data. However, we are totally not incorporating the additional Text/Talk time you get with the regular Airtime cards from Tracfone. We are only looking at which card is a better deal for purchasing Data. It is interesting to note that the 450 Minute Card is the best value for the Airtime Cards.

We can conclude then, that if you are only in need of extra data, the 4 GB Data card is the best value.

Where to Buy Tracfone Data Cards

Tracfone Data cards are available form a variety of sources, as is the case for Tracfone Airtime cards. You can find Data cards on the Tracfone website under Airtime.

You can also find the Tracfone Data cards in many retail stores, and even online through other retailers. We have found Data cards on eBay in various amounts.

Now let's cover one more question that we see asked quite often.

How Much Can you Do Online with 300 MB of Data?

A common question we see is, what can you do online with a certain amount of data? This is a very good question, because many people tend to estimate how many airtime minutes they will need, and then buy the airtime card that suits their needs best. But if you're unfamiliar with how much data is used by smartphones, it makes it hard to estimate.

It is a little hard to give a straight answer to this question, it all depends on what you do online  Take a look at this image (provided by Tracfone) to help give you a better idea:

tracfone 300mb of data what you can do
Estimated usage for 300 MB of data with Tracfone
From this table we see you can visit about 245 webpages with 300 MB of data, or send/receive about 4000 emails. Hopefully this information will help you gain a better understanding of how data is used with Tracfone, and where your data is going.

If you notice, doing certain things online, like streaming music, or even more so, streaming video, will use your data quickly, while visiting webpages or sending emails, especially those with few images, will use less of your data.

Another good resource for estimating your data usage is the Data Calculator on Verizon's website. Enter your estimated activities, and it will tell you about how much data you will use in a month.

Remember, that if you want to stop using data, you can usually go into the settings on your device, select data, and turn it off. Using WiFi networks, like at your home or work, does not deduct from your data.

Here is a helpful article on what online activities use data, and some other basic details about data usage from an AT&T Forum.

We hope you found this information helpful, and please leave a comment with any questions, or if you have something to add!

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Take a look at one of our other popular posts, the Over 30 Great Android Apps to use with your Smartphone.

Thanks for visiting!

60 comments :

Casey and Kim said...

So purchasing a data card will not change your service end date and unused data will never expire. Do I have this correct?

Peter Vanosdall said...

that's correct, and data will not expire as long as you still have service days.

Casey and Kim said...

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Does unused data roll over, assuming you keep adding service days?

With the byop plan, do you have to have a phone with an existing plan and phone number from another company, or can I go out and buy a new gsm compatible phone and sign up using this plan?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, now I see someone already asked about unused data!

Disgruntled College Grad said...

Tracfone updated their website (it had been down for two days) the LG Sunrise is now available.

opinion02122 said...

I wanted to purchase a data card through Walmart. It asked me for my ZIP code. I put it in and got the message that the data card wouldn't work in my area. Is that true? My LG Ultimate 2 should be able to handle it. Is Walmart wrong?

The Dord said...

Seems like the $30 and $50 data cards are the way to go for price per MB even if the discount between those two aren't as big as the 1st two cards.

Australia said...

Does it Support with Australian networks and phones? Where can I buy them except ebay?

Ry said...

Why do the Tracfone Data only cards say "For Android powered phones only"?

Unknown said...

I cannot find out how to min on my Samsung d101 android tablet. Help please need to call out

Anonymous said...

Picked up 2 Sunrises now marked down to $9.82 each. Apparently on closeout now, surprisingly the Walmart display had more Tracphones than in the past.

Greg said...

It's mid December now, and WM still has plenty of Sunrises.

Hannah Thomas said...

How do add a data card to my phone? I have an lg destiny

marvell said...

My data seems to keep getting used up but I don't access the web, fb or email so where does it keep going? I only use my phone for calls and texting.

Greg said...

Even if you don't email or anything, those apps keep in touch with their sources online. So Gmail will keep synching up with Gmail online even if you aren't sending emails from your phone, for example.

You can slow down (but not eliminate) data drain by turning your connection OFF when you aren't actively needed to use an app that needs a data connection like My Account. Go into your Settings Menu and find "Mobile Data". Turn it off. That should help immensely (did for me).

Just remember that before you can use apps like My Account (mentioned above), you'll need to turn Mobile Data back on. To do that, just go back into Settings and turn it back on. Use the ap you need, then turn MD back off again.

Anonymous said...

Great info! Thanks!

Unknown said...

I have an LG SUNSET and I am wondering if buying a data card will somehow mess up phones that have Triple Minutes for life. I currently have about 3600 minutes of talk, text and data MG. (And if I buy another one year 400 minute card, this will triple to give me a total of about 4800 in each bucket. However, if I should decide to get a data-only card at some point in the next year, could this somehow mess up the service.

The reason I ask is that I read on your site something about when you have a triple minutes phone, NEVER buy a double or triple minutes card since this will mess up the phone (in other words, always buy single minutes to get the triple minutes).

Would a 300 MB data card triple as well.

Sorry this is confusing.

Alan Williams said...

I thought 1 gigabyte is 1024 megabytes

Anonymous said...

Technically yes, but sometimes it is rounded to 1000 for simplicity.

Unknown said...

Can it be used for a net10 phone since its through through tracfone?

davidh said...

I have a Samsung S5 under tracfone's Bring Your Own Phone program. I have plenty of Data and Message minutes but no Data minutes left. I want to add data and have purchased a Android only 4Gb data card. The directions with the card say to press MENU > PREPAID > REDEEM AIRTIME.

My Galaxy S5 doess not have a MENU key and the help area has no listing for Prepaid or Redeem. So how do I add the data to my phone?

Anonymous said...

I want to purchase either an iphone 5s or the new iphone SE. I currently have a tracfone android now with 2000 minutes, 2000 messages, and 3000 MB of data. If I begin to use the BYOP service, will the minutes, data, and text messages transfer over?
And also do Verizon phones work with the BYOP serivce?

Sewlady said...

Good site!

Casey said...

You can add airtime/data by signing into your account on the Tracfone website, or on your smartphone by downloading the "Tracfone My Account" app.

Val said...

Great site. I had a bunch of questions, and will have more I am sure, but now I have hopes of finding an answer without a 1-800 queque. I love my LG sunrise from Straight talk, but the $45 a month was a little steep for me, and really I don't use it that much, now I can spend far less and enjoy it more. THANKS Question, how do I know which towers this runs off of, I am confused.

Jim said...

Not sure if this has been answered. Can you use the phone for Data ONLY. No airtime minutes. Basically, just an internet device?

Unknown said...

No. While they're both owned by the same company (American Movil), they are not interchangeable.

Unknown said...

Does leftover data roll over to the next month.

Andrew Malchoff said...

I bought a $50 data card added it to my phone it says it is there that I have 5gb of data turned my data on and off and back on again and my data isn't working also turned phone off and on and still bot working what do I do

Paul Urankar said...

My wife bought me a Tracfone, LG Sunset. How much data comes with it?

Unknown said...

If I get a data only card with 1 gb does service slow down after the 1 gb is used or does it end completely ?

Chase Ostermann said...

If I get a data only plan with 1gb data does my service slow down after that gb is used or does it end completely?

Anonymous said...

The prices are higher now. 2 gig costs $50.00. 750 meg costs $20.00.

Pam said...

If I try to go to the internet someplace where there is no wifi, a page comes up that wants me to pay for xfinity wifi. I tried turning on my data, but the same thing still happens. Shouldn't I be able to go online using data? I have an LGL 22c tracfone

Peter Vanosdall said...

Yes, you should probably contact Tracfone about this.

Peter Vanosdall said...

1 GB data is now available on the Tracfone website for $10. They've been changing things a bit lately.

Pam said...

The told me that if wifi is unavailable and I want to use data to surf the net, I have to turn wifi off. That makes no sense. Shouldn't I be able to leave them BOTH on just in case there is wifi?

Peter Vanosdall said...

Hmm, yes, that sounds very strange.

Sarah Smith said...

Are only specific phones considered by tracfone to be smartphones? I have a Samsung Galaxy Stardust and added a smartphone refill. I'm wondering if because I don't have a fancier "smartphone" it only extended my service date and that's why it hasn't added additional minutes, etc?

Anonymous said...

Can you also put this on tablets?

Shae L said...

I bought an LG Sunset Tracfone and it is deducting 2 minutes for a 50 second call. Anyone else noticing this problem?

Anonymous said...

no

Marc C said...

I am trying to add a data only card from the web site (1 GB for $10) but it will not total and send me to checkout. It says I have to add an airtime card. I have all the minutes and texts I need (I added a texts only card with no trouble some time ago). Do I have to add more minutes and text

Anonymous said...

Marc C - You did log in to your TracFone acct & selected your current phone ? or you did enter your Phone or serial # in the airtime section? Assume you DO have minutes and text still available? Seems they may not allow a plan to have only data. Sometimes on a phone it does not show everything - much easier on desktop. Hope it works out for you.

Unknown said...

What is the difference between a Samsung Galaxy Centura tracfone, and a LG Premier Smartphone in terms of gigabytes? thank you.

Anonymous said...

I just did BYOP w/Tracfone on a Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone. I managed to get what I thought a good deal on the new SIM and 90days minimal service plan-just testing the waters. Looks like phone still activates with AT&T. Is this normal? Yes, it was an AT&T phone. I just thought the activation would change the behavior of the opening screen. Activation took about 30 minutes late at night. Couldn't do it myself on their website. Chat was helpful but took a long long time. I hope the service is good, the price was right for me, less than 7.00 a month. I mostly use my phone for texts or calls. Suggestions are welcomed. I shut off the phone to avoid unwanted "updates/connections" using up my data. And nobody knows the phone number yet!!!

Joe Motsay said...

What size processor in terms of GHZ does the Samsung Galaxy Centura have as compared to the LG Premier Smartphone? Thank you.

Unknown said...

I nave a LGL39C Trac phone. In text mode it will not download attachments or the message, only the message body. Checked the balance and it shows " 0 " Data ,could that the reason ?

Wabash Cannonball said...

I am trying to use a canvassing app for a campaign away from any wi-fi connection. Will this data-only card help?

Anonymous said...

Most likely that is the reason. I have to manually turn on data to download attachments.

Anonymous said...

I just wasted too many airtime units trying to get a straight answer from someone working with a script. When I use my phone to check my email account. It takes about 5 seconds to load my email index and when I click on new emails it takes all of another 5 seconds to list them. I look at a couple and then logout and off of the web. Now I expected a hit in my DATA units but instead, not as well, I got a 91 unit hit in my air time for what was 3 minutes in real time. I want to know why my airtime gets beat up instead of my data units getting used. My Tracfone script reader wasn't even close to coming up with a close answer.

Peter Vanosdall said...

What phone are you using? And what app for checking your email? I only use the gmail app, and it works great, whether on WiFi or data. There are other third party apps I've heard also work very well. Are you using a smartphone?

Anonymous said...

We just bought a 750 MB data card for our LG Sunrise. When I entered in the PIN and refreshed the stats in the My Account app for Tracfone, it only added 180 MB and increased my minutes and texts. Is this what's supposed to happen?

Peter Vanosdall said...

No, that's very odd. It sounds like the PIN was for a 60 minute card - which would give you 180 minutes, texts and data. Very strange that it got mixed in with a 750 MB card. If you purchased the card from Tracfone, might be worth contacting them to sort things out.

Anonymous said...

When buying a phone do you first have to know who your carrier is so you don't get the wrong one by mistake and not have it work with the cell towers in your area? EX: trying to use a phone intended for AT&T towers in a Verizon area. Please advise, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I pay every three month for my husband phone I have the internet shut off because at 88 all he uses it for is talk. Why is his phone using data?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all this info. FINALLY, I think I have a good understanding of how Data works...

Unknown said...

Is the LG840G considered a Smart Phone? Can I add data to it with a data card?

Anonymous said...

Yes