December 20, 2015

New Smartphone Airtime Cards from Tracfone - Are They A Good Deal?

We Compare the New Smartphone Airtime Cards with the Regular Airtime Cards from Tracfone

UPDATE - Tracfone has made changes to their smartphone cards, and we've shared all the details, including much of the comparison info from below, in our new post, New Prices/Changes to Tracfone Smartphone Airtime Cards. Go take a look for the latest information.

Tracfone recently added several new options for buying airtime for your smartphone. These new cards are only for smartphone users on Tracfone, and add specific amounts of talk time, texts and data that does not triple when you top off your phone. Are these new cards a good deal? Are you better off buying the older cards? We are going to answer those questions right here for you!

For those who might not know, Tracfone is a prepaid wireless phone company that provides both cell phones, and service to use the phones on. Over the last few years Tracfone has offered many different Android powered smartphones to use with their service, as well as making it possible to bring your own smartphone device to use with their service (called the BYOP program).

All smartphones on Tracfone automatically split airtime cards into three separate categories - talk time, texts and data. All smartphones also automatically triple airtime you add to the phone, which is a nice bonus.

With these new airtime cards that can only be used with smartphones, the airtime is not tripled when you add it to your smartphone, and the cards come with specific amounts for talk time, texts and data.

For example, the new 2000 Minute Card comes with 2000 minutes talk time, 3000 text messages, and 1 GB data. Each of the new cards also comes with 90 service days.

So are these new airtime cards a good deal for Tracfone users? Let's take a look.

Comparison of Smartphone Airtime Cards Vs. Regular Airtime Cards

We are going to go through a couple of tables to analyze the different cards and try to determine which cards are a better value. We will do our best to explain each of the tables as we go through them. Please be sure to leave a comment if you don't understand how we came to our conclusions, or if you have a better way of explaining this.

Let's start with the first table that shows the two categories of airtime cards, how many minutes you get for each card, and what the price per minute is for each card. We also include text and data costs. Also note that we tripled each of the 'old' airtime cards, because they are automatically tripled when adding them to a smartphone.
smartphone cards tracfone
Tracfone Smartphone Cards vs Regular Airtime Cards - Which One is Better?
As you can see from the table above, with a 450 minute card you will get 1350 minutes for talking, 1350 texts, and 1350 MB of data (1.35 GB).

Notice the 3000 minute smartphone only card. With this card you get 3000 minutes for talking, 3000 texts, but only 1500 MB data (1.5 GB).

Then take a look at the 2000 minute smartphone card, you get 2000 minutes for talking but 3000 texts! And also 1000 MB data (1 GB).

So, as you can see, the new smartphone cards don't give even amounts of talk/text/data, but rather give a varying amount of each. The general trend for these smartphone only cards is that they give more talk time, a lot more texts, but less data than the regular airtime cards. This is generally very good, because many smartphone users go though their texts the fastest.

Now let's take a look at the second half of the table above, the part about price per minute, text and MB (data).

The general trend we can see is that the larger the airtime card, the better deal you get (you get more for your money when you buy more).

What we really want to take a look at is the cost (or price) per airtime amount. The smartphone only cards are cheaper for both talk time and texts, but a little more expensive for the data. The 'average' cost shows that the smartphone only cards are a little cheaper, mostly because they give you a lot more texts compared to the regular airtime cards.

Let's take a look at this next table which explains how many minutes you get per dollar.
are new airtime cards a good deal tracfone
Tracfone Smartphone Airtime Cards - Minutes per Dollar
The table above shows how many minutes you get for each dollar spent on an airtime card. So for the 450 Minute Card, you get just under 20 minutes talk time, 20 texts, and 20 MB for one dollar. You can see that this is the best deal for the 'old' cards.

Now look at the 2000 minute smartphone only card. For one dollar you get almost 27 talking minutes, 40 texts, and about 13 MB data. So, compared to the 450 Minute card, you get a better deal on talk time, twice as many texts, and a slightly worse deal on data.

How do the regular airtime cards compare to the new smartphone airtime cards?

The smartphone only cards are a better deal for talking, and MUCH better deal on texts, and a slightly worse deal on data.

So, if you use your smartphone primarily for texting, these new smartphone cards are a great value for you. You should especially consider the 2000 and 1000 minute cards, because both of these give you 40 texts per dollar, the best deal of any of the cards.

But if you use more data than anything else, you may want to stick with the old airtime cards, or just buy data only cards. You could also consider the 400 Minute/1 Year card, which we did not include in the table, but is a similar value to the 450 Minute Card.

For many, buying the 500 Minute Smartphone only card is a better value than the regular 200 Minute Airtime card because you get almost twice as many texts, with slightly less talk and data time.

Take a moment to consider your own needs, and which airtime card you usually buy, and see if there is a better option on the tables above.

We hope this analysis has been helpful, and understandable. Let us know in the comments what you thought, and which airtime card you will be choosing.

We have several other posts relating to buying airtime with Tracfone. Take a look at How to Buy Only Texts, How Data Works on Tracfone, and How Do Minutes work on Tracfone Smartphones?

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And see our TOP 10 Gift Ideas for Tracfone Users!

Thanks for visiting and Merry Christmas!

25 comments :

Hoody said...

whats the "service" time on these smart cards?

I'd like to see one with more service time, less texts, more talk, the data can be what ever, I only use this on WiFi anyway.

Paul Cools said...

I always buy a 1000 minute,1yr. card and get triple minutes. Are there smartphone minutes like this to be purchased. I only read about 90 day cards. Thanks, Paul

Alan Williams said...

I had been buying the one year card on EBAY for less than $80 and they e-mail you the PIN. Now they want you to send your phone number to them, I don't know if I want to do that. I think EBAY won't let them e-mail PINs anymore. I'll just start buying the 60 minute cards at the store again, that's the cheapest way for the amount of usage for me.

Maria Stahl said...

I've been buying the 2, 3 and 4 GB data-only cards for our smart phones as that's what we tend to run short of, and have been pleased.

Peter Vanosdall said...

The service time on all the smartphone only cards is 90 days.

Yes, would be nice if we could buy 'customized' airtime cards where you get to choose how much of each category to buy.

Peter Vanosdall said...

All the smartphone only cards are 90 days.

Thomas Weaver said...

I usually go with the $200 web exclusive deal where you get 1,500 units, tripled to 4,500 mins, texts, and data respectively, and a year of service. Going by your equations, that puts all minutes, texts, and MB at a flat $0.04 1/2.

Peter Vanosdall said...

That's a pretty good deal considering you also get 1 year of service!

HSNoble said...

Nice analysis, Peter, and really good charts.

It will be interesting to see how Tracfone adapts its pricing in 2016 to deal with the increasing number of no-contract smartphone users.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, very nice breakdown of these new airtime cards. I myself go through tons of text, lucky the ones I do text a lot I give them another number from one of those free texting apps. But now, they have those 1000 text/$10 which is a good deal as well, but on their website they won't accept paypal.. bummer! However, I've seen in another prepaid phone forums that they've seen it spotted around Target. Crossing my fingers it comes to my neighborhood. If all else fails, I guess I could ask a family member to purchase a couple for me online.

Bjschutt said...

Thank you, for this breakdown. I have just purchased a smartphone and will transfer my old old slider phone minutes to this when I get it in the mail. Thanks, again for all that you do!

Gb Xx said...

Since a customer may need varying numbers of minutes, txts, MB's, and time.. why doesn't tracfone make a build your own "CARD" plan?
Where you state how much of each you want, and they name a price?
IMO, the 90 days is far too little time for the tracfone subscribers which are LOYAL.. time cars should be 120 or 180 days at least..
Also, what I noticed, is the data cards standalone are a better deal per MB, that is if you dont' need the 90 days attached (but ANY standalone card should add at least 30 days courtesy if you are under 30 days left--when most people would add a card!).

Also, considering getting a BYOP b/c it's the first time it's possible to get a Windows phone on tracfone which is 4g! However, I wish there were better options for the 1-year cards.. the 400/400/400 tripled card should bump to 500(1500 each) and let there be NEW options & promotions particularly for BYOP subs! Since they have enough moula to buy their own phone, let them buy up larger cards too, but cut 'em a break to encourage buying!
Typically, the 400 1yr card is $85 (on promo).. so how about a 750(2250) card for $100 on promo or a 1200(3600)w/ 2 years or 720 days card for $150 - $200? It is cheaper for carriers to keep customers on the hook for two years anyway.. with the BYOP plans this keeps them happy, and maybe addicted to buy more buckets while not worrying about days left. Tracfone has to keep customers from worrying about how many days left... and they will buy more. Granted, BYOP heavier customers are not their bread and butter.. but this is the wedge to that market share!

HSNoble said...

I think the answer to your question falls into two parts:

First, Tracfone operates in a complex environment with eight brands offering different pricing plans and phones. Those getting subsidized service from SafeLink are unlikely to be worrying about data cards for a Galaxy S5 or iPhone. The fact that Tracfone's structure has not been simplified suggests to me that there probably are regulatory and contract factors with the acquired subsidiaries.

Second, and this is purely a guess, I suspect Tracfone walks a careful line between its customers and its network providers (ATT & VZ). The Big Boys would not be happy if Tracfone cannibalized the BB's high-profit contract customers by offering really cheap data and top-rated phones at low prices.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've bought the 1000 text card at Target. It's a great deal, it works out to only one cent per text!

Katie said...

I purchased a 60 minute airtime card for talk, text & web. No where does it say carryover on it. I asked tracfone customer service & they stated it was carryover but I get a lot of misinformation from them.
I did byop over to tracfone and will be getting either more minutes than 60 or smartphone only card.
This site is very helpful & glad I found it.
I'm sure this is dumb question but here goes, I installed an app to track data usage. What do I put down for total data package size using the 60 minute card so it can track correctly for the 3 months? Do I multiply 180 x 3 for total data package size? Thank you

Peter Vanosdall said...

You would get 180 MB of data from a 60 minute airtime card.

Katie said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wanted to buy minutes card at a Circle K store, clerk told me they were available but not a physical cardboard card-would just print activation code on register ticket. Clerk was only able to tell me various dollar ammounts like $19.99, and was unable to specify what exactly I would be purchasing for $19.99/ answer these questions; Is it the same as a regular 60min card/ Is it data only/ Is it smartphone only/ Does it have a product # that I could look up so I know what I'm buying? I went somewhere else to buy a regular 60min card.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say " Thank You" for the effort that you put into this site.

Have only been to it a few times looking for promo codes. Never realized that it was a Blog and that it contained all of the info that it does.

Very well done Peter, you have helped me a lot I think.

Please continue your good work.

JimWiz1 said...

just put one of the new smart phone only cards on daughter in-law's phone. Whole lot of changes on the cards! $25 card 500 min, 1000 txt, 500 MB data. Changes at the top of chart too. the 1500 and 1000 min cards gone, and a 1500 min smartphone only card put in bottom.
Live long and Prosper,
JimWiz1

Denise McDonald said...

FYI: I think you have a typo in this sentence which appears 3 sentences below your first chart:

"Then take a look at the 200 minute smartphone card, you get 2000 minutes for talking but 3000 texts! And also 1000 MB data (1 GB)."

I think you meant 2000 minute smartphone card since there is no 200 minute smartphone card on your chart.

Peter Vanosdall said...

Good catch, thanks for pointing that out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all your helpful advice! I've found Tracfone byop to be the most economical and appropriate service for me. Interestingly, Tracfone has changed its smartphone only plans since this article was written. At first glance, they appear to be even more economical; however, they decreased the service time from 90 to 60 days.

Peter Vanosdall said...

UPDATE - Tracfone has changed their Smartphone only cards, and now some of them have 60 days, one has 30 days, and another 365.

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