July 13, 2016

New Prices/Changes to Tracfone Smartphone Cards

Tracfone Updates Smartphone Only Cards with New Amounts/Prices

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best deal on Tracfone minutes
See the Changes to Tracfone's Smartphone Airtime Cards
At the end of 2015, Tracfone added new airtime cards that are for smartphones only. These cards gave certain amounts of talk time, texts and data. They are significantly different from the regular Tracfone airtime cards which come in amounts ranging from 60 to 450 minutes.

In general, the smartphone only cards were a better deal, as they gave a lot more texts compared to the regular cards, which is what most smartphone users run out of first.

We compared the Smartphone Only cards to Regular Airtime cards in this post from December 2015 (which is now outdated) but Tracfone has now changed the smartphone only cards with new prices and amounts of airtime you get. They also changed how many service days you get.

Below we will go through and compare the old smartphone-only cards with the new smartphone-only cards and see what the changes mean. We will also include the regular cards for comparison.

Tracfone has not made any changes to their regular airtime cards, and we expect they will continue to offer them at the same prices and amounts.

Before we get to that, we do have some information that will make many Tracfone customers happy:

Tracfone Reduces Price for Text and Data only Cards

Along with making changes to the smartphone only cards, Tracfone also made some changes to their Text-only card and Data-only card (these cards give only additional texts or data, and no extra service days). But the only change they made was to reduce the price, which is great! These prices are only available on the Tracfone website, but we expect retailers to eventually change their prices to match.

You can now get:
1000 texts for $5 (previously was $10 for 1000 texts)
1000 MB data for $10 (previously was $10 for 300 MB)

This is a huge reduction in price, and makes buying extra data or texts much more affordable.

Remember, these cards can only be used if you have a smartphone with Tracfone (which includes BYIO devices).

Comparison of New Smartphone Only Cards vs Old Smartphone Cards (plus Regular Cards)

Now let's get into the changes Tracfone has made to their smartphone cards. These changes are a little difficult to compare, because they changed the prices on the cards, the amounts of talk, text and data you get, and also the number of service days.

Below you can see our chart that has the card, the amount of airtime, the price and the price per unit of talk/text/data. (Note - After some help from our readers, we've updated the tables to more accurately display the information, thanks for your feedback!)

best deal on tracfone airtime cards
(Click to View Larger) Comparison of Regular Airtime Cards vs Old Smartphone Cards vs New Smartphone Cards

We've subtracted the cost of service days from the original cost to be able to just look at the airtime casts. We've used $50 for 1 year service as the base price for airtime(because you can buy that as an add-on from the Tracfone website), which comes to $4.167 per 30 days.

There are a number of conclusions you can make from looking at the table, but the main take away for us is that the new smartphone only airtime cards are generally a better deal and especially a better deal when it comes to data compared to the old smartphone cards.

Take a look at the cost per data (MB) for both the new and old smartphone only cards. The new 500 minute and 750 minute cards are a much better deal when it comes to buying data, and pretty close to the same for talk and text costs.

Here is another table that shows how many talk/text/data minutes you get per dollar:

tracfone airtime cards best deal
Tracfone Airtime Comparison - Airtime per Dollar
This table shows how many talk, text or data minutes you get per dollar. For example, with the regular 1 Year/400 Minute card, you will get 72 talk minutes per dollar, 72 texts per dollar, and 72 MB data per dollar.

Notice the smartphone only cards, for these you get very different amounts of airtime per dollar, depending on the card.

Let's see which cards give the most airtime per dollar (we won't include the old smartphone cards, because you can't buy them anymore):

Best deal on Talk - 500 Minute Smartphone card - 90 talk minutes per dollar
Best deal on Text - 500 Minute Smartphone card - 180 texts per dollar
Best deal on Data - 750 Minute Smartphone card - 112.5 MB data per dollar

So, the 500 and 750 minute smartphone only cards offer the best value per dollar you spend.

We've got one more table that we think will be helpful for those trying to decide which airtime card best suits their needs. In this table, we've multiplied each airtime card so that they all have 1 year of service, and then listed how much it would cost, and how much talk/text/data you would get.

Let's take a look:

tracfone airtime best deal
Best Deal on Tracfone Airtime
Looking at the table, we can see that, somewhat surprisingly, the best deal if you just need more service days is the regular 60 minute airtime card.

The 120 minute card and 1500 minute smartphone card are almost the same.

Check out the 500 minute smartphone card, it gives you twice the talk and data, four times the texts, for just $25 more than the 1500 minute smartphone card.

The key takeaway from this table is that, depending what you tend to use most, different cards are a much better deal. We get a lot of comments from people who just need service days, and looking at the table we can see either the 60 minute card or the 1 year/400 minute card are both pretty cheap. But the best deal for just buying extra service days would be to get the 200 minute smartphone card, and then add on the 1 year of service for $50 (only on the Tracfone website) for a total of $65 (before taxes).

Form the changes to these new smartphone only cards we can see that you generally get more data for your money, but less service days. Keep this in mind when adding the new smartphone cards, you only get 60 days (or 30) instead of 90, but that doesn't mean they are not a good deal.

It appears then that Tracfone is just adjusting the smartphone cards to make them a little more balanced, and give users more data to use with each purchase, which may have been based on feedback they received.

The changes made to smartphone airtime cards is somewhat subtle, so it may be helpful for each user to take a look at the numbers and determine which airtime card best suits their needs.

Remember, the regular airtime cards have not changed, and are not changing (as far as we know).

Leave a comment below with your thoughts or questions about the changes to Tracfone smartphone airtime cards. We are interested to know what our readers think. We want to thank those that helped contribute to this post and keep our math correct.

We've been sharing a lot of news on new Tracfone devices, including new Samsung and LG Tracfone Smartphones, New ZTE and Alcatel Smartphones, and news about iPhone devices coming to Tracfone. Follow the links to learn more, and look for reviews of these new phones soon!

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View and download the tables we created for yourself on google drive.

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  1. I just purchased 2 Samsung Galaxy Core Prime phones, finally some nice low cost smart phones for Tracfone. I use these phones for emergency purpose only. I could care less about Texting and I may use the Data for tracking my location because of health issues. As far as the new pricing, I would have stayed with my old non-smart phones and saved money. I guess you just have to go with the flow or find something better.

  2. I never use all my minutes/text/data, so my only concern is least cost per service day. It appears the old 60 card is still the winner, at 22 cents per day. Is this correct?

    1. Yes, that's a pretty good option if you just need days, although you may want to grab the 1 Year/400 Minute card which comes with a full year of service.

    2. Don't forget the 1 year of service time for $50. On TF site if you make a purchase

  3. I purchase the standard 90-day service cards that give me 180 minutes, texts, and data. I rarely more than 50 minutes or text per quarter. I now have between 2000 and 3000 units in each bucket. I would consider buying a card that provides nothing by the 90-day extension. Hopefully the 30-day reduction in service doesn't spread the the standard cards as the decline for me.

    1. So buy a cheap card on the website and add a year of service for $50.

    2. So simple, buy 1000 texts for $5 and when you check out you can get a year of service for $50, total cost $55

    3. I buy my tracfone thro HSN or QVC and basically get a new phone, a year's time and triple minutes, text and data (apx. 200 min/mth) when I need a new year-only card. When they have their specials, it costs from $79-$129 depending on phone for all of that. However, if I'm not ready for a new phone and like you, always have minutes left, I call Tracfone and get on their ??? plan. (I think it's called security plan) What happens is you sign up, and when you're time runs out, it automatically gives you 30 more Days-ONLY for $5.95. Each month, if you run out of days, it repeats. No charge to sign up and you can cancel any time. I just did it Aug. 29, 2016 so it's current. Doesn't sound like anyone here knows about that, so hope that helps you out.
      I find the best answer is to call, tell them what you want and ask what they have for that issue. No one OFFERS the 'deals' anymore, but they have them. Also, why is it that if you buy your card at Walmart, they don't charge tax, but w/ Tracfone they do? They couldn't tell me but that's wacky!

  4. They still won't offer a service days only card that's not a website special. (You get offered one if you purchase an existing card..)

  5. Yeah, I also wish there was JUST a time card you could buy, like 90 days at a reasonable cost of around 10 bucks. And add the other stuff as needed.

    I hardly do texting, and when I do its with google messenger, which is free, I don't do that much calling either, I use the data only when I'm away from my WIFi at home, so I ALWAYS have everything left over at the end of my time period. This time runs out on 1 sept, and I have over 500 texts now.

    They should be OK with a time ONLY card since there are many more people that hang on these things 24/7 to make them $$.

  6. i don't like the changes. too complicated for my mouse brain to understand :-(
    peter mansfield.

  7. Hi, that is what I was pointing out last month, new pricing. I love your chart but worry about your math. How you put it, the new smartphone card 1500 price/minute $0.08, price/text $0.08, price/MB $0.08 would cost $375!. The 500 I got for $25 plus tax, plus fees, would have been $80. Since it goes into 3 tanks, divide the total price by 3, then divide by how much you get, so the $125 card comes to $0.027 per min/text/MB. The $25 card gives me 500 min at $0.016, 1000 text at $0.0083 and 500 MB at $0.016. The regular airtime cards have the same math problem.
    Really like the new Data and Text only card prices.
    Live long and Prosper,

    1. Good points, will try and go back through and adjust. Looks like the relationship is still the same, just need to divide by 3.

    2. I think you should also deduct $4.17/mo for the service days provided by each card before dividing the cost by 3. Since you can add 365 days for $50 to any online purchase, this will eliminate that variable.

      For example, if you take the $125 smartphone card and deduct $50 for service days, then divide the $75 remainder into 3 buckets of $25 each, you get 1500 mins @ $0.0167 plus 1500 texts @ $0.0167 plus 1500 MB of data @ $0.0167.

    3. Thanks for your help, the tables have been updated!

  8. I have been a Tracfone member for almost three years. Over the course of those three years, I have purchased an equal total of 4200 talk, text, and MB of data. Currently, the balances in my buckets are 2738 minutes, 2844 texts, and 3517MB.

    As you can see, I am an extremely light user. For me, I need the card that gives me the most service time. And I'm not too concerned with how many of each are added to my buckets.

    My sister in law has been a Tracfone member since January 2016. Over these 6 1/2 months that she has been a member, she has averaged 720 minutes of talk per month on Tracfone. If she continues to use her phone at the same rate she has since the first of the year, she will spend over $400/yr for service, or almost $35/month.

    Awhile back, I was visiting the americanseniors.org website (I'm one of them) and found a service that I thought was much better for heavier users. That organization recommends Pure Talk USA (puretalkusa.com). Pure Talk has several plans with prices that are comparable to Tracfone.

    They have senior plans that range from $5-15 per month. For $5, they allow 80 minutes/month. For $15, it's 600 per month. And each of those increase by 10% for the first five months. They also have an unlimited talk and text plan for $24/mo and you can add 1GB of data for an extra $5/mo. Pure Talk uses AT&T network, so you would have to get a GSM phone.

    I won't change until my buckets have gotten much lower, but it might be a cheaper alternative than Tracfone for some.

  9. I am very tempted by the BLU R1 HD phone at $49/$59 for Amazon Prime members, and saw that one of the options offered there for activating that phone was a Tracfone BYOP SIM kit for just $1.00 extra. Tracfone has changed a lot since I was an ignorant cellphone noob with a dumbphone with them years ago, and I really appreciated the comparison chart of airtime cards vs. old smartphone cards vs. new smartphone cards. (It stinks that promo codes can't be used with smartphones, though!) I'm currently a RingPlus customer (which is based on Sprint's network), and so would have to switch service providers if I were to get the BLU R1 HD from Amazon. FreedomPop now offers GSM service; however, I have been very disappointed with the poor call quality and SLOW customer service on their CDMA side. Based on the online research I've done thus far, for my usage levels (about 10 min. talk/0-10 texts/400MB data per month, according to my RingPlus invoices), the next best alternatives (other than Tracfone, of course) seem to be PureTalk (as recommended by a previous commenter in this thread), TPO Mobile, and US Mobile. T-Mobile's $30/month "100 min./unlimited text/5GB data" card would be a close runner-up if I found myself using a lot more data than I currently do. Coverage maps seem to indicate that AT&T probably has a stronger signal in my area than T-Mobile, though (although I haven't yet personally listened to local calls via both networks to compare), so Tracfone and PureTalk might have the best call quality.

    1. Unless US Mobile has improved, I had them last year and they were horrible. Could not get on internet, and also could even use my Moto G GSM 3G phone in southern CA. I was very disappointed, and moved to another MVNO, TING. But now am considering coming back to Tracfone with the BYPO plan.

  10. What happened to Triple Minutes for Life?

    1. Never applied to smartphones, just cell phones.

    2. TML still applies if you buy a regular airtime card.

    3. It *did* apply to smart phones. I've been getting triple minutes 3 years. The new smart phone plans eliminated it, it seems.

    4. I get triple minutes for life w/ my tracfone. You just have to buy the phone that has it.

  11. Maybe TracFone feeling pressure from the freemium svcs of sprint ? I have a ring plus phone as my backup, but one day I could see it replacing Trac altogether...

  12. I just purchased the LG Rebel LTE LG L44VL from QVC. It came with 1200 talk+ 1200 text + 1200 data and 1year service and triple talk,text& data. It said when activated it that any new cards added would add to my service time. Is this true of all cards???

  13. The final price on my purchase was different than what was on the initial bill. Anyone have this same experience? The total with tax was $129.48 and the second final bill came up as $143.71


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