February 8, 2017

Best Auto-Refill Plan from Tracfone (and How it Works)

How do Auto-refill plans work, and What is the Best Deal on Tracfone Airtime?

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how does tracfone auto refill work
Guide to Tracfone Auto-Refill and Value Plans
Everyone that uses Tracfone knows you have to keep track of how many minutes or service days you have left. And while some of us enjoy checking our airtime and topping it off when low, many would rather have a more 'hands-off' approach.

On Smartphones, your airtime balance isn't automatically displayed on your phone, so it can be a little harder to keep track of your talk, text and data.

Fortunately, Tracfone offers several options for automatically refilling your airtime, and we are going to cover how it works, and which options are best for you.

What is great about these auto-refill options is that they also come at a small discount from regular airtime cards, making them a better deal. But which one is the best deal? We share that, and more, below!

What is Tracfone Auto-Refill? (and How to Sign Up)

First of all, there are two main options for automatically adding airtime to your phone:

Tracfone Auto-Refill - Various airtime cards that are automatically added to your account at regular intervals depending on the card you choose. Up to 10% discount on regular price.
Tracfone Value Plans - Monthly minutes(50, 125, or 200) and service days added to your account.

The Value Plans have been available for a while, and triple on all smartphones. The Auto Refill is just various airtime cards, including both regular and smartphone-only cards, that Tracfone adds to your account automatically at a small discount (usually 5-10%).

Let's take a look at the chart below which compares the various options:

tracfone value plans
Tracfone Auto-Refill and Value Plan Options
  From this table you can see the variety of auto-refill options along with the Value Plans. Notice that the Value Plans all give 30 service days, while the auto-refill plans vary from 30 days, to 365 days, depending on the airtime card.

To sign up for Auto-Refill or a Value Plan:
-Visit Tracfone.com
-Select 'Auto-Refill' or 'Value Plans' from the Airtime drop down menu
-Follow the prompts which allow you to choose from several options.
-You will need a valid credit or debit card to compete the transaction

But which auto-refill option is best? Keep reading to find out!

What is the Best Auto-Refill Plan from Tracfone?

Now we want to look at which auto-refill plan is the best deal. There are two scenarios most people fit into:

Scenario 1: You have lots of minutes on your phone, but are low on service days. What you need is the lowest cost for additional service days
Scenario 2: You have lots of service days, but are low on minutes (talk, text or data). What you need is the best deal on minutes.

Now let's see the next table, which shows the monthly cost, along with monthly airtime amounts.

best tracfone auto refill plan
Monthly Cost and AIrtime Amounts for Tracfone Auto Refill and Value Plans
From the table above you can see how much each plan costs per month, and how much talk, text or data you get.

The 60 Minute Card is the clear winner for cheapest monthly plan. If you're in scenario 1, you will probably want to choose this option.

But what is the best deal on minutes? For that, we calculated the cost per minute (per month) for each auto-refill option.

Taking a look at the numbers in the table below, we see that the 500 Minute Smartphone Only airtime card is the cheapest in terms of cost per minute of talk time (once all other costs are factored out) at just 1.08 cents per talk minute!

best tracfone value plan
Best Value on Tracfone Auto-Refill - 500 Minute Smartphone Card
Notice that the 750 Minute Smartphone Only card is the next best value, followed by the 60 Minute regular card.

We calculated the cost per minute by doing the following:

  • Subtracting the cost of service days (where 365 service days equals $50)
  • Subtracting the cost of data (where 1 GB (1000 MB) equals $10)
  • Subtracting the cost of texts (where 1000 texts equals $5)
  • Making the final number in cents (so it is easier to read)

(if we made any errors, please be sure to let us know in the comments below!)

Let's Recap:

Best Deal on Service Days: 60 Minute Card (just $6 per month)
Best Deal on Minutes: 500 Minute Smartphone Only Card ($11.88 per month and lots of airtime)

Here is a graph for those who would rather see a visual representation of the numbers. Notice that the 1500 Minute Smartphone Only card is the worst value.

cheapest prepaid plan
Graph showing cost per minute for auto-refill plans from Tracfone
For the majority of Tracfone users who have smartphones, the 500 Minute Smartphone Only auto-refill is the best choice. If you need additional airtime, buying a text, data or extra airtime card is easy to do. If you find yourself with too many minutes, switching to the 60 Minute Card will save you money.

If you're looking for a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy Luna is on sale from Amazon for $69 which includes a 120 Minute Airtime Card ($30 value)

We hope this information is helpful and accurate, be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and if we made any mistakes.

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Take a look at our updated list of Tracfone Promo Codes if you're adding airtime to your phone anytime soon.

Visit the List of Latest Tracfone Smartphones (2017) to see what's new for this year.

And finally, learn what we Expect from Tracfone in 2017 including new phones, and improvements in customer service.

Thanks for visiting!


Anonymous said...


I agree with you that the best card for a smartphone is the 500-minute card if you use all the buckets as you describe.

However, for a person who uses his/her TracFone only for talk, the result is much different.

When using the phone almost exclusively for talk, the cheapest rate (by far) is the 750-minute card, which is a not-very-cheap 4.43 cents per minute. Unfortunately, in that case, you have paid for a large number of texts and amounts of data that will never be used.

Apparently, TracFone doesn't have any plans to make a minute-only card available.

Sue Fine said...

Does anyone know for certain that the monthly Value Plans have roll-over value? Tracfone sometimes changes policies without making the information clear, even to their employees! I used to get the one year card, with Triple Minutes for Life on my phone, but when I switched to a smartphone, which came with Triple Minutes for Life, that policy went out the window. Two Representatives could not understand why it was not being credited, then a
Supervisor informed me that I could no longer get Triple Minutes, even though my Tracfone was sold with that option.
All that aside, in my case I would benefit from the Value Plan as long as minutes, text and data accumulated. For a dollar more, I could get an additional 25 minutes, texts, and mb data.

Anonymous said...

Do tracfone smartphones have restrictions on the number of characters that can be sent in texts? I know non-android phones do, so I'm wondering if that is true of the smartphones as well?

Sue Fine said...

Yes and no about the restrictions on the number of characters that can be sent. What will happen is the text will be broken up into sections and sent as two, three or even more texts, and you will be charged for each one. That also includes incoming texts. It can be fun when sometimes the second part of the text arrives before the first part, and you are scratching your head trying to figure out what is being sent until the first part arrives!

Anonymous said...

Very funny sue :)

Steven Bertrand said...

The way I figure it the 450minute/90day card is 8 cents a minute when you use auto-refill whereas the 60minute/90day card comes out to 16 cents a minute.
I am calculating it assuming double minutes for life which my phone has ( so 900/90 and 120/90) and ignoring the cost of service days, the cost of data and the cost of texts since both options are the same in those areas.
Also I figured the cost per minute based on check out price on the tracphone web site so I included tax and other service fees.
So from a practical standpoint for a non-smart phone user your recommendation does not seem to be the best deal unless I figured something wrong.
And your charts show per minutes costs in the 1 to 3 cents range which is not really what you end up paying, more like 8 to 16 cents per minute.