June 13, 2017

Best Deal on Prepaid Minutes - Tracfone Airtime Guide

Airtime Comparison - Which Tracfone Card Should you Buy? 

Welcome to TracfoneReviewer, a blog about all things Tracfone related! 

best deal on tracfone minutes
Best deal on Tracfone Minutes
Is it cheaper to buy the 60 minute card every three months or the 1 Year Card? What is the cheapest way to buy service days? We hear these questions, and more, quite often, and wanted to share the answers to these questions, as well as others, with our readers.

Further on we also compare all of Tracfone's airtime cards to better understand which ones offer the best value.

With Tracfone airtime cards, there isn't a 'best' card for everyone, because it all depends on how much airtime you use, and if you use your data and texts often.

So we have included several common scenarios, with the best airtime card for that situation.

Cheapest Way to Add Service Days:
Go to the Tracfone website, under regular airtime cards add the 30 minute (online only) card for $9.99 to your cart.Proceed to next page, where you should be offered several add-ons including 365 service days for $50. Add that to your cart and checkout.

Cheapest Way to Add only Texts:
The cheapest way to add texts to your phone is to buy the 1000 text card for $5. This card is only available for smartphones.

Cheapest Way to Add only Data:
The cheapest way to add data to your smartphone is to buy the 1000 MB card for $10.

Best Deal for Texts and Data (and some talk minutes):
The best deal for adding both texts and data is to add the 300 minute, $20 smartphone card which gives you 1000 texts, 1000 MB data, 30 service days and 300 minutes. This breaks down to essentially receiving the 300 minutes for less than $1 which is a fantastic deal. If you don't need service days or talk minutes, just add the text and data only cards. If you want more talk time, consider the 750 minute $35 card which also gives 1000 texts and 1000 MB.

Best Deal for Talk Minutes
Tracfone doesn't offer a talk card like their text and data cards. So if you only need talk minutes, you have to purchase a card that includes texts and data as well.

The 500 Minute card ($25) and 750 Minute Card ($35) are both good options, where you get a good number of talk minutes along with texts, data and 60 service days.

If you find that you only use talk minutes, you probably want to avoid switching to a Tracfone smartphone. Stick with a regular cell phone where all the airtime goes into a single pool. In this case, the 450 minute card is the best value for non-smartphones.

Best Tracfone Airtime Card
The best airtime card to buy is the one that fits with the amount of minutes you use. Some cards are a better value than others, but if you're not using the airtime anyway, it doesn't really matter. Of course, airtime never expires, as long as you still have service days.

The 500 Minute ($25), 750 Minute ($35) and 750 Minute ($50) smartphone only cards are all less than $20 a month, and give the best value on talk, text and data minutes.

With Tracfone, you get to monitor what you use, and purchase the airtime you need. Airtime usage may change from month to month, allowing users to purchase a different airtime card depending on the need.

If you prefer not to worry about purchasing more airtime every few months, Tracfone's auto refill might be a good option. We have already created a Guide to Tracfone auto refill which includes a look at the best value.

Tracfone Airtime Comparison - Smartphone Cards vs Regular Airtime Cards

Many of our longtime readers will know that we've already compared Tracfone's airtime cards in this post. But we wanted to create a more simplified article, and also include several new airtime cards, such as the $20 Smartphone card Tracfone recently added.

This comparison will look more closely at how much each airtime card really costs so that our readers can see which one might be the best deal for them, and also to back up the information we provided above.

Let's get started.

This table includes Tracfone's regular and smartphone only airtime cards with the talk, text and data amounts on the left side, and how much each talk/text/data minute costs. On the far right we have also color coded which cards are 'better' or 'worse' deals with green for good, yellow is ok, and red is bad.

Notice that the smartphone only cards are generally a better deal, this is because they offer more data and texts compared to the regular airtime cards.

The new 300 minute smartphone only card (for $20) is the best value for airtime. If you subtract the cost for texts (1000 texts equals $5) and data (1000 MB data equals $10) and service days (30 service days equals $4.17) then you get 300 minutes for just $0.83. That is about 1/4th of a penny per talk minute. However, you are getting a lot of airtime and only 30 service days, so if you don't use that much airtime, it is probably best to use a card that offers more service days.

This next graph illustrates this for each Tracfone airtime card.
best deal on tracfone mintues
Tracfone Airtime Card Comparison - How Many Talk Minutes you get Per Dollar
The graph above shows how many talk minutes you get per dollar once other variables are removed.

We factored out the cost for texts, data and service days, and then divided the number of talk minutes you receive by the remaining cost.  As you can see, most of the airtime cards are somewhat close together, but the 300 minute smartphone only card is a winner when it comes to value.

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We hope this information is helpful, and please leave a comment with any thoughts or questions. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook with a growing community of Tracfone users.

If you're still new to Tracfone, consider our Beginners Guide to Tracfone which will share a variety of information to get you started.

Make your airtime stretch even further and use a Tracfone with Triple Minutes for Life.

We have lots of other info to share, including cell phone reviews, Tracfone promo codes and more.

Thanks for visiting!


Lee Austin said...

Will they ever bring back the 3000 minute cards or are they two cost effective

Anonymous said...

I just called Tracfone and they said the cards are no longer triple minutes for smartphone users. I know the smartphone cards never were, but now the pay-as-you-go cards are only double minutes. Is this correct or did I misunderstand?

Hoody said...

I don't think so, I just bought a 60 min card for my BYOP this month and it tripled.

Anonymous said...

I have always had the one year card on my phone and only added the extra data when needed. Here is my question. If I add a 30 day card on to it will the 30 days add on to my year end date. The $20 smartphone only card sounds like one I might try since I already like to add data and text. A one time purchase would get me also minutes. This new no triple minutes on fones is confusing. QVC has a fone today that I would probably upgrade to but doesnt have triple minutes so i am passing till I figure out if my fone i have now would work better for me.

Peter Vanosdall said...

Re Anonymous:

Yes, if you add the $20 smartphone card the 30 service days will be added onto your existing service days. That card is a great value if you also want talk/data.

Anonymous said...

Unless I'm missing something, I think that you have some math errors in both the table and the chart. For example, 300 talk minutes for $20 is $.0066 per minute, not $.018, and 15 minutes per dollar, not more than 350.

Anonymous said...

Do smartphone only plan minutes, texts, and data rollover like regular plan cards that triple? Or do they expire at the end of 30 days if a 30 day plan? I like the rollover feature of regular plan cards.

Anonymous said...

I use my TracFone for talk & text. I seldom use data. I was given an older, unlocked smart phone. Sounds like instead of passing off my TMFL phone, I should keep it for adding minutes, then switch out the SIM for use.

Anonymous said...

Can I use your $9.99 30 minute Airtime option and then add 365 days for $49.99 to increase service days on my smartphone?

Dean said...

I also do not understand the numbers in your table and chart. If I buy a 200 minute airtime card for $40, I get 600 talk minutes. If I buy 2 300 minute smartphone only cards at $20 each, I would spend $40 and get 600 talk minutes. Therefore the cost per minute is the same. You do get some extra text and data airtime, but that does not lower the cost of the talk minutes.

Peter Vanosdall said...

RE: Dean

In the graph in this post, the cost of service days, data and texts are factored out to leave just the cost of talk time, which in the case of the 300 min card, leaves it really skewing the results. This is because you get $10 worth of data, $5 worth of texts and $4.167 worth of service days with this card resulting in just the cost for the 300 talk minutes at just under $1.

In your example, where you can buy a 200 min card for $40 vs 2 300 min cards for $40, you would get the same talk time for each, but the 2x 300 min card would be a much better value (you would get 600 talk, 2000 text, 2000 mb data and 60 service days vs 600 talk/text/data and 90 service days)

If you don't need texts/data, then it doesn't matter which option you go with. But, if you use all three, then the 2 x 300 min smartphone card is better value. Also, if you just need service days, the 60 min card is the best value.

Hope that is clear enough.

pkd said...

For my "dumb" phone account, when I select the $9.99 Pay As You Go Plan on the checkout screen I see:
MORE FOR YOUR PHONE, with options including
365 Extra Service Days $49.99 with a box checked and REMOVE next to it, but I can't add it to my order.

Callahan said...

Thanks for this post, the cost analysis table was really helpful.

ThePaintedTiger said...

Just went to add Smartphone service, and the 365 day airtime for $49.99 option is gone, only Texts, Data, and Global Airtime are given as add on options. Too bad, I only really need the airtime.

Unit Shifter said...

I would love to see more focus on "optimizing for service days". I'm aware there's one entry for 13 months for about $60, but my time use isn't zero, it just tends to be very low to low.

I actually find it cheaper to buy certain HSN bundles with cheaper phones which sometimes are out the door with a year of service with a new phone for less than just any airtime bundle if you take care of the right yearly sales. Whether or not that can be relied upon, there are some other optimized "low to very low" usage scenarios where days of service is primary.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there are errors in the spreadsheet calculations that Anonymous writes in June 30, 2017 post.

I have uploaded a screen capture of a revised spreadsheet to

The minutes, texts, and data amounts are from Tracfone's website.
The values for "Basic Phone Plans" reflect the values as of December 4, 2018.
The new smartphones are not getting triple of anything.

If you are in a bind and you need to add minutes, the cheapest card to buy is the $20 Smartphone Plan card which gives you 30 days/300/1000/1000.

The spreadsheet uses values that 1000 texts = $5 and 1000 MB data = $10 which are the add-on cards that one can buy.


Jim said...

The numbers in the chart do not appear to be correct. Please recheck your math!

CucuKids said...

FYI. Tracfone no longer offers the option to add 365 days of service for $50 as an add on just before checkout.

Anonymous said...

""FYI. Tracfone no longer offers the option to add 365 days of service for $50 as an add on just before checkout.""

They do if you have a Tracfone branded phone