Tracfone Review by a Tracfone Owner

Updated   1/23/14 -

Why I chose Tracfone - because they don't have their own network, they use everybody else's network, so you have the best coverage of any individual cell phone carrier. The only problem arises when you are moving between your "home" area and "roaming". In your home area you are charged 1 unit for each minute on the phone (anything over 15 seconds is rounded up to the next minute), roaming you are charged 2 units per minute. I happen to be serviced by AT&T, so my "home" is large. My parent's phone is being serviced by US Cellular, and their home area is small. I suppose you could play with this a little by fudging where you live and get a larger "local" area without roaming, but I wouldn't recommend it. Your friends would probably have to call long distance. If you decide to use the voice mail you might have to call long distance. If you use your phone a lot then don't use Tracfone, go with a traditional carrier. I bought this phone specifically for emergencies. I like the peace of mind that having one allows. I used to have Cingular and paid $16 per month (I signed up a long time ago), and that didn't include any minutes. This is a much better deal, if you buy a year card you can get 400 minutes for as low as $97. You don't have to call anyone to cancel, you just don't buy any more minutes.

Buying refill minutes for your Tracfone - go to Calling Mart

I've been using the website Callingmart.com for several years to buy my minutes (sometimes called airtime cards at retail stores). I've had no problems. I've bought a total of 12 at this point,  8 for myself and 4 for my parents. I buy the yearly cards (pins only, when buying online). They are currently $97 on their website (this is without using a Calling Mart promo code).

CallingMart Promo Codes

Try to find one of their promo codes, I went to their Facebook page at Calling Mart Facebook and also their twitter page at Calling Mart Twitter.

Here are some examples from the recent past:

Promo Code Discount Dates
ca3p-1207 3% ongoing?
MLK147 7% 1/22/14-2/5/14
Hdays137 7% 12/17/13-1/7/14
TG137 7% 11/20/13-12/4/13
Scry137 7% 10/21/13-11/6/13
FALL137 7% 9/25/13-10/10/13
B2S137 7% 8/6/13-8/20/13
ID137 7% 7/2/13-7/17/13
mom137 7% 5/15/13-6/4/13
GDLK137 7% 4/23/13-5/3/13
SPRG137 7% 3/20/13-4/3/13
PRD137 7% 2/20/13-3/5/13
MLK127 7% 1/20/13-2/5/13
hldys127 7% 12/18/12-1/3/13
gvng127 7% 11/16/12-12/4/12
Oct127 7% 10/25/12-11/6/12
Fall127 7% 9/21/12-10/3/12
B2S127 7% 8/2/12-9/3/12
ID127 7% 7/4/12-7/17/12
dad127 7% 6/13/12-6/20/12
memo127 7% 5/25/12-6/5/12
mom127 7% 5/5/12-5/15/12
Sprg12-7 7% 3/15/12-4/2/12
VDay12-7 7% 2/16/12-3/1/12
tksgvg11-7 7% 11/22/11-12/05/11
Adha32-7 7% 10/31/11-11/09/11
Clmbs11-7 7% 10/3/11-10/11/11
HpyLbr11-7 7% 9/5/11-9/12/11
Rmdn11-7 7% 8/1/11-8/30/11
Hpy4July11-7 7% 6/30/11-7/8/11
Father11-7 7% 6/19/11-6/24/11
Memorial11-7 7% 5/23/11-6/9/11
Mother11-7 7% 5/2/11-5/9/11
HpyEstr11-7 7% 4/18/11-4/25/11
HpySprg11-7 7% 3/10/11-3/28/11
EGYREV-10 10% 2/25/11-2/25/11
VDAY11-7 7% 2/9/11-2/22/11
MLK11-7 7% 1/17/11-1/31/11
Hdays10-7 7% 12/16/10-1/3/11
Tksgvg10-7 7% 11/22/10-12/03/10
Adha31-9 9% 11/17/10-11/19/10
Nov10-7 7% 10/26/10-11/02/10
Oct10-7 7% 9/29/10-10/06/10
HpyLbr-107 7% 9/2/10-9/9/10
Bk2Scol-107 7% 8/16/10-9/1/10
Hpy4July10-7 7% 6/29/10-7/5/10
HpyFathers-107 7% 6/15/10-6/21/10
HpyMemorial-107 7% 5/24/10-6/1/10
HpyMothers10-7 7% 4/28/10-5/09/10
HpySprg10-7 7% 3/15/10-4/4/10
MLK10-7 7% 1/18/10-1/24/10
hpyhldys-7 7% 12/15/09-12/31/09

You can save a little more money on your Calling Mart purchase by using these codes. Even if you can't find a promo code to use, Calling Mart is still cheaper than going to a retail store and paying sales tax.

How to buy minutes on Callingmart

The process is quick and painless. Go to the Callingmart wireless minutes page. Scroll down until you see the box titled "Tracfone Prepaid Wireless Airtime Minutes Refill". There are 2 boxes, and the first box is double minutes. I use the second box.

There is a drop down menu which will show different denominations. The following table shows the different denominations, how many minutes you get, and how far out your expiration date will move.

Retail Price CallingMart Price Days added to expiration date Minutes
19.99 19.40 90 60
29.99 29.10 90 120
39.99 38.80 90 200
79.99 77.60 90 450
99.99 (I buy this one) 97.00 365 400
124.99 ***(note) 121.25 365 800 + double minutes

***(note - about the double minutes. I assume that this card is the one that you only need to buy once. Then, whenever you buy minutes after that you will get double the minutes) I'm not sure why Calling Mart has a separate box with the double minutes, when they have this one.

Don't forget to get a promo code. I already gave you the link to their Facebook and Twitter pages, and hopefully you'll find something current there. If not, it's worth it to do a Google search to try to find one. Your money is important to you, right?

After you've paid Calling Mart their website will pop up your pin number immediately. You will also receive an email with the same info in it. This number is what you'll enter either directly into your phone through the prepaid menu, or on Tracfone's website.

A note about buying refill cards on Ebay:

I bought a yearly refill card on Ebay several years ago. The dealer had a double minutes, 1 year card in the $89 - 95 range. I bought one, but they have since stopped selling them, so I have no particular person/dealer to recommend.

All of the card dealers currently selling have prices in the high $90 range for the regular 1 year cards, no double minutes. I don't think its worth it to take the risk to buy a card on Ebay when you can get them at Walmart, the Tracfone website, or at the Calling Mart website for the same price. I've never been burned on Ebay, but when you are spending this type of money it would be a significant loss to most people.

Tracfone Promo Codes

I now use RetailMeNot to find a Tracfone Promo Code. They usually have current stuff. You can also go to Google and put in the search term "tracfone promo code". Write down 3 to 4 codes that pertain to your particular refill amount. You'll see them broken down by minutes, for example "60 minutes", "120 minutes", etc. For a one year card I always try to get at least 200 bonus minutes, sometimes you can find 250.

Some of my old favorite websites don't have up to date info any more. I used to like TheBonusCodes and FatWallet. The "fat wallet" site has full instructions on checking and using codes, so please scroll down and read all the material there before using codes.

Please don't assume that all codes you find will work. As you scroll through websites you might see ratings showing the "success" rate of the code. Look for codes with the most current dates and highest success ratings.

3/4/13- Currently I'm using the following websites.

Tracfone has a twitter page. I've never been able to find promo codes here, but maybe they will post them in the future.

Tracfone has a Facebook page. I couldn't see any promo codes, just people with complaints. It might be worthwhile to keep this in mind if you have problems down the road.

Redeeming airtime codes (pins)

I always redeem my minutes on the Tracfone website. My reasoning is because when you do promo codes through your phone you put the promo code at the end of the airtime pin. This only allows you ONE opportunity to see if a code works. When you do it online at Tracfone the system will tell you if the promo code is invalid or expired.

I always redeem on Tracfone's website. This allows me to try different promo codes, until one works.

The redemption screen at Tracfone is pretty simple. You need to hit the "GO" button under "Add Airtime Online".

You can cut and paste the numbers from your email from Calling Mart directly into the box titled "Airtime Pin Number".   Then put in your promo code you found for Tracfone. Finally, put in your phone's number and click "SUBMIT". With any luck, everything will work out beautifully and you are finished. If Tracfone didn't like your promo code try typing in another. At some point Tracfone will just force you past this screen and you won't get any promo minutes.

A note about Tracfone PROMO codes - I always use them. It's worth your time to do some research to get free minutes. This helps defray your per unit costs. Don't be a chump, get some free stuff.

Text Messaging

In order to save units you should send texts from your computer. You type the phone number formatted like an email address. When you are on your computer and want to send messages to a friend's phone, you can use the following: 

To figure out which carrier you are using you can send a text message to someone's email address and you will be able to see one of the aforementioned addresses.

My carrier is AT&T. I kept seeing the @mms.att.net address in various blogs, but saw the @txt.att.net somewhere and tried both and figured out that it was cheaper to send to the @txt.att.net address. So save yourself some units by using the txt address.

If you've found this information helpful I'd appreciate it if you'd put my email address in the box that says "referred by email" (my email is [commission @ kkq.com] -- copy the text between the brackets and please take out the spaces, I did this to cut down on spam to my email)

The box appears at the bottom of the checkout page, where you put your credit card info, mailing address, etc.

In summary - I have been very happy with my Tracfone. Has it been smooth sailing all the time? No. But the few times I've had problems I was able to resolve them by calling customer service. Don't let the few people with problems keep you from buying one. It works great for emergencies and light use. I can't recommend when it would make sense for you to buy a regular cell phone with monthly service. I just know that I like my Tracfone.

I hope this helps and happy Tracfoning.

                                                                                 Kim

 

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