For example, I use an MVNO provider (Mobile Virtual Network Provider) who rents their coverage from the “Big 4” networks. Typically these providers (Ting, Tello, Twigby, Republic Wireless to name a few that we've reviewed here) offer cheaper and more customized plans to users.
The trade-off in using an MVNO is that coverage may – sometimes – be less than ideal. If you're using Tello (which I use) – and calling your mother in another state, you may get kicked off while chatting OR the connecting time when dialing could be a little longer. But, these instances are rare and the “inconvenience” (to me at least) is well worth the money saved.
I rarely travel and often rely on the WiFi options wherever I am (work / home / etc). So my data is typically under 200MB per month and when I need to make a call (rare), I use our Ooma landline at home. Plus, many of my communications can be accommodated by a quick text (my plan comes with unlimited texts).
My wife, uses AT&T since her needs are a bit more robust. She wants the dependability of having the most stable network available wherever she may be, as well as plenty of data. But, she pays a premium for this.
Believe me, I've tried to get my wife to switch to a less-expensive option. No go. :)
TracFone: One of the early MVNO providers
Years ago, it was quite a luxury to have a cell phone. And for many, the costs were prohibitive.
I also remember some of the push-back for having a cell phone:
“Why have a phone with me all the time?”
“Why would I want to always be ‘available'?”
“Those things are annoying to carry around”
When TracFone came on the scene, it was a bit of a novelty. They offered a pre-paid option for customers so you only had to pay for what you used (or wanted to use). Many used the phone only in the case of emergencies.
I actually don't personally know anyone who uses TracFone today – at least not in my age group. My mother had a TracFone, and was using it until I passed on my old iPhone on to her years ago.
She kept the phone in her glove compartment in the car and used it when she was traveling or in emergencies. It was great for her to have on-hand and it made me feel more at ease that she had it.
TracFone has a great appeal among the 55+ crowd and (according to our rep) is used equally among men and women.
I was curious to know about some people's experience with the provider – so I reached out to a representative with TracFone and they got me in touch with a couple of their customers.
How these customers use TracFone
Nicolson and Paulette agreed to answer a few of my pesky questions I had about the provider. Here's what they had to say:
How did you decide to go with TracFone?
Paulette: I needed a cell phone but I could not afford the cell phone plans that were available. I saw the TracFone at Walmart and made my first purchase. I have never owned another cell phone besides TracFone. I think this was in the late 1990's.
Nicolson: I decided to go with TracFone because it was more convenient with my life, it didn't make sense for me to be paying for text, talk & data that I really wasn't using. I decided it was best that I change to prepaid service and pay when I needed text, talk or data.
How do you use your TracFone?
Paulette: I am a casual user. I have my phone off most of the time. I use my landline at home. That is always the number I provide to everyone. My friends have my cell phone number and we do text each other. Whenever I leave my house I have my cell phone on with me. I rarely take a picture with my phone.
Nicolson: How I use my TracFone is mostly for texting or using data when I'm on the go. I use both pay-as-you-go & pre-pay.
What makes you stay with TracFone vs/ switching to another provider?
Paulette: The cost is the number one reason. For a person like me who rarely uses a cell phone this is perfect. Each time I need to upgrade I look for specials on HSN, QVC or Evine. These companies have the best deals. The phones that TracFone provides are very up-to-date with other cell phones on the market. I am very happy!
Nicolson: I save money and it's covenient.
Would you recommend TracFone to others? Why?
Paulette: YES!!! I have recommended them to friends and family and they have purchased. They are very happy with TracFone also. Lots of people are on budgets and can not afford other cell phone plans. This is great for them. For people who like all the fancy gadgets these phones have that also. The best of both worlds.
Nicolson: Yes! I would recommend TracFone to others. The reason why is because they would save money not having to pay every month; only pay when you need text, talk or data.
[Thanks Paulette and Nicolson!]
With many folks owning a souped-up smartphone these days with heads buried and always “busy” – TracFone provides a refreshing option for those who want a customized option where they aren't “tied” down by contracts.
TracFone offers pre-paid plans starting as low as $10/month, with Smartphone specific plans starting at $15/month. All their plans offer “Unlimited Carryover” as long as the line remains active (Service must be active and in use within any six month period.)
Would you (or do you) use a pay-per-use or pre-paid cell phone plan?
Do you currently use a provider that offers pay-per-play or pre-paid and what has your experience been. I'm particularly interested to know about your experience with TracFone too.
Update 1/25/19: Note, we are unable to field or forward any complaints or concerns regarding your TracFone service. Please contact support at 1 (800) 867-7183 for assistance. Thank you.
Update 7/2/19: Save 15% off your qualifying phone and service plan purchase with code INSTANT15.
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