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TracFone Now Offering $10 Text Messaging Cards For Android Phones and BYOP

When Tracfone launched their first Android phone in 2013 they also introduced a new"triple-triple" billing system. Triple-triple has separate buckets for minutes, texts and data. For every minute of airtime you buy, you get 3 minutes, 3 texts and 3 MBs of data. So a 60 minute card gives you 180 minutes, plus 180 texts plus 180 MB of data. Triple-triple billing, which was initially only for Android phones, is also used with "bring your own phones" (BYOP).

Triple-triple is a pretty good deal for users provided they use roughly equal amounts of minutes, texts and data. Of course hardly anybody does that. With a smartphone its especially easy run out of data. From the start of triple-triple TracFone has sold data only cards that add 300 MB for $10, 750 MB for $20 or 2 GB for $50. But it's easy to run out of texts too leaving many users wishing TracFone would sell text top-up cards. That wish has been granted. You can now buy a 1000 texts for $10 card on the TracFone website. I suspect the text cards will show up soon in chain drugstores, mini-marts, gas stations and everywhere else that TracFone airtime is sold.

The text cards work like the data ones, they only add texts, not days of service. You still have to add the regular airtime cards every 30, 90 or 365 days, depending on denomination, to keep your TracFone account active. As with MBs added with the data cards, texts added with the text cards rollover and never expire as long as you keep your service active. Also, like the data cards, the text cards only work with TracFone Android phones and "bring your own phones" (BYOP), not with TracFone feature phones.

Related: Prepaid Operator Profile: TracFone

73 comments:

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  1. $10 for only 1,000 texts doesn't seem like a good deal to me.

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    1. It's a fine deal. There isn't pay-as-you-go pricing at less than 2 cents per text from anyone else, let alone with the Verizon network.

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    2. With Callingmart discount and rebate:
      AirVoice $10 plan is 1.88c/text.
      Ptel pay-go is 1.92c/text.
      LycaMobile pay-go averages 1.92c/text (assuming every sms is answered).

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    3. Texts are still not a fine deal on this plan. You are still paying 4.4c-11c/text on the basic plan, depending on which top-up you buy. Your average price is well over 2c/text.

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    4. Note: The price per text would be less than 2c if you use up all or almost all of the 1000 texts in one month.

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    5. The Selectel $75 annual plan includes 2000 minutes and 2000 texts. Assuming you use them equally, your cost per text is 1.875c/text on Verizon. It's not Pay-Go, but neither are the Tracfone 365 day cards.

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    6. Sure, let's compare Callingmart prices, no one here pays full retail, especially on Tracfone. Assuming these go on Callingmart and the 7% promo code discount is valid (as both are the case for data add-ons), the Tracfone text add-on goes down to 0.921c per text.

      We're talking someone who uses more texts than minutes. On Selectel Yearly, they load $75 after they use 2000 texts: they spend 3.75c/text. And Selectel Yearly plan doesn't rollover minutes or texts or activation time, only cash balance for data and overages: Tracfone is definitely more-so Pay-Go than this.

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    7. Lets consider the realistic options for a *light/moderate* minutes and data user but moderate/high SMS user, Tracfone vs unlimited/high text monthly plans: ~ $19/m on T-Mobile and Sprint, and $27/m on Verizon LTE and AT&T. (All prices here assume LTE phone, and discount pins or autopay discounts, including assumed future 8% for the text add-on at Callingmart.) Assume 3000 minutes and MBs / year are enough, so the base cost on Tracfone $160. If such a user *averaged* ~850 texts/m, then Tracfone costs about the same as T-Mobile or Sprint unlimited plans. Likewise, ~1700 texts/m average is break-even vs Verizon or AT&T unlimited. For every 100 texts/m less than these numbers, you save ~$11.00 per year.

      These are realistic usage numbers, and there is real savings potential. This text add-on makes Tracfone competititve to the moderate and high text user, who before has been stuck between traditional Pay-Go and unlimited. (Hmm, this all seems like competitive pricing targeted against Puppy Wireless.)

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    8. Puppy offers two 'MEGA TEXTING' plans that you probably missed:
      $13.00 - 5 Minutes, 2000 Messages, 5mb of data. >>.0065c/text
      $22.00 - 5 Minutes, 4000 Messages, 5mb of data >>.0055c/text
      You also get a few minutes and mb with these plans.

      The only way somebody would pay 3.375c/text on Selectel is by not talking AT ALL.

      "Tracfone text add-on goes down to 0.921c per text." This means nothing when comparing plans, because you have to buy a Tracfone refill card to have service.

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    9. For the Verizon and Tmobile networks, BYO advertises unlimited texting for $15 (one user says it is capped at 4000 sms/month). Someone who texts a lot would pay MUCH more for heavy texting on this Tracfone triple-triple plan with text add-on.

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    10. For the Sprint network several MVNOs offer unlimited texting plans that cost less for heavy texting than Tracfone triple-triple with text add-on. E.g., Freedompop $7.99 (500min and mb incl.), Chit-Chat Basic $9.99+T (250 min. incl.), Republic $10+T, Kajeet $16.49 (60 min. incl.), Ringplus Noelani $17.99+T (with unlimited talk and 400mb LTE data).

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    11. Yes, the mega texting plans probably work the best for very low users of talking and data. Overage on these are 5c, if not mistaken.

      Let's do a similar analysis as above analysis for someone who uses 50 minutes and 50 MB per month on average (at least 5 of each per month) and 1000 text/m (but never above 2000). This is, intentionally to be fair and realistic, half the minutes and MB of a Tracfone $100 year pin, and half the SMS allocation of the $13 MEGA TEXTING. Tracfone $100 year pin can be had for $85 (less any eBay Bucks), and the additional texts would cost ~$100/yr. The base cost of $13 MEGA TEXTING is $156/yr, and the additional minutes and MB are $54/yr. These are close in total cost; a reasonable reduction in minutes and data and increase in texts will push Tracfone to be more expensive (for example, 40 minutes, 40 MB, and 1200 text/m).

      The issue of add-on texting pricing being insufficiently comparable to standard Pay-Go pricing is why these full service cost analysis are required. But my main point is that it is substantially enough cheaper than any Pay-Go so that it is actually attractive for some to use.

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    12. Thanks, I neglected to consider Chit-Chat Basic, Kajeet or BYO Tmobile. How does Chit-Chat deal with overage minutes and data? Kajeet has no data and overages are expensive. And BYO overage is hairy with expiring add-on balances, but, sure, there's enough minutes and data included to neglect that issue. So it's $15/m on T-mobile.

      Comparing the cost and value of Freedom Pop or Republic to other traditionally-functioning MVNOs can easily get troublesome. Ringplus Noelani comes to ~$19 with tax. I left out BYO Verizon because no LTE.

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    13. On Selectel, a heavy texter would spend 3.75c/text and have all minutes usage included. It's not fair to compare 3.75c/text to the Pay-Go text rate rate at other places; it's also not fair to say that it's effectively 1.875c/text because the plan includes minutes.

      Selectel Yearly is a great value to anyone who uses some sort of balance between minutes and texts at no more than a moderate rate, and little data. But those who use 10s MB/m and 100s text/m could find Tracfone to be a better value. Not to mention that Tracfone has LTE, Tracfone has LTE, and Tracfone has LTE. (Why I switched from Selectel Yearly to Tracfone)

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    14. BYO is still better: 350min, 50 mb and unlimited (at least 4000) texts/month for $180/year. And you don't have the potential hassle of buying expensive refills on eBay (or the extra work of adding text cards). I don't think prepaid refills are covered by eBay buyer protection. I can construct numbers where Tracfone works out better than BYO on Verizon or T-Mobile, but everybody has to do their own math and decide how much work they are willing to perform. It's harder for Tracfone to beat Freedompop, Republic or Chit-Chat for someone who can use Sprint.

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    15. Re the Kajeet question: They have data, but it is separately priced/mb and expensive. Alternatively you can add 50mb for $4.99 or 500mb for $14.95, but that takes the plan over $20/month. I don't recommend Chit-Chat to anyone.

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    16. This card shouldn't be compared to the 2¢/text rate of PayGo plans because you are paying $10 up front just for texts without any service days, instead of paying per text on a true PayGo plan. It should be compared to monthly text plans which often include more than 1,000 texts for $10. This doesn't seem like a good rate for heavy text users.

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    17. BYO unlimited is not capped at 4000, but when you reach 4000 you do have to call/e-mail them to reset it.

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    18. "On Selectel, a heavy texter would spend 3.75c/text and have all minutes usage included." I think it's more accurate to say that every minute and text costs 1.875c, use it or lose it. You won't really know your cost/unit until your have used up your minutes and/or texts and renew your plan (perhaps early). Data is reasonable at 5c/mb via Flex card that does not expire.

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    19. "I think it's more accurate to say that every minute and text costs 1.875c, use it or lose it." And, unlike now with Tracfone, for every text message you buy, you have to buy a minute. (And, unlike always with Tracfone, unused minutes, texts and service days don't carry over.)

      Let's just say that, especially for Selectel Yearly vs. Tracfone, comparing costs deserves a thorough analysis. Especially in terms of comparing overall value, considering roaming, LTE, customer service, inter-annual carryover, etc.

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    20. I would expect that the numerous classified ads on eBay for tracfone pins are not covered by the guarantee. But there are some "traditional" listings for pins, and they indicate that the eBay guarantee applies. ShopCellDeals has one such listing at $85 for the one year pin. (They also have phone & 1-year pins combos for just $80, and the pin isn't preloaded to the phone.)

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    21. "It should be compared to monthly text plans which often include more than 1,000 texts for $10." But Tracfone add-on (and air-time card) texts will rollover, monthly plan texts are "use it or lose it." No, that's really not any closer to an apples-to-apples comparison than is Tracfone add-on texts vs traditional pay-as-you-go. There is no *simple* apples-to-apples comparison, just the opportunity to calculate the total realized cost of each service provider given an average and variance in usage.

      Instead of "this doesn't seem like a good rate for heavy text users," look at the above analyses, challenge the assumptions made, and maybe repeat the arithmetic with a different set of conditions.

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    22. You make some good points. But for heavy text users rollover texts don't matter much, since they'll most likely use most, if not all, of the texts in their plan. As for light text users, I doubt they'll be willing to pay $10 just for texts and will most likely put the same $10 towards an airtime card that adds service days as well as minutes/texts/data.

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    23. I think the $10 text card can be a good deal for light-moderate text users who have determined that a triple-triple card works well for them, but need more texts most months. It takes more work to add the extra PINs compared to a monthly plan, but some people won't mind.

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    24. The $10 text card offers a better deal for texts than any of the other plans do.

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    25. if you have comcast, triple play, you can text from your tracfone, not using your tradfone text minutes, works like a charm, and its included in the price of your monthly bill, unlimited texting plus they give you5 virtual numbers for family members

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  2. Thank you Dennis. With regard to the last sentence, is it your understanding that this text card would work with a BYOP feature phone?

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    1. The text card works with any triple-triple phone which includes TracFone Android phones and BYOP Verizon phones regardless of whether they are smartphones or feature phones. Triple-triple billing is cloud based so the phone is irrelevant.

      The text card doesn't work with TracFone branded feature phones which use on-device "Airtime Tank" software to implement single minute, double minute or triple minute billing.

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  3. I have recently went back to Tracfone Android service as my daily driver. I applaud this move by Tracfone. The texting bucket is what I deplete most often. It appears this might be a more efficient use of my money. I am able to keep my cell phone bill around $20-22/month, which I am ok with.

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    1. I agree! I have been buying the 200 minute $40. card every three months because I run out of text. With this new card I can buy the 60 Minutes $20. card and one of these for a total of $30. every three months. $10 per month for text, talk, and data is plenty for my needs.

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    2. I feel its a good deal also, text is what I run out of.

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  4. Dennis. Have you seen the advertisement where Tracfone is selling the Nexus 6 and other 4G phones.

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  5. Dennis. This is the link where Tracfone is selling 4G phones. Any thoughts?
    http://www.saveontracfone.com/Phones/

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    1. That's a site operated by Quality One Wireless (Q1W) an online vendor that TracFone has a deal with. Q1W operates similar storefronts for the other TracFone brands and for PTEL and Airvoice. Buying from Q1W is no different than buying from Google, Best or Amazon except that TracFone gets a commision

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  6. Off topic yes: has anyone heard when AT&T will roll out Lollipop for Galaxy S5? And is there a way to just download and install from the AT&T site, instead of through the dodgy system update in settings?

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    1. Lollipop for the AT&T S5 is already available OTA. AT&T Galaxy S5 Lollipop Impressions & Performance

      At some point it should be available for sideloading through Kies or Odin. I don't consider OTA updates risky and prefer them them over Kies or Odin.
      Kies is a PITA to use and does the same thing as the OTA (transfer the update file to phone memory and launch recovery to install it).
      if you don't know what you are doing it's easy to brick your phone with Odin.

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  7. I guess Cricket doesn't count as ATT? I assumed it would have. Cricket does not have this yet.

    "I don't consider OTA updates risky and prefer them them over Kies or Odin."

    By dodgy I meant how it works poorly: I check for updates, and then i get a message that I can't check again for 8 hours or something. I suppose I could disable that annoyance through rooting.

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    1. If it's an AT&T S5 I believe you will need to put an AT&T SIM in it to get the OTA. I don't know if the SIM needs to be active. Also some BestBuy stores are supposed to have a Samsung Experience store within a store where they will do upgrades for free

      It looks like someone on XDA Developers has extracted the OTA file and made it available OTA update 5.0 - xda-developers. I'm not sure how you install it but I suspect there are instructions somewhere in the 11 page thread. Use at your own risk of course.

      If it's a Cricket S5, Cricket hasn't released LoliPop for their S5s yet. I'd be wary of installing an AT&T OTA on a Cricket branded phone.

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  8. Where are these cards available ?
    What stores ?

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  9. Tracfone needs to do some new things. They lost 318,000 net customers in Q1, 2015, many of whom were disconnected Lifeline cheats. 2014 Q1 they added 452,000 new customers.

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  10. The option to buy txt message only cards has disappeared from the Tracfone website. I tried to buy this card about 10 times over two weeks and it wouldn't let me complete the transaction with a credit card, and there were no options to pay using any other method.

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    1. Same thing happened to me!

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  11. Just went to the tracfone website and there is no 1000 text card available to purchase?

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    1. me, too. I don't see it anywhere. I only use my tracfone for texting, so that's kinda pissy.

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    2. I called tf customer service. was told there had been some issues AMD that they were working to get it back asap.

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  12. I want to know what happened to the 1000 texts card??? I went to tragicomedy because of this option. Frustrated

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  13. Where do we get text only trac phone ?Wake up!

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  14. This is ridiculous that we can't buy the text cards anymore. I am ready to ditch Tracfone and switch to StraightTalk. It would still be cheaper than what I am buying now just for the ability to text. My end service date is now 2030!

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  15. They actually don't have that card that just adds texts any more. I went on to buy one for my teenage daughter, who still has most of her minutes and all of her data, but is very low on texts, and they were no longer available.

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    1. Just received message to buy $10 text card. Not shown on cite. August 8, 2015

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    2. Text cards are on the TracFone site. Scroll down to "Special Cards" near the bottom of the page and you will find the text card.

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  16. I was just told by customer service that they don't have the 1000 text for $10 at this time. It has been discontinued but they plan to have it back. They can't assure me they will notify me when this happens and I will have to constantly check the website to see if it's back....???

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    Replies
    1. Walmart sells the 1000 text cards for $5

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  17. The text cards are back! I just added 5,000 text minutes for the princely sum of $53.50. Thank you, Tracfone. You listened.

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  18. I just tried to buy this 1000 texts for $10,
    TracFone says this card not compatible with my (Android LGL34C) phone. WTF?!

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  19. Can someone PLEASE tell me what drugstore or what chain I can find these cards? I even called Bestbuy here in Sarasota and they dont carry the TEXT card, only data and minutes.

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    1. The text cards are only available from tracfone.com as far as I know.

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  20. I've seen where people take an actual photo of the text only card hanging on the hook at the store, but don't know what store the photo was taken.

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  21. Oh how I wish I knew where these cards are being sold too. I hate to give out my credit card info on Tracfone's website. I would MUCH rather pay with a $10 bill at a store! Anyone know of a store selling the text only cards?

    Helen Graves

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    1. I just bought 2 text cards at my local Target store.

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    2. Target? Great! Will head there now! Anywhere else?

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  22. I contacted support and got a link! Here it is: https://www.tracfone.com/direct/Purchase?payGo=true&app=TRACFONE&lang=en

    scroll down a little further than half way to find the $10 TEXT ONLY CARD!

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  23. Text card only seems to work for texting other tracfone users. Recipients on other networks do not receive texts from me unless I have texts remaining from a regular airtime card.

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    1. That's got to be a bug. Use the chat option on TracFone's Facebook page for support.

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  24. $20 for data and texts, Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, as a teenager. texts and data are what I run out of the most. I currently got almost 400 minutes. I do hope the fact that the text card only sends texts to tracfone users and not other networks is a bug. that may be a problem for me in the future when I add more people to my contacts. hope I find it in walmart soon though.

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  25. They charged me $107.00 instead of 10.70 Have been put on hold,connected, disconnectEd for the past week. . .2 seconds to take out of my account. . .2 weeks and still waiting for my reimbursement. I want to try it again but I'm afraid. . .how long will I have to wait for $200.00?!?!?!

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  26. I am on Tracfone BYOP with a Verizon CDMA LTE smartphone. I want to change to a different phone. May I just move the SIM to the new phone or is the SIM tied to my original phone. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, you can swap TracFone BYOP SIMs between phones.

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  27. I just bought some, they're $5 now.

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  28. This evening, I ordered 1000 text time for $5.00 !!!!!! I'm unsure when the price change took place, but it's the real deal. So for $21.64, I got 4000 text time. woohooo !!!!

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