Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Pluto9th
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:59 pm

Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by Pluto9th » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:41 pm

Hello. Want to get a smart phone with a low-volume prepaid plan. I'm in unfamiliar territory after using a simple phone/simple pre-paid plan for more than 10 years (good enough, except for lack of coverage at work - on Sprint network), so if you could scan over my thinking below and point out logical holes or offer suggestions, that'll be great.

Requirements for phone/plan:
1) Plan should use AT&T network - workplace has no/very weak cell coverage for Sprint and T-Mobile. People using AT&T (via Consumer Cellular) and Verizon have good signals (found out from the Boglehead forum about Verizon's pageplus, but their cheap monthly plan 'The 12' has only 10MB data allowence and it's only 3G, and their very-cheap 120-day plans seem to be voice-only)
2) Low volume of talk/text/data that would roll over or be valid for a long time. I usually average 5-10 texts and ~10 minutes of talk per month (though would probably use a bit more if there's coverage at work), and use 50-100MB of data on T-Mobile's 200MB/month free data plan for a cellular tablet. Occasionally something unexpected might come up that require more usage (~100 minutes of talk in a week)
3) Phone: thinking of an iPhone SE (no need for big phone; already have iOS devices of various sizes; doesn't have to be an Apple but should have some web-browsing/email/GPS capabilities; also would like it to be small enough to double as a MP3 player for audio books)
4) Would like the flexibility of switching to another provider if the first one doesn't work out

So I looked around and it seems that Tracfone's bring-your-own-phone plan would work ("Keep your unused, minutes, texts and data with Unlimited Carryover"). The trick seems to be to make sure to end up on their AT&T network. Here's my plan:

1) Buying an unlocked phone (e.g. iPhone SE)
2) Activate as "AT&T compatible or GSM unlocked phone"; buy SIM (that'll ensure that I'll end up using the AT&T network, right??)
3) Buy a 60-day plan ($25 for 500min talk. 1,000 texts, 500MB of data) to try it out. If it works well enough, port over the current cell phone number. Buy additional data at 1GB/$10 if data should run low during the year
4) If it doesn't work out, switch to Consumer Cellular

Would it work, in your opinion/experience? Thanks!

pochax
Posts: 1269
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:40 am

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by pochax » Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:27 pm

if tracfone doesn't work out for you, consider Cricket wireless $30/mo 1GB data plan (also uses AT&T network):
https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-ph ... owse_Plans

123
Posts: 2584
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by 123 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:21 pm

I did something similar when I upgraded from my flip-phone to a smartphone. I wasn't quite ready to splurge on an iphone since I didn't know how much I'd appreciate it (it's main advantage seems to be the excellent camera). Instead I bought an unlocked Moto E from Amazon for about $100 and decided on Tracfone as a carrier. I use their plan (talk/text/data) that renews every 3 months and it costs about $7 a month with taxes etc. A couple times a year I buy a couple GB of extra data for $10 a GB. So as a low-level user it costs me about $120 a year which I'm happy with. It's surprising how many places have wifi so that cuts down the data I have to buy and of course I have wifi around the house.

I'm happy with the performance of my Moto E. It uses Android instead of ios like the iphone. When my Moto E konks out or I have other issues I'll probably just get an iphone but the Moto E is fine for now. Kind of a crappy camera but it's not a deal breaker for me because I'm not a selfie kind of person.

Iphone is a great device with an excellent camera. I just don't really need it and I tend to be cheap.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

User avatar
indexfundfan
Posts: 1927
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by indexfundfan » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:15 pm

It will work. I used a Tracfone on AT&T myself. The minutes and data do roll over. Just make sure to get a GSM phone and activate the GSM SIM card. The phone does not necessarily have to be unlocked; even a AT&T-branded phone should work.
My signature has been deleted.

Pluto9th
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:59 pm

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by Pluto9th » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:17 am

Thanks pochax, 123 & indexfundfan! After reading your replies I went ahead with the plan. Have been on the Tracfone/AT&T network a couple of days now, so far so good.

The 90-day talk/text/data plan 123 mentioned - is it the 60-minute "airtime" for $20, good for 90 days? The card for this on the web site says "this card adds 60 minutes for talk, text, data", does that translate to ... any # of talk minutes, # of text, # of MB in data, summed up to be < 60 total? The $25 for 60-day, 500 min/1,000 text/500MB seems reasonable, but in the long run if i accumulate too many minutes/texts i might go on the $20/90-day for a few quarters (if i understand the concept correctly) and buy supplemental GBs of data as needed.

OnTrack
Posts: 192
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:16 pm

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by OnTrack » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:45 am

I do not recommend Tracfone. I bought one along with a card to add minutes. The phone came with some minutes and those worked. After those were used up, I tried to use the card I had purchased and it didn't work. Customer service did not help; I think they thought I did not have a valid card. It was a very big inconvienance since I was traveling at the time. I ended up returning both the phone and the card to the store where I bought them for a refund. I currently have a Verizon prepaid phone that works ok.

TerryDMillerMBA
Posts: 97
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:32 pm

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by TerryDMillerMBA » Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:28 am

Tracfone. I have NEVER had a problem with them in two years so far. I have intermittent needs for phone, text, and non-free-Wifi usage, and the pay-as-you-go model fits me perfectly. I built up service time to the point where I can not buy any min/texts/data for about a year and my phone would still be active. I'm good.

MathWizard
Posts: 2645
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:35 pm

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by MathWizard » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:34 am

Target has the iPhone 5s for tracfone for $200. It works great (we just switched 2 months ago.)
It uses either the ATT or Verizon. I prefer Verizon for its better coverage, so you'd get coverage
at least as good as ATT coverage.

Other iPhones on tracfone use different networks. Look at:
http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2011/12/how-to-get-tracfone-net10-or-straight.html
to see some information on this.

I am also trying out Google Fi on the Nexus 5x. This has the advantage of unlimited talk/text,
with separate charges for data.

michaeljc70
Posts: 1971
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: Please critique my plan to move to AT&T Tracfone

Post by michaeljc70 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:11 pm

pochax wrote:if tracfone doesn't work out for you, consider Cricket wireless $30/mo 1GB data plan (also uses AT&T network):
https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-ph ... owse_Plans


I have Cricket and it is cheap and works well. I could be wrong, but have a feeling that once you start to use a smartphone, you may need more data than you think. Keep in mind Cricket includes all taxes. Where I live, that is quite a bit.

Post Reply