Mobile Virtual Network Operators have revolutionized the telco industry in the United States. These are small service providers that do not invest in their network infrastructure but rely on what the major carriers have put in place.
Essentially, they ‘lease’ out space on this infrastructure and can offer customers cheaper service. When looking for a reliable network service provider, it helps to look into a couple of factors.
The most obvious ones are the cost of the service, your needs, and the quality of coverage, among others. The sad thing is that you cannot have it both ways as all these aspects are tied to each other.
A costlier service will most likely have good coverage and suit your needs better compared to a low cost one. This way, it is vital to nail down a fine balance between the three and land the best service and plan for you.
When shopping for one, you will come across a plethora of plans offered by different service providers. They could be major carriers or MVNOs, but for a regular user, all you need is a plan that will help you communicate seamlessly at an affordable cost.
In this piece, we have singled out two service providers, Verizon and TracFone. We will compare these two and see what they have to offer before recommending the best one depending on your needs. Read on;
Main Differences Between TracFone vs Verizon
The main differences between TracFone vs Verzion are:
- TracFone is an MVNO that relies on major network carriers, whereas Verizon is a major carrier that offers services using its infrastructure
- TracFone is a minimalist wireless service that is good for people who do not use their phones that often, whereas Verizon is a full network service provider that offers different plans for all types of users
- TracFone is the largest no-contract network service provider, whereas Verizon is the number one carrier in the United States
To some extent, it is hard to compare Verizon and TracFone since they operate in different tiers. However, the beauty is that they still offer mobile services, and users who are looking for service in the market will have to look at what offers before choosing one.
TracFone is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator that relies on the major carriers’ infrastructure to power its mobile service. It offers prepaid services, and you only pay for what you use.
Ranking it against the other MVNOs puts it ahead of the rest, but just behind the major carriers AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It can be argued that it is the largest prepaid carrier, but other people might have varying opinions on this.
TracFone is so large that it owns other MVNOs such as Simple Wireless, Page Plus Cellular, Net10, StraightTalk, and Total Wireless, among others. TracFone is suitable for moderate and light phone users. From when it was established in 1996, it has stamped its authority in the mobile phone service market, but how good are they?
Verizon is the number one carrier in the United States. It is a primary carrier, and facing it off with an MVNO like TracFone is like comparing apples and oranges to some extent.
It has the best service compared to the rest and offers the best speeds. It was started in 2000 by Bell Atlantic Corp and GTE Corp in what was one of the largest mergers of the United States business history.
Several acquisitions, mergers, and diversions took place from that date, and today Verizon stands as a top global telecommunications company. Its coverage is great to the extent that people prefer to go for MVNOs that use its core network. However, being the number one carrier means that you have to pay a premium fee for their service. What do they have to offer?
Plans and Prices
TracFone offers contract-free service, and their plans are either “smartphone-only” or “basic-phone” specific. The prepaid plans span for 30, 60, 90- and 365-day increments.
If you buy a plan that lasts for 60 days, you will have all the resources for that period but can carry them forward to the coming period if you buy a new plan before the expiry date elapses.
Their plans can be confusing if you don’t know what to look out for, but we will break them down here;
Plans for Basic Phones
|30 minutes||30 days||30 minutes voice, text, and web||$9.99|
|60 minutes||90 days||60 minutes of talk, text, and web||$19.99|
|120 minutes||90 days||120 minutes of talk, text, and web||$29.99|
|200 minutes||90 days||200 minutes of talk, text, and web||$39.99|
|450 minutes||90 days||450 minutes of talk, text, and web||$79.99|
|400 minutes||365 days||400 minutes of talk, text, and web||$99.99|
|1000 minutes||365 days||400 minutes of talk, text, and web||$159.99|
|1500 minutes||365 days||1,500 minutes of talk, text, and web||$199.99|
From the table, you can see they start at $9.99 a month and go up to $199.99 for the full-year plan. If you can pay the amount for a full year plan, this gets you resources to use for the entire year, or until they are depleted.
These plans are among the cheapest in the market, and many competitors cannot beat them. One downfall is that they do not offer unlimited resources such as talk and text, meaning that heavy phone users might end up paying more.
Plans for Smartphones
|500MB||30 days||200 minutes, 500 texts, 500 MB data||$15|
|1.0GB||30 days||300 minutes, 1,000 texts, 1GB data||$20|
|500MB||60 days||500 minutes talk, 1,000 texts, 500 MB data||$25|
|1.0GB||60 days||750 minutes, 1,000 texts, 1GB data||$35|
|1.5GB||90 days||750 minutes, 1,000 texts, 1.5GB data||$45|
|2.0GB||90 days||750 minutes, 1,500 texts, 2.0GB data||$50|
|1.5GB||365 days||1,500 minutes, 1,500 texts, 1.5GB data||$125|
The plans start at $15 a month, but the caveat is that there is no unlimited offering. The maximum is 1,500 minutes and text for a full year, offerings that can be depleted within a month for some.
Their little data offering is suitable for those who just want to run a simple Google search once a week. If you are a heavy data user, these plans might not be ideal for you. In such a case, you might be better off going for service providers that give unlimited data.
Aside from the mainstream plans, TracFone offers a few value-added services for customers. You can buy a global calling card, a 500-minute calling card, a 1 GB card, and 1000 text cards.
Each of these goes for $10. These are suitable for those that might have depleted their resources and do not want to renew their subscription at that point. The Global calling card is TracFone’s only international calling feature, something that is an obvious downside.
Their auto-refill feature is where you allow them to automatically refill your plan with new resources when you deplete them before the stipulated period elapses. By signing up for this, you qualify for a discount and pay a few dollars off each plan.
Being a primary carrier, it is expected that Verizon offers more plans to cater to the needs of different types of mobile users. We will kick off with the unlimited plans;
Verizon Unlimited Plans
|Plan||Features||Price for one line|
||$75 per month plus the phone price to be paid upfront|
||$85 per month plus phone price to be paid upfront|
||$95 per month plus the price of the phone to be paid upfront|
The Go Unlimited plan is the base plan, but the speeds can be reduced at Verizon’s discretion. The video allowance and mobile hotspot speeds are very slow. The Beyond Unlimited plan improves speeds even though it is a bit expensive.
The network offering is 4G LTE, and data is not restricted until you hit the 22GB threshold. Above unlimited is the premium plan with better offerings. This the powerhouse, and you won’t experience any restrictions by going for this.
In our view, the Beyond Unlimited plan offers the best value as it is backed up by a substantial hotspot allowance and HD streaming.
Verizon Prepaid Plans
|Plan||Features||Family and Autopay Discounts|
|$30 per month Prepaid smartphone||
|$35 per month prepaid smartphone||
|$65 per month prepaid smartphone||
These plans are for those that do not need the Unlimited plans. All of them include unlimited talk time and text across the United States and over 200 international destinations. They include carryover, and mobile hotspot offerings expect for the unlimited prepaid.
|Plan||Data||Price for four lines|
|Go Unlimited Family Plan||Unlimited||$160 per month|
|Beyond Unlimited Family Plan||Unlimited||$200 per month|
|Above Unlimited Family Plan||Unlimited||$240 per month|
|Prepaid Family Plan||3GB||$120 per month|
|Prepaid Family Plan(unlimited)||Unlimited||$240 per month|
The prices of Verizon’s plans are higher than the competitors, but here, the features are not any better. However, Verizon allows you to mix up your family plans, for instances where not everyone has the same usage habits.
Phones and Devices
If you love using the latest phones in the market, TracFone is not for you. They are always a few models behind, but there are good older ones to pick from between Apple, Samsung, LG, ZTE, and Alcatel. To check out the list of phones supported by TracFone, check here.
Verizon offers a lot of phones, and you have a wide range of brands to pick from their collection. You can get the latest Apple, Samsung, and Google phones while also choose some of the standout older models. You can check out Verizon’s cell phone offerings here.
Verizon is the only carrier allowed to sell Google Pixels outside of the tech giant itself, something that makes it better than other carriers. The cost is a massive downside of the phones offered by Verizon.
Since they pulled a 2-year contract to implement their plans, the prices changed. This way, rather than paying a flat $200 for every phone, you need to pay retail or being your own. The advantage is that they offer installment plans.
Performance and Coverage
It is hard to rank TracFone’s coverage since it uses networks owned by the major carriers. The network used on the phone depends on your area and other algorithms known to TracFone. On paper, you should get reliable coverage.
However, rural areas experience challenges when using TracFone. In a nutshell, using TracFone should work well in cities but not so much in rural areas. However, its coverage is better than most of the other MVNOs. Here is TracFone’s coverage checker.
Verizon has won the competition for the best coverage for some time. This does not look like changing any time soon as it offers 4G coverage to 70% of the country, which is not matched by any other carrier.
This is why the services cost more since they invest a lot in QoS. If you are someone who likes to venture into remote parts, Verizon might offer you the reliability you need. Here is Verizon’s coverage map.
Pros and Cons
Pros of TracFone
- Relies on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon’s networks
- Prices are low
- Variety of prepaid plans to choose from
- Largest no-contract carrier in the US
Cons of TracFone
- Limits on talk, text, and data
- Limited international offerings
- Costly for heavy phone users
Pros of Verizon
- Offers the most reliable coverage
- Highly rated network speed and performance
- A wide selection of phones and plans
- Can mix and match multi-line family plans
- The exclusive Google Pixel carrier
Cons of Verizon
- Pricier than what the competition offers
- Limited features than other carriers
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, TracFone is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator that does not have its network equipment. It pays to use the infrastructure owned by the major carriers such as Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, among others.
TracFone offers cheaper plans since it has not invested much in network infrastructure. However, the plans are limited and suitable for people who do not use their phones much.
It beats Verizon in the cost aspect, but Verizon is the number one carrier in the United States, due to its reliability and performance. It all goes down to what you think precedes the other. Cost of performance? Your call!
TracFone’s plans are best compared to one’s habits. This is the only way you can single out the best plans. The basic plans are unmatched in the market and will offer better value to those who use their phones sporadically. The good thing is that if you run out of resources, you can always add more for $10.
One huge downside with TracFone is that it relies on the major carriers’ network infrastructure. This way, any significant action by any of the carriers will have a ripple effect on TracFone’s operations.
Verizon is shutting down their 2G, and 3G networks will affect any TracFone CDMA devices that use this network. Verizon has been mooting this move for many years, and when it is finally implemented, many users will be affected.
TracFone and Verizon are in different tiers, but we have done well to compare them. Verizon is the number one carrier in the US, and TracFone can be crowned as the king of the non-contract carriers.
Verizon is not a bad choice if you are looking to get a new phone plan. Their nationwide coverage is unmatched, and you will get fast and reliable performance. The pricing is the trickiest thing about them as it is not a low-cost carrier. If you are keen on the performance and top-notch coverage, the prices reflect that, and this should be your go-to choice.
On the other hand, TracFone is a minimalist phone carrier that suits people who do not use their phones that often. If you are a light and moderate user, it should serve your needs perfectly. However, you pay more as the phone usage increases.
Over to you!