How Data Works on Tracfone Smartphones

Guide to Tracfone Data Cards and How to Buy Data for your Smartphone

Welcome to the TracfoneReviewer blog! This post will share specifics on how data works on smartphones with Tracfone. Be sure to also take a look at some of our other posts while you're here.

how does data work on tracfone
How to Buy Data from Tracfone
Note - We created a full breakdown and comparison of Tracfone airtime in this post: New Prices/Changes to Tracfone Smartphone Cards.

Tracfone is a prepaid cell phone service provider that offers both phones and airtime cards. On their newer smartphone devices, you also get data when adding an airtime card which you can use to surf the web when not connected to WiFi.

Data is very useful on smartphones, but how does the data work on Tracfone smartphones, how can you get more, and what can you do with the data you have?

We are going to cover these questions and more in this post sharing all the details about how Tracfone Data works on smartphones.

Some of the popular smartphones that Tracfone offers include the LG Premier Pro, Samsung Galaxy J7 Sky Pro and LG Rebel 3. You can see all the newest devices in our List of the Latest Smartphones from Tracfone (2018).

Or you might be interested in the Tracfone BYOP program, which allows users to bring their own smartphone. Follow the link to learn more, and see a list of the possibilities.

Both the smartphones offered by Tracfone, and the BYOP devices, use data in the same way. So let's get started looking at how data works on these phones.

What is Data on Tracfone Smartphones?

Data is the term generally used to describe the amount (usually in megabytes) you can download or upload on your smartphone via the cell phone network. So data is basically information you download or upload from the internet. This can include many different activities, like checking email, posting photos on Facebook, reading webpages, or watching videos.

Data is consumed based on the amount of megabytes you download or upload. So if you download a 20 MB image, that will use 20 MB of your data. If you visit a webpage that takes 1 MB to load, you will use 1 MB of data. (further down we will share more on estimating how much different online activities will use up your data.)

On older, non-smartphone devices, data was used at a rate determined by the amount of time you were on a website, but this is not the case for smartphones which is a nice improvement.

As you can see, data works similarly to your calling minutes, in that you are charged based on how much you use. But calling minutes are based on time, rather than megabytes. (For example, if you make a 20 minute call, you will be deducted (about) 20 minutes of talk time.)

On Tracfone Smartphones and BYOP devices, airtime is split into three pools, Talk, Text and Data. Learn more about How Airtime Works with Tracfone Smartphones in our recent post.

How Can you Buy More Data for your Tracfone Device?

There are two ways to get more data for your smartphone:

Airtime Cards - You can add both Regular Airtime Cards or Smartphone Only Cards and get a certain amount of data along with talk, text and service days.
Data Only Card - You get only Data, at 1 GB for $10

For most situations you will probably want to add an Airtime card to your phone to increase all your 'buckets' of talk/text/data.

But sometimes you may only want to add data, in which case the data only cards are useful. Let's take a closer look at Data cards to better understand how to use them.

What Are Data Only Cards?

As mentioned above, the Data only card increase the amount of data for your smartphone, without adding any additional texts or talk minutes.

This is similar to the Text only cards we recently discussed.

There are some important things to be aware of the make the Data only cards unique.

First, they can only be used with smartphones, including the Android devices offered by Tracfone, and all phones offered through the BYOP program.

Second, like the Text only card, Data only cards do not triple, so you get the amount listed on the card (1 GB).

Data Card Amount and Cost Per MB Compared to Airtime Cards

Tracfone just offers one Data only card option at this time:
  • 1 GB for $10
This results in 1 cent per MB of data.

Cost per MB for Tracfone Data cards and Airtime cards Compared:

Below is a table with all of the current airtime cards from Tracfone and how much data comes with each one. We've included both Smartphone only cards and regular airtime cards.
how much data do you get with tracfone
Tracfone Data Amounts and Cost per MB
There are two key points to take note of from this Chart:
  • Smartphone only cards come with a lot more data compared to regular airtime cards
  • Smartphone only cards are a better deal for data (except the 1500 and 200 minute cards)

In general, if you only need data, the data only card is a good deal. But if you also need talk and texts, then the 300 or 750 minute smartphone cards are a good deal.

Where to Buy Tracfone Data Cards

Tracfone Data cards are available form a variety of sources, as is the case for Tracfone Airtime cards. You can find Data cards on the Tracfone website under Airtime.

You can also find the Tracfone Data cards in many retail stores, and even online through other retailers. We have found Data cards on eBay in various amounts.

Now let's cover one more question that we see asked quite often.

How Much Can you Do Online with 300 MB of Data?

A common question we see is, what can you do online with a certain amount of data? This is a very good question, because many people tend to estimate how many airtime minutes they will need, and then buy the airtime card that suits their needs best. But if you're unfamiliar with how much data is used by smartphones, it makes it hard to estimate.

It is a little hard to give a straight answer to this question, it all depends on what you do online  Take a look at this image (provided by Tracfone) to help give you a better idea:

tracfone 300mb of data what you can do
Estimated usage for 300 MB of data with Tracfone
From this table we see you can visit about 245 webpages with 300 MB of data, or send/receive about 4000 emails. Hopefully this information will help you gain a better understanding of how data is used with Tracfone, and where your data is going.

If you notice, doing certain things online, like streaming music, or even more so, streaming video, will use your data quickly, while visiting webpages or sending emails, especially those with few images, will use less of your data.

Another good resource for estimating your data usage is the Data Calculator on Verizon's website. Enter your estimated activities, and it will tell you about how much data you will use in a month.

Remember, that if you want to stop using data, you can go into the settings on your device, select data, and turn it off. Using WiFi networks, like at your home or work, does not deduct from your data.

Tips for Reducing Data Use
Here are some helpful tips to reduce the amount of data you use.
  • Keep track of your data use and set data use warnings to help
  • Turn off background data (learn more here)
  • Download/upload large files over WiFi as much as possible
  • If you use Google Maps often in a certain area, download the map of that area over WiFi. Here is some helpful information about using Google Maps without using data.
  • Download songs/podcasts over WiFi instead of streaming them.
  • Set your Apps to only update over WiFi.
  • Download Images/Videos only when using WiFi
As you can see, the best way to reduce data usage is to avoid using it for large downloads or uploads, which will quickly drain your data. Using free WiFi whenever possible will go a long way in extending your data.

Here is a helpful article on what online activities use data, and some other basic details about data usage from an AT&T Forum.

We hope you found this information helpful, and please leave a comment with any questions, or if you have something to add!

Learn the basics of how Tracfone works with our Beginners Guide to Tracfone.

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Take a look at one of our other popular posts, the Over 30 Great Android Apps to use with your Smartphone.

And check our recent post on 7 Ways to Reduce Your Airtime Usage with Tracfone including some more tips for making your data last longer.

Thanks for visiting!

Originally published 8/2015 and Updated 8/2018

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