How Do Minutes Work on Tracfone Smartphones?

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A Short Guide to Adding Minutes to Tracfone Android Smartphones

Updated on 12/17/18. TracfoneReviewer is committed to sharing the best and most accurate information for our readers.

Over the several years, Tracfone has included a number of Android and Apple powered smartphones in their lineup of cell phones.

Tracfone provides both cell service and phones at a low cost and sells airtime cards with varying minute amounts (60, 120, 200 etc.) that users can buy and add to their phone. When the minutes are added, the phone then uses those minutes when you call or text. You also get a certain amount of service days (in most cases 90) with each card.

This system where users can buy minutes only when needed helps to make Tracfone service very inexpensive for people who don't use their phones very often.

Some Tracfone devices also come with double or triple minutes for life, meaning you get double (or triple) the minutes when you add a new card. However, Tracfone has made Changes to Triple Minutes for Life and you can learn more by following the link.

One of the changes to triple minutes is that most new smartphones from Tracfone do not come with this bonus. However, Tracfone now offers a number of smartphone only airtime cards that come with a significantly greater amount of airtime compared to regular airtime cards.

Let's start by looking at smartphone only cards.

How Smartphone Only Cards are Different than Regular Airtime Cards

Tracfone offers two types of airtime cards - 'regular' cards and 'smartphone only' cards.

Regular Airtime Card - Airtime values of 60, 120, 200 etc. and most cards come with 90 days of service. Can be added to any Tracfone device and can triple.

Smartphone Only Card - Each card comes with a specific amount of Talk/Text/Data such as 500 talk minutes, 1000 texts and 500 MB data on the $25 smartphone card. These cards can only be added to smartphones and can not triple.

So the main differences between these cards is that smartphone cards come with more airtime, do not triple, and can only be used with smartphones.

When adding a smartphone only card you will get exactly the amounts listed on the card (unless you also use a promo code!).

Learn more about smartphone cards vs regular cards with our Guide to the Best Deal on Tracfone Minutes.

Now that we've covered smartphone only cards, we will look at some important differences for how regular airtime cards work with smartphones.

How Tracfone Minutes are Added to Android Smartphones

With Smartphones (which includes both those from Tracfone, and BYOP devices), the way minutes from regular airtime cards are credited to your account is a bit different than how things worked for older 'dumb' phones.

For older phones like the LG 840G, when you added a 60 minute card, you would get it tripled to 180 minutes which you could then use for talk, text and surfing the web.

For smartphones, Talk, Text and Data are split up when you add the minutes. So if you add a 60 minute card, you will get it tripled (in most cases) to 180 minutes, and then this is split up into 180 minutes for talking, 180 texts, and 180 MB for web.

So to make it clear:
  • Non-Android phones use one 'pool' for minutes.
  • Android phones use three separate 'pools' for talk, text and data.
Once the airtime is split into these different pools, you can't transfer it from one 'pool' to another.

For most people an Android phone is a great deal because you get the same number of minutes for talking, while also receiving texts and data. But there is an important difference that makes this not a great deal for everyone.

Related post - 6 Key Differences between Android and non-Android Tracfone Devices

The difference is that for people who text a lot, Android phones are not as great a deal if you ONLY buy the regular airtime card. Let me explain:

For a non-Android device, each text costs 0.3 minutes. So with 180 minutes, you would get 600 texts.

On an Android phone, each text is 1 text (because texts are their own 'pool'). So with 180 minutes, you would get 180 texts (you would also still have 180 minutes for talking, and 180 MB of data).

But there is a solution. Tracfone now offers text refill cards ($5 for 1000 texts), and they also offer Smartphone-Only airtime cards that are a much better deal for most people. We've done a Comparison of Smartphone Airtime Cards vs. Regular Airtime Cards and found some very interesting results, so take a look if you want to find what card is the best deal.

The text refill card is an easy way to reload your phone if you get low on texts. And at only $5 for 1000 texts, that's just half a penny per text, so a very good deal. Read our guide on How to Add Texts to your Tracfone Device for further details.

If you are a heavy texter but want an Android phone, look into downloading apps that text for free. Simply visit the Google Play Store and search for 'free texting apps'.

See all the newest devices from Tracfone with our Latest List of Tracfone Smartphones.

For those who don't want to switch to this new minutes system, phones like the LG 840G we mentioned above, the LG 306G, Moto EX431G, and Samsung S425G still use the one pool system for minutes (and all of these phones have Triple Minutes).

If you have further questions on how minutes work, feel free to leave a comment below. Now, we want to go over one more important point:

How Triple Minutes for Life Works on Smartphones from Tracfone (And BYOP)

We've noticed a number of readers who have questions about how Triple Minutes for Life works with the smartphones, and especially the new smartphone airtime cards.

There have been some recent changes to Triple Minutes for Life from Tracfone, and we've outlined them in our post, Tracfone Changes Triple Minutes for Life.

Tracfone Smartphones released after April 2017 may not include Triple Minutes for Life, where as older smartphones will still have triple minutes.

Newer SIM card kits also do not include Triple Minutes for Life for BYOP phones.

This is disappointing to many, but the Smartphone only airtime cards did not triple anyway, and are generally a better deal for most users.

How to Check Your Minutes Balance on Android Phones

android tracfone minutes
Tracfone airtime for Androids
This is a question many are asking, because there is no automatic location on Tracfone smartphones for accessing your current minutes balance like there is on non-Android phones.

We've created a full guide with 4 ways to Check your Airtime on a Tracfone Smartphone or you can continue reading below.

But there is an easy way to check your balance. Simply sign into your account at Tracfone.com (or create one of you don't already have one) and go to your account page. You should see your phone listed there, and one of the options will be to check your current balance. Click this and after a few seconds you should see what your remaining balance looks like.

You can do this either on a computer, or from your phone. Additionally, there are two more options for checking your balance:

Enter the following url into your browser from your phone or computer and replace the numbers at the end with your phone number: https://www.tracfone.com/direct/CheckBalance?input_phone=1234567890

Or simply download the Tracfone App which allows you to see your service end date and balance.

That concludes this guide to how minutes work on Android phones. We hope you found this useful, and leave a comment with questions or thoughts.

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Be aware that Tracfone Promo Codes don't work on Android phones, so this is also a small downside of the new smartphones.

Check out the latest and greatest sales, deals and discounts on Tracfone devices and minutes for some huge savings we've found around the internet!

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