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Thread: The Noob guide to Tracfone/Net10/Straight Talk/America Movil

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    The Noob guide to Tracfone/Net10/Straight Talk/America Movil

    America Movil is a Latin America based multinational wireless conglomerate. They own and operate Tracfone Inc. which in turn runs and owns Tracfone itself, Net10, Straight Talk and Safelink. (All opinions expressed are solely that of the author).

    Here are some tips for complete noobs to this world both general and specific.

    GENERAL:

    Each service is uniquely different catering to different niches.

    Tracfone, the original brand is known for its cheap phones, easy to find cards with many locations, long expiry minutes (90 days on average), somewhat costly minutes (can be reduced with codes and double minutes), international rates being included at no extra charge if you activate the service with them.

    Tracfone is NOT for the heavy user.

    Net10 is a simplified version of Tracfone. All minutes are 10 cents a minute all the time. All texts are 5 cents a text (except for the new Qwerty Samsung phones which allow 3 cents a text). Their phones are generally slightly to somewhat more expensive then Tracfone .

    They also offer an unlimited option for their gsm/sim card phone users. Unlimited talk/text. But at $79.98 , is a pricy one in this time of lowering unlimited prepaid rates from other companies like Boost mobile and sister brand Straight Talk.

    Net10 topups and phones are available almost as widely as TF ones are.

    International calling is only 15 cents a minute to many countries. Similar to TF, it has to be activated also to be used.

    Both enjoy and share a reputation for a very high degree of national coverage area because of the fact that America Movil leases airtime on over 30 networks both cdma (no sim card phones like Verizon/US Cellular) and gsm (sim card types like Att/Tmobile).

    Both Net10/TF have the best overall coverage of any single prepaid carrier in the US , including Verizon prepaid. Net10 be better for a slightly heavier user then a typical Trac user.

    STRAIGHT TALK: The newest branch of the family . Straight Talk is a brand released exclusively through its own website and Walmart. They are aimed mainly at the heavy/unlimited user market. They have two basic plans. One for heavy users: $30 for 1000 minutes/1000 messages/30 megs web. The other one is unlimited talk/messaging/web for $45. This is the lowest priced total unlimited plan on a national carrier via mvno or not.

    With word that Verizon is the brand network it is running on and phones starting at only 29.99, it is easy to see why ST appears to be skyrocketing in nationwide popularity at the moment.

    Straight Talk has NO international calling (unlike Net10/TF which do) or intl text options except to receive said calls or texts. As for using a intl long distance calling card or other alternative method to get around this limitation. It is up to the individual to try it out on their own.

    Safelink will be mentioned in passing because :
    1) It is not yet available everywhere.
    2) Not everyone qualifies for it.

    Safelink is a Tracfone/US Govt . joint venture to help those of certain income levels qualify for a phone and minutes free of charge. Each family must go apply through a process and is qualified for one phone and about an hours worth of free airtime a month. Additional airtime can be bought by the user by topping up with regular Tracfone topup cards. Safelink is a wireless version of the long existing Life Line, land line for the economically disadvantaged program via the US Govt and various telecoms.
    It is not available to the general public , which is why it is being mentioned here only briefly. Safelink is eventually expected to expand to all 50 states. Right now , it is only in a handful.


    CUSTOMER SERVICE

    Customer service is not one of the TF/N10/ST strongpoints. The best way to deal with them is avoid situations which can get you into them to begin with.

    Their idea of tech support is generally to replace the phone (at least it is with Net10).

    Their CS is outsourced. IN general, at best they are polite but ineffectual. Here is a link on how to deal with them and actually get something done.http://www.fone-review.com/tracfone_support.html

    This tutorial is aimed at Tracfone but it can be applied equally to ST/Net10 users as well.

    Special note: At present , Straight Talk is in the middle of a MASSIVE nationwide expansion. EXPECT the lines to be either 1)Constantly busy. 2)Get a message that says that no one is available at the time to help. This has been increasingly reported lately here on Hofo. The same phenomenon hit Page Plus users too when their unlimited plan was launched. Expect it to be madness for a little while.


    NUMBER PORTING:

    It is a lot simpler if you try not to port a number in. Tracfone companies seem to be more problematic/just generally slower then normal about this. If you insist on bringing your number, be prepared for possible delays and more then one phone call. It is up to you to check.

    Avoiding a port just makes things simpler.


    PHONE UNLOCKING:
    This forum has asked that no questions be asked about putting TF/N10 phones on other forums so I will sum it up with the basics.

    Basically America Movil has made their phones very hard to unlock or flash to other networks to prevent people called phone traffickers from easily buying up tons of their cheap retail phones , unlocking/flashing them to another network or system and reselling them overseas. This cuts into America Movil profits severely. They have launched a very successful campaign at suing such people and usually winning. They also have evolved the security on their phones to be so difficult to crack that it is beyond the reach of most ordinary users and even the average phone unlocker/flasher probably.

    TF/N10 phones have sim unlock apps on them. LEAVE THEM ALONE.
    Even if you could unlock a TF/N10 gsm sim phone, it would only be a half way unlock. You would have to FLASH or reprogram the airtank built in. That would make them usable with other sims, but will render them useless on the TF/N10 network.
    As for ST phones, they are still new and it has been known that the first generation models (All the Motorolas) can be used with minor modification on the Page Plus system which shares the same Verizon prepaid network under it that Straight Talk does. Whether they will modify/increase the security levels in future ST phones remains to be seen as Tracfones too were at one time easily unlockable when they first launched. Whether the newest ST models (Samsungs and LGs can be used on Page Plus or other networks is still unknown at this time. That is more of a question to be answered in the Page Plus technical forums then here).


    PHONES.

    All three brands use some of the same models, primarily cdma LGs. Net10/TF is more similar to each other then they are to ST though.
    Generally, Trafone has the cheapest phones even if it is the same model as the other two and the most expensive time rates. Straight Talk has the most expensive overall phones and lowest priced time rates. Net10 is in the middle.
    As of this writing, Tracfone is the only line without a qwerty model.There is supposed to be a touchscreen smartphone coming out for ST but has not been 100% confirmed as of this writing.

    OTHER TIPS;

    Tracfone: If you buy a Tracfone always get the Double Minutes For Life DMFL version. Most current middle to higher priced models come with it built in for free. With it you automatically get DOUBLE the minutes your Tracfone topup card face value has. 200 minutes become 400. 120 become 240, etc.

    Promo codes. An additional way to stretch your Tracfone dollar. By combining current promo codes with DMFL, you will really get a lot for your money. Promo codes are added during topups. Here is a good source of reliable current codes. It is free. http://preprepaid.com/currenttracfonebonus.php

    For both TF/N10. Avoid putting in more card then one at a time. If a Tracfone or Net10 phone dies on you, it is extremely difficult to recover said minutes via Customer service. The burden of proof of the existence of said lost minutes is squarely laid on the shoulders of the customer/user, you. That means, receipts, scratched off old cards, records, records, records and a lot of explaining. Minimize potential headaches and losses. Keep airtime on these phones to a minimum. Top up only when you HAVE to.

    Also, TF/N10 users, try to avoid transferring large quantities of minutes. There have been way too many tragic horror stories of users losing THOUSANDS of minutes of saved time. The previous rule of avoiding building up a huge bank of minutes relates to this to prevent such a loss. And by not transferring until you have used up all or at least most minutes on a phone before you move the number to another phone because of damage or upgrading

    ST 1000 minute plan users, if you topup again before the 30 day period because you ran out of talk mintues, or message or web megs, remember you are STARTING OVER from scratch and will lose any unused talk/text/web you have left . There is no rollover on this plan. Your 30 day cycle will start again once you renew.
    There have been reports of rollover like effects, especially with data and messages, but this is apparently a quirk in their system is should not be counted on to last.

    For unlimited users , this is a moot point as the recent upgrade has made all features now unlimited, whereas before mms and data had 30 meg restriction.

    For additonal support, especially with Tracfone/Net10 brands, try these resources out. Written and maintained by Tracfone Hofo Pbushx, this site has extensive hands on up to date information on Tracfones , Net10s and a little Straight Talk. Most useful are his detailed and through phone reviews.http://pbush14.wordpress.com/

    Written by Tracfone Hofo Jimates, this site is a little older, but again covers a lot of valuable detailed information on Tracfones and Net10s. Not being updated regularly, it can be considered an archive of good solid but little known information about Tracfone/Net10s with tons of tips like how to get specific phones not in your market,
    ordering replacement sims, etc. It is a intermediate kind of Tracfone primer. Appropriately titled, Everything You ever wanted to know about Tracfone but couldn t find anyone to ask. http://thejmart.com/links.htm

    Finally, this one helps too. He is also a Hofo. http://www.fone-review.com/tracfone-review.html

    Right now Straight Talk resources are few and far inbetween except for what we post on this forum ourselves but with time , pretty sure one will pop up just for them.
    If any one has extra advice they would like to add to enhance this guide. Please add on. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Update the Tracfone LG-225 has 3 cents for TEXT. Good info above though. I would have bold the subject titles but anyway good job!
    advice is free, but take it at your own risk...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tipstir
    Update the Tracfone LG-225 has 3 cents for TEXT.
    The charge is .3 units per text. Not 3 cents. The actual monetary cost will vary depending on how the fone was loaded.

    Lisme, Mosaic55, Cannonball-II and the others: Sorry for not being around here this weekend to help you correct all of tipstirs erroneous posts. After reading for the last hour it sure looks like ya'll had a lot of fun.......lol
    Last edited by tracnet; 11-01-2009 at 10:21 PM.

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    Tracfone rates do vary widely. I think it is 33 cents a minute with the 9.99 card/30 minutes no dmfl/promo code. But can be as even cheaper then Net10 if you buy the 200 minute card, dmfl it to 400 minutes, add a promo to gain another 60. 460 minutes for $40? Not bad. Comes out to like 9 cents a minute. Texts are 3 cents roughly if it is a third of that. Buy in bulk, it gives you more results with Tracfone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by knowbody09
    Tracfone rates do vary widely. I think it is 33 cents a minute with the 9.99 card/30 minutes no dmfl/promo code. But can be as even cheaper then Net10 if you buy the 200 minute card, dmfl it to 400 minutes, add a promo to gain another 60. 460 minutes for $40? Not bad. Comes out to like 9 cents a minute. Texts are 3 cents roughly if it is a third of that. Buy in bulk, it gives you more results with Tracfone.
    Agreed, it is variable.. In the past I have had text rates below 2 cents each. That was by using different transfer bonus options and such given by trac. Technically I could claim less than 1 cent per text but that would have been accomplished by working the system a little more than the normal user would.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracnet
    The charge is .3 units per text. Not 3 cents. The actual monetary cost will vary depending on how the fone was loaded.

    Lisme, Mosaic55, Cannonball-II and the others: Sorry for not being around here this weekend to help you correct all of tipstirs erroneous posts. After reading for the last hour it sure looks like ya'll had a lot of fun.......lol
    But you were around, but decided to come out from under your ghost cover!

    It's 3 cents on the LG-225 it was 5 cents for text prior, I tested it before and after, but again do you have this phone? But you don't have any cell phone listed? Are you a cell phone carrying member or not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tipstir
    But you were around, but decided to come out from under your ghost cover!
    Stop the BS already! This forum is for tracfone/net10 and St discussion. It is not your personal playground. But to address your comment - I happened to spend my weekend at 2 high school football games and also at the hospital with my wife. I have read most of your posts from the weekend and see nothing has changed. Keep diggin' for your ghost you haven't found him here. Sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tipstir
    But you were around, but decided to come out from under your ghost cover!

    It's 3 cents on the LG-225 it was 5 cents for text prior, I tested it before and after, but again do you have this phone? But you don't have any cell phone listed? Are you a cell phone carrying member or not?
    Tipstir, are you saying that a lg225 on Net10 now has a text rate of 3 cents per, instead of 5 cents?.
    When did the rate for that phone change and how did it change?

    Tracfone is .3 units per text, but all of the Net10 phones were .5 minutes except the new phones that came out within the last 2 weeks.
    There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past.George Carlin

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    ST Noob tip: Phone browser not working/LG C220 text issues/payment damage control

    The wap/web browser on new ST phones not working, error messages seems to be a common issue for many new ST users. Why this is so is not completely known. What is known is that it is an issue which goes back to when ST was first introduced in June. In other words, it is NOT a new issue.

    From what we know , the easiest, fastest way to deal with this is to exchange it for a new phone at your Walmart that you purchased it from. If you are exchanging it, make sure that the number is active on the replacement one before you return the defective one if the number is important to you.

    Exchanges may be harder for online purchases via Walmart site or Straight Talk site. Try to do it through regular ST CS. If that is simply not possible because of the current overflow volume of new customers they are getting . Try the help link in the original post about customer service at the start of this thread.

    Also, it helps to get through to customer service before 9 am EST as they open at 8am . It does seem to increase ones chances.

    If you are handy with Phone Tools software, seem editing and are a little more technical, you might want to tinker with the phone web/wap settings.
    But it would be up to you to find those specific settings and of course you choose to take any responsibilities for any risky things that happens to your phone should anything to wrong. I simply advise do not try anything too technical if you are not totally sure of what you are doing.

    And the Straight Talk LG 220C apparently has a incoming text issues in a lot of their models. Be aware if your LG 220C gets no text/mms, it is probably not your fault but a defective phone. It is not known if this issue also affects the other Lgs in the ST line or the Tracfone/Net10 versions of the LG 220C at this time.

    Another more general issue, trying to buy more then two Tracfones, Net10s or Straight Talks or trying to active more then two at a time can cause possible problems if you do it all at once.

    Prepaid wireless carriers like Trac/Vm intentionally limit purchases to two per person both online and in person to prevent phone traffickers from easily obtaining their phones for resell.

    Ways to circumvent that are to go to multiple retail locations or same location on more then one time period/day.

    Activating more then two phones at a time, at least on Straight Talk , may also be an issue. If you have to do multiple lines, like for your family, I suggest you spread it out over more then one day and plan it a little in advance. I am sure there are other ways around this issue.

    These tips also may apply to Net10 and Tracfone as well.

    PAYMENTS for Straight Talk.

    Highly recommend TOPUPS only. This is also a policy I recommend for users of Virgin Mobile to prevent their notorious overcharging/double charging of credit/debit/bank cards.

    If you use a topup, you are engaging in potential damage control. Should something to really really wrong with billing, you are only out one card. That is it. No credit card, no debit card. No trying to get a refund hassle.

    PLUS , you save money on phone taxes except for the price of the taxes on the card itself. Paying by debit/credit probably subjects you to full taxation/extra telecom/wireless fees in addition to plain sales tax.

    I STRONGLY recommend Topups only as a preventive measure of account/financial control over your ST account.

    If you can avoid any autopay, try to do so. Certain programs like the Net10 unlimited plan though, will ONLY take credit/debit. Making the lower priced, superior coverage, more feature packed ST unlimited an even better deal then the Net10 unlimited is.

    More tips will be added to this thread as situations develop.
    Last edited by fonezfonz; 11-02-2009 at 04:06 AM.

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    The Noob guide to Tracfone/Net10/Straight Talk/America Movil

    Great job, and great service, fonezfonz!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimates
    Tipstir, are you saying that a lg225 on Net10 now has a text rate of 3 cents per, instead of 5 cents?.
    When did the rate for that phone change and how did it change?

    Tracfone is .3 units per text, but all of the Net10 phones were .5 minutes except the new phones that came out within the last 2 weeks.
    Mine was back in 2007-2008 was .5 cent. It's not .3 cents I don't use only once played with the text feature as I had received a text from my nephew it deducted .5 cents to RX it So unless it was a glitch on my phone but I guess with the last update it's fix. The phone is use to run my business that's it. I deal with IT companies who need to reach me anywhere. Tracfone good for that for me as I travel a lot.

    Anyway let's get back on the topic in hand not fair for the OP (original poster)

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracnet
    Stop the BS already! This forum is for tracfone/net10 and St discussion. It is not your personal playground. But to address your comment - I happened to spend my weekend at 2 high school football games and also at the hospital with my wife. I have read most of your posts from the weekend and see nothing has changed. Keep diggin' for your ghost you haven't found him here. Sorry.
    Would you like to take this further? I can open and VPN tunnel so you and I can chat in private? Others can join in but it's better just if you and I chat! You just need to download the free VPN IM software. I use that for business or when I am traveling. I can give you the group name and password. But this is where I draw the line online. Need to let it go and you know what your done, I don't know why you do it but that's it.

    Let the OP run this thread, you need to chill.. You can answer this in the LG-300g swap minutes deal..

    OP didn't mean to intrude..

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    Mod note: Thread stickied per request.







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    GSM network by this parent company is pretty huge on this interactive map
    http://www.americamovil.com/index_eng.htm click on the icon for GSM Agreements.

    Looks like they go more of foot hold around this planet for wireless. Still as long as it works I don't mine.

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    They are not putting the cdma parts though for the US. No Verizon, Alltel or US Cellular.

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