The TracFone Networks

The TracFone Networks are operated by one of the largest wireless companies in the world, America Movil.  They control 11 different wireless carriers in the US and Puerto Rico, TracFone being the largest. This is an overview of each, with links and useful data, listed alphabetically. The advantage is that with these services you use the same wireless networks as the major carriers at a lower price. America Movil is able to negotiate with each carrier separately to offer the best price. Claro is listed separately.
America Movil FAQ

NET10 was originally developed to offer a pure 10 cents a minute wireless experience but has evolved to a network that has a slight benefit toward families. For the most part, NET10 phones are GSM only and, like TracFone, assigns you a "Home" network based on your location, your choice of phone, and which carrier offers them the best roaming rate. They offer both "fixed" and Unlimited plans and a discount for each additional family share line. NET10 also offers a "Bring Your Own Phone" plan that roams nationally on most available GSM networks.
Net10 Coverage

GoSmart Mobile
GoSmart was a variation of T-Mobile's own Prepaid, conceived before their acquisition of MetroPCS. GoSmart was acquired by America Movil in 2016 and will slowly begin to operate more like America Movil's other prepaids. For now they offer plans that are slightly different than T-Mobile's "regular" Prepaid plans. They have a very limited number of phones available. They do offer a SIM to bring your own phone. Broadband access is limited to T-Mobile's 3G network which has a smaller footprint and sometimes slower downloads.  They also offer a $25 Talk & Text-only plan.

Page Plus is one of our recommended prepaid services. They use the entire Verizon Wireless network with off-network Voice and Text roaming available at a reasonable per minute rate. America Movil acquired Page Plus in 2014. Little has changed under new ownership, as has been the case with similar acquisitions, with the exception of added taxes. Page Plus offers a wide variety of economical plans including plans with Data. They also allow you to bring your own CDMA phone.
Page Plus Coverage

Safelink Wireless
Safelink Wireless supplies service to those customers who qualify for LifeLine services, a government-supported telephone program. Plans are Free or at a very low cost. They offer basic and smart phones with features and coverage similar to TracFone. Basic plans are for Voice and Text only, in some states Free Data may be included, and you can buy additional minutes. Safelink is only offered in certain states of the US where subsidies are available.
Safelink Coverage

Simple Mobile phones are confined to the T-Mobile network and give you lower rates in return for more restricted network access. The name "Sim-ple" originated with them being a "SIM-only" service, but now they offer several Simple Mobile-branded phones. You are still invited to bring your own unlocked or T-Mobile compatible GSM phone and they'll send you a SIM card to start service. The difference in prices among plans is based on your data speed or threshold. With the more expensive plans you get faster service. You are limited to the T-Mobile network, there is no off-network roaming except in Mexico. All plans have Unlimited Calls and Texts and some level of Data.
SIMple Mobile Coverage

Straight Talk
Originally offered as an exclusive product to be sold at Wal-Mart, Straight Talk also offers their phones and service online. They offer single-network phones which allows a choice of one of the national carriers. They also offer an even more versatile "Bring Your Own Phone" plan which allows you to use any AT&T, T-Mobile or unlocked GSM phone. The big advantage of "Bring Your Own Phone" is that you will have the total coverage of your chosen "Home" network as well as additional roaming from America Movil's normal roaming partners. If you purchase an "Android" phone from Straight Talk, your coverage will be limited to mostly the Sprint network, however, if the phone you use for the "Bring Your Own Phone" plan is a GSM Android phone, you will use any of the available roaming networks, including all broadband features. Some plans include Unlimited features including data. Refills can be purchased in 1, 3, 6 and 12 month increments, with the longer expirations selling at a slight discount,  "Auto-Refill" is available.  Otherwise, refills are only available online and at Wal-Mart stores. Taxes and fees are added which can be as much as 10%. Straight Talk also offers an economical wireless substitute for your home phone.
Straight Talk Coverage

Telcel is the largest wireless service in Mexico and their new US service gives you a Mexico-calling connection with their "Extended Nation" plans. There are several plan levels that include Roaming in Mexico, including Data, with a 7-day plan offered at $20.  Coverage in Mexico is mostly on the superior Telcel Mexico network. In the US, Telcel offers all the same characteristics of the Straight Talk network, including a "Bring Your Own Phone" plan that roams nationally on most available GSM networks. Telcel coverage in the US uses the T-Mobile network and also includes the US, America Movil roaming partners.  They also offer Spanish language customer service and web site.
Telcel America Coverage
Discount TelCel America Refills

Total Wireless
Total Wireless was created to be sold at Walmart, like Straight Talk, but at different price points, and is limited to the Verizon Wireless network and not the roaming partners available on Straight Talk. You get Unlimited Talk & Text and a large amount of Data at prices about $10 less than Straight Talk. Total is also similar to Page Plus but without the extra-charge roaming capabilities. Keep in mind all America Movil products currently add sales tax which is not added by some competitors. If you live and travel within Verizon's wireless network, Total Wireless can be a good value if you can get a good price fit.  Total Wireless is Also Available Online!
Total Wireless Coverage

TracFone is the largest Prepaid service in the US and the largest of America Movil's US networks. They have created a network with nationwide coverage using roaming agreements with various carriers. You usually do not get a choice of networks and your service takes on the characteristics of the major network they assign you as to your "Home" network. That choice is based on your location, your choice of phone, and which carrier offers them the best roaming rate. However, TracFone does allow you to bring your own phone to some of their plans.  The procedure for using your own device varies based on the model and network.  
TracFone Coverage

Walmart Family Mobile
Walmart created their own brand of wireless using the T-Mobile Network. America Movil acquired the Walmart Family Mobile service and now operates it within their TracFone operation. The phones and plans offered are similar to other America Movil products and will continue to be sold at Walmart stores and Walmart.com.  While the phones should continue to use the T-Mobile network, America Movil may make adjustments and their maps show coverage available on roaming partners. Their service is competitive with other prepaids and they may be offered at price points that may better fit your usage.
Walmart Family Mobile is Available Online

Claro Wireless
Claro is more like America Movil's other Latin America networks. They own the network and offer a wide variety of phones, plans, and 'bundles' with their other communications services. Claro uses the former Verizon Wireless network in Puerto Rico which has very good coverage. Claro and Verizon Wireless have interoperating agreements but there are some technology incompatibilities as Claro slowly offers new services that are GSM-based like America Movil's other local networks. "Claro" is Spanish for "Clear."

AMERICA MOVIL Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What's Movil?
    'Movil' means 'Mobile' in Spanish and is used in Latin American countries for 'Mobile Phone'.

  • Which Network Will I Use?
    America Movil does not own a single cell site in the US, their service is based entirely on roaming agreements with most US carriers. With these agreements, the America Movil networks can offer service anywhere in the US where there is cellular service, and local phone numbers are available in any chosen location.

    Keep in mind that
    America Movil is able to negotiate with each carrier separately to offer the best price, sometimes one against another, which may change the operating network for some of these Prepaid plans or their roaming partners.  However, with any changes in network agreements, each America Movil network supports its original plans and coverage.

    Most of their phones, and all of the SIM's, are coded to use one of the major US wireless networks either exclusively, or as your "Home" network. In some cases you can either specify the network when you order on their web site, or look for one of the network codes on the retail packages using the following codes:

    • Android Network: Sprint
    • CDMA-S: Sprint
    • CDMA-V: Verizon
    • GSM-A: AT&T
    • GSM-T: T-Mobile

  • Is It All Prepaid?
    All of these networks (except Claro) offer only Prepaid plans with no contracts. There are several refill options including Auto-Refill. Discount refills are available online.

  • Is Roaming Available Outside the US?
    Currently, the only America Movil network that offers roaming is Telcel America which roams on the Telcel network in Mexico.  They also offer an "International neighbors" feature that gives you a local number in either Mexico or Canada that can ring your US-based phone for no additional charges other than a local call in that country.

  • Can I Bring My Own Phone?
    Yes. One great feature of some of the American Movil networks is their Bring Your Own Phone Plans. This has multiple benefits:

    • You can buy a nicer or more advanced phone or wireless device than those offered by these carriers. 
    • You only need to insert the proper SIM card and you're operating on one of the America Movil networks. You can also use a phone you already own including some CDMA phones like the Apple iPhone.
    • In some cases, you can choose your network. If you choose an AT&T SIM, for example, you will use the entire AT&T network. If you roam outside of the AT&T footprint, your phone will roam on one of the GSM networks that has a roaming agreement with America Movil. This includes most US networks and covers virtually all areas served by GSM service. Within the AT&T service area, your phone will not roam onto another network. The same is true for a phone with a T-Mobile based SIM. Your coverage will be just like that of a T-Mobile phone, but whenever you travel outside the 'home' network area you will have coverage on one of America Movil's roaming partners.
    • Coverage is greater than America Movil's single-network phones.

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