For some time I was in favour of Republic Wireless for its unlimited voice and text. I liked its unlimited $10 voice plan however I increasingly desired to be able to have some data as well and did not want to have to pay Republic Wireless's $25 charge to get it.
In the end I chose Tracfone for its plans that hover around my monthly budget goal of $10 and get plenty of monthly rollover minutes of Voice, Text and Data for my usage. Higher usage plans are available for up to $29.99. There Extra Data $10 bucket of 300MB w/ rollover at 3¢ a MB also tops all others in value. Tracfone seems to have the best value plans among all of the MVNO choices I compared. They have several customer service options, Chat, Forum, Help ticket, and Phone. There phone help service comes from native spanish speakers in guatemala that try, but have a hard time communicating with native English speakers. A lot of misunderstandings with them are reported. Tracfone also has an App to help track your minute usage. And of course plan minutes can be purchased online at you local store. Plans can also be set up to automatically charge to help assure you conveniently have Minutes/ texts and data available.
I found the smart data phones at the Tracfone store to be limited lower spec Android phones at entry level prices. Most of the phones are at least 4.1 and up to 4.4. and Single and Dual core 4.1 - 4.4 phones. One exception is a Quad core 5" phone that looks nice if you want a larger phone, it is usually out of stock at Tracfone but more often available at re-sellers. Tracfone seems to have a hard time keep phones in stock, One would hope this is because of newer updated phones coming but I doubt it, as it seems a pattern to frequently go out of stock and to stick with older phones. A large selection of less techie non data phones are also available.
I also chose the BYOD option as the smartphones that Tracfone carries at their store are less than optimal specification models. I learned a lot about how to BYOD at the Tracfone Reviewer blog website. The caveat with BYOD is that the phone you choose must have been used on Verizon for at least 6 months and have a 'clean ESN'(ie. not stolen or have a bill owed on the account the device was last used on).
EDIT: My this first attempt failed see next blog entry for a hopeful success. (Just wanted to save you some reading in case you hate disappointing stories.)
I chose to purchase a used 2013 (1st gen) Moto G' from amazon for $59. I received it for $46 because of a credit card 'bonus bucks' balance that was available to me. Motorola does very good about updating the Operating System on their phones. Verizon and Tracfone are however not good about passing on these updates their phones via over the air updates. I will have to update it manually with Motorola's update files if I have any hope it getting their Lolipop 5.0 update for it. The Moto G is a very well liked phone with a good bang for the buck. Its general specs include a quality high DPI 4.5 screen, 8Gb mem, Quad core processor and gets regular Motorola updates.
I am going to forward calls through my Google Voice Hangouts number that I already use just in case Verizon does not work out and I need to move on. Besides I like Google Voice's online answering system as it makes it easy to go through messages and customize answering messages to different groups. I can also redirect calls to whatever, and however many, phones I choose. I can also make and receive my calls via WiFi with it when available to save my monthly minutes, texts and data allocation. No one will know whether i am answering or initiating my call with them using google hangouts or my phone.
I expect my Moto Phone along with the 'Hard case/Screen protector/Car charger' set I ordered to arrive this week. I will get it updated and hooked up to Tracfone. When I am up and running I will update this blog entry with how my plan and phone are going.
1. Tried BYOD setup page but it did not work.
2. I called the help number from "Network Access Code" package they were not able to help.
3. I used chat and they were not able to help but they recommended I call 1-800-687-7183 but they were unable to help but gave me the 1-866-667-6470 direct access hotline to call and give the 67427 case reference number to use when I called.
4. I called the 1-866-667-6470 direct access they gave me to number their system crashed so was told to call back in 15 minutes.
5. I called back they finally figured out the phone is still locked. And says to call Verizon to get it unlocked.
6. I called verizon at (800)922-0204 and they said to get it unlocked I would have to take it into a local store to get it done. http://www.verizonwireless.com/aboutus/commitment/safety-security/device-unlocking-policy.html
7. I also contacted the seller of the phone and he is working with me. I was accidentally sent a locked phone. I am being sent a prepaid label for a return.
8. I will try to take it into the local Verizon store to try to get it unlocked as well.
9. Verizon said they no longer unlock devices. they suggested I look it up on youtube for instructions to do it myself. I followed instructions and my Moto G comes up as not unlockable. Reasons for this can be it has not been on verizon for 6 months, has an outstanding bill on it or it was reported stolen. Whatever the reason, I contacted the seller to arrange an exchange.
--------------------------------------------------------------NEXT TRY: Motorola MOTO G - 8GB - Black Tracfone, Verizon , Page Plus Android smartphone from ebay. This phone costs $105 as of this post. I will be giving it a try as a BYOD device. This seller specifically states it is ready to be used for Tracfone BYOD service. I am going to start a new blog entry to chronicle how this phone purchase and hookup went.