What Happens When I Roam With Tracfone?

By Andrea Sigust

TracFone is one of the largest prepaid mobile telephone service providers in the United States. It's headquartered in Miami, and it offers nationwide coverage through a combination of local, long-distance, international and roaming services to more than 18 million customers.

Networks and Coverage Area

TracFone prepaid telephones include models by Samsung, Motorola, LG and Kyocera. You can buy airtime minutes online, over the telephone or through airtime cards sold at retail stores. TracFone does not have its own cellular network, but uses those of carriers such as AT&T and Verizon. Your network coverage area is determined by your location and the type of telephone you own. Your network coverage area depends on the network your telephone was designed to primarily operate on.

Roaming Conditions

Roaming occurs when you use your TracFone telephone outside of your assigned network coverage area. You "roam" onto other carriers' networks in order to continuing making and receiving calls. Roaming also occurs as a back-up mechanism within your assigned network, if it becomes overloaded or the signal becomes weak. If you are on a call within your assigned network coverage area and the network link becomes unstable, the system will automatically divert your signal to another carrier's network in order to facilitate the call.

Visual Indicators

You will know that you've entered a roaming mode by visual indicators on your telephone's display screen. Depending on the model of your telephone, you will either see the word "Roaming," "RM," "Roam" or a flashing triangle.

Roaming Fees

Your roaming fees are determined by your telephone model. The majority of TracFone telephones are not charged additional fees for roaming but are charged one unit of airtime per minute as in all other calls. However, some older TracFone models -- which are generally non-GSM network phones -- may be charged two units of airtime per minute. If you make or receive a call while you are roaming, the roaming rate will be appear on your telephone's display screen. Roaming rates will only apply while the roaming visual indicator is displayed.