Many of the new Tracfone handsets (both smartphones and non-smartphone models) have proper email clients that let you setup your account so you can send and receive your messages. It still costs you airtime, but it's now a lot more convenient.
Here's are options for doing it with the other handsets.
Subject: Emailing from a Tracfone
Message: I have asked the Tracfone folks and searched blogs but I cannot figure out how to send a picture or text from my Tracfone to an email?! My messages keep failing but I have no idea why. Any ideas?
Thanks for the inquiry. The answer depends on the particular Tracfone you have.
First, the way you're supposed to do it:
In the Motorola C261, for example, when you add a contact you can choose "regular" or "email". For email contacts you enter the email address. [For example, to email pics to myself] I usually create a contact called "me" and enter my email address.
To send the message, you choose that contact to receive the message. You may have to send it as an enhanced SMS or MMS message to send a picture. This Tracfone email process will probably cost you about two minutes of airtime.
Now some phones, like the new Motorola W175, don't appear to allow you to add an "email" contact.
(Update: I've added images to illustrate the directions.)
So there appears to be a second, alternate way to simply send at least a
text message from a Tracfone to an email address. I have tested that
this method works in my location (North Carolina) but can't vouch for it
1. Create a new contact (I use the name "email" so I know what it's for) with the number 36245 (which spells out "email") and add it to your phonebook.
2. In the body of the text message first enter the email address you would like to send the text message, then a space, and then your actual message.
3. As a test send one to yourself and check your mail. For me the email appeared as from: email@example.com, this will depend on what carrier Tracfone uses in your area.
4. Now you're ready to send Tracfone email messages to your friends and family!
The cost of this second method cost me what a regular text message would cost, i.e., 0.3 units.
One annoyance is that you can't store the email addresses in the contacts.
One solution to this is to store your most frequently emailed addresses as Text message "Quick Notes" and then add your message to the end of that note.
Hope this helps.
I received a further request here's how to use Tracfone's Quick Notes to manage your email. The feedback form didn't capture the email of the person so I've posted my answer here since it might be useful for others as well.
Subject: make my own quick notes
Message: Do you know how I can make or change a quick note so I can use it for email address instead of typing it in every time. Thanks
Andy, Thanks for the question. First make a contact named "email" with the number "36245". Then in each separate Quick Note enter one email address of someone whom you would want to send a message and save the Note.
To send the email then, go to Messages -> Quick Notes, select the Note containing the email address you want and select Read -> Send. This will open up the Note for editing. Add the rest of your message after the email address (leaving a space after the address) and send it to the "Email" contact you created earlier. This should send the message to the email address in the beginning of that Note.
Sending email to Tracfones is easy once you . . .
And once you've sent a text message to your own email address, you will automatically see your own Tracfone mobile email address. In my case, as I mentioned above, it was:
If the Tracfone you want to send a message via email is based in the same area, then their Tracfone email address should be in the same format. Otherwise, you'll have to ask them to send you a text message to your regular email address using one of the methods above.
When you send a short (text messages have a character limit) email to that address, it arrives on your phone as a standard text message which costs 0.30 units to read.
The emailed text message comes in this format:
FRM: Name associated with email account
SUBJ: What's in the subject line of the email
MSG: What's in the body of the email message
From: 1010100001 (Not sure what this "From" field means. If you convert the binary to decimal you get 673 - which doesn't mean anything).
Hope you find these email notes useful.
The following prepaid phones have a proper email client app or tool.
The Samsung S390g is quite a stylish QWERTY handset for the price. It has WiFi access and a YouTube player.
The touchscreen LG 840g also has WiFi access but no YouTube player.
The Motorola EX124g has neither WiFi access and therefore no YouTube player. However, it does have a 3 MP camera, which, for a long time, was the best you could do in a prepaid phone, and it is still pretty good.
Finally, you have the Android phones (now available from Tracfone) which have full email clients as well as tons of other apps.