What Is A No Monthly Fee GPS Tracking Device?
Perhaps you know you want to use GPS tracking to keep an eye on someone or something. But what kind of tracking do you need? That can be a much more difficult question to determine.
When it comes to using and purchasing a GPS tracker, you have three basic options: real-time, on-demand, or passive. How do you know which one is the best fit for you?
Let’s look briefly at each.
Real-time GPS trackers are always working. As long as they are kept activated, you can see a complete history of any and all movements made—often with additional information also available. As a result, real-time GPS trackers are great for keeping an eye on your kids or your company vehicles.
On-demand GPS trackers are always available but aren’t necessarily always working. Instead, they work when you tell them to do so or when an alert is triggered. This might mean that the tracker left their bounded area or geofence, or it might mean that you pulled it up on your computer. Regardless, on-demand GPS trackers usually are less expensive to use because you’re only using a cellular signal when pulling up the data or a certain condition has been met. As a result, they also usually have lower fees.
Finally, passive GPS work, well, passively. Let’s spend a little more time exploring passive GPS.
How does passive GPS work?
Passive GPS trackers don’t require any cellular connectivity. Instead, they use a GPS data logger to record everywhere the device or vehicle has traveled. Then, instead of uploading that data to a remote service like active GPS trackers (whether real-time or on-demand), the GPS trackers must be manually recovered in order to see the location data for that device.
Of course, that also translates into several advantages if passive GPS will work for you. First, passive GPS trackers won’t have any sort of annual or monthly service charge, because they don’t require any cellular connectivity. Second, because they don’t need to be able to communicate, they’re often much smaller, making them far easier to hide discreetly.
So if you’re willing to use a tracker that must be removed from the vehicle and manually plugged into a computer in order to see the data, passive tracking is definitely the way to go.
As a result, passive GPS trackers are perfect for the following purposes:
- Tracking mileage for work
- Reducing vehicle misuse
- Monitoring spouses
The biggest thing is that as long as you don’t need to see the GPS data in real-time or on-demand, passive GPS trackers making use of GPS data loggers are probably perfect for what you need.
Instead, you can simply have regularly scheduled times at which you check the device and download the data from the tracker onto your computer. For work vehicles, that might be once a month, such as the first Friday of each month, for instance. For monitoring spouses, for instance, you might know when the best options are based on their standing schedule.
Because passive GPS trackers do use those GPS data loggers, however, and don’t need to communicate with a cellular signal, you can still get data just as accurate as you would with an active tracker, but in a much smaller package and often for a fraction of a price.
What is inside a GPS receiver?
Okay, so that’s how a GPS receiver works. But what is actually inside the GPS receiver?
The biggest feature of the receiver is a radio processor, which is not only capable of receiving the radio transmissions broadcast by GPS satellites, but also can solve the equations and trilateration necessary to not only determine the distance to the satellite but the position of the receiver itself. Additionally, the receiver hardware must be capable of resetting its clock to match the atomic clock of those GPS satellites.
In particular, the receiver pieces must be able to decode the navigation message, including:
- Ephmeris parameters, which help compute the coordinates of the GPS satellites used in trilateration.
- Time parameters, which help the receiver not only compute the distance to the satellite but also ensure that the clock is reset to the correct atomic clock time.
- Service parameters, which help correct for any errors in satellite transmissions.
- Ionospheric parameters, which can be necessary to help correct for atmospheric factors that can affect the radio signal from the satellites.
- Almanacs, which help detail the plotted path of each of the GPS satellites.
There are also different types of GPS receivers. Some receivers work as stand-alone receivers, and many passive GPS trackers fall under this category. Other receivers may make use of augmentation systems or other supporting features.
How many satellites are used in GPS 2019?
While plenty of information out there includes the idea of 24 GPS satellites in orbit, the truth is that there have been more satellites used by the Global Positioning System for quite some time. As of April 2019, there were 31 satellites in active use as part of the system.
That’s still not quite the full answer, though. While 73 satellites have thus far been used as part of the Global Positioning System, 30 of those satellites have been retired, 2 were lost at launch, 1 is currently being tested, and 9 are held in reserve. As a result, the military currently keeps 31 satellites in service.
Does car GPS require subscription?
The short answer? No. The longer answer? It depends on what you are looking for, but still, no, not really.
If you want real-time or on-demand GPS tracking, most services require a monthly or annual subscription fee, in part because of the cost associated with the cellular communication necessary for sharing the GPS data.
If you are looking at passive GPS, however, where you collect the GPS data later with the use of a GPS data logger and by plugging your receiver into a computer to download the data, most do not require a subscription, as there’s no cellular service required.
As a result, GPS tracker no monthly fee options are beginning to proliferate. Consider these 5 reasons to use GPS tracking device.
Top 5 Reasons To Use A No Monthly Fee GPS Tracker
- GPS data loggers can offer a wealth of information about driving habits, including locations, speeds, and time spent at each location.
- A no monthly fee GPS tracker can tell you where your kids, spouse, or employees are spending time and how they are driving.
- Car tracking devices can allow for covert surveillance, whether working in law enforcement, as a private investigator, or simply not trusting your kid or spouse.
- GPS trackers can be easy to install discretely.
- Long battery lives mean you may not need to check on the device very often.
The truth is that most passive GPS trackers, including no monthly fee GPS trackers, do not require much work in the way of installation, and their long battery lives mean you don’t need to check on them very often. Even better, when used passively, they don’t need SIM cards because they aren’t using cellular networks. Instead, GPS data is recorded to internal memory (what’s also referred to as a GPS data logger). We’ll look at some of the best options in a future section, but for now, you should know that passive GPS tracking—especially no monthly fee GPS tracker devices—are easy to use, easy to install, and don’t have to cost you much when looking at it as a one-time purchase.
Do all GPS trackers have a monthly fee?
Nope! That’s one of the myths of GPS tracking, that all of the good devices require a monthly fee. One of the best parts of using passive GPS tracking such as a GPS data logger is that you don’t need a cellular connection, instead uploading the data periodically straight from the device. As a result, GPS tracker no monthly fee options mean you don’t have to pay a monthly fee in order to take advantage of the GPS data logger features.
In fact, we’d love to share some of our favorite no monthly fee GPS tracker devices out there. Let’s take some time in the sections below to look at the GPS tracker (no monthly fee) devices you should consider.
What is the best car tracking device with no monthly fee?
Despite the fact that most car tracking devices charge monthly or annual subscription fees, there are plenty of great no monthly fee GPS tracker devices available.
Let’s look at our favorites before narrowing it down to our top choice.Check out the 10 best car tracking device no monthly fee.
10 Best No Monthly Fee GPS Trackers
- GPS Tracker Shop Driving Activity Reporter
- Eilimy Mini GPS Tracker
- Vyncs GPS Tracker
- GPSit1000BZL LTE Vehicle Tracking Device
- Bartun Vehicles GPS Tracker
- TkstarGps Tracker TK915
- Automatic PRO AUT-350
- MiCodus 3G Car GPS Tracker
- CaGuan Mini Portable Magnet GPS Tracker
- Viflykoo Real Time GPS Tracking System
There are definitely at least a few things you need to keep in mind when looking at GPS data loggers and no monthly fee GPS tracker devices.
- Your tracker needs to be durable. That means, depending on where it is placed on the vehicle, that it needs to be built to withstand road conditions and weather.
- Your tracker needs to be portable. Not only do you need it to stick to the vehicle through all conditions, but you also need to be able to remove it to look at that data.
- Your tracker needs sufficient battery life. While some GPS data loggers are designed to draw power from the vehicle to which they are attached, others require battery usage. Make sure you do your research to determine which model will work best for you.
- You also want to make sure that the apps that accompany your device are easy to use. If they are not, good luck getting the most out of your tracker.
- Finally, your tracker needs to be compatible with the vehicle on which you hope to use it. Not all GPS tracker no monthly fee devices are compatible with all vehicles.
GPS Tracker Shop Driving Activity Reporter
Our top choice for a discrete no monthly fee GPS tracker, the Driving Activity Reporter is less than four inches in size, operates on just two AAA batteries, and uses powerful magnets to ensure you can install it anywhere on your vehicle. As a GPS data logger, it caches all location stops, including the amount of time spent at each location, miles driven (and time spent driving), and even maximum speeds for each trip.
This device can be purchased for $159.00 by clicking here.
Eilimy Mini GPS Tracker
Another powerful magnetic device, Eilimy’s model will store up to a year of tracking history. While the basic features make it a GPS tracker no monthly fee choice, a subscription fee is necessary for the more advanced features, and it requires the purchase of an additional SIM card if you want real-time tracking.
Vyncs GPS Tracker
Because this model gets plugged into the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port, it doesn’t need batteries. Additionally, it offers notifications if it has been unplugged, so you’ll know if someone has tampered with the device. That said, because it plugs into the OBD port it’s not quite as discrete as some of the magnetic models.
GPSit1000BZL LTE Vehicle Tracking Device
Another OBD device, GPSit’s biggest draw is its ease of installation. Like the previous model, however, it has the same OBD drawbacks, and there is a fee for service after the first year.
Bartun Vehicles GPS Tracker
While Bartun’s model is a bit more discrete and offers a long battery life (up to 60 days on standby mode), the magnet is not quite as strong as the GPS Tracker Shop Driving Activity Reporter, nor is it designed really as a GPS data logger, even if it can be used as one.
TkstarGps Tracker TK915
Not only does Tkstar’s model offer an incredible battery life (up to 120 days) and strong magnets (for ease of placement), but it also offers an alert via an induction sensor if someone notices the device and tries to move it. It also offers more advanced features such as a low battery alarm and voice monitoring, though those features may not work in all settings.
Automatic PRO AUT-350
While the fact that it draws power from the OBD port means you don’t have to worry about battery life, and the easy user interface is quite friendly, the truth is that that device is really meant to be used with a cellular connection, meaning it doesn’t do a great job when it doesn’t have service.
MiCodus 3G Car GPS Tracker
Again, this isn’t a device that’s really meant to be used without cellular service. That said, however, it is a no monthly fee GPS tracker and it seems relatively sturdy and it offers a few features (such as speed alerts) not often seen in no-fee models.
CaGuan Mini Portable Magnet GPS Tracker
This is one of the smallest devices at which we looked, making it easier to keep its location discrete. It offers voice recording, a reasonable battery life (up to 4-5 days), and will store up to one year’s history. It’s also one of the easiest devices to learn how to use. It does not, however, track speed and a SIM card must be purchased separately.
Viflykoo Real Time GPS Tracking System
The draw here is the battery life, with a charge lasting up to a year on standby mode. That said, it’s definitely designed to be used in connection with cellular networks, and in this case, is designed for 2G networks, which are now badly outdated.
As a result, our favorite of those 10 is a pretty clear-cut favorite. Only the GPS Tracker Shop’s Driving Activity Reporter offers the best combination of features (good battery life, discrete placement, strong magnets, significant data tracking) and price you deserve.
Where would you hide a GPS tracker on a car?
While some of the no monthly fee GPS tracker devices we looked at require the use of the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port for their power supply, the truth is that even those devices can sometimes be hidden pretty well with some creative wiring. That said, if someone is looking for a GPS tracker on their car, that’s likely where they would look first.
Instead, the models that are designed to withstand all conditions and that utilize strong magnets are going to be your best choice for staying discretely hidden. Think of places that are difficult to search.
Wheel wells are a common hiding area for trackers, but can also be more easily searched. Keep in mind that any place that is easy for you to reach as you install the GPS data logger is also going to be easy for other people to reach.
Other places to consider include the trunk. While more easily seen (depending on how often the trunk is used or how clean it is kept), hiding a GPS data logger in the trunk also means keeping it safer from the elements. Similarly, in the back of the glove box or underneath a seat are other places to consider if hiding a GPS tracker inside the automobile.
Other than the wheel well, other exterior hiding locations include on the frame itself or under the hood (especially if someone is less inclined to look at anything under the hood, for instance) or even under or behind the bumpers.
The truth is, you can hide a GPS tracker nearly anywhere inside or outside the vehicle. The trick is to be aware of where someone might search, how easily or quickly you can get to it if you need to retrieve it to download the data off of your GPS data logger, and other considerations such as battery life and vulnerability to weather and road elements.