GPS trackers are invaluable tools for monitoring the location and movements of vehicles. However, most quality trackers require an ongoing monthly or annual subscription fee that can add up over time.
Fortunately, there are some excellent car GPS trackers available today that have no monthly fees. These devices offer a cost-effective way to keep tabs on your vehicle’s location without recurring costs.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about finding the best GPS tracker for your car that doesn’t require monthly payments.
Benefits of a Car GPS Tracker With No Monthly Fee
Here are some of the biggest advantages of using a GPS vehicle tracker with no monthly subscription:
One-Time Purchase Cost Only
The main benefit is you pay a single cost for the GPS tracking hardware upfront and have no recurring fees. Most no monthly fee trackers range from $50-$150 for the device itself. This helps you avoid unpredictable costs in your budget.
Real-Time Location Monitoring
Quality no monthly fee GPS trackers still give you access to real-time location tracking and monitoring through a smartphone app. This allows you to check your vehicle’s movements at any time.
Route History and Reporting
Many offer route history reporting and alerts if the vehicle leaves a designated area. This provides insight into past trips and notifications if it goes beyond set boundaries.
Vehicle Protection and Recovery
No monthly trackers provide vital security protections. If your vehicle is stolen, you have a better chance of recovering it undamaged. You’ll get alerts if the car is moved without you.
Teen Driver Supervision
Parents can use a pay-once tracker to monitor new teen drivers. You can receive alerts for speeding, curfew violations, and unsafe driving habits.
Businesses can outfit company vehicles with a one-time GPS investment to monitor drivers and optimize routes for lower costs.
Drawbacks to Consider
While no monthly fee GPS trackers offer advantages, there are some limitations to keep in mind:
- Limited advanced features compared to subscription trackers
- Battery-powered models require occasional battery replacement
- Shorter battery life than hardwired models
- Potential connectivity issues in rural areas
- Upfront cost may be prohibitive for large fleets
- Data storage limitations for recording long trips
- No customer support compared to paid subscription brands
Overall, the pros of not having a monthly fee likely outweigh the cons for personal use cases. But fleet managers may find the upfront investment in numerous trackers and lack of live support impractical.
What to Look for in a No Monthly Fee GPS Tracker
Type of Power Source
- Battery-powered: Completely portable but requires occasional battery changes. Typically uses rechargeable lithium batteries. Battery life varies based on usage.
- Hardwired: Connects directly to car battery so no batteries to replace. Provides consistent power. More difficult to install.
- OBD Port Plug-in: Uses car’s OBD diagnostics port for power. Easy to install but can be unplugged.
- Cellular: Uses cell towers for real-time tracking. Requires SIM card with data plan. Offers wider coverage.
- WiFi Only: Connects to WiFi networks for connectivity. No cellular needed. Limited real-time capability.
- Active tracking: Gets live location updates at set intervals (every 60 seconds, etc). Requires more battery power.
- Passive tracking: Stores location data to download later when in WiFi range. Better for battery life.
- Alert notifications for speed, geo-fences, etc.
- Native apps for Android and iOS
- Web-based software platforms
- Third-party integrations (Alexa, IFTTT)
- Accelerometer for crash detection
- Driver behavior monitoring
Ease of Use
- Simple account setup and product registration
- Intuitive mobile and web interfaces
- Clear documentation and installation instructions
- Reliable connectivity and tracking
- Good customer service (even without monthly fees)
10 Best Car GPS Trackers With No Monthly Fees
Based on extensive research and testing, here are our top recommendations for GPS vehicle tracking devices that don’t require a monthly subscription:
- Compact and easy to hide
- Integrated magnets for mounting
- Real-time tracking via TKSTAR app
- Historical route playback
- Up to 120 days of standby on 5000 mAh battery
- Powerful magnets for mounting
- Battery lasts up to 2 weeks
- Create custom geofences
- Share location with chosen contacts
- Small and easy to conceal
- Tap vehicle power for continuous operation
- Easy to hardwire with optional installation kit
- Uses WiFi for connectivity
- Motion detection
- Free iOS and Android apps
- Cellular network connectivity
- Battery lasts 1-2 weeks
- Small and easy to hide
- Movement and speeding alerts
- No activation fees
- Specifically designed for pets
- Small and lightweight
- Rechargeable battery
- Virtual fence capabilities
- Activity and health monitoring
Key Factors When Selecting a No Monthly Fee GPS Tracker
Here are some important criteria to evaluate when choosing a tracker for your needs:
- Cost: The higher the initial price, the more features offered. Determine how much you want to invest upfront.
- Power Source: Battery, hardwire, or OBD plug-in? Each has pros and cons.
- Tracking Frequency: Frequent live updates use more battery. Decide what intervals you need.
- Smart Alerts: Look for speed alerts, geo-fencing, crash detection, etc.
- Connectivity: Cellular networks offer wider coverage for real-time tracking but cost more monthly. WiFi-only models are cheaper but have limitations.
- Ease of Use: The mobile and web interface should be simple to use. Look for clear documentation.
- Customer Support: Some brands offer support even without monthly fees. This provides added value.
- Intended Use Case: Do you need a dedicated vehicle or personal tracker? That determines the best features.
Prioritize the capabilities that are most valuable to you, and find a tracker that best fits within your budget. Using this criteria helps ensure you get a no monthly fee GPS tracker tailored to your needs.
Professional Installation Tips for Your Car GPS Tracker
While most car GPS trackers are designed for easy DIY installation, a professional setup is recommended to maximize performance and concealment. Here are some pro tips for installing your tracker:
- Connect to constant 12V supply line under the dash, not directly to the battery
- Use a fuse tap adapter for clean OEM-style connection
- Route wires carefully avoiding moving parts
- Connect ground wire to a metal chassis bolt or plate
Battery Powered Trackers
- Place high up under the dash toward the windshield for best GPS signal
- Mount securely using 3M adhesive or industrial strength velcro
- Hide wires to avoid detection
- Ensure accessible for battery changes if needed
Exterior Mounting (for asset tracking)
- Clean mounting surface thoroughly before applying adhesive
- Mount in an inconspicuous spot like inside the rear bumper
- Attach securely using tamper-resistant fasteners
- Seal any holes with silicone sealant
- Use vibration dampening mounts to prevent shaking
Additional Install Tips
- Connect so tracker resets in parked position when ignition is turned on/off
- Take photos during install to remember wiring paths
- Test tracker thoroughly and make small adjustments as needed
- Use removable options like magnets during testing phase
- Explain operation to primary vehicle users
A professional installation from a qualified auto technician provides security in knowing your tracker is properly configured for optimal connectivity and positioning. While not always necessary, it can give added peace of mind.
Top 5 Hidden Places to Mount a GPS Tracker in Your Car
For maximum tracking performance while avoiding detection, strategic concealed mounting locations are key. Here are 5 effective spots to hide a GPS tracker in your vehicle:
1. Above the Dashboard Behind the Plastic Interior Trim
This location is difficult to access and provides close proximity to the windshield for a strong GPS signal. Use industrial strength velcro for secure mounting.
2. Inside the Bumper Behind the Plastic Fascia
The front or rear bumper covers allow discreetly tucking away the tracker inside. Just ensure it’s securely fastened.
3. Under the Rear Deck Panel Behind the Rear Seats
Lift the deck panel to mount the device out of sight above the rear wheels using velcro or a magnet.
4. Inside the Wheel Well Above the Tire
Attach the magnetic case to clean metal bracing inside the fender for a covert wheel well installation.
5. Behind the Front Grille/Radiator Support
Utilize existing bolts and brackets around the radiator to mount the tracker invisibly.
Carefully test potential mounting spots to verify connectivity remains strong before permanently installing the tracker. Finding a concealed location that doesn’t compromise performance ensures optimal tracking.
FAQs about Car GPS Trackers With No Monthly Fees
Are free car GPS trackers any good?
Generally free GPS apps or services offer limited functionality compared to paid trackers. They may lack real-time tracking or offer sparse location updates. We recommend avoiding completely free options for reliable monitoring.
How long does a car GPS tracker battery last?
Battery life depends on power-saving settings and frequency of live location updates. On average, they last 2-4 weeks on a full charge. Motion-activated tracking extends this. Hardwired options have unlimited battery life.
Can a GPS tracker be removed easily?
Battery powered and OBD plug-in trackers can be removed easily. Hardwired options are more permanent. For maximum security, professional installation is recommended. Tamper-proof mounting can prevent removal.
Are GPS trackers legal to use?
In the US, GPS tracking your own vehicle is legal. Tracking someone else’s car without consent is illegal in most states. There are some exceptions, like for parents tracking teens. Check local laws.
Can I get alerts if my car is moved?
Yes, most GPS trackers offer alerts for first movement so you’re notified if your parked car is moved unexpectedly. Geofencing features also alert you when the vehicle leaves or enters set areas.
Do vehicle GPS trackers work everywhere?
Cellular-based trackers work in most regions with sufficient network coverage. Satellite-based GPS allows monitoring from anywhere but may have connectivity gaps in extremely remote areas. Trackers using WiFi have more limited range.
Key Takeaways: Choosing the Best Car GPS Tracker With No Monthly Fee
- One-time GPS tracker hardware costs range from $50-$200
- Evaluate battery-powered, hardwired, and OBD plug-in power options
- Consider connectivity via cellular or WiFi-only models
- Select appropriate location tracking frequency for your needs
- Check for smart alerts like speed, geofencing, driving reports
- Pick an intuitive, easy-to-use mobile and web interface
- Professional installation provides security and optimal performance
- Mount your tracker in a concealed spot with a strong GPS signal
- Avoid free tracker apps and ensure legal usage
- Understand areas with limited cellular reception may cause gaps
Installing a GPS tracker in your vehicle without having to pay monthly fees delivers significant benefits. You get vital location monitoring, security protections, and fleet oversight at an affordable one-time cost.
Focus first on identifying your intended use case and key requirements like power source, connectivity, and tracking frequency. Comparing the top-rated no monthly fee GPS options makes it easier to pick the best tracker for your specific needs and budget.
With a small upfront investment in the right tracker, you can enjoy reliable long-term vehicle tracking and innovative monitoring features without ongoing costs. Equipping your car with a set-and-forget GPS adds invaluable visibility and protection.