Why Do Some Pet Trackers Come With Subscriptions?
Whether a pet tracker comes with a subscription or not depends on the kind of technologies it uses. By default, all pet trackers use 2 different types of technologies. They employ positioning technology like GPS to determine the pet’s location and they use communication technology to transfer the obtained information to a handheld locator or the pet guardian’s smartphone.
Most pet trackers currently on the market use cellular technology for communication and data transfer. They come with SIM cards and rely on 1 or several cellular networks for sending location information to the pet guardian.
Reliance on cellular networks has 2 major downsides. First, it means that the pet tracker can only work within cellular coverage. Second, it means that just like with a cell phone, someone needs to pay for the cellular service provided.
Since most pet tracker manufacturers are not willing to absorb the costs of using cellular technology, it is up to the user to take care of the necessary payments. That is why nearly all pet trackers that rely on cellular networks come with subscriptions and require you to pay a monthly fee for the cellular service.
How Come Some Pet Trackers Do Not Have Monthly Fees?
While it is true that the majority of pet trackers nowadays rely on cellular networks, there are still some pet tracking solutions that do not require the use of any paid external services, cellular or otherwise. Instead, they employ a variety of both novel and traditional communication technologies that do not come with subscriptions.
Usually, no monthly fee pet trackers use Bluetooth technology or radio frequency signals for communication. They can also be Wi-Fi enabled for indoor tracking. In rare cases, no monthly fee pet trackers may rely on proprietary technologies particularly designed for inter-device communication independent of cellular networks.
Unlike cellular services, radio frequency, Bluetooth, and proprietary local technologies can be used without a subscription-based relationship with a third-party service provider. Thus, pet trackers that exclusively rely on these technologies come with zero service fees and only require a one-time payment for the tracking device.
It is interesting to note that recent trends in the pet tracker market have led some manufacturers to make the bold move of offering cellular pet trackers free from monthly fees. What is even more interesting is that such devices are not significantly more expensive than their competitors, even though all the costs of using cellular technologies are absorbed by the companies that produce them. Such pet trackers are still extremely rare but may be indicative of future trends in the industry.
No Monthly Fee Pet Trackers Vs. Subscription-Based Pet Trackers
No monthly fee pet trackers can save you quite a lot of money in the long run. However, what pet guardians often fear is that by getting a zero-fee pet tracker, they may be saving cash at the expense of their furry friends’ safety.
The truth is that no monthly fee pet trackers come with more advantages than downsides and they are in many ways superior to their subscription-based counterparts. Still, it is also true that subscription-based pet trackers come with one significant benefit that makes them highly popular among pet guardians.
To help you make an informed decision, we have created simple overviews of the main advantages of both no monthly fee and subscription-based pet trackers, allowing you to find out exactly what you get and what you miss out on if you opt for a no-fee tracker.
Advantages Of No Monthly Fee Pet Trackers
Independence of cellular networks comes with multiple perks. From carefree traveling with your pets to major savings, there are at least 4 good reasons to opt for a no monthly fee pet tracker.
- Greater Coverage – Subscription-based pet trackers can only work within cellular coverage. Not only that, but they usually rely on a single cellular network, which significantly diminishes their usefulness in more remote areas with spotty or non-existent reception. Conversely, the coverage of no monthly fee pet trackers is not dictated by cellular coverage. They can work anywhere on the planet, as long as there are no external reasons for their limited use. Such reasons are not too common and may include legal regulations or unavailability of the device in certain countries. Even with the stated limitations, the fact remains that with the majority of no monthly pet trackers, you can freely travel and use the tracker in any part of any country, which is definitely not the case with subscription-based trackers.
- Longer Battery Life – The use of cellular services has a negative impact on a pet tracker’s battery life. Most often, subscription-based cellular pet trackers only allow you to actively track your pet for 6 to 12 hours before the battery dies, which may not be enough to successfully locate your friend if he or she has wandered off too far. With no monthly fee pet trackers, battery life is usually significantly greater. Some of them come with disposable batteries that can last for many months while others come with rechargeable batteries that can last for as many as 45 days on a single charge. In both cases, you get plenty of time to search for your pet and bring him or her back to safety before the battery dies and leaves you with minimized chances of finding your furry companion.
- More Adventure-Friendly – No monthly fee pet trackers do not only allow you to track your pet in virtually any country around the world, but they also let you keep an eye on your pet in the wilderness, way outside cellular coverage. That means that you and your pet can go on adventures and enjoy camping and hiking together, all without any risk of your pet getting lost in an unknown area. This is one of the main reasons why outdoorsy pet guardians prefer no monthly fee pet trackers. Knowing that you can easily find your pet even if he or she decides to independently explore a rainforest far away from the reach of cell networks is sure to give you peace of mind and inspire you to enjoy more unforgettable moments with your best pal.
- More Budget-Friendly – Finally, no monthly fees mean more money in your pocket for treats and toys for your beloved pet. While no monthly fee pet trackers are sometimes more expensive than subscription-based models, they do not come with any extra expenses. That means that the initial difference in the price is soon made up by the absence of additional costs. The best no monthly fee pet trackers are durable, waterproof, and resistant to damages caused by rough play, so they can easily last for years. Considering that subscription-based pet trackers come with service plans that may require you to pay up to $10 per month for using cellular services, you can save as much as $120 per year by opting for a no monthly fee tracker instead. Therefore, the savings that no monthly fee pet trackers bring are far from negligible.
Advantages Of Subscription-Based Pet Trackers
Now that we have covered all the factors that make no monthly fee pet trackers superior to their subscription-based counterparts, it is time to find out the main reason why some users may consider a subscription-based pet tracker to be a better option.
- Greater Communication Range – While most no monthly fee pet trackers can work just about anywhere, they cannot work over any distance. Their communication range can be limited to just about 150-300 feet, which is often the case with Bluetooth pet trackers, or they may work over a distance of 2 to 9 miles, which is the average communication range of a radio frequency pet tracker. On the other hand, subscription-based pet trackers can work over any distance within cellular coverage. Thus, they allow you to find out your pet’s location even if you are many miles apart. This is a significant benefit that should not be neglected.
However, it is important to point out that the best no monthly fee pet trackers make up for the limited communication range by offering timely alerts. They let you start your search as soon as your pet leaves the area you deem safe, such as your home or your backyard. Thus, although they cannot work over any distance, they allow you to act immediately and efficiently prevent your pet from roaming out of range.
Best No Monthly Fee Pet Trackers Of 2019
Finally, it is time to get to know our top picks a bit better and discover which one of them has what it takes to satisfy your needs and keep your best pal safe. To save you time on research, we have brought all the key information about the best no monthly fee pet trackers to one place. Take a few minutes to read our short reviews and identify the perfect no monthly fee pet tracker for your furry friend.
Findster Duo+ is an advanced no monthly fee pet tracker that employs GPS, Bluetooth, and proprietary MAZE technology. It uses GPS to determine your pet’s location and it employs Bluetooth and MAZE for communication instead of relying on cellular networks.
This unique tracking system consists of a tracking unit attached to the pet’s collar and a guardian module that receives location information from the tracking unit via MAZE technology and sends it to the pet guardian’s smartphone via Bluetooth. The pet guardian can view all the obtained information in the dedicated Findster app.
The tracking unit measures 2.1” x 2’’ x 0.5’’ and weighs a mere 1.76 ounces. It can be worn by both cats and dogs, although it is not an optimal choice for kittens. Its clasp-like collar strap attachment mechanism allows it to easily fit your pet’s favorite collar, regardless of its width. It is both shockproof and waterproof and it can be safely submerged in water up to 3 feet in depth. It features a LED light for easier nighttime tracking and it comes with a rechargeable battery that can last for up to 5 days with moderate use and up to 12 hours in the live tracking mode.
Findster Duo+ has unlimited coverage, so you can use it in any corner of the globe. It can work over a distance of up to 3 miles with obstacles present or up to 5 miles in open spaces. Its margin of error is just 5 to 10 feet, which is rather impressive for a GPS pet tracker. It allows for real-time tracking, with location information refreshed instantly.
The key tracking features of Findster Duo+ include instant location updates and alerts, detailed location history, built-in radar, interconnectivity, and 3 types of geofences that allow you to create virtual leash safe zones, stationary safe zones, and danger zones.
The tracker doubles as a pet activity monitor and provides information about the pet’s rest time, distance walked, and calories burned. It further offers activity reminders, lets your pal win badges by reaching activity milestones, and allows your pet to compete with other Findster Duo+ users with the fun Leaderboards feature.
Findster Duo+ comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty.
Garmin Astro 430
Garmin Astro 430 is a premium no fee dog tracking system designed to track up to 20 dogs at once. It relies on GPS and GLONASS for location tracking and uses radio-frequency signals for communication.
This high-quality tracking system consists of a handheld locator and a dog tracking unit with a collar. The tracking unit comes in 2 versions known as T5 and T5 mini. T5 fits neck circumferences of 9.5+ inches and weighs 9.3 oz. with the collar while T5 mini fits neck circumferences smaller than 9.5 inches and weighs 7 oz. with the collar. Both tracking units are waterproof, they are equipped with LED beacons, and they are not prone to damage. They are designed for sporting dogs and they are not well suited for cats and small dog breeds.
As far as battery life is concerned, the handheld locator comes with a battery that can last up to 20 hours, the T5 tracking unit features a battery that can last up to 40 hours, and T5 mini’s battery can last between 16 and 30 hours, depending on use.
Garmin Astro 430 can work anywhere on the globe since it does not rely on cellular networks. However, due to legal reasons, its use is exclusively limited to the US. It boasts a communication range of up to 9 miles, it is accurate within about 12 feet, and it updates location information within 2.5 seconds.
This professional pet tracker has more features that one can count, but the most prominent ones include near-real-time tracking, additional maps, convey counter, hunt metrics, BaseCamp software for trip planning, BaseStation software for remote computer tracking, multiple dashboards and search profiles, customizable dog display, wireless sharing with compatible Garmin devices, Rescue Mode for battery saving, and extras like area calculation and hunt and fish calendar.
Garmin Astro 430 comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, a 1-year limited warranty, and a free 1-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.
Felcana is a pet health activity monitor designed with large and small dogs and cats in mind. It is the first pet activity tracking device to offer clinical-grade data. It consists of an activity tracking unit attached to the pet’s collar, a set of micro-location beacons used for behavior monitoring, and a home base that serves as a range extender, charger, and data nest.
To enable data transfer, Felcana uses 3 different technologies, including Bluetooth 5.0, long-range radio technology, and WiFi. The activity tracking unit communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth and sends data to the home hub via radio technology. Micro-beacons use Bluetooth while the home hub does not exclusively rely on radio technology but is also WiFi enabled.
The tracking unit can be attached to collars of various sizes thanks to the adjustable attachment strap. It is bite-proof, waterproof, and comes with a nigh light. It measures 1.8 inches by 0.6 inches by 0.4 inches (LWH) and weighs 0.3 ounces. Due to its unusual lightness and small dimensions, it is suitable for pets of all sizes.
You can use Felcana anywhere in the world. Communication between the tracking unit and the smartphone is possible within a range of up to 220 yards. Tracker-to-home-hub communication is limited to a range of up to 1,300 yards.
The activity tracking unit comes with a rechargeable battery with a 14-day battery life. The micro-location beacons are equipped with disposable batteries that can last for up to 18 months.
Feature-wise, Felcana offers clinical-grade data on pet activity, measures activity frequency, duration, and intensity, and offers daily, weekly, and monthly activity reports. It further uses micro-location beacons to monitor behavior patterns, focusing on eating, drinking, sleeping, and toilet habits. It also provides abnormal activity alerts and ambient temperature monitoring and assists in separation anxiety and health issue detection.
The device comes with no monthly fees. It is covered by a 14-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty.
Marco Polo is a pet tracking system that exclusively relies on radio frequency technology, which is why it comes with no monthly fees. It consists of a handheld locator and a tracking unit attached to the pet’s collar. It is suitable for both dogs and cats and it allows for both indoor and outdoor tracking.
The tracking tag is extremely lightweight, weighing just 0.8 ounces. It measures 1’’ x 5’’ x 0.5’’ (HWD), so it can fit most collars, as long as they are up to 2 inches wide and no more than 0.25 inches thick. It is both shockproof and waterproof, withstanding bumps, blows, and submersion in water of up to 3 feet for up to half an hour. It comes with a battery that can easily last for 45 days with moderate use and up to 3 days in the live tracking mode.
Marco Polo pet tracking system can work anywhere in the world, but it can only be purchased in the US and Canada. Its communication range is limited to 2 miles, it is accurate within inches, and it provides location updates within a few seconds.
The key features of the tracker include real-time, single-button tracking, safe zones with 4 preset boundary levels (50-feet, 100-feet, 300-feet, and maximum-range radius), 60-80-second alerts, phone notifications, and Search Mode for situations when your pet is out of range.
Marco Polo comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 90-day warranty.
Pawscout is a no monthly fee Bluetooth pet tracker designed with both cats and dogs in mind. Although it does allow for active tracking within a small radius, it is primarily a community-powered pet tracker. That means that when your pet is not by your side, you can rely on other Pawscout users to notify you when your pet is within their range. This is made possible by the use of low-frequency Bluetooth radio signals that allow the Pawscout tracker to communicate with any nearby smartphone with the Pawscout app installed.
The tracker comes in the form of a smart tag attached to the pet’s collar. The tag measures 1.6’’ x 2.0’’ x 0.4’’ (HWD) and weighs just about 0.2 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest pet trackers in existence. In addition to the smart tag, you also get a nice nameplate for free.
While Pawscout is best suited for pets weighing 10+ pounds, it can be worn by smaller dogs and cats as well, as long as it is attached to the collar with the use of the flush mounts included in the box. It is not shockproof, but it is water-resistant and it can withstand submersion in water of up to 3 feet for up to half an hour.
Even though the tracker has unlimited coverage, it can only be purchased in the US and Canada. It has a communication range of up to 300 feet (600 feet in radius) and it is accurate within 50 to 100 feet.
The most prominent features of Pawscout pet tracker include active and community-aided tracking, Virtual Leash safe zone, walk tracking, digital pet profile with medical records, coverage map with locations of other Pawscout users in the area, and points-of-interest map indicating nearby pet-friendly and pet-related spots, such as vets, groomers, and cafes. By installing the free Pawscout app, your friends and family can keep an eye on your pet as well.
Pawscout comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.