Today there are many companies offering vehicle tracking services to fleet companies, albeit for a varying monthly fee. Similarly there are numerous systems available that can be purchased outright.

Here we try to establish the facts, the advantages and the disadvantages of both.

Let’s start by making it clear what we mean by no monthly fee.

Vehicle trackers that advertise themselves in this way are usually a pay-as-you-go service, as opposed to a monthly contract service. There will still be ongoing fees of some sort, although it will depend upon usage.

Passive and Active trackers

Active or real-time systems use the mobile network to transmit their data, and as such require a SIM card and network access. There will therefore always be ongoing costs associated with using the service.

Passive trackers store their data internally and do not transmit it; it is retrieved later by connecting the tracker to a computer. These devices have no ongoing costs – once you buy the device there is no further subscription to pay. These kinds of trackers are of limited use for fleets – and are generally targeted at snoopers, suspicious spouses or parents, and people who want to find out where their cat disappears to.

Active trackers with ‘no monthly fees’

As we’ve already established, these are actually a pay-as-you-go service, and while there is no fixed monthly rate, you will need to purchase prepaid credits before you can use the service. Every time your vehicle sends a location back it will use one credit.

When you are running low on credits, you simply buy more. The ongoing cost depends only on usage, but typically it works out more expensive because you are paying a premium to be free of a contract. When you stop buying credits, you are left with a tracking device worth £150 – £300 that can no longer function, since the hardware needs to be purchased outright.

Some services will offer a package whereby you can buy unlimited credits for a period of time (usually 1-3 months), although these will work out to be more expensive than what you would typically pay for a contract.

Is a pay as you go tracker right for you?

This is a question asked by many, especially those who are loathe to sign up to a binding contract and to pay a regular monthly fee.

For most people, it will work out cheaper to get a contract rather than pay-as-a-you-go; and this is especially true for fleet use if you are looking for cheap vehicle tracking systems.

On the other hand, if your need of the device is seasonal – this method of payment has the advantage that you can effectively temporarily suspend your account and restart it later. You do not pay for any periods of time that you are not using it, so for businesses that only need the service for a few months a year – this might be for you.

This may also be useful if you don’t need regular updates from the device – you can get the device location on demand only – only paying for the times you request that information. This could suit personal trackers or anyone that doesn’t need to have very accurate or up-to-date data all the time.

Advantages of subscription services

Most of the vehicle tracking market is made up of companies that offer fleet tracking with a subscription or contract – these contracts typically vary in length from one to three years. This means you will be tied in with them. You will also have a monthly fee to pay, so the cost is ongoing.

Many of these companies also offer additional features to the tracking devices, so that the data you receive is intricately detailed and up to date. In short you pay for what you get, and the varying degree in costs is usually due to how much more complex the systems are.

The more sophisticated systems give you a wealth of information and are fully functional. These advanced systems have a whole host of features including two way communication between a driver and the depot, job scheduling, regular traffic updates and so much more. They will update in ‘real time’ (usually every ten seconds). These systems are much more likely to benefit companies who are looking to maximise productivity and save on day to day running costs.

Vehicle tracking system costs generally range from £9.99 – £60.00 per vehicle a month depending on the provider, the amount of vehicles in your fleet and the amount of enhanced features you require. For those with larger fleets it is possible, on a long term lease, to have a system that can cost as little as 30p a day for each vehicle.

In Review

If you want a simple tracking system for light personal usage, then purchasing a pay-as-you-go system outright may well be the most cost effective solution for you. However if you have a fleet and are looking for much more comprehensive real time information and savings, then going with a specialised provider is by far the best option.

Regardless of which you opt for, it is definitely worth shopping around to ensure you acquire the best price and the best deal for your fleet size. You can compare multiple quotes from top suppliers by simply clicking the link below and completing the short form. There’s no obligation, it only takes a minute and it’s completely free.


Author - Nigel Vaughan

Nigel has over 10 years experience in digital marketing, and loves tech and all kinds of electronics. A keen cyclist and cycle-tourist, he has cycled through 25 countries worldwide.

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