Why Do GPS Trackers Vary in Price and Have Monthly Fees?

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About five thousand satellites orbit the earth, as we speak. Currently, exactly 24 satellites are responsible for the GPS coverage in the US, and let’s face it - they make driving and navigating unfamiliar areas so much easier.

Besides that, companies also heavily rely on GPS tracking devices and their omnipresent reach. But, have you ever wondered how they work? Most importantly, how do you know which ones are the most suitable for you or your business?

We’ll first cover the basic questions and then get down to crunching numbers and explain why GPS service providers need to charge monthly fees. Besides that, we’ll talk about GPS providers and the possibility of no monthly fees.

What Are GPS Trackers and How Do They Work?

GPS (Global Positioning System) trackers are portable devices built and designed for tracking vehicles and assets. Company fleets, parents, and all kinds of people use them to track their cars.

GPS tracking devices use a network of satellites to calculate the location of the vehicle they’re attached to, and a process called ‘trilateration’. This is a process that determines the location of the vehicle judging by the distance from three other GPS satellites.

Once you set up your registry and account with the GPS provider, you’re free to sync the real-time tracker and drive safely. Depending on the manufacturer, you can also keep detailed maps and trajectories, and you can track your driving history as well.

Keep in mind that these devices can be used for malicious purposes as well, so be careful. For more on this, please read our guide on how to find if your house or car have been bugged.

Real-Time GPS Tracking Devices

The most used GPS trackers for cars today are in real-time, meaning they provide speed, location, and trajectory data instantaneously.

There are also passive GPS trackers that track the vehicle’s speed and other data, and they need to be retrieved for later use. They are the cheaper version.

Beware that there’s a difference between a regular GPS tracker for cars and a navigation system for cars. The navigation system found inside cars simply has ready maps and shows the location and driving directions, while the GPS tracking device tracks the location in real-time and it might also keep a record of the driving statistics.

Since a real-time GPS tracker for cars broadcasts a car’s location, it requires a certain technology (cellular reach, which uses the same system as cell phones and internet services). This is why GPS tracking devices require monthly subscription fees.

What Are GPS Tracking Devices Mostly Used For?

GPS car tracking devices tell you the location of your vehicle or vehicles.

Usually, taxi companies and delivery companies use them to locate their assets and their daily movement. This is good for businesses because they’ll know the location of their vehicles at all times and can figure out the best routes for driving.

Some parents also like to track their children’s movement, but this is legal only if the child is under 18. You can read our legal article here for more on the legality issues when it comes to tracking.

You can also find GPS tracking devices useful in the unfortunate scenario where your car is stolen. This, along with other reasons, is why people prefer real-time GPS tracking devices and subscribe to monthly GPS service fees.

SpyGuy suggests you go for the Outlander Real-Time GPS Tracker, as a standard solution for your vehicle or assets.

The Outlander is a real-time GPS device that does its job as intended. The Outlander’s motion-activated sensors save battery life and the device itself is super simple to use.

The interface provides you with highly detailed reports on your vehicle’s speed and location and it can send notifications to your phone. There’s a real-time delay of mere 10 seconds. It goes without saying, the location and details can be viewed via a PC/laptop or smartphone.

The Outlander is definitely a GPS car tracking device designed for companies and private vehicles alike. It’s a very straightforward and cost-effective device anyone can use.

For more on SpyGuy GPS trackers, feel free to check out our other GPS products.

Are GPS Tracking Devices Legal?

A general rule of thumb about GPS tracking devices is - if you’re the owner of the car you’re tracking, it’s legal.

This also goes for privately owned and company-owned vehicles and assets. As we stated above, if you’re tracking your child who’s under the age of 18, or you’re a manager who keeps track of your employees (while on duty in the company-owned vehicles), it’s all perfectly legal.

It’s illegal if the car you’re tracking isn’t yours and the owner isn’t notified. Only the police have the authorization to do that, but even they need a warrant first in most cases.

Why Do GPS Tracking Devices Need Monthly Fees?

Most of the GPS trackers function via signal transmission and the data is then transferred and displayed to your screens. These technologies rely on satellites and their upkeep costs. That’s why GPS service providers need to charge monthly GPS service fees.

Most cheap GPS trackers for cars with no monthly fees have hidden and shady costs such as cell phone message alerts, so consult your provider first. You also would do well to ask them about cost breakdown when cancelling your GPS subscription monthly fees.

Our GPS Tracking Data Plan

Before you start getting warmed up to the idea of GPS devices with no monthly fees, it’s important to take into consideration whether or not you’ll need the real-time feature. Keep in mind that this feature offers instant data, and even though most avoid it and go for passive data plans, our monthly fees really aren’t expensive. Unlike the aforementioned cases, we have no hidden costs whatsoever.

Your GPS device will need a carefully modeled data plan in order to work. The SpyGuy Data Plan has you covered. Real-time trackers, like the Outlander, need a data plan to stay connected to transmit the movement data in real-time.

Most companies require you to sign a 6-12 month contract, but not us. Feel free to contact us and give us a call for any inquiries regarding the latest pricing on our data plans. You are free to cancel it and activate it again anytime you want.

There’ll be loads of ‘great offers’ that disguise themselves as GPS tracking services with no monthly fees but, beware. It may sound like a good deal to snatch a $100 GPS tracker without monthly fees, but from a service provider’s point of view, it’s not that easy.

Keep in mind that these services are not very reliable, as most no monthly fee GPS trackers go via a wireless transport method to get the info back to the server. They usually go for GSM or SIM cards that are activated through Verizon or AT&T that provide the wireless data.

Another reason why service providers demand monthly fees is that GPS tracking requires server and internet connections and the simple electricity to run the servers. It’s pretty simple, really.

Contact Us

If you want to find out more about our GPS tracking devices, or our other security and surveillance products, please feel free to contact us and drop us a line at any time!


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