Best No Monthly Fee or No Subscription Dog GPS Trackers 2024, Really???

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Through Google or other search methods, we can explore the Internet and discover numerous blogs advocating the best dog tracker without subscription or monthly fee. However, today I aim to present a fresh perspective and discuss what defines "THE BEST." I hope this blog provides valuable insights for you.

We all comprehend that the best option is the one that aligns with our specific needs. Just as a truck capable of carrying cargo is ideal for transporting goods, or an SUV with ample space suits a family trip, the concept of "best" varies based on individual requirements. Similarly, when seeking speed, a high-horsepower racing car becomes the best choice. Therefore, in choosing the best dog GPS tracker without subscription or monthly, it's crucial to consider your unique usage scenarios and purposes, ensuring you find the BEST product.

 

Firstly, there are typically three common types of GPS dog trackers available in the market:

  1. Bluetooth trackers or item finders, such as Airtag, designed to assist in locating keys and other valuable yet easily misplaced items.
  2. Radio dog trackers (Adventure trackers), exemplified by the Aorkuler GPS dog tracker, cater to hikers in rural or remote areas with poor cell signals.
  3. Dog GPS trackers that operate based on mobile networks, like Tractive, usually depend on cellular networks to function effectively.

Strictly speaking, Type 1 Bluetooth trackers (item finders) and Type 2 radio dog trackers don’t actually require a monthly fee or subscription fee. They transmit data via independent Bluetooth signals or radio signals.

On the other hand, the third type is a dog tracker that operates on cellular signals and relies on the mobile service provider's network for location data transmission, requiring a corresponding fee to be paid to the mobile service provider. This fee is usually paid by the manufacturer on an annual or monthly basis; then, the manufacturers will charge subscription fees to the users, depending on the user's usage period. Therefore, these products are not truly monthly or subscription-free. Nonetheless, to help readers make informed purchases based on their needs, this blog will introduce the above three categories of products in detail.

 

1. Bluetooth trackers or item finders

So, what are these no-subscription GPS trackers all about? Here’s a short overview of the different kinds of tracking devices you may see advertised as a GPS tracker without subscription.

Representative brands: Apple AirTag, Samsung SmartTag, Cube, Tile, Chipolo

BlueTracker-no subscription type1

Such products usually do not contain a GPS chip but search for objects within the range of a Bluetooth signal.

That means if your pet leaves Bluetooth range usually no more than 100 meters the tracker will stop working, right when you need it most. Also, you might only get a notification on your phone if, for example, your dog's Apple AirTag enters within range of another Apple device. Which makes these trackers a poor choice if your dog runs away while you're out hiking or in rural or remote areas.

For this reason, Bluetooth trackers are best for non-living beings that can't get too far away it's very unlikely that your key, wallet, or laptop will jump the fence. So a limited-range Bluetooth item finder should work just fine for locating those items. 

Therefore, even Apple recommends not using Airtag to track moving animals. There is no monthly fee or subscription fee for this type of product, but it is more suitable for use as an anti-lost device for static objects. Finding items is the best-use scenario for this type of product. 

Pros

  • Small size
  • No Monthly fee, No Subscription fee
  • Long-lasting and replaceable battery

Cons

  • Limited range, normally no more than 100 meters
  • No real-time tracking
  • Limited to a network of devices (such as Airtag)
  • No GPS chip, and the location is inaccurate.

 

2. Radio GPS dog trackers

Radio GPS dog tracker usually consists of a receiver and a tracker. The tracker's GPS location information is sent to the receiver via radio, and the dog's location information is displayed on the screen on the receiver.

Due to differences in radio power, the tracking distance of such products can usually reach several miles. For example, the Aorkuler GPS dog tracker designed for family companion dogs can track up to 3.5 miles, and the Garmin Astro430 designed for hunting dogs can track up to 9 miles(advertised).

Representative brands: Aorkuler, Garmin

Radio dog Tracker Garmin Aorkuler

 

Unlike dog trackers based on cellular network transmission, Radio dog trackers can transmit the tracker's GPS location information through an independent radio system without paying fees to other third-party service providers. Therefore, this type of product is truly free from monthly fees and subscription fees.

Working principle of GPS dog tracker based on Radio:

No subscription no monthly fee dog GPS tracker type2

And because the data transmission of this type of dog GPS tracker is completely independent of the cellular network, it can be used worldwide.

For dog owners who like to take their dogs for outdoor adventures and live in rural or remote areas, radio-based dog GPS trackers can be used around the world. The tracker is ideal for these dog lovers because it does not rely on cellular signals to work. In other words, this type of tracker is the best GPS for dogs without subscription in areas with poor signal.

Pros:

  • No monthly fees, no subscription fees
  • Real-time tracking
  • Not affected by phone signal, tracking distance can reach several miles.
  • No APP, no need to connect to a mobile phone
  • Work worldwide 

Cons

  • Tracking distance is still limited

 

3. Dog GPS trackers that work based on cellular networks

This type of product usually only has a tracker installed on the dog collar. The GPS location information is transmitted to the server through the mobile network, and then the mobile phone with the product app downloads it from the server through the Internet (cellular network or Wi-Fi) and displays it on the app map.  

Therefore, the entire data transmission of such products completely relies on third-party service providers, so manufacturers have to charge users in the form of subscription fees or monthly fees (or include this fee in the hardware and provide free service for a limited time).

Representative brands: Tractive, Fi, Whistle

This type of GPS tracking device can work as long as there are cellular signals and GPS signals, so it is usually promoted as an unlimited dog tracker (though not possible in areas without cellular network coverage, such as rural and remote areas).  5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Tractive

Working principle of GPS dog tracker based on cellular signal:

How Tractive Fi Fitbark whistle dog GSP tracker works

If the place where you take your dog for daily activities has good cellular signal coverage, I believe this GPS dog tracker that works based on the cellular network is a better choice.

Pros:

  • Real-time tracking
  • Can be used wherever there is a cellular signal
  • In dense urban environments, approximate locations can be provided based on LBS.

Cons

  • Requires monthly fee or subscription fee
  • Cannot be used in places without mobile phone signal
  • Location information needs to be uploaded to the network server 

 

I hope that through this blog, I can help you recognize the fact that there are many "best dog trackers" on the Internet claiming no monthly fee or no subscription fee, but they may still involve subscription fees or monthly fees.

Instead, I aim to guide you in finding the "best GPS dog tracker" that truly aligns with your usage scenarios.

Read more about  How to Compare a Dog GPS Tracker without Subscription vs with Subscription: The Ultimate Guide

1 comment

  • Posted on by DKim

    Interesting insight! I’ve previously bought Fi based on online recommendations, thinking it had no monthly fee, but it turns out it requires a subscription.

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