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Do I Need A SIM Card For GPS Tracker?

Do I Need A SIM Card For My GPS Tracker? Understanding The Essentials

If you’re wondering whether you need a SIM card for your GPS tracker, the short answer is yes for real-time tracking. But why do you need a SIM card for a GPS tracker? In this article, we will discuss why cell phone SIM cards are used in GPS trackers to transmit data. And finally, take a closer look at the best GPS tracking device without a SIM card. Let’s dive into it all now!

Why GPS Tracking Devices Need SIM Cards
Why GPS Tracking Devices Need SIM Cards

How Does A GPS Tracker Work With A SIM Card – 3 Steps 

Real-time GPS systems rely on GSM SIM cards, enabling GPS devices to connect to cellular networks. Wondering how a real-time GPS tracker with a SIM card works? It’s pretty straightforward:

  1. The vehicle GPS tracker records driving activity.
  2. The GPS tracker’s SIM card transmits this activity using cellular technology.
  3. You can access live tracking from an online account to monitor your vehicle 24/7.

With a mobile SIM card, GPS positions are transmitted instantly, which is beneficial for theft recovery or fleet tracking. However, keep in mind that every GPS locator using cell phone SIM cards requires a data plan (monthly subscription fee).

Are there alternatives to GPS trackers with SIM cards? Absolutely! Some GPS trackers without SIM cards, such as Bluetooth trackers or GPS loggers, can help you monitor your vehicle’s whereabouts without a monthly subscription. These options may be more suitable for those who prefer a GPS tracker without the ongoing costs associated with cellular network usage. In this next section, we will go over alternatives to SIM card-based tracking devices and highlight both benefits and drawbacks.

Alternatives to SIM Card-Based GPS Trackers

airtag vs gps tracker

If you’re looking for GPS tracking without SIM cards, consider GPS data loggers and Bluetooth devices like Apple AirTags. GPS data loggers record location data internally. You retrieve and analyze this data later. They’re great for tracking without real-time updates. Similarly, devices like Apple AirTags use Bluetooth technology. They rely on a network of connected devices to pinpoint locations. This method works well in populated areas. Now, let’s explore the pros and cons:

GPS Data Loggers

A GPS data logger is a device that records and stores location information, logging the data to internal memory. Hence the name, data logger. Therefore, you need to retrieve and download the GPS data for analysis. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of these tracking devices.



No monthly fees: They operate without ongoing costs.

No real-time tracking: You can’t see live locations.

Offline tracking: Perfect for areas without cellular coverage.

Manual data retrieval: Requires physical access to the device.

Long battery life: They often last longer between charges.

Bluetooth Devices (e.g., Apple AirTags)

A Bluetooth GPS tracker like Apple’s AirTag or Tile Mate is a small, wireless device that uses Bluetooth technology to help locate and track objects. This makes them super affordable and not reliant on data to transmit location. However, there are some shortcomings of this type of technology given they are not real time trackers. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of Bluetooth trackers.



User-friendly: Easy to set up and use.

Limited range: Effective only within Bluetooth range.

Wide network: Effective in urban areas with many users.

Dependence on the network: Requires other devices nearby.

Compact and discreet: Easy to attach to objects.

Privacy concerns: Can be misused for tracking without consent.

Affordable: Generally cheaper than real-time GPS trackers.

No GPS Tracking: Can't provide real time updates in all areas

Compared to SIM card-based trackers, these alternatives offer cost efficiency and simplicity. However, their limited real-time tracking capabilities can be a significant drawback for certain needs.

Why GPS Trackers Do Not Work Without Cell Service

Why GPS Trackers Do Not Work Without Cell Service

GPS trackers rely on cellular networks to transmit location data in real-time. These devices collect satellite signals to determine their position and use cell service to send that information to a server. Without access to a cellular network, the live GPS tracker is unable to communicate its location data to your online account or app, rendering real-time tracking impossible. In such cases, alternative tracking options, such as Bluetooth trackers or GPS loggers, may be used, but they won’t provide the same level of real-time tracking as a GPS tracker with cell service.

The Main Differences Between GPS Data Loggers & GPS Devices With SIM Cards

SIM Card

GPS Data Loggers:

  • These devices store location data locally on the device itself, usually on internal memory or an external memory card.
  • They don’t require a cellular network or SIM card to operate, as they don’t transmit data in real-time.
  • Data loggers are often used for passive tracking, where you retrieve the device and download the stored data to analyze the historical location information.
  • GPS data loggers generally have lower operating costs, as they don’t require a subscription plan for cellular data services.
  • Ideal for situations where real-time tracking is not essential, such as recording a hiking route or analyzing vehicle routes after the fact.

GPS Tracker With SIM Card:

  • These devices use cellular networks to transmit location data in real-time, enabled by a SIM card.
  • They provide continuous, real-time tracking, allowing you to monitor the location of the object or individual through an online account or app.
  • GPS devices with SIM cards require a data plan or subscription for cellular network access, resulting in ongoing operating costs.
  • The real-time tracking capabilities make them ideal for situations where instant location information is crucial, such as fleet management, theft recovery, or tracking a lost pet.

The main difference between GPS data loggers and GPS devices with SIM cards lies in how they transmit location data. GPS data loggers store the data locally for later analysis, while GPS devices with SIM cards transmit data in real-time using cellular networks. Your choice between the two will depend on your specific tracking needs and whether real-time location information is essential.

Check out our list of the best GPS trackers of 2023 by clicking here

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Real-Time GPS Trackers Require A SIM Card And Monthly Payment?

Real-time GPS trackers require SIM cards to transmit location data using cellular networks. The SIM card connects the tracker to the network, enabling real-time tracking and efficient data exchange. Therefore, a monthly subscription is required for the vehicle tracker to transmit your personal GPS tracking data over a cellular network.

What Is The Best GPS Locator With Mobile SIM Card & No Subscription?

LandAirSea GPS is the only real time GPS tracker that includes a SIM card and has no monthly subscription fees. However, the data plan is only included for the first year.

GPS Tracker For Car


  • GPS Tracker For Car With No SIM Card
  • Locate Where Someone Has Been
  • Tracker Positioning Every Second
  • Waterproof Design With Magnet Mount

Do you want a GPS vehicle tracker without any subscription plans? If so, the best solution is a GPS car tracker called LandAirSea. What makes LandAirSea so unique, is that it is a real-time GPS tracking device with no monthly fees! This is because the mini GPS tracker was engineered with a prepaid GSM SIM card, a 100% waterproof design, a powerful magnet mount, and a full year of real time GPS tracking with unlimited updates every minute! If you want to find out what someone is really doing, LandAirSea is the best GPS tracker without a subscription for 2023. 

Can I Use A GPS Tracker Without A SIM card?

Yes, there are GPS trackers without SIM cards, but those devices will not provide real time GPS data. A Bluetooth tracker or GPS loggers are option for people who want, which store location data locally, rather than providing real-time tracking. For realtime GPS, a tracker with a SIM card is necessary.

Can I Use My Mobile Phone’s SIM Card For My GPS Tracker?

No. While cell phone SIM cards and tracker SIM cards both utilize cellular technology, they are designed for different purposes. It’s best to use a dedicated GPS tracker SIM card to ensure proper network coverage and reliable location data transmission.

Are There Different Types Of SIM Cards?

Yes, there are three main types of SIM cards: Standard, Micro, and Nano. The differences lie in their physical sizes, with Nano being the smallest. Most modern smartphones use either Micro or Nano SIM cards, while older phones may still use Standard SIM cards.

When choosing the right GPS tracker for your needs, consider factors like network coverage, subscription plans, and the type of device you require. Whether you’re tracking your car, bike, or even your pet, there’s a GPS tracker to suit your specific requirements.

Some images in this article were generated using Dalle-3 AI

Ryan Horban
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