You may use GPS for navigation, but did you know that you can also use it to increase security for your family? GPS trackers are discreet portable devices which you can use to track a vehicle, another valuable possession, or a pet or child. Just installing a GPS tracker in your automobile may allow you to collect an additional discount on your insurance policy.
If you are thinking of buying a GPS tracking device, you will need to think about which features are important to you while also considering your budget. Check out the table below to compare prices and features on top-selling and highly rated GPS tracking devices.
|SpyTec STI GL300|
|Garmin Alpha 100|
Want to learn more about GPS trackers before you start shopping? Read on to find out everything you need to know in order to make a smart purchase!
Questions to Ask When Shopping for a GPS Tracker
Because there is such a wide variety of uses for a GPS tracker, there are a couple of key questions which you need to ask yourself before you start shopping:
Do you even need a GPS tracker?
If you own a smartphone, it probably already has a GPS receiver integrated. In that case, you may not need to buy a GPS tracker, but they do offer a number of benefits. They offer you much longer battery life, an abundance of extra features, and they are more cost-effective for long-term use. If you only need a tracker for short-term use (like providing a little extra security to a car parked in a public lot while you are on vacation), your smartphone would probably work fine. If you will be using a tracking device regularly however, you should buy one actually designed for the purpose.
What will you be using your GPS tracker for?
You do not need the same features for a pet tracker as you do for a car tracker. Likewise, if you are giving a tracking device to a child for personal security, you need features for that device that you would never need for an automobile tracker (such as a button to call for help).
Features to Look For When Shopping for a GPS Tracker
Lightweight, compact, discreet design
A GPS tracker is by definition a mobile device. As a result, you are going to want hardware which features a streamlined, lightweight, compact design. Discretion is particularly important in some circumstances. A vehicle tracker should be easy to stow away where a car thief wouldn’t think to look for it. A tracker given to a child for personal security should be something small enough that a kidnapper might miss it.
You want the GPS tracker to be as easy to use as possible, both for the person doing the tracking and (if applicable) the person who is being tracked. Check how easy it is according to customer reviews to activate the device, set up tracking and zones, and check the real-time and historical position of the person, pet, or object being tracked.
If the device has voice-to-voice communication and/or a panic button, check how easy it is to use these features in a hurry in case of emergencies.
Affordable service plan
As mentioned previously, GPS tracking devices tend to be a lot more affordable than smartphone tracking apps. That said, not all plans are equal. Some are a good deal cheaper than others. Watch out for activation and cancellation fees. Some companies make you sign a monthly contract. Others let you pay for the service as you need it. Obviously the fewer strings are attached, the better.
Not every company will provide you with GPS tracking across international borders. Some will, but they may charge you extra for that service. International tracking may be very important if you are trying to trace down a stolen vehicle or a kidnapped loved one. So international use is a very important feature.
Custom alerts, history, geo-fencing, and more
There are a number of other useful features which you can shop for in a GPS tracking device. Many allow you to set up custom alerts. You might for example not only be able to track where the device is, but also how quickly it is moving—great if you want to check if your teenager is speeding on the road. You also can purchase a tracker which saves its history to the cloud.
A panic button is a very good feature for a GPS tracker carried by a child, as is voice-to-voice communication. Geo-fencing is useful as well; this lets you know if the person carrying the device has entered a specific geographic zone which you set up. If you shop around, you will find there are many other useful features which different GPS trackers are equipped with.
Warranty and customer support
Check to see how long the warranty on your tracker will be. This is typically a year, but if you sign up for a contract with the company, your warranty may extend as long as your contract. So if that is longer than a year, you could be covered for additional time.
You should also look up customer reviews to see how the company’s customer service agents responded to questions and concerns. Were they helpful and knowledgeable? You might also see whether the user guide they provide is thorough and easy-to-read.
Now that you are more familiar with GPS tracking devices and know some of the features which you can shop for, you should be ready to evaluate your needs and figure out which features are most important to you. Always start by asking yourself what you will be using the GPS tracker for. Think about the features that you need for that specific purpose. When you are ready, scroll back up to the top of this article and have a closer look at the comparison chart. There you can shop for the features you need at a price you can afford.
Vectu: Worldwide Tracking
If want to track an individual that may flee the country, you’ll need a tracker like Vectu. No matter where your target goes in the world, the Vectu can help you find out where they are located. Unlike many GPS trackers, there is no monthly usage fee for the first year. But if you intend to continue using this device after that, you do have to pay a small monthly fee to keep it online.
- Worldwide locator. The Vectu is one of the few international GPS trackers on the market.
- No usage fee for the first year. You won’t have to worry paying a monthly fee until a year has passed.
- Updates every 60 seconds. With the Vectu, you get a location data point sent to you every minute.
- Customizable alarm triggers. Like most GPS trackers, you can set up triggers that go off in the event that your target crosses a boundary line.
- Long battery life. A single charge can last up to 2 weeks.
- SMS and email notifications. Some GPS trackers don’t have SMS integration, but this one does.
- “Call help” feature. If your target is in trouble, all they need to do is hit a button to send an alert message to everyone that is monitoring the map.
- The Vectu is quite large compared to other GPS trackers.
- Though it is actually made of high quality, crack resistant plastic, the Vectu seems cheaply made because the design looks a bit clunky.
Tractive: Find Out Where Your Pet Is Hiding
Tractive is especially designed to track and locate adventurous pets. If you have a cat that often sneaks off and doesn’t come back for days or even weeks, you may want to consider getting a Tractive. Unlike most GPS trackers, this one is waterproof and tough enough to resist physical damage.
- Pet friendly. Tractive is designed to stay out of your pet’s way when it’s out and about.
- Waterproof. The Tractive will continue to work even if your dog or cat goes splashing through a puddle.
- Rugged design. This tough little GPS tracker won’t easily break because it’s made out of impact resistant plastic.
- Lights up and makes noises. To make it easier to find your pet, you can make the Tractive light up and sound an alarm.
- GeoFence capability. Setting up a geographical boundary for your pet is cinch.
- Light weight. At just 1.2 ounces, the Tractive is even light enough for a cat.
- Low monthly service fee. The Tractive’s monthly service fee is much less expensive than other GPS trackers.
- Unfortunately, the Tractive’s battery doesn’t last very long. You need to remember to charge it up the night before your pet goes outside to play.
- The app needs work. The GeoFence alarm system works quite well, but some of its other features are buggy and hard to figure out.
Spy Tec STI GL300: an Adaptable, Easy-to-Use GPS Tracker
If you’re looking for an easy to use, all-purpose GPS tracker that works well in almost any situation, look no further. The Spy Tec STI GL300 is small, discreet and powerful enough to get you the information you need regardless of the situation. If you are familiar with Google Maps, you already know how to use Spy Tec’s slick, intuitive software.
- Total versatility. The Spy Tec STI GL300 can help you track just about anything: cars, teens, spouses, elderly family members and more.
- Small size. This tracker’s small frame and discreet look will prevent your targets from realizing that they are being tracked.
- Google Maps integration. If you know how to use Google Maps, you have all the technical skills you need to use Spy Tec’s tracking software.
- No contracts or hidden fees. Spy Tec service is a $25 a month flat rate fee, which is the most you’ll ever have to pay to use this product.
- Geographic triggers. Set up a digital “geo fence” to find out when your target leaves a particular geographical area.
- Real time tracking. To find out where your target is headed at any given moment, just open up Spy Tec’s software and pull up the map.
- Rapid updates. Every 5 seconds, the STI GL300 sends out positioning information that lets you know exactly where your target is currently located.
- Though this tracker is quite good overall, the STI GL300’s somewhat weak battery only provides for 5 days of continuous use.
Trackmate Dash: No Batteries Needed
One of Trackmate Dash’s very best features is the fact that you don’t have to worry about its batteries running out of juice. This tracker draws its power directly from the vehicle you’re monitoring, which is great for situations that require long term surveillance. Another perk is that Trackmate Dash comes with excellent support and a lifetime guarantee.
- No batteries. The Trackmate Dash hardwired vehicle tracker uses power supplied by the vehicle for energy.
- Low monthly fee. Trackmate’s $9 monthly service fee is inexpensive compared to competing GPS trackers.
- Easy reporting software. Pull up to a year’s worth of tracking data with the press of a button.
- Great for truckers. Fleet operators can order special service plans from the Trackmate Dash website.
- Remote reboots. Most technical problems can be resolved by rebooting Trackmate Dash remotely.
- Lifetime warranty. This extremely well-built GPS tracker is backed up by a lifetime guarantee.
- Fuel usage data. Trackmate Dash can even track how much gas your tracked vehicle has and how often it stops for refueling.
- The Trackmate Dash software for Windows works quite well, but the Mac OS version crashes from time to time.
Pod 2 GPS: Track Your Pet’s Fitness
The Pod 2 GPS is the ideal tracker for small, indoor animals because it’s the lightest device of its kind on the market today. Because it interfaces directly with the web, you can use Pod 2 to track your pet from any internet capable device. And if you have a smartphone, you can even use the free Pod 2 app to analyze your pet’s activity levels.
- Keep your pet fit. This tracker’s mobile app will show you how often your pet walks, plays and runs.
- Extra small size. Though it’s jam packed next generation features, the Pod 2 is extremely light and compact.
- WiFi capable. WiFi positioning offers greatly enhanced positioning, which is very useful when finding your pet indoors.
- Push button tracking. All you have to do is press “find” to locate your pet on the Pod 2 smartphone app.
- Limitless range. Because Pod 2 connects you to the web, you can keep track of your pet from anywhere as long as you have internet service.
- Set up a safe zone. With the Pod 2, you can quickly and easily create geographical boundaries that trigger instant alerts.
- Low monthly fees. The Pod 2’s monthly service fee is quite cheap compared to its main competitors.
- Because there’s no way to set up SMS notifications, you’ll need a smartphone that’s compatible with the Pod 2 app to use this device.