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4 Best No Monthly Fee Dog Trackers In 2024

Dog under water with Smart compass by Lynq
Written by Mark Braeden

If you’re looking for a great no-monthly-fee GPS dog tracker, I have some good news and some bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, shall we? For the most part, the vast majority of the most popular dog GPS collars are subscription-based. There’s no way around that. The good news is that there are a handful (a VERY small handful at that) of options that don’t come with additional or ongoing fees.

Do these subscription-free dog trackers provide the same features as paid ones? Are they really cheaper in the long run? What should you look for in the best option? Keep reading to find out the answers to all of these questions and more.

Editor’s Note: As of March 2024, most of the collars originally listed in this post either no longer exist or are no longer subscription-free. We’ve updated it to keep it current and share new options with you.

Best No Monthly Fee GPS Dog Collars & Trackers in 2024

Let me warn you upfront, the initial price of these subscription-free dog collars is often more expensive in many cases than subscription-based options. In theory, they may be cheaper in the long run since there’s no ongoing cost. However, consider the fact that good GPS collar brands constantly update their hardware, meaning that really stellar no-fee collar that you pay $750 for today could be completely obsolete before you ever make up the amount you’d save on a subscription.

If you’re curious about what I use, I personally switched from no monthly fee dog tracker (I used TK Star and it was horrible). I’m currently using Halo Collar 3 because they added some great new features in the new model. That said, you absolutely need a subscription to use it, so it doesn’t fit your “no-fee tracker” criteria. 

1. Garmin Alpha 200i

The Garmin Alpha 200i from the Garmin Store is a multi-dog tracking system that has no monthly subscription fee and also works with no cell service. This can track up to 20 dogs or other hunters when used with additional Alpha 100 handheld devices. This dog tracker can track from 4 to 9 miles using its preloaded maps.

It consists of preloaded TOPO US 100k maps which have a scale of 1:100,00 USGS maps. These maps made it possible for the whole tracking system to work without any monthly subscription. Customers loved that this dog tracker has no subscription fee, works in areas without any WIFI or cellular signal, and can track even on thick bushes.

I picked Alpha 200i as the best Garmin dog collar. I also personally use it when going for outdoor activities with my dogs. Honestly, I would recommend it only for those who go on hunting or hiking adventures with a dog. If you are looking for a simple dog location tracker, it’s just too much for you.

2. Marco Polo Advanced Pet Monitoring, Tracking, and Locating System

The Marco Polo Advanced Pet Tracking System can be used to track your pet even if you are not connected to the internet which makes this device ideal for traveling. You don’t have to pay a subscription since they use radio signals.

It is waterproof and extremely robust thus, suitable for energetic and daring cats and dogs. This device fits pets ranging in size from large dogs to small dogs and cats with collar lengths of seven inches or more.

The Marco Polo Advanced Pet Tracking System uses radio waves to determine your pet’s position because it does not require an internet connection. The tag on the collar should ideally respond to the portable locator once every 5 seconds while you are within range, allowing the locator to pinpoint your dog’s exact location.

If your fur baby loves water, this gadget is a good option for keeping them safe while they indulge in their favorite activities. It can withstand lengthy exposure to water because it is designed for extensive swimming.

While this tracking device is a good buy, I still personally prefer to use the Fi Dog Collar. Aside from the fact that I prefer using a smart collar that uses GPS over the conventional ones that used radio signals, I also find Fi Dog Collar to be more functional and user-friendly. Also, while some of Fi Dog Collar’s functions need a subscription to utilize, I still think it is worth the money.

Nonetheless, Marco Polo Advanced Pet Tracking System is still a good option for fur parents who wants to use a tracking device that they can use in areas without network coverage.

3. PitPat Dog GPS Tracker


While PitPat is primarily a dog activity monitor, it also works as a no-monthly-fee tracker. Since it attaches to your dog’s existing collar (similar to Tractive), it works almost universally. Its compact and lightweight build makes it suitable for all dog breeds.

PitPat comes with a free lifetime SIM, eliminating costly subscriptions or hidden service fees, allowing unlimited use to find your dog. The app accommodates multiple dogs, allowing your whole pack’s data to be tracked and shared with family members.

Given that it’s meant as an activity tracker, PitPat is designed to go where ever your pups roam. It boasts a fully waterproof and robust design, ready to withstand the rigors of doggy life. Plus, it’s powered by a replaceable CR2032 battery that lasts at least a year.

However, there is one significant drawback, especially when you’re planning to use PitPat primarily as a tracking device: it doesn’t give true real-time updates. It can take several minutes to relay your dog’s location to the app. When you’re chasing a runaway dog that doesn’t want to be caught, three minutes might as well be three hours.

Consider this- the average dog runs between 10-20 MPH, so that 3-minute delay means your dog could end up close to a mile from the reported location by the time you receive it. If you happen to have a Greyhound? Forget about it. He’ll be a good 2+ miles away within those three minutes!

Still, if you want a doggie FitBit that doubles as a tracking device and your pooch isn’t prone to running off, it could be a good option.

PitPat Dog Activity and Fitness Monitor

The PitPat accurately measures and displays daily dog exercise and rest, distance and calories burned. Get personal breed-specific recommendations. Set and track goals. Win fun achievement badges.


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

4. Apple AirTags (With MAJOR Caveats)

Apple AirTags aren’t technically dog GPS tracking devices. In fact, Apple is pretty darn clear that they’re not meant for this purpose and that the company will not be responsible for lost pets.

That said, I know quite a few dog owners who use them as trackers without an issue. In fact, over on my post about the best AirTag Dog Collars, one reader commented that AirTags are the ONLY thing they use because they’re cheaper and work just as well as pricy collars.

Honestly, I’m not so sure I agree with that. I feel like too many things can go wrong. They can fall off your dog’s collar (even with the best collar, stuff happens), stop working, and any other number of “worse case scenario” problems could occur. I guess that’s true with any collar, though. Still, the fact that Apple so vehemently warns against using their tags to track dogs does make me a bit nervous.

All of that said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them here, though, because they really ARE one of the best no-monthly-fee tracking devices. If you want to give them a try, you can grab a 4-pack on Amazon.

Apple AirTag 4 Pack
  • Keep track of and find your items alongside friends and devices in the Find My app.
  • Simple one-tap setup instantly connects AirTag with your iPhone or iPad.
  • The replaceable battery lasts over a year!


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Which Types of GPS Dog Trackers Are Subscription-Optional?

GPS trackers for dogs come in two main types: those that rely on cellular networks and those that use other technologies like radio frequency (RF) or Bluetooth. The catch with the cellular ones is that they usually require a monthly subscription to access the network.

However, there are alternatives that forgo this requirement, instead opting for a one-time purchase price. These products typically use RF, Bluetooth, or a combination of GPS and other technologies that don’t require ongoing fees. Here’s a look at some options that might suit your needs:

  1. RF-based Trackers: These devices don’t rely on cellular networks, so they don’t come with monthly fees. They have a limited range compared to cellular GPS trackers but can be quite effective for local tracking.
  2. Bluetooth Trackers: While not as robust as traditional GPS trackers in terms of range, Bluetooth trackers can be a cost-effective solution for keeping tabs on your pet in and immediately around your home.
  3. Direct-to-Satellite GPS Trackers: A newer category in the pet tracker market is the direct-to-satellite GPS tracker. These devices communicate directly with satellites, bypassing the need for cellular networks, and therefore, monthly fees. They can be more expensive upfront but are worth considering for their comprehensive coverage, especially in remote areas.
  4. Hybrid Trackers: Some trackers use a combination of technologies, including GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, to provide coverage without a monthly fee. These devices might have a slightly higher initial cost but can offer the convenience of GPS tracking without the ongoing costs. Look for newer models that emphasize “no monthly fee” as a key feature.

Advantages of Dog Trackers with No Subscription Fee

Opting for a no-monthly-fee GPS tracker for your dog offers several enticing benefits, making it an appealing choice for pet owners who prioritize both their pets’ safety and smart financial management. Here are the key advantages:

1. Cost-Effectiveness

  • One-Time Purchase: The initial outlay for a no-monthly-fee GPS tracker might be higher, but without the ongoing subscription costs, it often turns out to be more economical in the long run. This makes it a prudent choice for budget-conscious pet owners.
  • No Hidden Costs: You won’t encounter unexpected charges or price hikes that can happen with subscription-based services, making financial planning easier and more predictable.

2. Freedom from Contracts

  • No Commitment: Without the need for a monthly subscription, you’re not locked into a contract. This gives you the flexibility to switch devices or stop using the service without facing cancellation fees or penalties.
  • Ease of Use: You can start and stop using the device at your convenience without having to navigate the complexities of subscription management.

3. Simplicity

  • Straightforward Pricing: The cost is upfront, and you know exactly what you’re paying for without needing to worry about choosing between different subscription plans.
  • Hassle-Free: For those who prefer simplicity in their gadgets, no-monthly-fee trackers offer a “set it and forget it” convenience. Once you’ve purchased the device and set it up, you’re good to go without needing to manage an ongoing service.

4. Independence from Cellular Networks

  • Versatility in Remote Areas: Many no-monthly-fee trackers use technologies other than cellular networks, such as RF or direct-to-satellite communication, which can be more reliable in rural or remote areas where cellular coverage is spotty or nonexistent.
  • No Dependency on Mobile Service Providers: You’re not tied to the performance or coverage of a particular mobile network, giving you more consistent service quality regardless of where you and your pet venture.

5. Enhanced Privacy

  • Data Control: With no need to constantly transmit data to a service provider, there may be fewer concerns about privacy and data security. You have more control over your and your pet’s location data.
  • Reduced Risk of Data Breaches: The reduced need for cloud-based management and storage of your location data could potentially lower the risk of your personal information being exposed in a data breach.

Disadvantages to No-Fee Trackers

While no-monthly-fee GPS trackers for dogs present a host of benefits, it’s essential to consider their limitations and potential drawbacks to make an informed decision. Here are some of the cons associated with these devices:

1. Limited Range and Dependability

  • Technology Constraints: Trackers that avoid monthly fees often do so by not using cellular networks. This can limit their range significantly compared to those that do, making them less effective for tracking pets over long distances.
  • Signal Interference: Devices relying on Bluetooth or RF may suffer from signal interference in dense urban areas or specific environments, potentially reducing their tracking accuracy.

2. Initial Cost

  • Higher Upfront Expense: To offset the lack of subscription fees, no-monthly-fee trackers can have a higher initial purchase price. This might be a deterrent for some pet owners, especially if budget constraints are a primary concern.

3. Features and Functionality

  • Basic Tracking Features: In general, these trackers might offer more basic functionalities than their subscription-based counterparts. For example, they may lack sophisticated data analytics, real-time alerts, or detailed health monitoring features.
  • Limited Updates and Support: The absence of a subscription fee can sometimes mean less investment in ongoing software updates or customer support, potentially affecting the user experience and the longevity of the product.

4. Battery Life and Maintenance

  • Battery Replacement: While some no-monthly-fee trackers boast long battery life, they might require battery replacements rather than recharging, which can be inconvenient and lead to additional costs over time.
  • Charging Frequency: For those that do recharge, the frequency and ease of charging can vary, and some models might necessitate more frequent charging than others, which can be a hassle for busy pet owners.

5. Dependence on Other Technologies

  • Need for Smartphone or Specific Apps: Operation of these trackers often relies on having a smartphone and downloading specific apps. For individuals without a compatible smartphone or those less comfortable with technology, this could be a limiting factor.
  • Compatibility Issues: There might be compatibility issues with certain smartphones or operating systems, potentially limiting the user base.

Subscription-based Dog Trackers vs. No Monthly Fee Dog Trackers: Which One is Better?

The best option depends on your dog, full stop. Not your budget, not you, not what your BFF says works for his chiweenie. YOUR DOG.

IF you have a fairly mellow dog who spends most of his time lounging around the house, only takes on-leash walks with you, and has absolutely amazing recall, then I don’t really see any reason why one of the no-subscription trackers above wouldn’t work for you.

However, if you have an adventurous pup who likes to explore off-leash, a “Houdini” who could pull off an Alcatraz-level escape in minutes flash, or a pooch with poor recall, then I’d just go ahead and splurge on a subscription-based collar. In my experience, they just work better.

Authors

  • Mark Braeden

    Mark is a Boston University graduate and former electrical engineer. In 2017, he decided to combine his tech knowledge with his love for dogs. He spent a year familiarizing himself with the latest GPS tracking collars, invisible fences, and other hot pet gadgets before he wrote his first product review. After selling Technobark, Mark remained a writer and consultant but spends more time on his other passion now: raising and training his growing family of dogs.

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  • Nicole Etolen

    Hi there! I'm Nicole! I've been a dog owner for most of my adult life and a dog lover for much longer than that. I grew up with a wonderful German Shepherd named Jake, who I loved SO much that I named my son after him. When I'm not writing for DogVills or my own site, Pretty Opinionated , I love spending time with my teenager (when he actually lets me), my Pharaoh Hound Freya, and my two cats (Zoe & Alex the Fuzz). I'm also an avid reader AND a total TV fanatic. If you'd like to learn more about me, feel free to check out my Linked In profile.

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3 Comments

  • Thanks for the info on these trackers. I find it strange that a small gps unit isn’t available for dogs that clips onto the collar securely with no subscription needed. I use a small bike computer (bryton rider 320) that tracks all my bike riding anywhere and downloads to an app at the end. Tells me speed distance etc, no SIM card or subscription needed. Very simple and very accurate. I would use this except I can’t find a secure way to attach to the collar. I just want something small that will tell me how far my dog has walked on our outings. There is definitely a gap in the market for this as lots of people I talk to all want just this. Hopefully something will be produced soon.
    Thanks again for your research.

  • …so the number one pick is a collar that can track your dog in your house or yard or within 30 feet of you?

  • Do you know of any GPS trackers, other than the Garmin ones, that will enable you to download maps of an area that you plan to visit. This is valuable when hiking in areas with no cell service. I purchased the PetFON tracker, and it claims to have this feature, but in fact, it is currently unavailable. So, when I am in remote areas, the GPS picks up my dog relative to my phone, but the map is blank – just two dots (me and dog) show up. Likewise, this “share” option, which is supposed to allow you to share with other phones, is not available (at least on my iPhone).

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