On the surface, devices devoted solely to GPS tracking may seem like a redundancy in 2020. GPS functionality is built into everything from phones to smart watches, after all. But these devices can serve some very useful if very specialized purposes. They can help you track your luggage in case it goes missing, make sure that your kids make it home from school safely, and help trucking companies keep tabs on their entire fleet.
That means that different models often come with specialized features, and the advantages of each might not seem apparent at a glance. That’s why we’ve put together GPS tracker reviews for 12 of the best models available and created a dedicated guide for helping you understand your choices.
View the Best GPS Trackers, Below
- Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini GPS Tracker
- Garmin inReach Explorer+
- MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker Device
- TKSTAR Hidden Vehicles GPS Tracker
- AMERICALOC GL300W GPS Tracker
- Vyncs GPS Car GPS Tracking
- Relay Kids Screenless Smartphone GPS Tracker
- Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor
- bouncie Location Tracking OBD2 Adapter
- Trak-4 GPS Tracker
- Jiobit GPS Tracker for Kids
- Amcrest 4G LTE GPS Tracker
1. Spy Tec STI GL300 Mini GPS Tracker
We start our list off with a GPS tracking device that's straight and to the point. Spytec's GL300 is an all-purpose model suitable for a range of needs that costs a mere $150. This cheap GPS tracker is small enough to fit in a purse of backpack, but it's powerful enough to provide you with GPS coordinates to a high degree of specificity. You can expect it to deliver you an accurate location within just a few yards even when it's used indoors.
The ability to store your tracking history is ideal for fleet supervisors looking for more detailed metrics on driver activities. And while the lack of a dedicated app is a bit of an outlier, you can access the interface from any tablet, computer, or phone using the online portal. A broad selection of setting customization options make this a versatile choice adaptable to anyone's needs.
2. Garmin inReach Explorer+
InReach Explorer+: an expensive but feature loaded communication device from the most well-regarded name in GPS technology. If you're venturing out into the wild where phone service may be scarce, there's potentially no better tool to have at your side than Garmin's satellite GPS tracker. In the event of an emergency, it can send an SOS message, along with your coordinates, directly to the 24/7 search and rescue.
And while it's always good to prepare for the worst (especially when you're wandering into the great outdoors), the Explorer+ is useful even if disaster doesn't strike. The top notch navigation system is a practical necessity for anyone out on the trail, and this top tracker also offers weather alerts so you can circumvent an emergency before it ever strikes. Non-emergency two-way texting via the satellite network is also supported.
3. MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker Device
The MOTOSafe is built with one explicit purpose in mind: keeping your teen driver safe while they're getting acclimated to the rules of the road. That's a distinct advantage, as it allows this tracking device for cars to focus on some very specific but very useful features. And since this plugs directly into the OBD port of the vehicle, you can get critical information straight from the onboard computer.
The GPS tracker app here is especially robust. A daily report card feeds you information from the car's computer, and you can even replay all the routes from the day via Google Maps. You have the option to set boundaries as well. Violations of designated curfew hours or geofencing will send an automated alert to your phone, and you have great freedom to set more specific rules. Best of all, this Google GPS tracker costs less than $20.
4. TKSTAR Hidden Vehicles GPS Tracker
The TKSTAR is marketed as a hidden GPS tracker for car, but its rugged and innocuous design means it will work just as well as an ATV, big rig, boat, or motorcycle GPS tracker. The combination of an exceedingly powerful magnet and exceptional waterproofing gives you the freedom to hide it comfortably out of sight. All told, it's one of the best tracking devices if you're trying to safeguard your vehicle against theft or surreptitiously monitor the driving activities of a loved one.
In a refreshing change of pace from the standard, no subscription fee is required to make the most of the TKSTAR, and its real time tracking is accurate to a distance of of five meters. Further increasing its value as an anti-theft device is the ability to receive automated notifications once it leaves a designated geofenced area.
5. AMERICALOC GL300W GPS Tracker
The GL300W is one of the smallest micro GPS trackers available today, but don't let its petite size lure you into a sense of dismissal. The tracking options here are exhaustive nearly to the point of being overwhelming. The detailed tracking interface may seem intimidating at first, but once you get your bearings, you'll find a variety of tools at your disposal. Highly precise metrics allow you to follow this device through every step of its day in real time, and you have full control over when, where, and how you receive notifications.
This applies to designating specific events for notifications. These can be designated by time and/or determined by when the device leaves one of multiple predetermined geolocations. The tracking history goes back an entire year for when you need to keep receipts over an extended period of time, and the customer service experience is phenomenal.
6. Vyncs GPS Car GPS Tracking
A lot of car GPS trackers are designed to protect your vehicle against theft or secretly monitor others, but Vsyncs' model takes the fundamental principles of a tracker and applies them to personal quality of life. Since it jacks right into your car's OBD port, it can read information straight from your car's computer, and it makes use of that data in some really smart ways. If you're looking to improve the fuel performance or monitor your emissions, the options are there, and it also provides you with any recall notices nearly immediately.
But the more security-focused features of a quality GPS tracker for car are included here as well. It can alert you whenever your vehicle leaves a predetermined area, and all of the stored data is easily accessible through a web interface. Fortunately, a flexible subscription plan allows you to pick and choose the right features for you.
7. Relay Kids Screenless Smartphone GPS Tracker
More than just a GPS tracker for kids, the Relay is its own unique gadget, and that comes with both strengths and limitations. The GPS functionality is just one component of a slimmed down device that's intended to serve as a safe and kid-friendly approach to traditional cell phones, but it could work just as well as a two-way radio of sorts for hikers. GPS options are incredibly limited, only allowing you to monitor the location during active monitoring, but it's a recent device, and geofencing and logged tracking are on the horizon.
And while this is a screen-free interface, the phone gps tracker app allows you to create specific channels and set parental controls. It may be a feature light GPS tracking device right now, but it's a product with a lot of promise, and its focus on walkie-talkie communications makes it a unique entry to the market.
8. Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor
The Whistle 3 is a pet GPS tracker that can help you keep tabs on your furry friends if they ever go missing. And while its functions and design are fairly simple, that's clearly in lines with the demands of the product. While it's based off of AT&T's cellular network, it's also a WiFi tracker that monitors your pet over your home network. That allows it to achieve an exceptional battery life as long as your pet is in the range of your router.
This device also functions as a basic fitness tracker. You can monitor not just your pet's location but also track the entirety of their day and receive nuanced information on their daily activities. If you're trying to keep your pooch in shape, it's a smart solution. Setting up the designated geofence is as simple as drawing a line on a map.
9. bouncie Location Tracking OBD2 Adapter
Bouncie is as much a smart car adapter as it is a GPS tracking device. Like some of the other vehicle trackers on our list, it plugs directly into your car's OBD port, and while it does provide you with the information you need in case your car is stolen, its most exciting features are more about tracking your behaviors and monitoring your car's health.
Bouncie will send you alerts whenever a potentially worrying diagnosis shows up in the onboard computer, and you can set speed ranges to monitor your driving activities that will be assigned separate colors on the tracking app. The Geo-Circles system fills a similar role to traditional geofencing, but it's a little more flexible. Combine it with the ability to share your Bouncie key, and it becomes an easy way to alert friends and family when you arrive at a designated location.
10. Trak-4 GPS Tracker
Trak-4 is versatile enough for tracking your kids, car, luggage, or other family members, and its support for both 2G and 3G networks means that you'll get expansive coverage practically wherever your subject happens to be. But if it does happen to fall out of signal range, the cell-trilateration technology can still provide you with an approximate location. And you don't have to concern yourself about where you mount it either. The Trak-4 is fully weatherproofed to resist even the harshest elements.
Trak-4 is built with the needs of businesses in mind, and these devices play well together. Multiple Trak-4 signals can be tracked on a single map to provide you with a big picture perspective on a variety of vehicles, and you'll receive email alerts whenever your device leaves or enters a designated geofenced zone.
11. Jiobit GPS Tracker for Kids
The Jiobit is the second GPS tracker for kids on our list, and while it might not have the unique features or focused philosophy of the Relay, it offers significantly fuller features in terms of the actual GPS monitoring. The rubber device can be secured around a lanyard to prevent your child from getting lost, and it's durably designed to withstand the rigors of enthusiastic outdoor play. The wireless compatibility here is strong. It supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in addition to 2G and 3G networks.
Regarding functionality, the Jiobit is as much an invisible leash as it is a GPS tracker. While it allows you to track them in real time using a GPS map, you can also tether the GPS to your mobile device so you'll know whenever they get out of range. The result is a tracker that's flexible to the limitations on freedom you set out.
12. Amcrest 4G LTE GPS Tracker
Whether you're looking to track your car, an elderly relative, or your child, the Amcrest 4G LTE is a GPS tracker that's effective without being obtrusive. Its small and lightweight design can fit practically anywhere, and it's packed with all the features you could want from a general use tracker. Not only can you establish personalized geofencing zones, but you can also create custom reports on a daily basis. The navigation interface is smart and can be accessed either through a browser or a dedicated phone app. A broad selection of driving features make it an ideal choice for new drivers. Granular rules and notifications can be set regarding driving speeds, braking patterns, and proximity. Update times range from five to 30 seconds.
Best GPS Trackers Buyer’s Guide
What’s the Best Network?
The GPS trackers on our list support a staggering number of different wireless connections, but we’re here to break them down so you can better understand your options. Most of them offer baseline support for 2G, 3G, or 4G LTE wireless. These are the generational standards that are used as the source for cellular networks. The higher the number, the faster the network, but what’s more important here is how many standards each device supports. The more available, the less likely your device is going to fall out of coverage.
The relative simplicity of the data being transferred over GPS means that the generation being tracked won’t make a huge difference in terms of simple coordinates. But it can make a difference for all the supplemental data that needs to travel to your connected app, so the more sophisticated the features available, the better the network you want. The one device that bucks the trend of using traditional wireless networks is the inReach Explorer+ which relies on a satellite rather than a cell network. It’s a practical decision since satellite is far more reliable in stretches of wilderness where cellular networks may not reach, but it’s also a major contributing factor in that device’s sky high pricing.
Many devices also support Bluetooth or WiFi, although they’re supplementary rather than primary connections. Bluetooth GPS devices are tethered to another device, typically a phone, and since Bluetooth only offers a range of about 33 feet, it’s almost always used for leashing the subject to a caregiver rather than providing more in-depth GPS coordinates over longer distances. A similar tact is taken with the Whistle 3 which makes use of your local router to reduce the power usage of the GPS tracker.
Do I Need a Subscription for a GPS Tracker?
Technically? No. Practically? Almost always. Whether your tracker runs on LTE, GSM, or satellite, you’re using an established network to track the device, and that requires paying for the privilege. In rare instances, as with the TKSTAR, you don’t need to pay a subscription to the company, but you will have to sign up for a plan for a provider to make use of your SIM card.
That said, subscriptions offer a huge number of advantages. Most modern GPS devices are more than just location trackers. They offer services like route archiving, weather information, notification alerts, and geofencing. You’re buying more than just a GPS tracking chip wrapped in a case. You’re buying the infrastructure that goes along with it. As such, you’ll want to carefully consider not just the device you’re buying but also the quality, price, and nature of the services that go along with it.
Are GPS Trackers Legal?
GPS trackers can serve a number of legitimate purposes. Whether you’re looking to keep your kids safe, provide security for your car, or better track your gas usage, a GPS tracker can be incredibly useful. But these devices are also often used by some to secretly track potentially unfaithful lovers or gather evidence on a perceived crime. As such, you should exercise some degree of caution.
There are a few basic considerations to keep in mind. If you’re planning on placing the device in a vehicle, bag, or other belonging, be sure that you legally own that asset. GPS tracking is often used to help keep tabs on children, but if you’re doing so without their knowledge, you must be the legal guardian, and they must be under the age of 18. We doubt this will be an issue for most of the visitors to our guide, but we want to make sure that everyone understands the potential liabilities involved.
Since so many GPS trackers serve unique and specialized purposes, there’s no such thing as the best GPS tracker. But there are degrees of quality. When you check out our list, you can rest easy knowing that all of the trackers you’ll see offer reliable quality and great value for their price. So focus on the features listed and the general writeup. We’re certain that you’ll be happy with any of the products you choose from our GPS tracker reviews.